The Great Commandment and The Great Commission – How Do They Fit Together?

Greetings Friends
This post is different from the previous posts you may have read. As we try to understand the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in Matthew 22 & 28, David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley provide a clear presentation of how they work together and evidence their intrinsic link to one another. The following is a short analysis of the book The Great Commission To Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism, by David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley.
Check out their book for yourself here.

David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley provide the church with much-needed clarity toward our role in the Great Commission. Moreover, they provide a new and fresh way to look at the concepts of worship and evangelism by showing their symbiotic relationship to one another.[1] The authors provide a useful guide for Christians to leverage in their understanding of true biblical worship. Biblical worship is infinitely more than several praise songs on a Sunday morning,[2] it is a lifestyle pursuit that will continue into eternity.

This lifestyle pursuit does not come without challenges. According to Wheeler and Whaley, if we truly love Jesus then we will engage in evangelism. Perhaps Christians believe this but why does it appear that few accomplish this imperative from our Lord? In quoting W.O. Thompson, the authors believe that a Christian can only lead someone as close to Jesus as they presently are.[3] This requires a critical evaluation of the Christian to examine his/her life. Are we not effective in evangelism because we are not close enough to Jesus?

This is, in my opinion, the thrust of the book – Great Commission Worshipping begins with the individual for the ultimate benefit of the collective. To win souls for Christ, we need to lay aside our desires and follow Jesus. The authors take us through a prerequisite checklist[4] designed to incite the proper disposition for a preparation of the heart. This requires sacrifice. In other words, if we are not willing to spend time with God to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, it is doubtful that our evangelism will produce much fruit. The authors believe that the purpose of evangelism is to be used by God to bring about transformation in the life of another,[5]  then we must first draw close to Jesus and be transformed.

Formational Worship

According to Wheeler and Whaley, formational worship is a two-way street.[6] Years ago, a mentor told me that “we do not expect to get stronger by staring at weight machines. The same is true of our spiritual lives.” Our relationship with God is a two-way street and we must work hard in seeking him. This work in no way justifies us, but is rather a preordained requirement to know our God. Simply put, it evidences the essence of our love for him, which is commitment.

When I was a freshman in college, I began to walk away from the Lord. Late in my freshman year I was searching under my bed for something of insignificance. To this day I cannot recall what I was looking for. Nevertheless, as I searched diligently I heard a voice say, “do you search for me this hard?” Now, you would think that something of this magnitude would cause a person to yield immediately. Sadly, I brushed God’s voice aside, continuing to seek for something that was of no value.

As I look back on this moment in my life, I am certain that God was calling to me. As I continue to understand that worship is a two-way street, it seems that this way begins with an open invitation from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Being this the case, our response should be to run in his direction and praise the fact that we have a street to follow. Moreover, praise him for the fact that he keeps this “two-way street” open in our depravity.

Upward Relationship

Wheeler and Whaley discuss a desire for God in the quest for “Upward Relationship.”[7] This is of importance as we seek to understand the nature of desire. In Psalm 37:4 ESV, we read that God will “give” us the desires of our heart. Is it possible that God implants new desires in our heart? Desires that are in line with his will and purpose for our lives? This is the proper interpretation of this passage as there are some who misinterpret it to mean that God will give us a new Ferrari! If there is none who do good, as psalm 14 says, then it stands to reason that there is none who desire good, apart from the Christ. Jesus affirms this when he says no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44).[8]

Action Plan

If the servant evangelist can only lead the non-believer to a level of spiritual depth held by the servant evangelist,[10] then it is a requirement on the part of the servant evangelist to develop a deep relationship with God. The first step for the servant evangelist is to incorporate the use of the spiritual disciplines into daily practice. In Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, an introduction to the value of the spiritual disciplines is given as well as examples to begin practicing them.

The servant evangelist must continually seek God and allow for the Holy Spirit to transform him/her into the manifestations of God’s nature. This does not happen overnight, nor does it happen all at once by simply praying one time. It is a lifestyle pursuit of worship that focuses our attention on God, the reflection in our lives is not simply a better “us” but rather Him. To begin a fruitful lifestyle as a servant evangelist, we must seek God daily and use his ordained methods for communication and spiritual transformation.

Training

According to Wheeler and Whaley, we cannot be adequately trained as a disciple from a weekend seminar or an introductory book. We must be placed into “real-life situations”[11] that train us. These situations force us out of our comfort zone and into the spiritual battles that are raging around us. It seems to be an axiom of life that we are unwilling to accept. Why? Is this unreasonable and untrue in other areas of life? In the employment industry, employers want experience. Applicants apply for positions and are met with a scrutinizing gaze which evaluates solely on one’s experience. “Thank you for your application, we regret to say that we hired an applicant with more experience.”

We accept this response and seek more experience to better our career. The result of this disposition is fruitful as we apply for a new position, confident in the experience that we have accrued, and receive the offer. The same is true in evangelism. The first time we evangelize, we may make mistakes. The second time we evangelize, we may make more mistakes and so on. But as we learn and gain experience, we will be better prepared to serve the Lord in the most challenging of situations. Is it possible that each time we step out in faith and evangelize, the Lord places us in specific situations that we are equipped for? I believe so. Then perhaps the real battle is listening to Satan rather than listening to the Holy Spirit? Each time we evangelize, it may be someone who years earlier we would have never been able to speak to, but as God works his mysterious process of sanctification, we are equipped more fully each time we speak for him.

Lastly, it is important for the servant evangelist to focus on a process of Cyclical Discipleship.[12] “Without this full cycle of reproduction being evident in a person’s life, I believe he or she is hard pressed to wear the name of Christ with dignity.”[13] A sobering reminder for self-reflection as to whether or not we are Christ-Followers.

For the servant evangelist, our efforts must be focused on coming alongside of fellow brothers and sisters to walk with them as they develop their relationship with Christ. This should radically change the contemporary view of evangelism from simply “yelling” in the streets, to “walking and serving” with the lost. We are called to be slaves,[14] and Wheeler and Whaley remind us of this fact. Our mission is not to yell but to walk and serve.

[1]  David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley, The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2011), 13.

[2] Ibid., 49-54.

[3] Ibid., 152.

[4] Ibid., 54-58.

[5] Ibid., 81.

[6] Ibid., 62-80.

[7] Ibid., 96-98.

[8] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011).

[9] Wheeler and Whaley, The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism, 99.

[10] Ibid.,152.

[11] Ibid., 136.

[12] Ibid., 136-142.

[13] Ibid., 140.

[14] Ibid., 142.

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