Is the Great Commission only to Apostles?

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Mrs. Bailey, Feb 22, 2010.

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  1. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    As noted, I have already engaged. Follow your link back to your articles and see where you have linked them on Puritan Board in the past and you will see my assessment.

    He has provided linguistic arguments; your article does not address those arguments. Simply taking sides with what you consider to be the majority postion of "most competent sholars today" is, basically, unscholarly.

    That is beside the point. The point I made is that you are using Carson's Exegetical Fallacies in a way he repudiates in the Introduction to his book. If you do use this as a textbook to teach others, you are all the more responsible to ensure you are using it in a right manner.
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    The 2009 threads are located here:

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Is it possible to remove some of the hyperbole accompanying this discussion? I have separate questions for Matthew Winzer and Bob Gonzales.

    Matthew, is it possible, that outside of those actions that are the province of the ordained minister, such as baptizing and sending (calling and equipping those to be sent), that you see a dichotomy between evangelism and evangelistic related work? In other words, you seem to be indicating that evangelism is a particular function of the ordained minister while he is functioning in that capacity; whether it be during a sermon, counseling session, or pastoral visit. Evangelistic related work would be the efforts of lay people sharing their faith in Christ with others. This sharing, while capable of being used by God (and I believe biblical and historical precedent support this claim), is not strictly defined as evangelism according to your view. Is that a fair assessment, or I am drawing a wrong conclusion of your position?

    Bob, you said to Brad:

    What counts as "cowardly"? What must a Christian do in the are of evangelism? Is evangelism an imperative for each Christian, or is it a function that a Christian can elect to participate in? In order to be honest with the reason for my question, I freely admit that I came out of a Jack Chick type of Christian background where guilt was to be heaped upon you if you missed an opportunity to share the gospel. Instead of sharing my faith out of joy, sharing became a duty; it became rote. I concur with you that believers ought to know the Gospel well enough to articulate it (Heb. 5:12). The reality is that our people are going to have different levels of understanding as well as different abilities. We want them to be bearers of the light, but what does that mean in reality?

    Some general comments: Since my eyes were opened to the doctrines of grace I have seen the sharing of the gospel in a different light. While there is never an excuse for willful ignorance, I came to experience a new-found liberty in my Gospel witness. My skills (or lack thereof) of persuasion didn't matter. I no longer had to "push" a person to make a "decision" for Christ. I realize this is a bit off topic. The thread was dealing with evangelism and the warrant for lay people in participating in it. But I believe my comments are somewhat related in that ordained ministers are ultimately responsible for the equipping of the saints. Part of that equipping is to impart a right understanding of the Gospel. There is no need for those under our care to feel guilt or unwarranted fear about sharing the Gospel. I know some dear saints who are not cowardly about their faith, but are desperately afraid about initiating any type of conversation that may result in confrontation. I want to encourage and comfort these saints, not bludgeon them. There are different ways that a person may share their faith in Christ. Some do have a holy boldness to speak to strangers and articulate the Gospel. You may see these type of people bringing Christ into the public square. Others may be better off sharing their faith in acts of mercy, such as visiting those in the hospital or a nursing home. Still others are gifted in working with children. Ministers can/should encourage their flock to labor in these areas according to their skills and desires. Perhaps these methods would be termed "sharing" as opposed to "evangelism." I suppose it depends on how you define evangelism. I'm getting the impression, in this thread, that evangelism is being used as both a noun and verb.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  4. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    I KNOW so. Define what is meant in Acts 2:47, regarding "church." Their are two possible meanings. The first is,

    (LBCF 26:2)All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.


    (LBCF 2:5)Those thus called, he commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the world.

    I believe it is referring to the universal church; i.e. Article 2, above. Please note that it was the Lord who added them, in 2:47; not some ordained minister in some religious ceremony.

    But, IF you decided it was a local church, it STILL would not prove your point, since God "added" the ones being saved to the church; therefore salvation and addition to the church are necessarily and logically separated.

    And the Lord added to their number day by day /those who were being saved (ESV).

    No, my friend, it does not. As an evangelist, this is something that I have studied a bit. The Greek word "euangelion" is the word for gospel, and it means "good news." People are described using the noun form of the word, which means someone who tells the good news (a "good news-er").

