The cultural mandate, which is often referred to as social responsibility, goes as far back as the Garden of Eden.
God gave them his blessing and said: Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the ocean, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth. – Genesis 1:28
We are held accountable for the well-being of God’s creation. In the New Testament we are told that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. The concept of neighbour, as the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches includes all of humanity.
With the evangelical mandate, humans had been alienated from God. God’s nature was made clear by the first words He spoke —
The Lord called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:9
God immediately began seeking Adam.
How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news. – Romans 10:14-15
Bearing the gospel which brings people from darkness to light is fulfilling the evangelistic mandate.
Prioritization of evangelism however best reflects the New Testament doctrine of mission and that is Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and we move out in Jesus’ name to do the same.
This is rooted in the Great Commission which appears in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts.
Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. – Matthew 28:19-20
What is a disciple? A disciple is one who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, a new creature in Christ. and who is known by their fruit.
Is setting goals and placing strategy based on the Great Commission a way of expressing faith? It is putting substance in things hoped for.
We are to strategically go into the world, preach the gospel to every person and make disciples of all nations – panta ta ethne. God is not willing that any should perish.
A steward is entrusted to fulfill great responsibilities – we are stewards of the mysteries of God – a parallel expression of the gospel. What is the gospel for? It is the power of God for salvation. Stewards are to be found faithful and successful.
In other words, if we are investing resources of time, personnel and money in programs which are supposed to make disciples but are not, we need to reconsider them and be willing to change the program if needed. Jesus’ parable suggests hat if the fig tree does not bear fruit after an appropriate lapse of time, it should be cut down and the ground used for something more productive.