Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
In many respects this is the final teaching which Christ gave to his disciples. They went to the mountain in Galilee where they had frequently been taught, and waited for Him.

All Authority
And He begins with 'All authority'.  Why?

Wasn't Christ the God-man before the cross?  Did He not have this authority before the cross?  Yes, He did - but before the cross sin was not yet defeated.  Death was not yet defeated. Satan was not yet defeated.  Though it was a certainty and would without question be the fact, it had not yet passed, until the cross.  And Satan still had something of an authoritative place in this world. 
Consider Mathew 4:8-9 where he tempts Christ to worship him...  And look at what he says to Christ in Luke 4:6, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish."  Yet Satan's authority extended to all the kingdoms of this world.  Nothing is said of heaven.

Christ is here telling us that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on the earth.  He won this authority by the cross.  Satan has been defeated.  May we never forget this!
We keep Satan aware of this fact, as we live in the light and under the command of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has not told us to take dominion over the devil or to take dominion in this world.

By the trickery of Eve in the garden Satan usurped Man's authority.  And when men yield not to the Lord, it is the default position that we yield to Satan.  So there is even a sense in which his authority was not even legitimate to begin with.  No, we are told by Christ to make disciples, not to take dominion. 

And how are we to make disciples?  We preach Christ. We preach His victory over sin.  Why then do we see suffering?  Is this now the evidence of Satan's authority? No!  To think like this is evidence of a faulty understanding of God's sovereignty.
Remember Job?  How that Satan had to gain permission of God to do those wicked things? (Job 1:6-12; 2:4-6)  Remember Joseph & his brothers?  Joseph tells us, "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Gen 50:20)

From the Authority question, let us delve into the commission itself.  First we see that we are to go.  Our evangelism is not to be passive.  Friendship evangelism ought not to be the primary place in the life of the Christian.  It may have its place, but we are to be actively engaging those around us.  This is a challenge to me and I suspect to you also.

Make disciples of all nations.
I believe the import is not nations as we think, but rather all the various people groups.  The word ‘all’ is not meant to be understood as in all people everywhere, but rather in all KINDS of people everywhere.  How can this be? 

The Scripture is plain and clear, that not all will believe.  Universalism may have nice sentiment on its face, but it is anti-biblical and ends up making God into an unrighteous judge who cares not for justice. (If this bothers you, think of Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan,& Attila the Hun and ask yourself if it is right for God to justify the sins of such unrepentant people).
‘All’ does not mean all in totality, but all as in every kind and in every place.  We are to be promiscuous in our evangelism.  No one is outside the sphere of our commission!

Teaching them
What of the content of our evangelism?  Christ!  His teachings are central, however I would remind you that it is not Christ's teachings alone which are at hand.  He Himself is our peace and it is by His stripes we are healed - so we see that it is more than the moral teachings and commands of Christ.  How?  In the statement, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  It is Him we preach and as Paul mentioned, Christ crucified! (1 Cor. 1:23)

Baptizing them
One thing I have left to discuss is baptism.  I left it to the end deliberately.  It is the first step of obedience in the life of the believer, yet by the first step I do not mean the door into salvation, which is repentance & faith, I mean that it is the command given to us to do upon repentance and faith.  It is a thing which is of an outward act reflecting such inward faith as made the Christian.  It is a public act.  It is a confessional act.  It is a declarative act that one stands by repentant faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, holding on to His gracious loving act by Christ of redemption.

By grace you have been saved... Praise the Lord!!

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