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Christ's Mandate to His Church to Disciple the Nations and The Apostolic Model

See the Apologetics Podcasts for an mp3 download of this study.

As we mentioned in lesson 3, Reymond offers 5 reasons why Christian theology deserves the church's and the world's highest interest and respect.  By Christian theology, we mean the study of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments by means of the historical, grammatical and theological approach.
  1. The example of Jesus' own theological method
  2. Christ's mandate to the church to disciple and teach all nations
  3. The apostolic model
  4. The example and activity of the New Testament church
  5. The very nature of Holy Scripture and the revealed Word of God
In the last few lessons we have studied reason number 1, the example of Jesus' own method.  In today's lesson we will move on to reasons 2 and 3.

Christ's Mandate to the Church to Disciple and Teach All Nations:

Christ not only modeled the study of scripture.  He commanded it.  Read Jesus' commission to his disciples after His resurrection in Matt. 28:18-20
  • What does He command them to do?  (The verb Go is a participle "as you are going")  What is the thrust of his statement?  The going or discipling / baptizing / teaching?
  • What does the words "lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" imply about the scope of His command?
Reymond states three intellectual requirements that Christ places on the church.
  1. evangelistic - reach effectively every generation with the message about Christ
  2. didactic (teaching) - correlate the manifold data of Scripture into a coherent system and to apply this knowledge to all phases of thinking and conduct.
  3. apologetic - to justify before a hostile world the existence of Christianity as alone the revealed religion of God and to protect its message from adulteration and distortion.

The Apostolic Model:

The New Testament is full of examples of the apostles fulfilling Christ's mandate.  This eventually led to the church's engagement in theology after them.
  • Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost (in Acts 2), reasoning in several places from the scriptures.
  • Stephen disputed with "the Synagogue of the Freedmen", "and they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke" (Act 6:8-11).  Stephen's own defense of the faith is a perfect example of apologetics as he defended himself from their false accusations.
They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;  for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”  And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.  Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?” - Acts 6:13-7:1
  • Paul (then called Saul) didn't loose much time after his baptism.  But immediately began to preach Christ in the synagogues, "proving that this Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 9:20-22)
  • Paul is stated to having a "custom", during his missionary journeys, of going to the synagogue to reason with the Jews 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 17:1-3)
  • Apollos, after Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and "explained to him the way of God more accurately", travelled to Achaia and "vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 18:28)
  • Paul did not limit himself to Jewish Synagogues, but also reasoned "in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there." (Acts 17:17)  This got him an invitation to address the Areopagus.
  • In Ephesus Paul started in the synagogue.  But "when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.  And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:9-10)  This is where it was spoken by Paul that he "kept back nothing that was helpful" (Acts 20:20) and had "not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27)
  • The various epistles within the New Testament also serve as examples to us.  Here are just a few examples.
    • Galatians - Paul vigorously defends the doctrine of justification by faith alone from "those who were of the circumcision".  He uses Old Testament examples and deduces logical conclusions from them.
    • This is also seen in Paul's theological exposition of the doctrine of justification in Romans.  He defends this doctrine from two of the major objections he constantly faced, that his doctrine of justification by faith alone granted men a license to sin (Romans 6-8) and that his doctrine of justification by faith alone nullified the promises of God made to Israel as a nation (Romans 9-11).
    • Paul uses some form of the phrase "What shall we say then" several times within Romans (Rom. 3:5,9;4:1;6:1,15;7:7;8:31;9:14,30;11:7) and then proceeds to deduce theological conclusions.

Discussion Quetions:

  • Do you think the church today has been sidetracked from Christ's mandate to us?  If so, how?
  • Why do people in today's culture seek to undermine the importance of Christian theology?  How do you think Jesus and the apostles would respond to such people today?
  • What are some examples of ways we engage in Christian theology in every day life?
If we are to help our generation understand the Scriptures and their saving message we too must arrange and deduce theological conclusions from what we gain from our exegetical labors in Scripture interpretation, frame them both didactically and sermonically, and be ready to "dialogue" theologically with this generation.  When we do these things we are doing theological work!  - Robert Reymond, Faith's Reasons for Believing. p. 54