Sunday, July 12, 2009
Matthew 28:16-20 THE KING IS ALIVE—GO TELL
Matthew 28:16 The 11 disciples travelled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In his novel, The House Of the Dead, Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevski wrote that to utterly crush a man, give him work that is completely meaningless. "If he had to move a heap of earth from one place to another and back again - I believe the convict would hang himself . . . preferring rather to die than endure . . . such humiliation, shame and torture." The Commandant of a Nazi concentration camp must have read Dostoyevski. Hundreds of Jewish prisoners had survived in disease infested barracks on little food and gruesome, backbreaking work. Each day the prisoners were marched to the compound's giant factory, where tons of human waste and garbage were distilled into alcohol to be used as a fuel additive. Even worse than the nauseating odor of stewing sludge was the realization that they were fueling the Nazi war machine. One day Allied aircraft bombers destroyed the factory. The next morning hundreds of inmates were herded to one end of its charred remains. A Nazi officer commanded them to shovel sand into carts and drag it to the other end of the plant. The next day the process was repeated in reverse; they were ordered to move the huge pile of sand back to the other end of the compound. "A mistake has been made," they thought. "Stupid swine." Day after day they hauled the pile of sand from one end of the camp to the other. Dostoyevski's prediction came true. One old man began crying uncontrollably; the guards hauled him away. Another screamed until he was beaten into silence. One who had survived three years ran. Guards ordered him to stop as he ran toward the electrified fence. Prisoners cried out, but there was a blinding flash and a terrible noise as smoke puffed from his smoldering flesh. In the days that followed, dozens of the prisoners went mad. They ran from their work, only to be shot by guards or electrocuted by the fence. The Commandant smugly remarked that soon there would be no more need to use the ovens. Human beings are born with a compelling need for meaning and purpose. We cling to life with dogged resolve while work is meaningful, even if it supports that which we hate. But meaninglessness and purposelessness destroy the mind and ruin life.
Have you ever seen or been involved in an event which quickly and unexpectedly turned from defeat to victory? We have watched televised coverage of storms and earthquakes when an unexpected survivor was unearthed. We can only image the relief and profound joy. The agonizing defeat of Golgotha is transformed into the Triumph of Galilee. These verses offer magnificent conclusion to the Gospel of Matthew but it is, in fact more of a beginning than an end.
This final section picks up two themes which are at heart of Matthew’s Gospel. In 1:1-17 Jesus was presented as successor to royal dignity and 2:1-12 portrays him as true “King of the Jews.” In due course he entered Jerusalem as her King (21:1-11), but that claim sent Him to the cross, where it was repeated in ridicule (27:37). But now we know the rest of the story. The crucifixion and resurrection are the prelude to the greatest story ever told or conceived—that the message and rule of the resurrected King will be extended to all nations on earth. But wonder of wonders you are part of that unfolding story.
The stress here is on "all": 1) All authority. 2) All nations. 3) All things. 4) All time.
1. All Obedience—the Prerequisite of Mission (16)
Perhaps you noticed the focus on “11.” Attention is called to the tragedy of Judas. The betrayer is no longer among them. His fate was sealed by his unbelief and disobedience. But don’t become distracted, the focus is on the 11 who have made their way to Galilee, to the place “where Jesus had directed them.” (See 36:32 and 28:10). In spite of their grief and their doubt (note v. 17), they still obeyed Christ.
We are sometimes deterred in our mission because of our fear and doubt. We wonder whether our neighbor is just too hard for God. Will our witness make any difference?
What will my little effort matter? We are witnesses and thus we must make a radical commitment to be obedient to tell our story.
Andrew Reed (1788-1862). The hymn was “Holy Ghost, with Light Divine.” Stanza five brought great conviction to my heart and the inspiration for this editorial. Here is verse 5: Holy Spirit, all divine, Dwell within this heart of mine; Cast down every idol throne, Reign supreme and reign alone.
Believe it or not I spend a lot of time trying to “cast down” idol thrones. I desperately want Christ to reign in my heart without a rival. Often it is the good that attempts to become a substitute for the best.
Years ago someone wrote etiquette expert Emily Post and asked her, “What is the correct procedure when one is invited to the White House but has a previous engagement?”
