“Jesus went to Nazareth… and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue… The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He [read]: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ He began by saying to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21
In Jesus’ first recorded sermon, He revealed that the Spirit anointed Him “to preach good news to the poor” and “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” When Jesus explained from His text of Isaiah 61:1-2, that this proclamation was not only to the Jews but to the Gentiles as well, “all the people in the synagogue were furious” and tried to kill Him. (Luke 4:28-29) From the very beginning of His controversial ministry, Jesus’ radical revolution centered on “proclamation” to the whole world – Jew and Gentile!
Of the first few months of Jesus’ ministry after His baptism – the Judean Period – only the temptations by Satan are recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. However, John records that during Jesus’ Judean ministry, He told Nicodemus that to enter the Kingdom one “must be born again of the water and spirit.” Then immediately following in John 3:22, we read, “Jesus and His disciples went out into the Judean countryside where He spent some time with them and baptized.” From John 3, it is clear how Jesus began His ministry. He preached and baptized, while training His disciples to do the same. His dream of evangelizing the world was being multiplied into all of His disciples’ hearts! This is confirmed in the next few verses, “Now John [the Baptist] also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and the people were constantly coming to be baptized… [However,] the Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized but His disciples.” (John 3:23, 4:1-2) Though John had people constantly coming to be baptized, it was obvious even to the Pharisees that Jesus was gaining more disciples, because all of His followers were baptizing! Daily proclamation by Jesus and His disciples produced the multiplication of baptisms!
After John was put in prison, Jesus returned to Galilee from Judea “proclaiming the good news of God.” (Mark 1:14) Then in Mark 3:13-14, Jesus’ plan to proclaim the good news to all nations becomes more apparent. After a night of prayer, from all of His disciples He chose twelve “that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” Jesus focuses on a few with proclamation as their mission. Later, He appoints 72 others to go out “into His harvest field.” (Luke 10:1-3) Knowing the number 12 is purposeful in paralleling the 12 sons of Jacob in the old Kingdom of physical Israel to the 12 apostles in the new Kingdom of spiritual Israel (the church), the number 72 must also have great significance. We know Jesus paired the apostles for proclamation. (Mark 6:7) Therefore, I believe, that since there are six pairings of apostles, then each pairing of apostles would have 12 disciples of the 72 under their charge! In this way, Jesus was teaching the Twelve to replicate His ministry!
After His resurrection, Jesus commanded the eleven faithful apostles to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded [them].” The Greek literally says, “baptize the nations.” Jesus commanded the apostles to “baptize the nations” through proclamation during their lifetime. This was foretold to the apostles in Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:9-14, “You will be… persecuted and put to death and… hated by all nations because of me… And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” Almost every conservative Bible scholar agrees that “the end” in this verse refers to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Confirming Jesus’ prophecy and vision to evangelize the nations by 70 AD are Paul’s words written around 61 AD, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing… [and] has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven!” (Colossians 1:6, 23)
After Jesus’ return to heaven, to fulfill His charge to “evangelize the nations,” the apostles continued daily proclamation. In Acts 5, the apostles were arrested and flogged because of their preaching. Then “they left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is Christ.” (Acts 5:41-42) Proclamation was happening every day! Even after the martyrdom of Stephen, the Scriptures teach, “Those [disciples] who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4) When a church stops its daily proclamation, all that is left is “a reputation of being alive, but [it is] dead.” So Jesus says to them, “Wake-up… and repent!” (Revelation 3:1-3) Dying churches (and dead movements) must heed the words of Christ and repent, or new congregations must be planted to obey Jesus’ charge to “baptize the nations.” Let this be clear: the primary reason behind starting new congregations in God’s new SoldOut Discipling Movement is proclamation!
Some have suggested that daily proclamation was only for Jesus and the apostles; yet if we are followers of Christ and His apostles is this not our call? After all, Paul wrote, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) In Acts 19:9-10 in the early days of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, “Paul took the disciples with him and had daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the Word of the Lord.” Here “nameless disciples” are daily proclaiming the Word. Also of interest, as with Jesus and the apostles, the proclamation in Ephesus is in a group – just like our methodology of “Bible Talks!” Lastly, it must be noted that in two years time, all Asia (what is today western Turkey) was evangelized! During this period the “seven churches of Asia” in Revelation must have been initiated! So encouraging is the thought that western Turkey is larger than most states in America and several nations around the world. This passage should give every disciple the faith that every state in America and every nation in the world can be evangelized by Jesus’ plan of daily proclamation by multiplying disciples!
This past week, the evangelists sent-out by the Spirit at the 2012 Global Leadership Conference to proclaim the gospel around the world, have all given encouraging reports. From Boston, Coltin Rohn shares that since the 16 member mission team has landed, God has blessed them with 11 additions – one baptism, eight place memberships and three restorations! Three of the place memberships came directly from our former fellowship seeking revival; of special note is Frank & Cydnee Hines, who were full-time in the Boston ICOC. Also, restored were Sal DiFusco and Tim Power, who served as full-time ministers in our former fellowship, as well.
From Mexico City, Vic Gonzalez, a Mexican by birth, is so fired-up about the efforts of the 13 member Mexico City Mission Team! After an Inaugural Service last week of 72 in attendance, two students from UNAM (a campus of 269,000 students) have been baptized and one single professional sister has been restored! In Paris, Tim Kernan preaches all of his sermons and leadership meetings in French, and amazingly in just 10 weeks, the 11 disciples on the Paris Mission Team have doubled with 11 additions! In San Francisco, Mike Underhill reports that the 28 member team had 151 at their Inaugural Service and has been blessed by God to have three restorations and five baptisms since their landing in August!
Equally exciting is what the Lord is doing in Orlando! Interestingly, the Orlando Mission Team’s prayer goal is for 100 additions their first year, which – to be “on pace” – would mean an amazing 20 additions these first ten weeks! However, Matt Sullivan reports that after the 30 disciples of the remnant group were added to the 13 members of the Orlando Mission Team, God has graciously given them 27 more additions – 19 baptisms, 2 restorations and 6 place memberships – amazingly “more than all [they] asked or imagined” in their prayer goal! (Ephesians 3:20-21)
City of Angels Church, in helping to send-out these mission efforts, we have sacrificed gallant leadership, dear relationships, and of course, finances. Let us be assured that though many of us “feel the pain” of these sacrifices, when we get to heaven and see all of our new brothers and sisters, we will know that our “labor [was] not in vain!” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Let us never forget that the Portland Church “out of the most severe trials, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity, [as they gave their missions contribution]… even beyond their ability” so that the City of Angels Church could be planted. Therefore, in preparing for next week’s 5X Thanksgiving Missions Contribution, let our gratitude spring from our appreciation of the incredible financial sacrifice of the Portland disciples who sent the mission team to Los Angeles to save us – by baptism, by restoration or by having our faith revived by placing membership! If you were not reached through the prayers and efforts of the City of Angels Church, this principle still applies no matter which of the SoldOut Movement Churches that God used to bring you to Him!
Therefore, let us continue to joyfully and wholeheartedly obey Jesus’ great commission by having the heart to go anywhere, do anything, and give-up everything for the cause. Then, and only then, will the proclamation to all nations in this generation be fulfilled once again! And to God be the glory!