    Now, their is only one person, in all of scripture, who is called an "evangelist" (although nearly every single person in the New Testament is said to proclaim the good news). He does not "baptize" people into a particular local congregation (there is no explicit reference to this). We see him traveling around, and the one baptism that he explicitly does, is in the public square, far from any local church, and is in essence a "believers" baptism (no textual debates please! I have studied the passage, am aware of the variants, and have no wish to derail the thread.) Further, IMMEDIATELY afterward, he is "carried away." This man was saved; yet not a member of any local congregation.
  5. Dr. Bob Gonzales

    Dr. Bob Gonzales Puritan Board Junior

    Yes. Forgive me. Moreover, reread the comments I made in response to Brad. They were sarcastic and unwarranted. I do believe laypeople have both a privilege and a stewardship to share the truth of the gospel with unbelievers in keeping with their level of gift and providential opportunities as I argue above. Accordingly, I don't think supporting a church financially, listening to sermons, and praying for the lost is enough. We should always be ready and eager to confess Jesus before men. Nevertheless, I had no warrant to attribute Brad's apparent failure to concede this stewardship to "cowardice" on his part. Please forgive me, Brad.

    Bill, I'm not sure why we need to replace "evangelism" with "sharing." Does the NT data compel us to do so? I think I've demonstrated above that the NT predicates the terminology used for the communication of the gospel both to clergy (i.e., official ministers) and non-clergy (i.e., laity). Just as there may be a more specialized used of "Apostle" and a less-specialized, more generic use (see 2 Cor. 8), so the terms "preach," "evangelism," and "witness" may be predicated of the clergy or the non-clergy.
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    I personally use the term "evangelism." I injected the word sharing earlier in my question to Matthew. I'm waiting to read Matthew's response. Perhaps he was not intimating that a believer cannot or should be discouraged from sharing their faith in Christ, while leaving evangelizing to the ordained minister. It may be an exercise in semantics.
  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    This discussion seems to always boil down to definitions.

    Dr. Gonzales, do you believe an evangelist is a 'minister of the word'? If not, what do you do with Eph 4:11?

    Also, I don't think it is a fallacy to argue that 'lay-evangelism' as a moral obligation is a fruit of Finneyism. You obviously disagree, but it would be helpful to me if you could cite some Reformed/Puritan sources that demonstrate the universal moral obligation of evangelism. Is the universal moral obligation to do more than 'share your faith' but 'evangelize' an historical church doctrine?
  8. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    I know your question is directed at Dr. Bob, but I'd like to weigh-in on this topic.

    Is there a moral obligation for "lay-evangelism"? It depends on what you mean by the term. If we are saying that each Christian has a moral imperative to share the gospel verbally with unbelievers, and that by not doing so they are being disobedient to Christ, I would have to disagree. However, there is a scriptural imperative that our very lives should be a witness of our faith.

    If someone is intrigued by our walk and manner of speech, and they inquire into them, should we shrink away from sharing with them the Gospel? Of course not! I hope that all of us are agreed on that. There is no moral or scriptural imperative against sharing our faith. If a Christian feels compelled to share the Gospel message with someone who is lost, should we prohibit them? If so, on what grounds? Would it be that more Christians understand the Gospel well enough to share it with others. But must they do so? Is there a compulsion from scripture to do so?
  9. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Although we strive to obey the bible in it's teachings, as we all know different views of what the church is, what the passages teach ,lead different churches to much different conclusions on this topic. this can even be influenced by our eschatholgical position.

    Noah moved with fear preparing an ark to the saving of His household, and yet we read this also..

    Was Noah an ordained seminary man? Was it only His life and moving with fear that was a
    preacher of righteousness...or did he also verbally warn those around him?

    The padeo view of Mt 28/make disciples baptising infants as the primary means of God adding to His church might effect your view of the great commision.
    That is to say... attend church services , home school ,christian school, seperation from the world that some times leads to an insulation and isolation from the evil dark world leading to many raising the charge of being guilty of world flight
    If the ordained person alone is the only person capable of evangelism,what is left for the
    "lay-person". A silent witness? waiting for someone to ask us the reason for the hope that is within us? God can use this type of ...witness in His providence as he sometimes does.
    Is this the only model however?
    Here is a bit of David Engelsma from a book he wrote dealing with His amillennial view of the world ,reacting against in part.Gary Demar and other postmillenial views,theonomists etc.
    These first two quotes come from his writings jewish dreams, here is a link to his defense of amillenialism A Defense of (Reformed) Amillennialism
    I am not saying that Prof.Engelsma would speak on behalf of all amillennial brethren but I enjoyed reading through his writings on this . I contrast it by reading the postmill men he mentions as well.
    As Bill and others have noted there are many credo churches who rush off to the other extreme views, chick tracts, 4 spiritual laws, romans road, raise the hand, walk the aisle.
    Radical lone ranger type of self appointed "evangelists". Do we have to go to the extremes however? Can lay evangelism be correctly done under the oversight of the church?
    You also have the fundementalists who are so seperated they are one step away from being amish/mennonites... world flight would not begin to describe them.

