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Theology > Church > The Purpose of the Church > Mission > Proclamation of the Truth


Once the Truth has been experienced—on the moral side through conversion that results in a new creation, and on the intellectual side through the renewing of the mind that results in a Biblical worldview—there is a growing urgency to spread the Word, to evangelize, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Matt. 28:19-20). The Truth cannot be contained; it must be shared. Missions is the mandate of Truth!

Missions is the inevitable response of the believer to the experience of Truth. But what methodology is to be utilized? What approach can be justified by Scripture because it is consistent with the Truth of Scripture? Does the Truth itself teach us how it is to be spread? Does culture determine the methodology, or is there a methodology that is acceptable in any culture? Is methodology to be discussed in relative terms or in absolute terms? What is the answer? Simply stated, the answer is: the Truth is to be affirmed; it must be proclaimed.

Affirmation is Proclamation. To affirm is to proclaim; to proclaim is to teach; to teach is to preach; to preach is to speak; to speak is to affirm. In other words, these are not different practices, but different words that are used to speak of the same practice. They are all one and the same.

A consideration of Paul’s approach in Acts, especially during his second missionary journey, reveals the prominence of affirmation and Paul’s commitment to the proclamation of the Truth. In Thessalonica there was a synagogue of the Jews, and for three Sabbaths Paul “reasoned” (dialegomai: to converse, to speak, to discuss - Kittel) with them. What was the essence of this “reasoning?” The text records that he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3). The reasoning, explaining, and demonstrating were all anchored in the Scriptures; it was not a rational argument in that it appealed philosophically to the mind and reason by the use of proofs. Rather it was an affirmation of the person and work of Christ as He was predicted in the Jewish Scriptures. Paul affirmed and interpreted the Old Testament in light of the events in the life of Jesus. “And some of them were persuaded” (v. 4). This pattern is repeated by Paul during his travels recorded in Acts.

Leaving Thessalonica Paul went to Berea and into the synagogue, where his presentation was the expounding of the Scriptures. After hearing Paul speak, the Bereans “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (v. 11). The message they heard was the message of Scripture.

In intellectual Athens Paul had the opportunity of addressing Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and others who were intrigued by some new thing. To them he said: “I proclaimed to you” (v. 23). And he did. He proclaimed God as the Creator (v. 24), as a Spirit-being (vs. 24, 29), as self-existent (v. 25), as sovereign (v. 26), as omnipresent (v. 27), as the One who sustains all things (v. 28), and as the future Judge (vs. 30-31). A summary of what the Scriptures teach about God characterized his proclamation. There was no appeal to “proofs” for what he asserted. He merely preached Truth!  In response some “mocked” (v. 32) and some “believed” (v. 34). It should be firmly noted that all of this was a “new thing” (v. 21) to them. Paul informed their ignorance, giving them a concise lesson in theology, and said that God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (v. 30). With the affirmation comes a command.

Moving to Corinth Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (18:4). Moved by the Spirit, he “testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 5). Surely his reasoning, as in Thessalonica, was related to the Old Testament Scriptures and their prediction of a Messiah who Paul claimed was Jesus. “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (v. 8). The beginning of salvation is in the “hearing”; and the hearing must be a hearing of the Truth. Following the “hearing” there should be “belief” and following belief is “baptism.” The Corinthians where like Lydia who “the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (16:14).

For three months in the synagogue in Ephesus Paul was “reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (19:8). Forced to leave he continued in Ephesus for two years “reasoning daily . . . so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (vs. 8-9). Paul did what he had done in Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. He asserted the Truth concerning God and His Son, Jesus the Christ. The word that was proclaimed was the word of the Lord Jesus. Referring to his stay at Ephesus Paul stated: “I kept back nothing that was helpful but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (20:20-21). Also he said: “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (v. 27). Constantly Paul testified “to the gospel of the grace of God” (v. 24). He knew nothing else. He did nothing else.

Whether to Jews in the synagogue, to doubting intellectuals, or to searching Gentiles who were interested in knowledge, Paul’s method was the same. He proclaimed Truth, and then he depended on God to make the Truth effectual. In writing to the Corinthians Paul stated: “I, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God; For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:1-2). Paul was not sent to baptize but “to preach the gospel” (1:17), and the preaching was “not with wisdom of words” (v. 17). Therefore the Jews who requested a sign and the Greeks who pursued worldly wisdom were given the gospel which to them respectively was a “stumbling block” and “foolishness” (v. 22). But to the “called” the crucified Christ was “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24). It is the Truth and the Truth alone which issues in life. And the authority of the Truth resides within the simple affirmation of the Truth, not in some supposed relevant methodology devised by man.

The charge of the believer is the proclamation of the Truth (the Word, the Gospel). Jesus came “preaching the gospel” and saying “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-5). To believe the Gospel is to believe what is written. To believe the Gospel is to believe in Jesus, and to believe in Jesus is to believe what is proclaimed concerning Him, the facts of who He is and what He did. To believe is to be captured by the One who is the “Truth.”

It is improper to contrast trust in a person with belief in facts or propositions, for you can only know a person by knowing the truth about that person. To believe in Jesus is not to believe in someone devoid of substance; Paul says: “Him we preach” (Col. 1:28). Paul preached a definite Christ. In the immediate context Paul is preaching the Christ who indwelt the Gentiles (v. 27); in the larger context Paul teaches that Christ is the Revealer of God, the Creator of all things, the Head of the church, and the Reconciler of all things (1:15-22). Paul defined the Christ he preached.

To believe in Christ is to believe some definite things about Christ; it is to believe what the Word teaches. Christ is the Christ of the Gospel; there is no other Christ. Christ is the Christ whose history is recorded in the Gospels. It is impossible to believe in Christ and not believe what the Word teaches about Christ. To claim to do so is to be deceived and to believe in a false Christ. One cannot believe in the Person while rejecting the Revelation about the Person.

The proclamation must be definitive,
informing men of what they must believe and
commanding them to believe it.

Return to: Purpose of the Church; Next Article: Dependance on the Truth

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