New Life of Beauty and Grace
For by grace you have
been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 WEB


Two Monumental Tasks

When it comes to our problems down here, God has His Hands full. Every individual person needs saving from sin and restoration to the life they were created to live in full fellowship with the Lord. Every world system needs saving from injustice and oppression and restoration to the Lord’s way of running things. Out of this emerges our twin tasks: the Great Commission which is aimed at the spiritual needs of individuals and the “Great Compassion” which is aimed at creating freer, nobler societies.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 ESV

Double Duties

Of the two great tasks assigned to us by Jesus right before His departure, one is primarily outward, the other inward. You can focus on one or the other in pursuit of your calling, but the truth is Two Boulders Being Pushed : Two Monumental Tasksthat they are necessarily interdependent, just as bodies and souls are. We need an eye and a heart for both. We will all be called at times to share the faith or to help someone in distressing circumstances. Get ready! Fortunately, Jesus now lives in us by His Holy Spirit and can supply us with His vision, passion and abilities to work in both these areas of tremendous need.

The Great Commission

The Great Commission was given to us by Jesus right before His ascension.[1] It looks inward to the soul of every individual and sees their absolute need to hear, receive and believe the Gospel which alone can bring them to new birth and the full hope of eternal salvation. Unless genuine spiritual transformation takes place in the hidden depths of the heart, no outward changes will be of lasing value in anyone’s life. The lost have no sense of priorities: Winding up in hell obliterates any previous feeling of well-being. They should know this, but they pay it no mind.

The salvation of souls is the Father’s top priority.[2] He knows what is at stake in their lives, even if they don’t! Let us never forget that the eternal destiny of every individual we meet is of immense concern to the Father who loves them, Jesus who died for them and the Holy Spirit who is working with them. This doesn’t mean that preaching has to come first or that it is the best way to reach everyone, but it does give the Great Commission a greater priority. If you want to join in fishing for people, consider these proven ways of “baiting the hook”:

1) The Glorious Liberty

Learn to live with such joy and freedom that people will seek what you have. John Wesley is credited with saying, “Set yourself on fire and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” This is good Biblical advice. We are told to live in such a way that people will come to us, asking us to give them the reason for the hope that upholds us.[3] Paul wants us to display such joy in our relationship with the God of Israel that even Jews will be jealous and want it for themselves.[4]

2) Signs and Wonders

Nothing opens hearts and creates faith like supernatural manifestations of God’s power. The Early Church spread like wildfire, but it wasn’t due to good preaching alone. Signs and wonders stirred up interest and ignited seeking hearts. People will run past all their obstacles to reach the God who proves that He can heal them or their loved ones. This has been called “Power Evangelism” and it really works. It worked for Jesus; it worked for the first apostles; and it is at work all over the Third World today.

3) The “Seven Mountains” 

This is primarily a strategy for changing organizations and cultures through advancing the kingdom of God “by stealth.” Jesus said that we were to make disciples of all nations, not simply converts. This implies that if you can effectively demonstrate to people the superior principles by which God’s kingdom works, then they will see results that the corrupted ways of the world cannot match. This prepares them to want to know the Source of our wisdom: convinced disciples become willing (and lasting) converts. The Seven Mountains strategy carries this even further, calling for Christians to “invade” the culture shaping “mountains” of power as the best means for transforming nations and preparing them for spiritual harvest.[5]

The Great Compassion

The outward focus of our call to action looks to the physical realm of bodies and societies. It is concerned with temporal justice, not eternal salvation. One would expect that a converted individual or society would have a fully alive compassion and an impartial sense of justice—that the inward grace of conversion would overflow in all of our outward ways. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen like that. Perhaps that’s why the Lord made compassion and justice a command of the New Covenant.