    I would be glad, even more than glad to be approached in public by an ordained minister of the word. This has never happened to me. If I were waiting to be approached by an ordained minister, i would still be waiting.
    Has anyone here on the PB been approached out in a public,{not at a bible conference} by an ordained minister and evangelized?
    I believe or would like to believe that most all of the ordained men here on the PB are actively serving the Lord, visiting the sick, and perhaps have a system of how they conduct evangelism. Some have and do write books, articles, blogs that can be useful in this way.
    But how does your face to face evangelism look during the week?

    I have only been approached publicly by lay persons,and that not nearly enough. I have been approached by cults,[jw] more than by believers.

    When I pray for my unsaved family members, friends , and work associates who are not church attenders I am praying that God will have them come across other believers who might be used of God to bring up the condition of their soul before our holy God.
    That the believer will plant the seed of the word, or remove obstacles to them being saved.

    Are you praying for the same thing? If an unsaved friend or relative of yours goes to shop for groceries and bumps into a solid believing christian...what would you like to see happen?
    A silent witness saying it is a nice day,and it might rain tommorow, or a believer who can engage your friend or relative in conversation that gets to gospel conversation,and maybe an invitation to church or bible study?
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    You have addressed one of my concerns and that is this: whenever someone argues that 'evangelism' is not a universal moral obligation, there are those who accuse him of arguing that some are morally obligated not to 'be a witness of their faith'. No one on this thread is arguing that.

    Is Matt 5 'evangelism'? Is an 'evangelist' one who 'let's their light shine'? Or is an evangelist a minister of the word? Dr. Gonzales seems to say that those who view an evangelist as a minister of the word, as in Eph 4:11, have somehow hijacked the true Biblical meaning of the word. I don't get that.
  11. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Ken, is it possible to have a small "e" evangelist and big "E" evangelist? The big "E" evangelist is the actual office of evangelist; whether it be someone set apart solely for the purpose of evangelism, or a pastor/elder who is a minister of the Word of God. The small "e" would be anyone who shares the gospel. The are acting in the role of an evangelist, just as a father is acting in the role of minister of the Gospel when he proclaims the Word to his family.
  12. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I know people do, but I don't think it is wise. Are there Apostles and apostles? Are there Prophets and prophets? Are there Pastors and pastors?

    According to the 'lay-evangelist' view, what is the difference between the duties of the Evangelist office holder and the duties of every Christian? If there is no difference in the duties then there is no 'office'. If there is no 'office' what happened to it?
  13. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Ken, so if a lay person shares the gospel, what do we call that? Evangelism? Sharing? Witnessing? Nothing? See my point? I'm not arguing that a lay person holds the office of evangelist. I'm simply asking what we call it when a lay person evangelizes? Or are we going to say that's not what they're doing?
  14. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I get it. The problem is there is always a violent reaction when someone proposes a different term for 'a lay person sharing the gospel'. Why are people accused of 'cowardice' or 'goat-like behavior' when all they want to do is keep scriptural categories distinct and clear?

    I repeat my question: According to the 'lay-evangelist' view, what is the difference between the duties of the Evangelist office holder and the duties of every Christian?
  15. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am glad the tone of the thread has been addressed. Had I seen it earlier I would have added infractions. Thanks Bill.

    I would just like to post a passage that seems to indicate that a non ordained person preached Christ in the book of Acts.

    It seems after his mention in this passage that he goes to Corinth for his work. He is given a commendation by the brethren for reception but is that the same thing as being ordained by the Presbyters?

    Paul mentions Apollos to the Corinthians a lot because it was probably his main ministering place. I don't know much about Apollos nor if he is considered an Elder or ordained man. I do know that Paul sets him up next to himself and Peter when he is charging the Corinthians to avoid their carnal divisions. Paul also says he is a minister in 1 Cor 3:5. But it isn't a signification of an Elder.

    BTW Damon,
    I disagree with what you said here. You have made a statement that I can't support in my experiences of the last 30 years.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  16. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Well Ken, not everyone agrees that the office of Evangelist exists today re: Eph. 4. Some say that office ceased to exist while others believe it is the duty of pastors and elders (2 Tim. 4:5). If it is the latter than we know that the office of pastor/elder has more than just evangelism as an assigned duty. Preaching/teaching, discipleship, administration of the ordinances/sacraments, spiritual oversight of the church etc. Evangelism would be just one duty of the office. What are the responsibilities of the lay person in regards to evangelism? This is what I tried to touch on earlier. Well, there is the command to live an obedient life to the glory of God (Matthew 5:16). I concede that there is no positive command for believers to share the Gospel. But neither is there a prohibition against it. I am not straying into Finneyism, I'm simply calling the activity of sharing one's faith exactly what it is: evangelism. Why is it a threat to scriptural categories to call an activity what it is? If Bob shares the Gospel with Fred, Bob is evangelizing according to the strict definition of the word. Why can't we just leave it at that without being pulled into Finneyism or hyper-Calvinism?
  17. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Bill, in a previous post, you said...

