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Devotional - Top Ten Searched Bible Verses - Number Ten - Matthew 28: 19 Our Responsibility To The

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, 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.” - Matthew 28: 18-20 (NLT)

    This is the first devotional in a series examining the top ten Bible verses as compiled at Biblegateway.com by examining the behavior of over 8 million visitors each month to the site. I may, as you see above, provide the context with the popular verse. Matthew 28: 19 is a great passage about the Great Commission but it is enhanced by the surrounding two verses.

    As we look at the tenth most searched Bible verse I must admit I was surprised. Most on the list are obvious but if you asked me to guess the top ten I probably would not have come up with this verse. Yet it is not surprising to me that for the glory of God it makes the list! As indicated, this is the Great Commission. We spend so much time in modern Christianity running around trying to rewrite what our responsibilities are. Social Gospel Christians ignore the eternal too easily. Academic Christians ignore the heart issues in Christianity. Barbed wire Christians have a Jesus devoid of love. Sugar coated Christians present a Christianity that costs you nothing. These are all important facets of Christianity. God is love and wrath. We are supposed to be academic like the Bereans yet have the faith of a little child. A Gospel devoid of helping the neediest in society is not the whole Gospel. All of these things are important and Scriptural but there is only one thing Jesus mandated that we do. It is funny to hear some suspect elements in Christianity now claiming God has given them a mandate to do this or that. What is worse is when that alleged mandate is then unbiblical. God will not give a mandate that contradicts His Word, period. It seems sometimes that people claim other mandates because they view the Great Commission as being too difficult.

    You see beloved, Christianity is not a three sentence prayer followed by a lifelong service to the security ministry at your local church. Amidst all the false gospels and arguments over doctrine and minutia it always must come back to heaven and hell. Saved and unsaved. We need to watch it because we are losing these clear distinctions as we delve deeper into the end times. Far too many Christian leaders follow the Warren model of referring to people as unchurched instead of unsaved. The distinction between those two words is quite stark. They do not need a church - they need a Savior. Far too many churches operate under a watered down Gospel that doesn't really address heaven and hell, sin and repentance, saved and unsaved. In our efforts to appear inoffensive we have a generation now of unoffended goats who think they are sheep. We have politically corrected them right into hell.

    Turning to the key verses we see that the first thing Jesus wants us to know is that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth, therefore...the Great Commission. When God truly gives a mandate it is given under all authority. This is not some haphazard venture with unknown outcomes. This is the chosen vehicle God uses to bring His Gospel message to the lost. That's right - the lost. They are not the unchurched - they are hopelessly lost without God. All we need to do is remember our life before coming to Christ. We may have convinced ourselves that we had it all together but it was all hanging precariously by a thin thread and oh how the devil loved flicking that thread. The promises the world made to us were all hollow and empty. We were wandering through life trying one thing or another to fill the void of not knowing our Creator. We were lost.

    “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” - Luke 15: 31-32 (NLT)

    This is the ending of the story of the Prodigal Son and look how the father refers to his son who has come home - he was lost but now is found! This is how we need to view the people on the outside of salvation looking in and realize that Jesus Christ has been given all authority on heaven and earth and under that authority He has commissioned us to bring His Gospel to the lost. This does not mean that everyone will agree or fall down and repent but rather that we do not approach this under our own power but under direct mandate from Almighty God!

    I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed. - Luke 7: 7-10 (NLT)

    The story of the faith of the Roman officer reveals the link between faith and authority. We sometimes approach evangelism and witnessing devoid of this faith. The Roman officer had the faith in the authority of Jesus Christ! More so than anyone else Jesus had come across! That is the faith we need to have when approaching the spreading of the Gospel. We do not do this randomly but under direct order of He who has all authority! Do we truly grasp that today? Our responsibility to the Gospel begins with understanding the authority we walk under.

    Back to the key verses we come to verse 19, the actual verse that finished in the tenth slot of most searched Bible verses. In it are the nuts and bolts of Christianity and our responsibility to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It consists of five crucial parts:

    * Go

    * Make disciples

    * All nations

    * Baptizing

    * Teach them all my commands

    The first part of the Great Commission is the word "go." Christianity is an action verb beloved. We were not meant to be passively enjoying eternal life while everyone we live our lives with are still destined for hell. The unsaved status of people should be a burden upon us. It should eat away at us. We were not saved to warm a pew, get our hallelujah hop on, pay our offering and go home. Nor were we purposed to simply serve in a ministry and think our Christian duty has been done. We are supposed to GO. Where preacher? Wherever God leads you! For some it will be the mission field but for most the true mission field is in their workplace, their PTA meetings, or even in their church itself. The church was never intended to be for the entertainment of the saints but rather for the rescue of sinners.