Ultimately, we will be judged as nations by how well we acted according to this divine mandate, not by the number of converts we made.[6] James warns us that faith without “works” is dead. The love that we are shown by God through Christ is meant to carry us forth into transformed ways of loving our neighbors. Of necessity our own conversion has to come first—we need to be saved! However, once faith come to us and the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” then faith will wither and die if we don’t let it carry us out into the world of pain around us, seeking to be part of God’s answer in other lives. Consider these ways of serving:

1) Compassion Ministries

Between private charities, church outreach, and Christian ministries there never has been a time when so many avenues have been opened for working with the poor and afflicted. Matthew 25 clearly shows how important it is to the Lord that we learn to love others by attending to their physical needs.[7] Even so, the poor are not our top priority—the gospel is.[8] Everyone, both rich and poor, powerful and powerless, is in desperate need of the gospel and of genuine and lasting conversion. God has no favorites; He sees everyone’s needs, both spiritual and physical with equal compassion.

2) Everyday Work

Any legitimate form of employment is also a way of serving others. When we do what we do as “unto the Lord,” He floods us with a sense of purpose and contentment.[9] Why? Because He wants to work through us and we are letting Him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. At the very least this means He loves to help us learn to do things the right way. He loves a job well done! This pursuit of just and proper ways of working is the easily the most extensive work of God in the world, since it affects all of us who labor in any worthwhile endeavor.

3) The Seven Mountains Strategy

Lance Wallnau points out that Joseph was sent to Pharaoh’s court and Paul was sent to kings.[10] The best way to change “the mountains of power” is to get to the top of them. Unless we take seriously our calling to penetrate all the spheres of influence in our cultures, we can hardly expect to see real change come to the poor and oppressed. Naturally, the enemy knows this and has ruthlessly taken the higher ground wherever he can, even boasting to Jesus that he controls the “kingdoms of the world” and promotes whoever he wishes (i.e. those who sell out to corrupt and unethical ways in order to gain advancement).[11]

4) Signs and Wonders

Jesus went at it this way. He evidently lived for God in such a way that the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit went with Him everywhere. The poor not only had “the good news preached to them,” they also were set free from physical illness and demonic oppression.[12] Whenever this compassion way of reaching out is pursued successfully, there is often an explosion of converts. A thrilling blend of our two great tasks.

One More to Explore

Two True Testaments  We have been given, not one, but two Testaments of scripture in the Bible. Obviously, we need them both and it would be a mistake to neglect either one. But it would also be a mistake to think that they can be read the same way. We who believe in Jesus have been brought into the new and “better” covenant which the New Testament contains. We read the Old Testament as believers in the New. Put your gospel glasses on, if you want to keep your understanding grounded with a proper perspective.

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Great Commission Scriptures

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20 ESV

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 ESV

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:45-47 ESV

So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:6-9 ESV

Great Compassion Scriptures

Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:21-22 ESV

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' " Matthew 25:31-36 ESV

And he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Luke 7:22-23 ESV

On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2:7-10 ESV

Scriptures and Foot Notes

[1]  Matthew 28:16-20. See the Great Commission Scriptures section.
[2]  Peter tells us that the Father is holding off the time of Christ’s return due to this one overriding desire—that none should be lost: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV
[3]  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, with humility and fear. 1 Peter 3:15 WEB
[4]  I say then, have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Romans 11:11 NKJV
[5]  This is a fascinating and fairly new vision for advancing the gospel of the kingdom. It’s chief messenger is Lance Wallnau. See
[6]  See Matthew 25:31-46 in the Great Compassion Scriptures section.
[7]  See the Great Compassion Scripture section.

[8]  I have spent much of my time in ministry working with the poor through soup kitchens and shelters, as well as in the Third World, so I am all for what I’m calling here the Great Compassion. Nevertheless, I am also aware that we have a higher calling. It was Jesus who set the priority by sending His disciples out with the Great Commission. His words in this passage are instructive: For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. Mark 14:7-8 ESV
[9]  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 ESV
[10]  Paul was pleased to collect offerings for the poor, but his mandate was for those in highest authority:  But the Lord said to him [about Paul], "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." Acts 9:15-16 ESV
[11]  And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. Luke 4:5-6 ESV
[12]  And he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them." Luke 7:22 ESV

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Like John the Baptist, forerunners go before the Lord to prepare His way into their own heart and other lives. That's your heart too, isn't it?

Rescued from Hell

I'm Steve, a former hippie and carpenter, now a passionate follower of Jesus.

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