The Great Commission Sunday July 30, 2017

We as believers have two ordinances in the church. We have Baptism and the Lords supper or communion.

We believe that you are not saved by taking communion or by being baptized. However, you must be saved in order to take communion or to be baptized.

So why do we have these ordinances? Matthew 28:16-20, known as the Great Commission is where Jesus gave his disciples the marching orders for the church.

The disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions from Matthew 28:10, and go up this mountain in Galilee. Suddenly Jesus presents himself to them and in verse 17 we have a very interesting phrase, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Some doubted! The term for doubt here is not complete unbelief but rather it is a hesitation to accept something that seemed so impossible, it was hard to grasp. Some of the disciples struggled to believe that Jesus was alive and that he was exactly who he said he was. These same disciples who witnessed the feeding of the 5000, the feeding of the 4000, Jesus walking on the water, Jesus calming the storm, they witnessed the powerful natural disasters that took place when Jesus was crucified and many other miracles, these same men, who walked with God for 3 years, now doubted.

Now before we are too critical of these disciples, we too are prone to doubt and Jesus knew that. Jesus knew that the enormity of what took place when he was crucified and raised from the dead, is too much for us to fully comprehend and that is why we have these reminders, the reminder of Baptism and the Lords supper.

These ordinances are more than simply things we do. They remind us of who we are, they remind us that without the body and the blood of Jesus, we have no hope. Baptism is such a beautiful picture, when the person being baptized, goes under the water, they are showing that they have died to their old life, and have been buried with Christ. And then the beautiful picture of coming up out of the water, being raised to new life in Christ.

Jesus begins the Great Commission by saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

The authority Jesus has supersedes all earthly authority and all heavenly authority, he truly is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus didn’t assume this authority, it was given to Him by God the Father, the creator and sustainer of all things, Jesus had this universal authority given to him. The authority that Jesus had is secure because it has been given to him by the all-powerful, unchanging, uncreated God of the universe.

When Jesus says that all universal authority has been given to him, he sets the stage for what he is about to say next. Verse 19 begins with the word, “Therefore”, therefore, because he has the supreme authority, Jesus uses that authority to commission the disciples, and all who would follow him. With all the authority in the universe, Jesus says Go!

Notice that Jesus doesn’t, try to go, or if you have time go, or if it is convenient go, no he simply says; “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

This commission still applies to the church today, it still applies to all followers of Jesus today.

The phrase, “make disciples”, means win converts, win them for Christ by sharing the good news. Go out by the power of the Holy Spirit and win people for Christ.

The natural follow on from salvation is baptism, Jesus follows the winning of souls immediately with baptism.

If you have given your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but you have not been baptized, I strongly encourage you to be baptized. It doesn’t make you a Christian, but in obedience to Christ, you are making a public testimony of your new life in Christ, and I believe that God places a special blessing and seal on your life as you obey Him in baptism.

Verse 20 continues, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

This is the discipleship piece, we are not called to simply win souls for Christ, we are commissioned by Jesus to do that hard work of teaching, correcting, training and encouraging. This is sometimes where we struggle, we seem to think that once a person is baptized they automatically are transformed in every way. But that is simply not the case, they need grace to make mistakes just like we do. None of us are perfect, but we are all on the journey of growing more and more in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So, we have the Great Commission, to go, win souls, baptize them and disciples them. After Jesus gave the commission, did he just wave a goodbye, and disappear?

Have you ever been given an impossible task? A task that you know you could not do yourself, but you were told by your parent or your boss to go out and do it! Imagine these eleven disciples, Jesus just told them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Can you imagine how overwhelming that must have been?

But then Jesus gives them the promise that makes the Great commission doable, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus promised to be with us, he also gave the Holy Spirit to live inside of us as believers, we are not alone. This is not a task that we have to try and figure out on our own.

In fact, the Great Commission is only possible because of the promise and the gift of the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

What a comfort that is, God not only commissioned us to go, he also provided the power to complete that Great Commission. Let us be a church that always answers the call to go.

