“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,” (Matthew 28:19). The word “Go” means to “travel or move from place to place so as to carry over or transfer.” In the context, this involves taking a message to all “ethnos or people groups” so they become disciples and identified with Jesus Christ through baptism. Part of this message includes “teaching them to observe (keep, guard or obey) all that I (Jesus) have commanded you.”
Jesus expands on this command in Luke 24:47; “and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47).
One more point on this command – the disciples had a special ‘send-off’ to begin their mission. “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”” (John 20:21). It is true that we need the Holy Spirit and the local church as part of our sending, but the Father and the Son are also part of the GREATEST COMMISSION ever given to man because it is the GREATEST MESSAGE!
Have you heard the COMMAND? Have you determined to obey and GO? How are you being sent? It makes all the difference in the fruitfulness of your work and whether you keep moving under divine direction.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world (or inhabited earth) as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14). Jesus uses the same word “nations” in Matthew 28:19 in what is commonly called the Great Commission. What is He referring to in both references? The word “nations” means “human groups of people based on various cultural, physical or geographic ties.” That does not mean ‘countries’.
Joshua Project and Finishing the Task have spent great time and resources identifying the “people groups” to help us direct and concentrate our energies and resources so they hear the gospel. Why is this discussion so important? Notice the bent of Paul’s mind as he speaks of preaching the gospel. “Thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,” (Romans 15:20).
I will be talking about this subject more in the future, but let me ask you a question. If Jesus declared that each nation (people group) would hear the gospel and “then the end will come”, why is the church so focused on other things that do not contribute to this mission?
Joshua Project link: http://joshuaproject.net/
Finishing the Task link: www.finishingthetask.com
Part of God’s purpose and plan was, and continues to be, the forming of a unique group of individuals called ‘the church…the household or family of God” so that “we are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19, 22). Christ is building His church! After Peter received the revelation from the Father that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, Jesus declared, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:16-18). Notice the plan and the promise in verse 18:
· The Plan: Christ will build His church! He does not say that the pastor or the church board will do the building of the church. It is not the work of programs or committees. The building of Christ’s church is a divine work of grace, as we see in Ephesians 2. It is accomplished as we submit to God working in and through us (see Philippians 2:13).
· The Promise: In one sense, part of the promise is that Christ will build His church. In the context of this verse He has also promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Even though the church down through the centuries has gone through many conflicts, persecutions and splintering, we still have this promise. Nothing will stop or hinder God’s in Christ to build His church.
This truth should strengthen our faith and also our determination to be yielded to the Holy Spirit so that this work will proceed and accelerate in our day. Be sure to keep your spiritual eyes on Christ and follow Him, not the external events of this world. “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
Another part of God’s purpose and plan is presented by Paul in Ephesians 1:12-14; “So that we who were first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.” Paul continues this theme and says, “In Him (Christ) you also…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…to the praise of His glory.”
Do you see your life as being lived for this one purpose? Everything must ultimately be and exist for God’s glory. When we begin to factor this truth into everything we say and do, it changes the way we live. Let God’s glory be the one reason in everything, in every day for the rest of our lives!
Now that we have established that there is absolute authority in the Scriptures (God’s Word), we could ask; what is God’s ultimate purpose in giving us His Word? How are we involved in this ultimate purpose? What part does the “church” play in fulfilling this ultimate purpose?
I want to answer these questions in the next few blogs as best I can. We must remember that in speaking or writing on a subject like this, we are touching what is infinite, yet we are very finite. I feel very small. As Paul said in Ephesians 3:8, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Later in verse 10, Paul expands on this purpose by saying, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” I doubt that many Christians have ever taken time to think about the impact of their role on the whole universe as they live out the wisdom of God. But it is clear that this is part of God’s purpose for us and the church. Please take time to consider how vital it is to understand our purpose in God’s plan for each of us. There will be more on this subject tomorrow.
The other component of Lesson 47 is that the Bible is all I need; it is sufficient. Peter says that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3). One of the traps we often fall into is thinking that we need the Word of God plus more education, or human methods of gaining understanding or some human guru or guide. No!
Paul adds to our verse yesterday that “All Scripture” will make “the man of God…complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The word “complete” means “capable, qualified, fitted, and able to meet all demands”. That is enough for me! The more I read, study and thirst for “the water of the word” (Ephesians 5:26) and “solid food” (Hebrews 5:14), the more satisfied I am, the more equipped I become, and the more confidence I have in the ability of the Spirit to teach me “all things” (John 14:16). The word “equipped” means to “make adequate”.
My prayer for you is that your confidence in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will grow and you will experience Him making you adequate for what He has called you to do. Often the ‘completing and equipping’ happens in the doing. Lean on the Word and the Spirit through a willing, obedient heart!
In Lesson 47 of our training manual, God’s Plan for His Church, we list Scriptures that point to the authority of God’s Word. Consider carefully the verses below and note the source and character of Scripture as described by Paul and Peter.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:23–25).
Other Scriptures to observe on this subject are Hebrews 4:12 and 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Since God’s Word has absolute authority, how should that influence your obedience to it?
Just this evening I was speaking with someone who was very concerned about the current state of the church. Even in the church, there is an ocean of ideas that run in different directions and none of them lead the church or believers to a sure foundation for their souls. As a result, there is conflict, division, and a general weakening of the church so it fails to fulfill its purpose. That is why this ministry exists! Our goal is to increase your appetite for God’s Word and confidence that the Holy Spirit will teach you as you read the Scriptures.
We begin every training with urging pastors, church planters and leaders to STOP, REPENT and RETURN TO THE SCRIPTURES! (See Revelation 2:5, 16; 3:3, 19) This blog is beginning a series that will take you through the highlights of our training and challenge you to examine the Word of God in its larger context. If any questions arise from using this blog, we urge you to send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ignite your thinking, please read Psalm 19:7-14 and take a piece of paper and write down as many descriptions you find in these verses of God’s Word. I will meet you again tomorrow on this blog.
Many voices proclaim it is becoming harder to be a father in our day. It is true that the challenges to resist and counter the ungodly influences of the world seem more and more difficult. But allow me to offer the hope and wisdom God gives that supersedes all earthly obstacles:
“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:15–16). As we celebrate “Father’s Day” in many parts of the world, my thoughts turn to the model we have in the Apostle Paul. He had genuine love and “anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28) and was willing to again go through “the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Galatians 4:19). This is a clear reflection of God’s character (2 Cor. 6:18).
One of Paul’s prize examples of being a father was the relationship with his spiritual son Timothy. “But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” (Philippians 2:22). Whether it is natural or spiritual sons, make sure that you cultivate a deep relationship on the foundation of the gospel. With this kind of bond, your relationship will endure the roughest challenges of this world.
I realize there are many fathers who are hurting because they never had an example like this. Let me assure you that God will be the kind of Father to you that no human father can be. “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5). Call out to Him right where you are and invite Him into your life. Ask God to reveal Himself to you as Father and show you through His Word, the Bible, how He will be this to you through His Son, Jesus Christ.
We stand ready to encourage anyone who is hungering for this kind of relationship. Go to our contact page and send us an email.
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