The Great Commission or Omission?

For years, during my itinerant ministry, when I spoke in churches on the topic of deliverance, I would commence my message by reading aloud Mark 16:15-19. Then, I would ask the congregation to raise their hand if they considered themselves a believer. Invariably, one hand per person in attendance would go up, regardless the size of the congregation. Then I would ask of those who raised their hand, those who had cast out any demons today to raise their hand. No hands would go up. Okay, then, this week, I would ask? No hands. Okay, how about this month. Still, no hands. This year? No hands. Ever? Once in a while, one or two hands went up, but most often, none. Then I would say, “I thought you all said you were believers?” And, pause for reaction. Uncomfortable snickers, would always ensue. Then I would inquire: “Jesus said that believers would cast out devils. Who lied, Jesus or you?”

Of course, that usually did not go over well, and made everyone uncomfortable, including the pastor, and every itinerant minister knows that pastors cringe and squirm and are the most uncomfortable person in the audience when the congregation is uncomfortable when their spirituality is challenged by a visiting preacher. Essentially, that’s an unspoken preacher faux pas, and pretty much guarantees there’ll be no invitation for a return engagement. But, nevertheless, with that as my introduction, I had the congregation’s attention in order to proceed speaking about the absolute necessity of deliverance for every believer as well as the need for every believer to be casting out demons, first from themselves, then their family members, then expanding out from there to whoever is receptive.

Someone once calculated from the accounts of the four Gospels that almost a third of Jesus’ ministry involved casting out demons or healing demonized people. In the incident of the Canaanite woman’s daughter, who kept prevailing upon Jesus concerning her daughter who she said was “cruelly demon-possessed” (Mat. 15:21-28), Jesus said deliverance was “the children’s bread.” By extension, this meant spiritual Jews, i.e., believers! Jesus never cast a demon out of anyone during His fleshly ministry who had not first professed belief in Him as Lord and the Messiah. In other words, Jesus never cast demons out of unbelievers, but only BELIEVERS!

This emphatically and categorically answers the question whether or not deliverance is for believers. The fact is: casting out demons is ONLY for believers!

Jesus said that when demons are cast out of a person, the void must be filled with the Holy Spirit, lest the demons return with seven other demons more evil than the first each, and the person then be seven times worse than before deliverance. Thus, this makes it unequivocally clear that only believers who have been infused with the Holy Spirit at regeneration, or the New Birth, are valid candidates for deliverance. Again I will say: Deliverance is only for BELIEVERS!

The institutional church (vis-à-vis the Church Jesus is building), by and large—despite the fact that the same Dunamis-Power of the Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus when the Holy Spirit lighted upon Him in the form of a Dove when He was baptized in the waters of the Jordan River by John The Baptist is available to every Born Again believer (and there is no other kind)—is so spiritually impotent that 500 trainloads of spiritual Viagra wouldn’t phase it. As one preacher quipped, the entire Pentecostal-Charismatic church combined is so void of power it doesn’t have enough to blow its corporate nose!

And, no wonder Christendom, as a whole, is powerless! The truth of the matter is that most people who attend church would say they are infused with the Holy Spirit, and many Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals would claim they are also baptized in the Holy Spirit, yet many in reality are devoid of the Kingdom of God. Why? Because Jesus said, “If I cast out demons by the (prophetic) finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you!” (Lk. 11:20). The Kingdom of God, which is the authority of God (Rev. 12:10), cannot come upon people until and as the kingdom of Satan is cast out of them, which only happens when demons are driven out by force, which, according to Scripture, is the only way demons ever leave a person once they gain entrance. They do not simply become discouraged for some reason because the person they have been occupying was Born Again or even because the person has been growing and maturing spiritually, for example.

Consequently, people can only manifest the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives commensurate with the deliverance they have experienced from the influences and bondages of unholy spirits. For example, evil spirits of anger, bitterness, resentment, and so forth, that have a stronghold over a person’s life, believer or not, will keep that person from being able to walk in the Spirit so as not to carry out the desires of the flesh as we are instructed to do in Galatians 5:16-17. It just can’t happen with any consistency! Those evil spirits (demons) that are maintaining a strong hold or influence over that person’s soul (Greek, “psuche,” the derivative of “psyche”), which is composed of the mind, will, and emotions, will strongly interfere with and constrain that person from being able to freely “walk in the Spirit” and thereby manifest the fruit of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22), in their daily lives.

Thus, the real bottom-line is that the Kingdom of God is only manifest in the life of a believer to the degree he or she is delivered from evil spirits. As I always say, there are only three kinds of people in this world: 1) those who need deliverance, 2) those who’ve had deliverance, and 3) those who are lying and denying.

The Great Omission
The very first commandment in the five-faceted “Great Commission” Jesus issued to the Church just prior to His ascension into Heaven was to “cast out demons!” (Mark 16:17). Casting out demons is the preeminent aspect of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the ongoing ministry of Jesus. Next to salvation itself and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, nothing in the Kingdom of God is more important, needed, and necessary. Yet, because the vast majority of churches have refused to obey Jesus’ commandments comprising the Great Commission, sadly, for the most part, in most churches, the Great Commission has been the Great Omission.

Indeed, this colossal spiritual failure is one of the primary reasons such a large percentage of individual believers and corporate bodies of believers are so spiritually impotent, and live out so little of the abundant and victorious life Jesus came to give us and won for us (cf., Jn. 10:10). As a whole, Christendom is caught up in doing everything but the works Jesus did during his earthly ministry—the works He said believers were also to do and even greater works (supernatural works of the Spirit) than He did during His Earthly life and ministry.