Samson part 2 Choosing the ultimate cause July 17 2016

Samson pt 2 Title.2-01

Judges chapters 14 and 15

I am sure most of you have at some time or another been called upon to lead in your life. It goes without saying that in order to be a leader, you need to have people following. A natural leader is one who, when he/she stands up and says; “let’s go”, people follow.

Leaders lead, because they have a cause, there is something they are passionate about and rally others around that cause. Sociologists tell us that this generation – the millennial generation are attracted to causes.

Being a Christian means that you are called by Jesus to the ultimate cause, the cause of saving souls for eternity. There is no greater cause. Quite often this is the most unpopular cause, if you truly obey Jesus, and put into practice what the Word of God teaches us, you will be in the minority, you will be going against the stream of culture. Unfortunately, even in the church if you take seriously what the word of God says, you will incur opposition, people will be provoked by your passion and many will push back, because the cost is too high. Are you willing to give your life for an unpopular cause?

Sampson was unconventional, and he did not follow the rules at all. He was a judge, a tribal leader over Israel for 20 years, but we don’t read that he rallied an army, he seldom had the support of the Israelites, in fact they opposed him. He was a loner and a rebel. But for all his faults, Samson saw the real enemy. Samson saw that the people of Israel were apathetic and had lost their way. They had not taken the land as Joshua had instructed, and were comfortable living in compromise with the Canaanites and the philistines.

Samson was a one-man army using unconventional methods, as a result even his own people didn’t approve of what he was doing. You can read some of his exploits in Judges 14 and 15. Judges 16:24 indicates that he had done many more feats than those listed in these two chapters, feats that had aggravated the Philistine people.


As we look at Samson’s life, one gets the impression that he was a fun-loving man, with a sense of humor not taking life too seriously. He certainly didn’t take his calling seriously, he paid little attention to the requirements of being a Nazarite. His strength was probably unlike anyone who has ever lived. The speed required to catch the foxes or jackals, and the strength to carry the city gate and part of the wall for miles were supernatural.

For 20 years, he fought a lone battle against the philistines and didn’t rally the children of Israel around the cause. Samson directed his attacks against the Philistines who were slowly taking over the land, infiltrating the culture, through intermarriage and trade. The Israelites did not see what was happening but Samson did and he fought against it.  God had appointed Samson to be the man to begin the process of freeing the nation from the Philistines.

Sometimes the enemy encroaches on us imperceptibly and slowly, we need to be alert to recognize the danger.

So who is our real enemy? Christians are known to fight for causes, and all of these are issues that need to be resisted, I am not advocating that we passively allow our nation to deteriorate into social atheism. However, I believe that sometimes we pick battles that God did not intend for us to pick. We need to ask God for wisdom and for direction to identify the real enemy (See Ephesians 6:12). Too often we see people as the problem, but Satan is at work, developing his schemes to steal kill and destroy.

Jesus said in the sermon on the mount; “You are the light of the world”, we need to be a people of the light, shining the light in dark places, not condemning sinners but proclaiming the Gospel in love allowing the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sin. Confront evil by shining light. What I mean by shining light, is not simply doing good things for people, we need to be presenting the Gospel message, pointing people directly to Jesus as the only way the truth and the life.

Many mission organizations and ministries I have come across have noble intentions, they are helping educate the illiterate, helping to bring fresh water to sick children, building houses for the poor and needy, all of these are necessary and we must support them (read Proverbs 19:17 and Isaiah 58:10).

But helping someone out of poverty, or giving them a new skill that will help them in life is a temporary measure if we do not lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:13-14).

We need to look at the temporary pain and suffering in light of eternity. Jesus is the only way of salvation. If we help people, pat them on the back and hope that by our actions, they will find Jesus, we are doing them a great disservice.

I recognize that this is not a popular message, it is counter culture, our culture celebrates the sports star who goes and helps the African village he comes from. Our culture celebrates the movie star who takes a child out of an obscure village and gives the child a “better” lifestyle with every conceivable trinket and gadget.

This is an unpopular message it is counter culture. It is similar to what Samson did, he provoked the enemy in order to wake up his fellow countrymen. What Samson did was not popular but he highlighted what was really going on.

As Christians let’s begin to think differently about the ministries we do. Do we share the Gospel? Or do we do good things, with the hope that people will one day think kindly of the church.

