“The Great Commission Is A Command Not A Suggestion” 8-13-17

Last week we explored being faithful disciples. We explored prior to that how there is a war within us and we are also at war. Let’s keep thinking about being disciples of Jesus but let’s focus outside of ourselves. Let’s focus on others. So the question to begin is: How can we Make Disciples? And: How can we encourage others to discover Jesus for themselves? Yes how can we help those you are not in a real surrendered relationship with Jesus understand the importance of knowing Him and trusting Him?

Simply put, we need to allow God in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, and by sharing the truth of who Jesus is with those we know and love, and yes those we don’t know and don’t love. Jesus last words before He rose up into heaven are recorded in Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus said in Acts 1:8 “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore, (that means based on what I’ve done before this moment) go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

It’s simple, we have a Mission that God has given to each of us as His followers, as His disciples. These last words of Jesus are often referred to as the Great Commission. Sadly, many followers of Jesus treat these words as “The Great Suggestion”. It’s sad that in the 21st Century there are far too many Christians who think it’s ok to disobey Jesus. Far too many disobey things which Jesus clarified. Things he clarified like: anger, adultery, forgiveness, judgment, worshipping God first, and finally actually loving all neighbors just as Jesus did. His clarifications are always tied to basic commandments.

Let’s concentrate on this commandment Jesus gave: The scripture previously read, Matthew 28:19-20, clearly tells us that sharing the truth of the gospel is something that every Disciple of Christ is commanded by Jesus to do. It’s not just the job of the ministers, or the outgoing personable people, or special people. These words of Jesus are a commandment not a suggestion to everyone who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior. Each of us has a God given responsibility to share the truth about Jesus with others.

The Bible emphasizes that every follower of Jesus is to be involved in the ongoing ministry of the church, everyone has a God-given gift that can be used for His honor and His glory. As a pastor, I have a duty to God to share the truth. But that is not just true of me, that is also true of you, each of us as disciples of Christ, have the duty to care, to minister, to share the truth, not just with each other within the church but also with those outside the church.

Family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, Facebook friends, and anyone else, the people we meet while we are doing life. Not just at church events but anywhere and everywhere that God provides us the opportunity to share the truth. The Christian message, the Gospel, is good news for the whole world. As disciples of Jesus we are commanded to be the hands and feet and voice of God to others so God can finish the job.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:20 says “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” That’s big! We are God’s representatives, His ambassadors. Our task, our mission is to work with God to share the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that there is no other way to God except through Him. We are to share the truth that Salvation is a free gift to all who repent and turn to Jesus.

Yes, Jesus desires us to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus. Yes, we believe this is a free gift of faith. Yes, we believe it is more than just saying we’re a follower of Jesus. It is the surrender of our life to Jesus but Jesus added one more thing: He desires us to be used by Him to reach out to all those who have not done what I just described. Jesus didn’t ascend into heaven just for you and your benefit. It’s not about you!

Our lives should be orientated towards the purpose of spreading and telling the Gospel so that others will surrender. There is nothing we should consider more important. Everyone without Jesus needs salvation. The Bible declares in Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 tells us “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” Wow! That’s salvation, died to our old life and we get a new life and they will live for Jesus Christ!

Without complete surrender, without being different from the world, without the fruits of the spirit displayed in our life, we are kidding ourselves when we call ourselves Christian. As disciples of Jesus we belong to God now. We are not our own, we were bought with a price – the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for our sins. Being a disciple means no longer living for ourselves, we are called to live for Jesus who gave His life for us. To live for Jesus means to let Jesus live through us. Anyone can be “saved” if and only if they give their life, surrender their life to Jesus.

Whomever is without this surrendering to Jesus is lost, destined for Hell, and there needs to be a change of direction. There needs to be a change, a transformation, a definite repentance in their lives. That is why Jesus has commanded US to do something about it. Jesus has commanded US to GO. We are commanded to be Disciples who make Disciples. He has commanded US to be witnesses for Him, to communicate the gospel and make disciples everywhere.

Jesus expects US to be His witnesses, to know the truth of the gospel and to share it with others in the power of the Holy Spirit. As disciples of Jesus, The Great Commission is a command for each of us. A disciple is someone who learns from a master. If we believe in Jesus with saving faith we must be willing to learn from our Lord and serve Him. Every Christian is called to be a disciple. A participant not a passenger. Following Him, believing in Him, serving Him, telling others about Him.