Post replied, “An invitation to dine at the White House is a command, and it automatically cancels any other engagement.” I want my devotion to Jesus Christ to cancel out all other rivals
Piper, “Three billion people today are outside Jesus Christ. Two-thirds of them have no viable Christian witness in their culture. If they are to hear-and Christ commands that they hear-then cross-cultural missionaries will have to be sent and paid for. All the wealth needed to send this new army of good news ambassadors is already in the church. If we, like Paul, are content with the simple necessities of life, hundreds of millions of dollars in the church would be released to take the gospel to the frontiers. The revolution of joy and freedom it would cause at home would be the best local witness imaginable.”
Baptists first arrived in Russia in 1860. They pushed carts full of Bibles from town to town and were arrested every time they preached. Today Russia has close to one million Evangelicals. Why? Because someone was obedient to the gospel. Someone obeyed the command of the Lord.
2. All Worship—The Impetus for our Mission (17)
Their first impulse must be ours—“they worshipped Him.” Bible is brutally honest—“some doubted.” Greek word does not indicate a settled unbelief but a state of uncertainty or hesitation.
They fell on their face prostrate, as it were, before Him. Some of them doubting until He came near because they had not yet seen Him after His resurrection. But when He came near, surely their doubt was erased. And they, too, worshiped. It is necessary for one who would fulfill the great commission to have a worshiping heart. That is to say his heart or her heart is wholly set on Jesus Christ. All else is lost. All else fades away. When they on that hillside saw the risen Jesus Christ, all their shattered dreams were regathered, all their disappointment was instantly ended. Their sorrow was turned into unbelievable joy. It was a reversal of every emotion they were feeling and perhaps there was worship that occurred on that day that is equalled by few other worshiping occasions in all of human history. They saw the risen Christ and everything in them was born anew. They had a focus that was singly on Christ. Like Paul has said, "I am determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Who said, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Their focus was so clear. Who said, "That I may know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." It was that single mindedness that made the difference. They like David had set the Lord before them and all else disappeared. That's what it takes, a worshiping heart.
Worship proceeds from understanding of who God is—He is the resurrected and rightful King and thus deserves worship. He alone is worthy of our worship. It is the profound privilege of worship that lays the foundation for our mission. The knowledge that He is sovereign God, the only rightful King compels us to tell the nations.
Crown him with many crowns, The Lamb upon his throne; Hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own! Awake, my soul, and sing Of him who died for thee, And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
Crown him the Son of God, Before the worlds began, And ye who tread where he hath trod, Crown him the Son of man; Who ev'ry grief hath known That wrings the human breast, And takes and bears them for his own,
That all in him may rest.
Crown him the Lord of life, Who triumphed o'er the grave And rose victorious in the strife
For those he came to save; His glories now we sing, Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, And lives that death may die.
Crown him the Lord of Heav'n Enthroned in worlds above, Crown him the King to whom is giv'n
The wondrous name of love. Crown him with many crowns, As thrones before him fall;
Crown him, ye kings, with many crowns, For he is King of all.
3. All Authority—The Basis of our Mission (18)
This is the first “all” statement. It will be followed by three similar ones. “All nations,” “teach them to obey all things,” and “I am with you always.”
The verb tense is ingressive aorist, “has been given.” The prophecy that the Son of Man would be enthroned as ruler of the world has not been fulfilled by virtue of the
resurrection. You may recall that Satan once offered him “all the kingdoms of the world and men’s glory.” Now, by virtue of His obedience He has received far more than Satan could offer—He has received all authority in heaven and earth.
It is this authority that is the basis of our mission.
“All authority!” It is because He is Lord, and He is risen from the dead to prove He is Lord, that He has all authority to command you and me and the church as a whole.
The Authority of Jesus Establishes the Priority of the Church. Jesus has authority over the church. depends upon the decisions and actions of each specific congregation.
The Authority of Jesus Provides the Ability of the Church. power by which a church can function as a church. Human strength, abilities, and resources alone cannot sustain the work of the church. Is the church charting its course in response to institutional principles of success, suggestions for good public relations, or data devised to assure popularity? How much does the church depend upon God?
The Authority of Jesus Shapes the Identity of the Church. “they worshiped him, but some doubted.” sheer humanity of the people Jesus chose to do his work. strugglers, doubters, and failures in the crowd. But Jesus was not put off by this reality. Weaknesses, mistakes, and even sins were rejected as disqualifications for ministry. The identity of people on mission is shaped by the authority of Jesus.
