Who is the person that has most influenced your life? And you can't say Jesus or Paul. I m talking about a person you have personally known that made an impact on you. Was it a teacher who took an interest in you? A coach who went above and beyond what they were required to do? Was it a boss or coworker who too you under their wings and mentored you. Was it a parent who always seemed to be there with the right thing to say at the right time?
All of us have someone who has been influential. I had a pastor who reached out to me, spent time with me explaining the gospel, the Bible, and also invited me over occasionally so I got to see his family and what they were like. A guy in his forties with a wife and family taking time with an 18 year old kid and it had a huge impact on me.
As you think about them consider what do you want to be known for? Do you want to have a similar influence?... Even more, do you have an obligation to that? Did they have an obligation to such influence. Does our church have an obligation to that?
Today we are looking at the great commission. It is the task Jesus gives his disciples after his resurrection. It's a task that every Christian is called to, and I want to look at what the commission is and how we do it, but I also want to talk about why I think this commission directs us to be what we want to be, and that is a person who blesses and influences others.
We are in the fourth week of our realigned series. We are trying to realign our church and our lives with things God says are important for his church and people. We have looked at the command to worship God and we have studied the great and second great commandments. Today we look at the task Jesus gives to his disciples know as the great commission.
**You might think a great vision statement for a church would be to combine the two greatest commandments and the great commission.* Could be a great thing to have for a church! :-)
Let's read the great commission Matt 28:16-20,
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Jesus tells his disciples they should be influencing others. He commissions them to do this. Let’s look at some key components of his command.
A commission is an authoritative order. He tells them to go and make disciples. Often we live like this command to make disciples was a great suggestion. A few years ago, the family was finishing dinner and I looked at one of my kids and said, “Will you take the trash out after dinner? He then looked at me and said, “Nah, I don’t really feel like it dad. I’d rather sit on the couch.” I was perplexed and perturbed. “What!?” I thought. I then gave him a glaring look. He said, “What, you asked me if I would. I’m just telling you what I think.” I then looked at my wife, “She shrugged and said, yeah, you asked, and he responded appropriately.” I then nodded, turned to him and firmly said, “Go take out the trash now!”
Many people live like this commission is suggestion or polite request. We hear it and think we can abide by it if we want to or not. That response probably leaves Jesus perplexed and perturbed too. Some have even given exegetical reasons to take it as such. They argue the form of the passive form of the Greek verb “go” warrants this. I disagree with their exegesis for a few reasons. Jesus uses this word in other places and his disciples get busy doing what he said. Another reason is because the exact same form of the verb “go” is used similarly by another great king commanding his people.
In Exodus 5:18 Pharaoh tells the Israelites, “Go now and work. No straw will be given you” (Exo 5:18). Pharaoh telling them to “Go” is no doubt a command and one the Israelites wouldn’t tend to think of as a suggestion. Pharaoh said in no uncertain terms that they should get to work, and with this strong command Jesus also left in no uncertain terms that we should get to work making disciples.
Even more, this commission comes at the end of Jesus life. The disciples spent their lives watching Jesus give his life for others. It only makes sense that now they would go and share with others. The commission is not optional part of following Jesus.
What does it mean to make disciples? Jesus just spent every night and day with these 12 men, teaching them the word of God and how to walk according to it, and now it’s like he is saying to his disciples, all that I have done for you now you go and do it for others. This would mean discipleship involves us gathering a group of followers, living our lives with them, and we teach them everything they need to know about God, his word, and life. A rather intimidating task. It can be seen as though we are the ones with all the answers, and they need to emulate me. Do what I do. Think like me, act like me, talk like me, look like me. Some people have done discipleship like this.
But fortunately this isn’t the call to discipleship. The word Disciples (Mathetes) is used of those who are committed to learning a trade. It means someone who is devoted to learning and training in a particular area. This certainly helps us understand what the disciples were doing when they came to follow Jesus. They were learning from him with the intent to teach others. They were learning so that they would know how to honor the Lord in whatever situation they found themselves.
This means, in discipleship we are not trying to point people to ourselves but to Jesus. 1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. It’s like a Window. A great window is great not because what you see in it but what you see through it. We want people to see through us to Christ. This means even our weaknesses and mistakes are opportunities to help others see Christ. We dont wait until we have it all right to teach others. I am sure the disciples felt unprepared. But they had everything they needed. Jesus work was complete. The disciples of Jesus, Paul, and all the prophets never directed people to themselves, but their focus was always on getting others to hear God’s word.
We want people living for the one who is in authority over all things. We want to see people obedient to him. We also want them to know the joy of living according to how the world was designed to function. Discipleship is about conforming to the maker of all things. This is the greatest influence we can have!
