Dr. Timothy Hill’s Message: Time Is Too Short, To Wait Too Long. A Must Read!
Dear Visionary Leader,
Can it be done? Is it really and truly possible for the church, the body of Christ on earth, to finish the Great Commission? Is the idea, the concept, rational? Is it practical? Or is it just another dream or promotion? Almost any pastor or leader is going to confront this question; and the power and passion with which he or she becomes involved is going to depend on honesty and conviction.
To begin, we must specifically define the goal. In seeking partners to Finish the Great Commission, I am not attempting in any theological sense to prescribe or preempt the heavenly Father’s sole custody and knowledge of the time of Christ’s return. Rather, these pages merely key in on Christ’s command-Go take the message of His salvation to the entire world (see Mark 16:15).
Even from human perspective, the line between possible and impossible constantly blurs. Much of what once seemed impossible is now common to everyday life. On December 3, 1967, when South African surgeon Christian Barnard performed the first human heart transplant on Lewis Washkansky, most of the world considered his task impossible. However, the surgery was a success. Today, heart transplants are performed regularly, and open-heart surgery is almost common.
Who could have imagined a few years ago the total transformation technology has brought to everyday life with computers, cell phones, all aspects of what is called social media, and continuing globalization? The Gospel of Luke records the Lord’s confrontation with the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-27)-one who turned away sorrowfully, unable to commit. Jesus commented: “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (v. 25 KJV). Puzzled, the disciples asked Him who then could be saved. The Lord’s reply is certainly applicable to the task before us: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (v. 27 KJV).
The acronym FINISH stands for . . . Find, Intercede, Network, Invest, Send, and Harvest. It is an awesome and ambitious goal! It is challenging! And it is, hopefully, one to which every sincere pastor and believer can commit.
It can be done, because:
We Have the Mission Power
Paul reminds us that “God…hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [in other words] that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word [power and authority] of reconciliation. [Therefore] we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 KJV). An ambassador is the highest-ranking person who represents his or her own government while living in another country.
Too often believers speak and sing of being pilgrims and strangers on this earth-which we are-and either forget or overlook that we are ambassadors of the King. Our citizenship is really elsewhere. We are laying up treasures in heaven. We are praying daily to the Father in the name of our High Priest who stands by the throne making intercession for us; and we recognize this earthly assignment is but a brief one. Nevertheless, while here, we are ambassadors with full rank and authority to speak and witness for the heavenly Kingdom. We have been invested with the word of salvation. We have mission power-ambassadorial authority.
Consider what that means. The United States ambassador, even while dwelling in Moscow, walks on sacred U.S. soil and lives within a protected cocoon. He or she cannot be arrested by local police, cannot be taken to court, and cannot be subjected to harassment and embarrassment by political functionaries. All the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship belong to ambassadors in a foreign land. So it is with us. We represent another Kingdom. We walk and talk and minister in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord, so much so that He told us, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18 KJV).
His mission power is given to every believer, and every believer is charged and commissioned to do all that is possible to see that the whole world hears the gospel.
We Have the Manpower
The church differs from all other earthly institutions. Consider a state university, for example. It is made up of hierarchical layers of boards, administrators, professors, assistant professors, teachers, maintenance personnel, and other worker bees. These may interact on occasion, but the separate protocols are never seriously breached.
Holy Scripture affirms the church is a living organism. The church consists of many members, each connected and dependent on the others, pulsating with eternal life through the Holy Spirit. When one member is in pain, other members feel it. All members work together. Each member is vitally important. Paul writes, “But now are they many members, yet but one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20 KJV); and again, “…whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it” (v. 26 KJV).
Most believers feel, see, and comprehend this oneness in Christ as it relates to the local church or congregation. Rightly so, for it is locally that each is nurtured through the Word, comforted through a loving touch, and blessed within the fellowship of saints. However, to grasp the broader scope of mission, and to become a passionate visionary of the FINISH challenge, one must think in more grandiose terms-one must think globally. Is that not the emphasis of John 3:16? “God so loved the world”-the whole world!
Consider this: Weekly, year-round, thousands of excited sports fans crowd into football stadiums, shoulder their way into basketball arenas, or climb up into the baseball stands of this nation, all excited and yelling for their earthly heroes. The crowds are impressive; the enthusiasm catching. Ever wonder how many people in the United States attend such events during the course of a year?
These are the statistics for major sports attendance this past year (2015-2016):
National Football League (NFL): 17,510,312
National Basketball League (NBA): 22,000,000
Major League Baseball: 73,760, 020
That total is the official attendance for the entire year.
Now think of this. Even taking the lowest Gallup Poll estimate of 39 percent of people in the United States who attend church weekly-that means more people are in church each week than attend major sporting events all year long. What a resource! Just here in the United States of America, and we all know the Church, the body of Christ worldwide, is far, far greater. No question about it: we have the manpower, the people power, to take the gospel to the entire world. Our challenge is to partner with others, to harness this power, and direct it to the single greatest task Christ gave His church.
We Have the Media Power
As with no previous time in the history of the world, we have the media power. When the German printer Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, about 1440, none could have dreamed of its revolutionary impact. None could have imagined the Protestant Revolution, followed by the Industrial Revolution, and all the power and impact communication would have on the masses. Other forces were present, of course, but few single events sparked more change in daily life than the printing press, leading eventually to what the world has come to call the rise of Western civilization.