The Authority of Jesus Demands Activity by the Church. God calls the church to be a people on mission. Not just a people, but a people on mission. Obedience to “The Great Commission” is not an option for people earnestly desiring to live and function as a church. The authority of Jesus shapes the very identity of the church, even its priorities, power, and ministry.
David Bosch notes that the word ‘mission’ was used only of the Trinity in the first sixteen centuries of the Church’s existence. It was used in the context of the sending of the Son by the Father and of the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son.5 By derivation it came to be used of those sent by God and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ. After His resurrection Jesus Christ said to the disciples: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’; or, ‘As the Father made me a missionary, so I make you ‘missionaries’ (John 20:21). The word ‘send’ is a critical one for understanding who Jesus is, as the Sent One from the Father, and what our mission is; as sent ones of the Risen Christ.
The English word ‘mission’ derives from the Latin ‘missio’, a sending. So it involves a sender, a person or persons sent by the sender, those to whom one is sent, and the assignment to be fulfilled. The Sender concept has the presumption of authority: someone has the authority to send, someone else. This gives us a direct link with Matthew 28: 18-20, the ‘Great Commission where authority is indeed linked with sending: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations’. Christianity (like some other world-religions) is intrinsically ‘missionary’. Mission is not an optional extra for Christians and the Church. The sent ones have a task. Their task as designated by the scriptures is to ‘preach the gospel’ 7, to bring good news. The imperative to mission is God’s deliverance in Jesus, In other words, evangelism is part of mission and should not be thought of as another definition of mission, but as part of it. Evangelism is the proclamation of salvation in Christ with a view ‘to leading others to turn from sin and their self-centred lives to trust, in Christ, to announce the forgiveness of sins offered in Christ and invite those who respond to become members of a community of fellow learners of Christ.”
Some, however, like John Calvin, were more evangelistic than has usually been depicted. According to Calvin the church has an integral role in the Missio Dei and ‘all God’s children’ must be involved in this mission. Believers have a sacred responsibility: ‘Is not that the highest honour that God could grant us, that after enabling us to feel his goodness, he should want us to become streams and conduits of his grace, that others might be participants of it?’
4. All Nations—The Scope of our Mission (19)
The universal lordship of the King mandates a universal mission. The kingdom of the Son of man described by Daniel (7:14) requires “disciples of all nations.” This has been anticipated throughout the Gospel—a people of God where membership is not based on race or ethnicity but on a relationship with God through His Messiah.
The imperative is to disciple the nations. Baptizing are teaching translate participles which specify what is involved in the disciple-making process. John’s baptism had been a preparatory one and now Jesus institutes one with a greater allegiance. It is “into the name” of The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. The experience of God in all three persons is the essential basis of discipleship. Interestingly “name” is singular which underlines the unity of Father, Son, and Spirit.
Up until now Jesus alone has been the teacher. Now disciples are to take over His role as teacher. Our teaching is not abstract—it is “observe all that I have commanded you.”
Helwys was imprisoned in Newgate prison 1612 and was dead by 1616. His beliefs had cost him dearly. His death in this way became a model for the Baptist cause, demonstrating that the concern for preaching the gospel to their fellow citizens, no matter what the personal cost was a high and holy value.
Later English Baptists exemplified this same heart beat;
Henry Denne at Fenstanton, a vigorous and educated Baptist leader, a former Anglican clergyman, was appointed a ‘messenger’ to be engaged in personal evangelism in other districts. 13 Denne insisted that ‘evangelism was of the essence of Baptist churchmanship’14.
Hanserd Knollys (1609-91 who signed the revised version of the London Confession in 1646.) appeals to his hearers: “Open your heart to Christ when he knocks at the Door of your souls, and calls you to come to him, to receive him, and let him come into your hearts, and dwell in your hearts by his Holy Spirit, and sanctifying Grace ... Let the LORD Jesus Christ have the Throne, and be exalted above ALL in your souls, that every Thought may be brought into Captivity to the Obedience of Christ.”15.
John Bunyan’s (1628-88) famous classic Pilgrim‘s Progress has been interpreted as having an essentially evangelistic purpose. He wanted to reach an audience who would never listen to plain preaching so embellished his story of Christian’s journey to the Heavenly City with allegory. He wanted to evangelize the sophisticated and carnal Englishman who looked for ‘truth within a fable’ and for those who ‘read riddles’ and ‘love picking meat’. He wrote evangelistically in The Pilgrim‘s Progress by demonstrating the life’s journey of one that attains ‘the everlasting prize’. This missions and evangelistic emphasis are indeed ‘the beating of the Baptist heart’.