A key part to the task of making disciples is being a good disciple. Being eager to learn the word. Being eager to know Christ more. Searching the Word, asking for insight from others. Imagine Sunday school or small group class where no one is doing this. A friend in college made his own proverb, that was as lead dullens lead so one man another. Now imagine one where people are coming eager to learn, eager to talk about life .Ask great questions. Set an example in all that you do. The proverb, as Iron sharpens iron so one man another (Prov 27:17).
Making disciples requires words. It is important that our walk is in line with our talk. We all know people who profess one thing and live in contradiction to it. That’s called being a hypocrite. Jesus saved his harshest rebukes for them. But we also cannot live out the faith without giving an explanation. That is equally unintelligible.
If I held up a picture in a newspaper and you saw a bunch of people gathered around the US Capitol, you would have no idea if it is Trumps inauguration or a group of protestors. That is why pictures always have captions underneath. You need words to explain them. So too if you are going to share the gospel with others words are necessary. Think about what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, and think about why you do that. What in Scripture motivates you to do that, and share it with others. Tell others why you do what you do. It will shape them. Grandparents…
The task of discipleship is helping others see Jesus for who he is, helping them see why he matters in our life, why we are so zealous to make sure our lives line up with his will, and also why others should serve him. We don’t want people following us, but Jesus!
Trans: In this passage “Make disciples is the main verb and there are two participle phrases explaining how to make disciples, baptizing and teaching.
Baptism is a sacrament Jesus gave to the church. It is viewed as the initiation rite into the church. It is a sign for the people of God and one of the first things people do when they come to know Jesus as Lord. They are baptized. Baptism is submersion in water. It’s like a bath, but points to something much greater. baptism points to a greater need for cleansing. We are all sinners and need our sins washed away. This cleansing comes through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:11). By believing in him and trusting him we receive the forgiveness of sin. Baptism does not save us, Christ saves us. Baptism is a way for us to identify with Christ. Jesus was baptized and as we start to follow up it’s appropriate that we follow him in baptism. This is why when Paul and others trust in Christ the first thing they did was to be baptized.
This being part of the great commission means we should be baptizing people. We should be telling others about Christ and there should be conversions. We should be influencing those who dont know Christ. Going to the lost is part of the commission Jesus gave to his people. That means going to the lost, talking with them about faith is not an optional part of the Christian life. *If we are not doing this we are not being faithful with the great commission.*
Also, this highlights the importance of baptism. If you have trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, you should be baptized. You should follow his commands and this is the place to start. You will have all kinds of reasons not to, what others may think, am I good enough. Baptism forces you to deal with these. It forces you to think who will you follow, your friends or Jesus. It forces you to understand the gospel. It’s not about being good enough but about being forgiven. If you understand the gospel, have trusted in Christ, but have not been baptized. You should be baptized. We are doing baptisms on Feb 19th. This is a great opportunity. If you are interested or have questions on baptism come talk to me.
The great commission begins with baptism. And it ends... where does it end. When do we cease to walk the road of discipleship? It is when we are able to obey all that Jesus commanded. We will spend the rest of our lives growing in conformity to his will. We all want this in our lives. We want this in our church community.
This is so important. We want people to know their sins are forgiven in Jesus. But the Christian faith is more than the forgiveness of sins. It involves honoring God in every part of life. We want people to know that your faith should influence how you study, how you treat others, how you work, how you build houses and how you play basketball. It shapes how you rest and vacation. It shapes how you relate to family and friends. It shapes everything.
We are all to be teaching others. The disciples were to go and teach, and teaching others isn’t just for the 11 disciples. It’s for all Christians. Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16 ESV).
Don't neglect discipleship. Don’t outsource your discipleship. Don't think you send your kids to school and the teacher do everything. You disciple them. You influence them. Help them know who they are, how to live in the world, and what God calls them to. Don't miss opportunities to talk to others, tell them why you do what you do.
Dont neglect opportunities in Church. This is why we do children’s ministry. What a great time we had last week talking about reaching children, and children teachers in the church sharing they have been working in CM for decades because the impact childrens ministry had on them when they were young. Don't miss opportunities at work to mentor new employees. Those are opportunities to take advantage of. Don Norris working with a young guy on mission trip.
Honoring God in everything is key to making disciples, because most people don’t want to hear about a relationship with God. We live in a time where there are so many competing ideologies and worldviews. It used to be evangelizing others was encouraging them to live by what they knew. Most had a Christian worldview, and they just needed the assent to go with it. It was getting people to go from here to here (Gesture). It’s much different now.