    But when the teachers of religious law who were Phariseessaw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

    When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” - Mark 2: 16-17 (NLT)

    We have far too many folks in churches with a Pharisaical spirit that looks down on the unsaved as scum. The homosexual as scum. The Muslim as scum. The reality is that we all were scum until the blood of Jesus was spilled for our redemption. The only righteousness we enjoy is because of the cross. It is not our own. When our church becomes a social club instead of a triage unit then only a precious few are saved. We take the authority of Christ and casually toss it aside. Evangelism is relegated to a "gift" that requires people to roam the jungles in search of the lost when the lost sit right next to us in church every week. We must understand the authority we are mandated under and then we must GO.

    The second part of the commission is we are to make disciples. You see it is not just an exercise in saying a quick and dirty prayer and then plugging the person into ministry. There is no discipling in that. The dictionary defines a disciple as someone who is an adherent to the doctrines of another, in this case Jesus Christ. Jesus realized early on in His ministry that some were following Him in words only:

    “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? - Luke 6: 46 (NLT)

    A disciple does what Jesus said to do. It is not a casual relationship. Too many Christians want to date Jesus while He is looking for a commitment. So much wrong with churches today revolves around this notion of casual Christianity. That you only need sacrifice an hour on Sundays. Maybe show up at a prayer meeting. Serve in a ministry. Go to the Christmas gala. We won't infringe on your life too much...

    Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? - Luke 9: 23-25 (NLT)

    The Bible here teaches us that we are supposed to give up our lives for the sake and cause of Christ. How often is that preached before an altar call?

    The third part of the Great Commission is - all nations. This is especially important here in America where Christians often have more pride in their earthly citizenship than their heavenly one. America was never under covenant with God - the church is. That church spreads across the globe into the underground of China and the deserts of Lebanon. We are conditioned in this country to view ourselves as exceptional and everyone else as either beholden to us or less than us. But the Bible teaches us that we are citizens of heaven and that we are pilgrims and sojourners through this world now. Part of the problem with carrying out the Great Commission is that far too many of us have become residents in a world we are only supposed to be walking through. This is not lost on the unsaved as we squander the authority of Christ as foolishly as the Prodigal Son squandered his father's fortune. We are not supposed to look down on people. The foot of the cross is even for everyone and God does not only bless America beloved.

    Fourth we see the mandate on baptism. Sometimes it seems as if we treat baptism too casually as well but if we follow the train of thought here from Jesus we see it is an integral part of making disciples. In the age of quick prayer salvations it is even more important that people understand the decision they are making. Baptism is a public declaration of your new faith in Jesus Christ. It is a conscious decision to bury your old life with Christ and be resurrected with Him as a new creation. It is no wonder that such a small percentage of folks who come up for altar call make it to baptism. Even still the new trend in churches is to dumb down this sacred mandate as well. Under the excuse of fear of public speaking so many are simply allowed to nod assent when asked if they now publicly declare faith in Christ. As someone who suffered for many years with panic and anxiety, I understand the fear of public speaking. But what are we failing to teach them?

    We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.We love each other because he loved us first. - 1John 4: 16-19 (NLT)

    What a teachable moment we lose when we give into the very fears Christ has come to deliver us from! We have to learn to cast our fears and anxieties upon the Lord. It is a process that can begin with a joyous victory over the devil upon a public declaration at baptism!

    The final portion of the Great Commission is perhaps the most important. Teach the new disciples to obey all the commands I have taught you. There has been a new movement of false grace running through Christianity. A cheap grace that seeks to make the law anathema. That ignores the fact that Christ came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Here within the Great Commission itself we see the importance of obedience. It is the thread running through the entire Bible. God does not want sheep with a purpose. He wants sheep driven by obedience. A disciple is not a disciple that fails to obey all that Christ has commanded. Love thy neighbor. Pick up your cross daily. Repent for the kingdom is at hand. Wait a minute! You're preaching law and condemnation! If I am then so did Jesus. Once agin we should be haunted by His question - why do you bother calling me Lord if you refuse to do as I say? The Gospel is not about church growth and leadership. It is about souls and discipleship. It is about genuine converts burying their old life in baptism to raise a new obedient creature. Perfect? Never. But striving? Always.

    So as we begin our series on the most searched verses I find it odd from a human perspective that Matthew 28:19 made the cut. From an eternal perspective though I understand why God made sure that it did! The Great Commission is our mandated responsibility to the Gospel of Jesus Christ given to us under all of the authority in heaven and on earth. It is not to be left for those pioneering spirits that leave the comforts of home for foreign lands but for everyone who calls themselves a Christian. We must realize that our salvation requires action on our part and we must go. We must strive to make disciples, not merely count statistics at altar calls. We are called to realize that His glorious bride the church stretches far beyond the shores of the United States and that sometimes the very people we hold in such contempt are the very people we are supposed to bring the Gospel to. We are to baptize them and teach them everything that Jesus Christ commanded. This may sound like a lot to undertake beloved; I get that. I really do. Under our own power it is simply impossible but the key verses conclude with the reason why it can be accomplished. Not only the reason but one we can be sure about as Jesus puts it. You see, we do not go alone. Jesus Christ has promised to be with us, even until the end of the age...

    Reverend Anthony Wade - November 15, 2013

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