Trust the I.C.E. - During the Lord’s final instructions before ascending back into Heaven, Christ issued a three-part assignment - go, make disciples/teach, and baptize (Matthew 28). These three areas are the too often neglected core activities of the Christian life.
To help us make real-time applications to these assignments, I will use a series of descriptive synonyms that form the acronym I.C.E.
The first assignment Jesus gave during the “Great Commission” was simply to “go” (Matthew 28:19). Do you not find it interesting that He didn’t tell us specifically where to go, He just said “go”?
The ability to take initiative is, without doubt, one of Jesus’ most favorite human attributes. After all, we were created in God’s image, and if there is one thing that God is, it’s creative. Jesus loves to see our initiative. It is the essence of true worship.
Consider Christ’s birth. Who told the wisemen to bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh? PERSONAL INITIATIVE!
How about the triumphant entry? Who told them to lay their garments and palm branches on the street in honor of Jesus? PERSONAL INITIATIVE!
What about the parable of the talents? Who told the five-talent man to invest his master’s money? PERSONAL INITIATIVE!
And, perhaps my most favorite illustration of all, think about the sinful woman who humiliated herself in front of all those pious men. Who told her to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and dry them with her hair? PERSONAL INITIATIVE!
Back to our assignment - “go.” Can you not see that initiative is essential to carrying out the “Great Commission”? The teachings of Reformed Theology (Calvinism repackaged) have distracted the Christian movement from its prime directive. The doctrines of TOTAL Depravity, UNCONDITIONAL Election and LIMITED Atonement push us toward humanitarianism, not evangelism. Calvinism inspires good works in place of “seek and save the lost.” “Who can know who is truly saved?” they argue. “Just keep them comfortable and God will sort it out when He collects those He has preselected for salvation and damns those He has preselected for torment. We have no influence over God’s choices.”
Jesus, on the other hand, says “go,” identify potential “disciples,” and lead them beyond the hopeless false teachers, the impotent religious conversations and the worldly humanitarian service projects - BAPTIZE THEM!
If we are going to complete the first part of our Divine assignment - “go,” we must embrace our personal initiative born of the creative image given to us by God Himself. We are NOT totally depraved! We are NOT unconditionally elected! He did NOT abandon us to a limited atonement! We are on an assignment to reach all the world and the “Great Commission” demands that we use our own personal initiative to complete it!
They ain’t comin’ to us! We must GO!
After initiating initiative with the general instruction, “go,” Jesus said to make disciples and teach them. In other words, we are called to be communicators of His values.
The importance of effective communication cannot be overemphasized! When the Holy Spirit opens a door and our personal initiative recognizes that moment as evangelistic, it is imperative that we be prepared to communicate effectively!
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) - “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Please notice from this verse the three parts of effective communication:
1. “Always be prepared” - This is the reason daily Bible study is so important. Notice I said “study” not daily Bible reading. Casual reading of God’s Word is good, but studying it (a deep pursuit of life changing truth) is essential to being prepared for communication. Always let the Bible interpret the Bible. Resist the devilish trappings of human wisdom. Study 2 Timothy 2:15.
2. “to give an answer to everyone” - This is not to say that we must become a walking encyclopedia of Bible knowledge. The goal of our communication is not necessarily to be able to answer every Bible question, but rather... Well, you do the study! Read the full context within the verse. What is the subject we are called to master? A: The answer we must always be ready to give is the account of our own unique story of the discovery of “hope.”
3. “the reason for the hope that you have.” Lastly, the Holy Spirit instructs us to learn how to tell our own salvation story effectively.
Q: Do you have a confident expectation (biblical hope) that you will live with Jesus eternally?
Q: How did you arrive at that hope?
Q: What makes you think that your hope is worth the investment?
Q: What makes you think that your hope is secure?
Q: Why would anyone else be convinced by your hope and, therefore, want to pursue their own hope in Christ?
Answer these questions effectively and you will be ready to complete the second part of the Lord’s “Great Commission” - make disciples and teach them (Matthew 28:19).
After we exercise initiative (go) and communication (make disciples/teach), Jesus commands us to expect a new life decision (baptize) as the result.
This is what separates RESTORation Theology from most of the rest of the Christian movement. Due to the unfortunate half truths of Calvinism, most of Christendom de-emphasizes this final instruction of the Lord. REFORMed Theology has convinced them that, because we are “totally depraved,” we are totally powerless to participate in our own salvation process. If we teach Christ’s command - “baptizing them” (Matthew 28:19, NIV), and if we teach that it must be done for the purpose Christ commanded - “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16, NIV), our obedience to His words would mean that humanity IS personally responsible to reach out and accept salvation (Acts 17:26-28). According to Calvin, that simply cannot be.
Because Christ’s instruction does not harmonize with Calvin’s doctrine, Reformed Theology elevates human teaching over the Divine. They tweak the biblical command (REFORMED Theology) and create doctrines such as “the sinner’s prayer,” “accept Jesus into your heart,” and reduce baptism to an “outward sign of an inward grace.” In other words, baptism doesn’t save you as Jesus said in Mark 16:16. It is only a demonstration that you are already saved.
But what does the Holy Spirit say? Forget Calvin! Forget Reformed Theology! What does God’s Word say about baptism?
Notice Roman 6:3,4, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
In this passage, we are told that baptism is the very door which leads us “into Christ.” As such, it has to be more important than just an outward demonstration of an earlier salvation! How could that be if we haven’t even entered Christ yet?!!!
We also find that baptism is a duplication of the greatest event in history - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Every time a person is baptized, he/she duplicates the very steps that Jesus took in order to save us from our sin. Baptism is like an instant replay of the day Christ defeated Satan. It is a demonstration that you are being saved, NOT that you are saved already!!!
Your personal salvation is the most important issue you will ever face in life. Don't trust human wisdom!
Q: Why does baptism receive such persecution from Reformed Theology (Calvinism repackaged)? Everyone accepts the essential nature of hearing, believing, repenting, and confessing. Why does baptism face such stiff resistance?
A: Satan knows that baptism is the very threshold into Christ (Roman 6:3-4). Satan views those other steps as acceptable losses so long as he can keep us outside. If he can keep us just one step shy of entering Christ, he wins.
ABUNDANTLY CLEAR: If you are not in Christ, you are not in the church! You may attend regularly and participate in her programs, but if you are not in Christ you are not in the church. You may even be a seminary graduate, an officially ordained pastor, but if you are not in Christ you are not in the church. Only God can add to the church (Acts 2:47). Only those who obey Romans 6:3-4 by coming into Christ are added. Yes, baptism is essential for your salvation and your citizenship! Those who preach otherwise are self-absorbed false teachers and imposters. Do not trust mortals with your immortality!
Those who teach that salvation comes before baptism or without baptism are guilty of blaspheming the very death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! They are self-serving and they must be called out! "These people are blemishes at your love feasts..." (Jude 1:12, NIV)
Jesus told us not only to take initiative and communicate His values, He also told us to expect results. He told us to require a new life decision (BAPTISM) from those who wanted to be added to the church! The sinner’s prayer is not enough! Asking Jesus into your heart is not enough! Reducing baptism to an “outward sign of an inward grace” WILL NOT SAVE!
Have you been baptized for the purpose of forgiving your sins (Acts 2:38)? Don’t trust Calvin! Trust Christ!
Are you teaching the entirety of the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28, Mark 16)? Don’t be a false teacher like Calvin! Teach the whole truth of Christ!
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