As the twentieth century closed and the twenty-first opened, our world was experiencing another transformative change-one that can be called the Technology/Media Revolution. The computer chip has revolutionized virtually everything that occurs in the daily life of the average American. From grocery shopping to face-to-face conversations with friends and loved ones worldwide, to instant visions of places and events that bring both elation and horror, our world has changed. It will never be the same again.
This change in technology brings for the church an unprecedented opportunity. Now, one can literally speak to a global audience. Of course, there are silent spots around the world, there are yet dark areas where the gospel light does not shine; but that does not negate the fact that the opportunity to FINISH the Great Commission is more feasible than ever.
Social media, television, the Internet, instant messaging-all lend themselves to a broadening opportunity for sharing the wonderful news. We have the media power. We now must adapt and make use of it.
We Have the Money Power
Unquestionably, the United States of America is the richest and most blessed nation on earth. Even with more recent economic setbacks, when compared to other nations of the world, the United States remains the number-one nation. This means the church in the United States is blessed in a manner comparable to none other.
True, many Christians feel the pinch of economic downturn. Few families have totally escaped the recession. Nevertheless, true believers recognize God as the source of all good things, including financial blessings, and they honor Him with their tithes and their offerings and with their charitable contributions. Those who live every day, conscious of the presence and providence of God, and those who recognize they “live and move and have their being” in Him are not hesitant to accept the Great Commission challenge.
Believers may find many excuses for not taking the gospel to the hurting world, but one is hard put to think it is from lack of money. Hearts that love God are hearts that love others. Those aware and conscious of God’s grace and goodness in their daily lives-upon their children within their personal relationships-are also those who reach deeply and give even sacrificially in order to bless others.
Within the Christian community, most everyone is aware of the Lord’s blessing upon the widow who gave out of her need: “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them . . . ‘that this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living'” (Mark 12:42-44 KJV). The love of God in human hearts motivates giving and the spreading of God’s banquet, gospel table, even at great sacrifice. At times when there seems to be no money, God supplies the need. God’s church has money power based on His promises!
We Have the Ministry Power
More important than the others mentioned above is the fact that we have ministry power. Jesus said it most explicitly, “You shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8 KJV).
All the human resources one can gather, all the data, all the brilliance and energy, and all the combined efforts of the millions of believers count for nothing without factoring in the power and authority of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus promised to be with His followers always, “even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). He keeps that promise. Even when two or three gather in His name, Christ is in their midst through His Holy Spirit (see Matthew 18:20).
For Christian believers, the Holy Spirit is life and breath. He is Comforter in times of sorrow, and He is strength when energy fails. The Holy Spirit is inspiration when doubts assail, and He brings all things to remembrance at just the right moment. The Holy Spirit not only anoints the preacher’s words, but He also drives those words unerringly into hungry hearts, convicting of sin and bringing sinners to the cross.
History is replete with stories of great revivals where God’s Holy Spirit moved mightily to harvest souls for the Kingdom.
John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of Methodism, was also known as a mighty preacher of the gospel, winning thousands through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Wesley’s contemporary, and probably the most famous religious guru of the eighteenth century, George Whitfeld (1714-1770), was also an evangelist. He spread the first Great Awakening to Colonial America. It is said Whitfield preached at least 18,000 sermons to no less than 10 million people-his words empowered by the Holy Spirit.
D.L. Moody (1837-1899) became most successful in post-Civil War America. Along with all his other well-known accomplishments as a Bible teacher, publisher, and college president, he was also an evangelist who attracted thousands of people. President Lincoln visited at least one of his revivals, and Moody had a personal relationship with President Grant. When Moody went to England in 1873 and spoke at the Royal Botanic Gardens Palace, attendance ranged from 15,000 to 30,000. His words were made alive through the Holy Spirit.
The paragon of twentieth-century evangelism, of course, is William (Billy) Franklin Graham (1918-present). During his active years, Graham filled stadiums all across the United States; his sermons always focused on the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Graham’s personal ministry made him counselor and confidant to presidents. He was a welcome guest in the halls of Congress, and He always recognized his ministry depended on the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
In addition to all these, there has come what is now recognized as the great Pentecostal/ Charismatic Revival. Throughout these United States and Canada, in Central and South America, throughout the Caribbean Islands, across Europe, down into and over the continent of Africa, into predominantly Muslim Indonesia, and even China and the Far East, a mighty wind of God’s Holy Spirit is blowing. Miraculous things are happening. Thousands are coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Such a revival can only be the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is time for the church to stand up as never before; time to see the mighty harvest; time to expend every drop of energy; time to dedicate every instrument of service; and time to minister in the name of Christ the risen Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, thus taking this life-changing, eternal message to the whole world.
We have the people who can do it; we have the mission authority; we have God’s promise to supply the money; we have unbelievable technology and media tools; and most of all, we have the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit himself, at the helm. With His power and guidance, we can FINISH THE GREAT COMMISSION.
Time is too short, to wait too long . . .
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. Timothy Hill
Church of God