Baptists are by nature evangelistic. If a so called Baptist church is not committed to evangelism it is not, by definition, a Baptist Church! Making disciples is not complete until it leads to a life of observing Jesus’ commands. Are you involved in discipling the nations? Are you discipling your children? How?
5. Always The Promise—Eternal Impact
The promise is not simply His presence, it is His eternal presence. Don’t miss this! Ezekiel ended his prophecy with the assurance of Jehovah Shammah—“The Lord is there” (Ezek. 48:35). Gospels open with Immanuel—“God with us” (Matt. 1:24). Assurance of resurrection and ultimate victory of His kingdom is promised to His disciples. Now look at Revelation 21:3-4 and 21:22-27. Do you understand the impact of this promise? By praying, going, giving, and sending to the nations, you can live this life with eternal impact. What are you doing today that has eternal significance?
When missionary Ray Dibble and his wife left Nigeria at the beginning of World War II, they had just finished translating the New Testament into the Igala language. There were only six typewritten copies of the New Testament and a handful of Christians when they left. Returning after the war the Dibbles found fifty congregations. Tribesmen had made at least one hundred copies of the New Testament by hand. Some pages were torn, so some tribesmen had committed whole gospels to memory that they might not be lost. The believers were persecuted by nonbelievers and called "The Word of God People." They never gave up, and they deserved the title!
If we go, He will go with us! If we go, His gospel will spread! If we go, God's power will be at work to do great things! If we go, the Church will become a major force in the world.
How involved are you in taking the gospel to every creature?
One of the most poignant missionary stories is about Bill Borden. Are you familiar with condensed milk and "Elsie the cow"? Borden's family began the company. Bill's father was active in real estate after the great Chicago fire, and it was from this, not milk, that their fortune grew. Borden's parents raised him in a mansion on Chicago's "Gold Coast" within walking distance of Moody Church. At the age of 25 he was worth $40 million in today's dollars. Borden went to Yale and was president of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society his senior year.
He was voted third out of 800 for being the hardest worker, fourth for the most energetic, ninth as the most to be admired, and seventh as the one who had done the most for Yale. Bill's mother was devout and taught him the Bible. Before entering college, at age 17, his parents sent him on a 10-month global tour. He left San Francisco in September 1904, and when they reached London they went to hear R.A. Torrey preach at a revival. Torrey gave an invitation to those who had never publicly indicated that they had surrendered all to Christ. Bill stood up with several others and later wrote home, "We sang the chorus: 'I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all." Torrey gave five points for daily living, with the last being "Go to work."Borden decided to do just that. Back in Yale, Borden founded and privately financed a mission for down-and-out men. One man later said Borden talked to everyone. At Bible conferences he volunteered to wait on tables. He had a devoted but simple prayer life, and was tempted to buy a car but decided it was an unjustifiable luxury. Unknown to his family, he gave his entire inheritance to missions. a college lecture he heard Samuel Zwemer describe the sweep of Moslem influence throughout the Near and Far East. Zwemer said those 70 million people were not lost because they had proved too fanatical or because they refused to listen, but because "none of us has ever had the courage to go to those lands and win them to Jesus Christ."
After graduating from Princeton Seminary, he left for service in Egypt. His mother wondered on the eve of his departure if he had done the right thing in giving up everything he owned: "I fell asleep asking myself again and again, 'Is it, after all, worthwhile?'" "I heard a voice was speaking in my heart, answering the question with these words: 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son....'" Soon after Bill Borden arrived in Cairo, he contracted cerebral meningitis and died. The news shocked the world. Accounts of his life and death were written in many languages. An editorial in a Richmond, Va., paper said, "His investment has borne rich returns already. There are thousands of talented and favored young men who will, in the light of Borden's conception of investment values, come to a new view of Christian service."
Among Bill's papers was a poem his mother had given him on his 17th birthday. It summed up what he did and what he was: Just as I am, young, strong and free, To be the best that I can be For truth and righteousness and Thee - Lord of my life, I come. Was it just a waste?
Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevski wrote that to utterly crush a man, give him work that is completely meaningless. None of your work is meaningless, if it points someone to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord!
None of your work is meaningless, if you turn someone from death to life!
None of your work is meaningless, if you are obeying the risen Lord.
None of your work is meaningless, if you worship Him who to know is life indeed!
None of your work is me