The Ministry of Jesus—The Model For All Ministry

All legitimate ministry emanates from Jesus Himself and is an extension of His ministry. Unless it emulates His ministry, it’s not legitimate ministry. Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year fleshly ministry is the model for all genuine ministry.

Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the BODY OF CHRIST; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. (Eph. 4:8-13)

The true meaning of this Ephesians text is that Christ, as the Head of the Church, prior to ascending on high to reclaim His seat at the right hand of God, bestowed these five giftings of ministry unto certain (“some,” not all) individuals of His choosing, for the purpose of equipping the saints (i.e., believers) for the work of the ministry. Contrary to the misconception that has prevailed for thousands of years, it is the saints, not the ministers, God intends to do the work of the ministry. Fivefold Ministers—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers—are the coaches, teachers, trainers, who are charged with equipping, training, and releasing the saints to do the work of the ministry. Metaphorically speaking, the saints are the “players”; Fivefold Ministers are the “coaches.”

For centuries the church at-large has indoctrinated believers with the mindset that they are merely the spectators, the audience, watching the professional clergy doing the work of the ministry. But that was never God’s intention or plan. The true role of the Fivefold Ministers is to equip the SAINTS to do the work of the ministry, which, again, consists of what Jesus modeled during and through His ministry in the flesh.

Then, as the passage indicates, the result of the saints being equipped, trained, empowered, and released to do the work of the ministry will be that the entire Body of Christ will be spiritually edified (literal meaning of the Greek word is to “charge up” as a battery is charged up) or built up, in every way God intends for the Body of Christ to be built up.

Doing the Works of Jesus

Jesus instructed His disciples then, as well as His disciples today, to “be about the Father’s business,” to “occupy” until He returns. The only way to comply with those instructions is by performing the works of Jesus, doing the things that He did during His ministry on Earth. I repeat: All genuine ministry is merely the extension and continuum of the ministry and mission of Jesus. And, Jesus’ ministry and mission, as we have seen, are summed up in the statement: “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). Thus, the primary purpose of all valid ministry is to “destroy the works of the devil.” The ultimate goal of all genuine ministry is to in some way destroy the works of the devil—in people, and to that extent his works and the effects of his works on Earth. The supernatural power to perform Jesus’ works is His dunamis-power; it flows from Him. And, His supernatural power is correlated to His purposes and plans. When we become connected with His purposes and plans, we become unrestricted conduits of His free-flowing dunamis-power!

Concerning His works, Jesus said to His disciples:

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.” (Jn. 14:10-12)

Cessationism or Continuism?

For centuries there have been “cessationists” who espouse and proliferate a theory that everything supernatural that Jesus and the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb are credited in the Gospels and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles with operating in, as well as the gifts of the Spirit delineated in First Corinthians 12 and 14, ceased from being operative and operable with the First Century Church and more specifically with the death of the Apostle John, the last living Apostle of the Lamb. They ascribe a number of reasons to why this is so, per their theory, none of which are scriptural. In fact, all their arguments are purely speculative, unscriptural, and in fact, extra-biblical, meaning based on propositions and sources that are extraneous to, or not found in, the Bible. The hard-fast fundamental theological premise is that all matters regarding doctrine and theology must be based upon the Word of God as the ultimate source of authority, employing proper, established rules of hermeneutics (Bible study methodology). But, the theories posited by cessationists are totally contrary to the Word of God, and rely exclusively upon the teachings of certain Bible expositors and teachers to which they subscribe.

The glorious and irrefutable truth, as I have stated over and over, is that Jesus’ ministry is the Model for all ministry. The overarching reason that the Gospels, or Synoptics, were written, was to provide the Church Jesus is building and of whom He is the Architect and Builder, with a Model for ministry. Jesus’ ministry is that Model. If Jesus did it, the Church is charged with doing it as well. Jesus indicated that when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (Jn. 14:12) Jesus was saying here, as He was in the Great Commission (Mk. 16:15-18), that all believers, beginning with the original apostles and disciples, were charged with carrying on His ministry after He ascended into Heaven. And, indeed, that is exactly what those believers did after Jesus ascended into Heaven:

So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. (Mk. 16:19-20)

Conclusion

The point that has been more than amply sustained with Scriptural evidence in this article is that the Great Commission with which Jesus, as the Head of the Church, charged the Church He is building, remains a standing mandate in full force that the Church has no other option but to fulfill. The very first tenet of that fivefold mandate is to “cast out demons!” This commandment given to the collective Church, in its application, is also charged to every individual believer, not only to cast out demons from others, but also to yield themselves to deliverance from any demons affecting them as well.

Yet, the problem that has continued for centuries is that no single doctrine or spiritual issue addressed in Scripture (excepting, perhaps, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit) has been so vehemently and vociferously resisted and rejected as the matter of deliverance, i.e., the casting out of demons. It is an issue concerning which the end-times Church Jesus is building must now summon the courage, against all the voices of staunch resistance, to take a resolute stand, knowing that it is the devil himself who is the ultimate source behind the resistance, for he has everything to lose when the people of God rise up to actually obey the dual command evoked by the Apostle James, “SUBMIT therefore to God. RESIST the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7).

It’s long past time for the Body of Christ to “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15) spiritually maturing to “a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), and FORCE the devil to FLEE—from individual believers and the collective Church! If the Church Jesus is building is to advance further in this last hour and see “the Kingdom come,” it must begin to embrace and comply with the first tenet of the Great Commission and begin to cast out demons!###

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