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Approaching Sunday: We Pursue the Great Commission

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In Matthew 28, before Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He gives very clear and concise instructions to His disciples who are in Galilee worshiping the risen Savior. Jesus states, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This was a peculiar command to Christ’s followers at the time. Professor of New Testament at Palmer Seminary, Craig Keener reminds us, “Making disciples was the sort of thing rabbis would do, but Jesus’s followers are to make disciples for Jesus, not for themselves.”[1] These instructions were Jesus’ parting words, His big picture plan for his church. This was such a big picture plan that the disciples needed the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) in order to be obedient to a task of this magnitude. Although these words of Christ are clear, Christians throughout every generation are prone to complicate this simple, but profound command.

God through Christ has made the process of making disciples a reality and His commission to the twelve to evangelize his elect from every tribe, tongue, and nation is still relevant for disciples today. It is vital that Christians understand what Jesus’ command to make disciples means and how it should be applied faithfully in ministry.

Why Authority Matters

Pastor Shaun will be spending a significant amount of time on authority this coming weekend. Therefore, I thought it would be a benefit to tease out the implications of Christ’s authority for us as believers. We cannot think rightly about discipleship apart from understanding the authority of the resurrected Christ. Before Christ gives His commission to the disciples, He qualifies the command by claiming, “μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ” or “all authority has been given.” The word ἐξουσία or authority, means “power or right”[2] and is used by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:21 when he likens “God’s authority to that of a potter over his clay.”[3] Jesus commissions the disciples and sends them in His authority. This is not to say that Jesus did not have authority before, but this passage indicates the totality of Christ’s authority. The Greek word, πᾶς or all, demonstrates for us the totality of Christ’s authority. Theologian D.A. Carson states,

all dominates vv.18-20 and ties these verses together: all authority, all nations, all things, all the days… It is not Jesus’ authority per se that becomes more absolute. Rather, the spheres in which he now exercises absolute authority are enlarged to include all heaven and earth. The Son becomes the one through whom all God’s authority is mediated. It marks a turning point in redemptive history, for Messiah’s kingdom has dawned in new power.[4]

The implications for this cannot be overstated. The old cliché, “consider the source” finds itself at home in Christ’s authority. A messenger only has as much credibility as the one who sends him. The message of the gospel is powerless apart from the authority of Christ and Jesus sends Christians out with His sovereign authority. In other words, Christians bring good news in the name of their King. They are heralds on behalf of the Ruler of heaven and earth. This should drastically affect the way Christians engage in the delightful task of making disciples. The authority of Christ should produce a confidence that the message being heralded has power and will be applied to the lives of God’s elect. Therefore, Christians have no reason to be timid or ashamed in the message of the Gospel. An appropriate illustration of making disciples in the authority of Christ would be one of running through the streets in the warmth of the sun after a major storm has dissipated, throwing open cellar doors inviting people to come out and enjoy the warmth of the sun. We are inviting orphans to become sons and daughters of the most high King. God the Father has given Christ “complete freedom over all. This means; all freedom to impose His authority in heaven and earth, all freedom to impose his authority on every disciple and all freedom to impose his authority over every person and nation. On the basis of His authority, believers are to go and follow his instructions completely.”[5] Christians must remember that they comes in the authority of Christ and rest in God’s sovereign work of accomplishing His plan and purpose for the nations.

Order of Service

Grace Alone (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Welcome and Announcements

As It Is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9-14)

Lord I Need You (Selective Reading: Psalm 16:5-11)

How Great is Our God (2nd Samuel 7:22; 2nd Chronicles 2:5; Job 36:26)

Sermon: We Pursue the Great Commission by Pastor Shaun Brown

Offertory

Closing Song: Grace Alone (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

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[1] Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 130.

[2] William D. Mounce, ed. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 47.

[3] Ibid.

[4] D.A. Carson, Matthew, Mark, Luke, in vol. 8 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 133.),terVarsity tPress409ounseling.ries Worldwide, 1998),ugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2013),trating the sufficiency of Scriptur

[5] Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Word Studies in the New Testament (Chattanooga: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1998),131.

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Using Your Gifts for God's Sake, Not Yours

If you are a believer, God has given you a spiritual gift. You may be a mercy shower, leader, teacher, evangelist, or servant. We find lists of the gifts in multiple places in the New Testament: Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. These gifts are God’s grace in action. Consider this: as people see us using the gifts God has given us, they are to see a picture of God’s grace. Yet, our humanity often drives us to seek affirmation for our work. It causes us to take offense when our gifts are overlooked or pushed to the side. We may become proud of our abilities or impatient when, in our estimation, others fall short. None of these actions or attitudes display a picture of God’s grace. The three passages of Scripture listed above exhort us to be patient, gentle, humble, and loving as we use our gifts. These characteristics will properly display God’s grace to others. At Coastal, we will always strive to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. We will seek to help believers discover how God has gifted them to link arms in sharing the Gospel and building up the body of Christ. But we will do it, not for the sake of Coastal and not for the sake of the believers, but to display God’s grace to a world in desperate need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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