    I assumed you were arguing for an office called 'Evangelist'. If there is no longer an office called 'Evangelist' then so be it, but to my mind it is confusing when people speak of 'lay-evangelism' because it sounds like they are referring to a set of duties that is distinct from the office. I will rephrase my question: how do the duties of every Christian today differ from the duties of the now non-existent office of Evangelist? Is everyone now an evangelist? Does that mean that everyone now is an apostle and a prophet?
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Please read the passage. They were added to the church by means of being baptised by ordained ministry.
  19. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    The duties of a non-ordained Christian differ from an ordained minister (I'm combining evangelists, pastors and elders) in both scope and legality. Only an ordained minister is able to administer the ordinances/sacraments. Normally only an ordained minister can preach, although qualified lay people can do so under the authority of an ordained minister. What about evangelism? As I pointed out from 2 Timothy 4:5, ordained ministers are to do the work of an evangelist. Within the jurisdiction of the church evangelism is the responsibility of the ordained minister.

    So, what do we make of the lay person who wants to share his faith in Christ with his neighbor? I am assuming he is not prevented from doing so. Fine. I am also willing to concede he is not obligated to do so. But what if he wants to? Is this unlawful? If it's not unlawful do we not call what he is doing evangelizing? Would calling it evangelism threaten the lawful work of the ordained minister? I don't see how it would. The evangelism is being done one-on-one. I suppose we could remove the word evangelism and call it "a religious discussion centering on items of salvific importance." Ken, I'm not trying to be flippant, but I can't help but chuckle at not being able to call a duck a duck.
  20. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Bill, thankyou for your irenic tone. From my POV the sharing of one's faith is in no sense "evangelistic related work." It is not accompanied by the call to repent and be baptised. Hence it is not evangelism. It is not performed by one who has been sent. Hence it is not evangelism. It is not something which is done by necessity. Hence it is not evangelism. It is not something which adds people to the church. Hence it is not evangelism. It is not something which carries any divine authority or is promised any divine blessing. Hence it is not evangelism.

    The Bible is our rule of faith and life. It is not a mere guide which provides nice suggestions as to how to do things. It directs our faith and life, and if it is not in the Word we have no warrant for saying it is "of God."
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    So were these people violating God's will when they evangelized?
  22. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    What I appreciate about your response is that it dispenses with ambiguity. Thank you.

    While not advocating egalitarianism, how would you classify the work of sharing one's faith with another? Would you see God using such activity as a means of calling His elect even if such activity is either not normative or outside the scope and mandate of the church? Or could it be that such activity is useful, although it falls outside of evangelism in your view? The reason I ask these questions is because there is incontrovertible evidence that many have come to Christ through such a journey. I am one of them. Yes, I heard the Gospel preached by an ordained minister (if you consider the Assembly of God a true church). But prior to that time my mother and her friends literally hounded me with the Gospel message. I was hit square between the eyes about my sin and the need for a Savior. In my 31 years of being a Christian, I have met hundreds of people with a similar story. The first time they heard the Gospel was not in a church. Do we chalk this up to God using unordinary means in order to call His sheep?
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I was converted reading a Living Bible. The only gospel I had heard up to that point was no gospel at all.
  24. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    "a religious discussion centering on items of salvific importance" :lol: We could make it an anacronym! RDCOITOSI!
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Randy, textually, there is no indication of unordained individuals performing the activity described. Contextually, we have an immediate example provided in the preaching of Philip, a man endowed with office by the calling of the people and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, and who also gave evidence of an extraordinary call in the working of miracles.

    Bill, we must interpret Scripture by Scripture, not by personal experience. Our experience must be interpreted and reformed by the Word. What does the Word teach about salvation? Outside of the church there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. Church, ministry, sacraments are intricately tied to the doctrine of salvation in Scripture. We should not think of ourselves as ordinarily saved until we are added to the church by means of teaching and baptism through the church's ministry.
  26. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    You wrote:

    Are you saying that salvation can only occur in the church, the place where ministry, sacraments are intricately tied to the doctrine of salvation, or that is ordinarily the case, leaving open the possibility that someone can enter into the invisible church by other means? I just want to make sure I understand what you're saying. I appreciate your patience.
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Matthew, I also brought up Apollos near the end of page 2.
  28. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Bill, yes, I used the word "ordinarily." If Scripture is our rule then we must follow Scripture in seeking salvation. What Scripture sets forth is the ordinary way of salvation. If one were to be extraordinarily saved, we, by definition, could not ordinarily know it.
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Randy, I believe you quoted the pertinent section where Apollos was (1.) taught the way of God more perfectly, and (2.) went with the recommendation of the brethren, thus providing necessary order to his work.
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just for clarification. Here is an old very short thread on the Westminster and Belgic Confession of faith.

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