I was meeting with a potential worship leader, and I like to make sure we are on the same page of the basics, so I asked him to explain the gospel to me like he would someone on the street. He said that’s hard. It’s hard because I don’t know if that guy even believes in God, in heaven, in right and wrong. Those would influence how I share. Our society has questions on the most basic elements of life. We want to shape them there. We want to influence them, and these become opportunities to tell why Jesus makes sense of life.
(show stats on screen before showing point 5. Slide order is correct.)
Jesus also sets us on the right purpose that we were created for. I recently heard another pastor share some statistics I thought were fascinating. It comes from a survey on “Desires Teens Hold for Their Future.” High school students were given a list of things about the future and asked which 3 were the most important to them (not Christian students!). I was surprised by the ones on top and the ones at the bottom. The ones with low marks:
-Only 18% listed “Achieving fame or public recognition” as a desire.
-Only 25% said, “Working in a high paying job”
-ONly 28% said “Owning a large home.”
I was even more surprised by what rose in importance:
-Having a clear purpose for living (77%)
-Having one marriage partner for life (82%)
-Having close personal friendships (84%)
-Making a difference in the world (96%)
I hear these stats and think what an opportunity we have as a church. Who else is going to teach about your purpose in life, who else is going to tell you how you you can have a good marriage, or who else is going to teach you how to rightly influence others.
People want to influence others. Thats amazing because an atheistic view of the world has trouble with this. If you think the world evolved in random adaptations and therefore has no purpose and life is about survival of the fittest then it is hard to find motivation for helping others. If you think everyone should do whatever makes them happy then why do you care about shaping them. The Bible makes sense of who we are and our desires, and it says we should seek to shape and influence others, and we do that by bringing them into a relationship with God and into conformity with his will.
People want to make a difference, and I am not surprised by that because God created people to make a difference and to influence. Influence is in your design! (Show 5th point here). He created them to have dominion. This is a natural desire every person has. And the great commission teaches us how to have dominion. Old Testament theologian Bruce Waltke said,
The great commission to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the cultural mandate complement, not compete against, each other. God’s erupting kingdom in a world that needs taming entails a people who purpose to develop a culture that pleases him. The Westminster Catechism teaches that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” but it needs to be clarified that humanity glorifies God by subduing the earth by words and by work.
As we think about moving forward as a church we want to influence others. We want people to see that Jesus gave his life for them so they can be forgiven. But our influence goes much deeper. We want them to see that all of life should be lived for God, and that only through a relationship with God do all the parts of life make sense. We want all people to see this. We do this through personal evangelism. We do it through our work and daily life. We also want to intentionally remember the hurting and suffering. We want to influence the poor and forsaken by being a blessing to them. This is all part of our mission to help people live under the one whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given. We want to share the gospel. We also want to influence through deeds and actions.
Pastor Tim Keller said,
Because the gospel not only converts non-believers but also builds up believers, the church should not have to choose between evangelism over discipleship. Because the gospel is presented to the world not only through word but also through deed and community, we should not choose between teaching and carrying out practical ministry to address people’s needs. Because the gospel renews not only individuals but also communities and culture, the church should seek to disciple its people to seek personal conversion, deep Christian community, social justice, and cultural renewal in the city.
Children ministry (safe, fun, learn about gospel).
The one who gives this command is the one whom all authority in heaven and earth has been submitted to. The one who commands you to do this is the one who is also with you always even to the end of the age.
Earlier we saw that Jesus command is similar to Pharaoh's command to the enslaved Hebrews. If we are not careful we might wrongly view Jesus commission as oppressive. Knowing the difference in their reign fuels us to serve Jesus.
The fuel for following the commission is reflecting on the incredible king we serve. A king who gave himself for us, a king who became poor that we could become rich.
What is your vision for life: do you want to see people gathered around your graveside saying, well he was pretty focused on himself, never said much, never knew what was going on.
Wouldn’t you rather have a chorus of people saying things like “he taught me how to honor God with a diligent work ethic,” he reminded me there is more to life than money and I shouldn’t be consumed with material things.” She kept reminding me to love my kids by spending time with them and not be angered by the disruptions. When I lost my job he was there to talk and pray. Watching him graciously interact with people and always consider others more important that a task was such a blessing to everyone in the office.
I bet this is what you want to be remembered for. Obedience to Jesus is the only way there. If you want to influence others it begins with you first trusting in Jesus and following him. Jesus calls you and equips you to make a difference in the lives of others. We want to be a people that influence others. That blesses them and serves them.
After singing we will review these items:
Where is God calling you to take a step forward in your faith?