The reality is that there is only one cause that is ultimately worth our lives and that is the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20. That is a cause worth dying for, that is a cause that will demand a cost from us, possibly even persecution. But this is the only cause that has eternal rewards.

Let us be a Great Commission church, a church that is shining the light of Jesus in our community.

Playing our Part “Why we share the Gospel” May 29, 2016

Evangelism 2 Title.2 Luke 24:36-53

Why do we share the Gospel message?

In society there are two kinds of people, those who cannot stay in the same place for any length of time and those who dread uprooting and moving to another house, or city. Most people cannot imagine what it would be like to move to another country. This is the way God has wired us, neither is good or bad. Which of the two describes you? And what is your part to play in the mission of the church?

Last week one of our church members left for Cameroon and in a few weeks a team will be following her. Why do we go to foreign lands? For most people this is illogical, crazy even wasteful. Some would say that if you are going to travel to a foreign land, at least go to an exotic location, but not an African village with no running water? There must be a compelling reason for us to go?

In Luke 24 we read Luke’s account of Jesus revealing his resurrection to his disciples. He is alive! As the disciples are talking, Jesus appears in the room. It must have been frightening, Jesus simply appears out of thin air! Jesus begins to calm their fears and shows them his hands and feet, the scars, the real skin and bones. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead changed everything for them, and it means everything to us.  If he didn’t rise from the dead, the early church would never had started, and there would be no church and no hope.

Jesus proved that he was alive, by showing the disciples his hands and his feet, and allowing them to touch him.  But what proof does the world around us have that Jesus is alive? The reality is that according to the word of God, the world needs to look no further than you and me to see evidence of the risen Lord. Our testimony should be one of a changed life, a different way of living. Let your story be known, so that people will believe in the risen Lord (see Colossians 1:27).

Jesus begins to teach them, he explains the scriptures to them, in that day the Old Testament was established and recognized. This is what Jesus had just done for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as we read in verse 27.

As Jesus teaches them, he opens their minds so they could understand the scriptures, they were able to fully grasp Jesus in the Old Testament, what an amazing revelation that must have been.

Jesus goes on to tells them the wonderful Gospel message, verse 46; “He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” Jesus shows them that the Gospel is prophesied in the Old Testament, this is it!

Jesus continues by declaring that repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name (Jesus’ name) to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. Matthew records this in what we call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). This Gospel message, this message of salvation, is for all nations, every ethnic group and tribe.

Great Commission

The Great commission is not just for the disciples who were in the room that day, it is for all believers throughout all of history. It is not just for those who are trained as pastors and evangelists, or missionaries, it is for all who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In verse 49, Jesus tells his disciples to wait, they were not yet ready, they needed one more thing. They needed to power of the Holy Spirit in order to go.  Jesus knew that if they had gone out in their own strength they would have failed, they needed the Holy Spirit to lead in the mission.

We also cannot expect any fruit from the Gospel message without the Holy Spirit. We rely on his leadership and equipping as we share the Gospel message to the world around us. Note Jesus says, “be clothed”, be covered up with the Holy Spirit. Not just take a drink of the Holy Spirit, but be completely covered by the Holy Spirit, so that when you go, you will go in power. Just like being unclothed leaves one naked and vulnerable, without being clothed in the Holy Spirit, we are naked and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.

So we have the message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ – we have the empowering Holy Spirit – and we have the commission, the Great Commission. We have to go!

 boarding pass

Where is God calling you to go? Your home? Your neighbor? Your workplace? The streets of the city? Maybe God is calling you to the ends of the earth. We highlight and celebrate the international missionaries, and that is good, but we need to remember that the missionary who is led by the Holy Spirit to reach his neighbor or co-worker is just as important and valuable in the Kingdom of God.

You may say, I don’t have the ability? Have you clothed yourself with power from heaven? Of course you don’t have the ability, but be clothed with the Holy Spirit, it is a promise of God that we need to pray for.

You may say, I don’t have the means? Who is it who is inviting you to go? The maker of heaven and earth, the creator and sustainer of all things? Where He leads you to go, He will provide.

If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, you are called to go.