Jesus has all the authority from God the Father to tell us what to do. This passage is Jesus speaking directly to each and every one of US. Commanding US. Jesus taught His first disciples many things. We also learn from Jesus as we read The Bible, as the Holy Spirit works in us, as God changes and transforms us by the renewing of our minds.

Through God’s Word we have learnt what the apostles learnt: the love of God, the commandments of God, the gifts and fruit of the spirit, the simple faith required, the sacrifice of Jesus, His death and resurrection, the reality of Heaven and Hell, all these things and more. Jesus instructed these things to be shared and taught to every generation of disciples. After the first disciples taught all these things to the disciples they made, those disciples in turn, followed the same command – the Great Commission.

Then they taught the next generation, who taught the next generation, who taught the next generation. Today, we are commanded to teach the next generation who will make another. This is God’s plan of salvation for the whole world, brilliant in its simplicity, the disciples of Jesus are to make disciples, who would make disciples, until Jesus comes again.

Jesus has promised one day he will return and on that day He will gather to Himself those who profess Jesus is Lord. Those who have surrendered to Jesus will spend eternity with Him, those who never knew the Lord Will spend eternity without Him, separated from God, and that will be excruciating. We don’t know the hour of His return but what we do know is every hour is one hour closer to His return. Time is short, the task is large, Jesus has told us to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel making disciples baptising them and discipling them so that they can disciple others.

Sharing the Gospel and teaching others is the Great Commission, as disciples we are part of the Great Commission. We must learn or be taught to do all things Jesus commanded in the gospel. Remember that Jesus did not teach only verbally, but also by His example, ministry and life. We also can teach by our example, not just our words.

Jesus words in Luke 24:46-48: “it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of His name to all the nations, all people, all ethnics, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.”

Jesus is telling us that we should share and preach the gospel, Jesus’ death and resurrection. John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Did you hear that? I AM SENDING YOU! YOU!
Jesus sends us, His disciples, not just to one or two, or just to people we like. Out of love for God we are called to share the Gospel with everyone because their eternal destiny depends on them hearing the message of salvation in Jesus. We must tell the gospel to others.

Remember that God is beyond our comprehension and can do things in ways we don’t anticipate. An opportunity to share the Gospel can happen when we least expect it so we need to be ready. How do we do that?
1. Be full of the Holy Spirit. Every day seek God, love God, abide in Jesus and listen to His voice. Keep your life right with God.
2. Be bold. Proverbs 28:1 says “The wicked flees when no one pursues, but the righteous is bold as a lion.” In sharing the gospel, God wants you to be bold. Declare Jesus saves, heals and delivers today. Say it to people like you believe it and expect it to happen. Speak of the need to repent, to believe, to receive Jesus as Lord, Savior and Healer and Coming King. Expect a response.
3. Be patient: Wait, watch and listen. Wait in the presence of God with a worshipful spirit. As you do this, watch to see what God is doing in the lives of people. See how the Holy Spirit is touching people. Move with the Holy Spirit. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Wait, watch, listen and obey. Pray.
4. Be Encouraged: Never let discouragement overcome you. Do all you can to build your faith. Pray that you will see the miracle of salvation in Jesus’ name. Yes remember the cross, remember the blood shed for your sins, but most importantly remember that Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and remember how He has changed your life and made you a new person that will never die. How can we not want to tell others?

God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We ought to care enough to act. To do something. Don’t just ask God to save them. Before anyone else cared, God gave his only begotten Son to be led away to die for our sins. The Gospel is Good News. We bring good news. God has done something for the needs of the world. This is good news.

Dare to believe that God will do something amazing in the lives of those you know and love and yes those you don’t know and you don’t love. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. Jesus Christ is the greatest lover of your soul, the light of your life, your Savior, your Lord and master, your leader, your friend the very substance of your life, don’t keep Him out of your conversation. Introduce your friend Jesus to people.

Open your mouth and speak the Word of God to people, the Gospel. Now is the time for change. God’s plan is for people to hear the good news that Jesus Christ paid for their sins, and conquered death for us by rising from the dead. May each of us be willing to Make Disciples as God has commanded us. May we willingly serve our Lord and Savior by telling others about Him.

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