Jesus' Two Great Commissions:
Balancing Evangelism and Edification
by David Chadwell
published by Christian Education Video, Inc.
Copyright © 1991

The first half of the book is a careful reexamination of evangelism from the birth of Christianity to the close of the first century. The second half of the book carefully examines the extensive instruction given to first-century churches to edify the saved. It emphasizes Jesus' two great commissions: evangelize and edify. It challenges Christians to restore the New Testament's balance between evangelism and edification.



* Part 1 *
Great Commission Number One:
The Neglected Commission

* Part 2 *
Great Commission Number Two:
The Forgotten Commission


After many decades of mission work in China, Campbell N. Moody was discouraged at how little "his" converts had seemed to learn about and change toward Christian principles. That experience caused him to study the Christians of the second century, and he concluded that the majority of the believers had about as much understanding in them as is shown in the epistle of James (Moody, The Mind of the Early Converts).

This same experience is written in the New Testament, as David Chadwell shows in his book. But like Paul, Peter, James, John, and others, Chadwell believes something should be done about the situation.

In every generation it seems that God's spokesmen have had specific battles to fight on limited fronts. The Israelite prophets had to fight idolatry. Already in the New Testament, and certainly in the second century, gnosticism had to be opposed. In the fourth century, Christianity fought Arianism because of its view of the person of Chris. But battle issues usually do not mirror the essence of a group. The essence of ancient Israel was not that it fought idolatry, and early Christianity was not basically an anti-Gnostic movement. Nor was it later essentially an anti-Arian movement.

Ancient Israel was best understood as "the people of God," a nation whose existence was interpreted in terms of having a covenant with the "maker of heaven and earth." Her task was to glorify God, and only secondarily to oppose idolatry. In New Testament terms, Christianity should be interpreted in terms of a relationship with God through Christ rather than in terms of specific battle issues.

In the later eighteenth and nineteenth century, the people in Great Britain and the United States who sought to restore New Testament Christianity found themselves in battle over creeds and denominationalism. But the Christian's essential nature is not to be understood as some anti-credal or anti-denominational posture. That essential nature is to be understood in terms of the broad sweep of New Testament--better, biblical--thought. The danger is that people will interpret Christianity in terms of certain localized battle issues rather than in terms of its broader nature and purposes.

It is notably fundamental when New Testament writers say one should strive for holiness (sanctification) "without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). That does not sound optional. When Paul affirms that Christians are chosen in Christ in order "that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Ephesians 1:4), that sounds like God's purpose for people, not some attribute for super saints. When Paul says the absence of love negates the benefits of tongues, prophecy, faith, heavy giving, and martyrdom (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), that makes it rather fundamental.

David Chadwell seeks to lead the readers beyond their basic convictions about reaching others with the gospel. Foundational as evangelism is, and as necessary as it is for the propagation of Christian faith, it is a beginning in terms of God's overall intentions for his people. I commend the book as a wholesome treatment of the issues which are part of the very foundation of the Christian system. Individuals and groups should be able to study it to great advantage.

C. Philip Slate, Dean
Harding Graduate School of Religion
Memphis, Tennessee 38117

In Memory Of:
Ray Cope

Who believed a 13-year-old boy could preach, and who transported him to small, rural congregations all over Cumberland County, Tennessee, to preach to people who had no one to teach them.


Special thanks is expressed to Dr. C. Philip Slate, Dean of Harding Graduate School of Religion. In spite of an extremely busy schedule, he graciously consented to read this manuscript and evaluate its contents. His insights and recommendations were invaluable. His year of service on the mission field blessed him with knowledge and understanding of evangelism, his years of ministry blessed him with a good grasp of the work of edification, and his years of academic training blessed him with excellent insights into the Word. His unselfish assistance significantly increased the value of this book.

Deep appreciation is also expressed to Glenda Hendrix, Tommie Waters, and Kay Harmon for the hours of assistance in making technical corrections and proofreading. Without their assistance it would be extremely diffcult to produce written materials.

Table of Contents Part One

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