“The Great Commission” by Reggie Koop

Key Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (KJV)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

Other references: Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:46-49, Acts 1:8, John 20:21-23

Setting:
On a mountain somewhere around Galilee, a group of men (Jesus’s disciples) were given the greatest challenge to tell others the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of God’s love and forgiveness to a broken and sinful world.

The Definition of a disciple according to:

Merriam-Webster dictionary: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as Christianity: one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts

Bible dictionary: a scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14 ), and of the Pharisees ( 22:16 ), but principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his sacrifice, (3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example (Matthew 10:24 ; Luke 14:26 Luke 14:27 Luke 14:33 ; John 6:69).

Cambridge dictionary: a person who believes in the ideas of a leader, esp. A religious or political one, and tries to live according to those ideas

We can conclude then, that the definition of a disciple is someone who receives instruction from another person. But a Christian disciple is a baptized follower of Christ, one who believes the teaching of Christ.

With that definition, we are now going to look at this command from six questions: Who? What? Why? Where? When? and How?

I. Who gave the Great Commission and to whom was it given?

Verse 18, “and Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”

There is only one person who can give such a great challenge, and that is Jesus Christ, the son of God. Mark makes Jesus place clear in Mark 1:1 where he wrote, “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

The deity of Christ is further stated in John 1:1-5, “in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. 2 the same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 in him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Genesis 1:26a says, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

In Colossians 1:15,16, we find more about Jesus “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”

Then, Paul continued in Colossians 2:3,9-10, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… 9 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”

God became man. He walked and communed with man. He died on the cross and was raised from the dead to save people from sin and to give them eternal life, to those who accept him into their heart.

Turning to Matthew 19b, Jesus affirms the reality of the Trinity: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…”

Jesus says baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is sharing the three-in-one nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is baptism unites a believer with Jesus Christ in their death to sin and resurrection to new life. Baptism symbolized submission to Christ and a willingness to live God’s way.

To whom did Jesus give the Great Commission?

He gave it to His 11 disciples but also to every Christian who believes on him. When we represent Jesus Christ as his disciple, we are representing the One who possesses all power, wisdom, and authority.

John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

1 John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

But you might say, the 11 disciples were different from me. They were much more extraordinary. They possessed something more powerful. Much better than me.

But they were just common, ordinary people. A working class of people having the same weaknesses as you and me. The only two differences are:

1. They experienced seeing Jesus crucified, resurrected, and then watched Him ascend into heaven.

2. They were the first to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

II. What is the Great Commission?

Verse 19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus’s command is to take the Gospel to every person to every part of the world and to make disciples in all nations. But it doesn’t stop there. It involves training. Training these disciples to spread the Gospel in their area and to train these disciples to train other disciples to do the same. Generation after generation. We’ll call this spiritual multiplication.

What is the difference between spiritual addition and spiritual multiplication? Spiritual addition is one person leads someone to the Lord and then leads someone else to the Lord and continues this process, one by one. On the other hand, spiritual multiplication is a Christian disciple introduces a non-Christian to Jesus and then trains that Christian to share the Gospel. Then they each introduce someone to Christ. This process continues and expands resulting in Christian multiplication.

Our responsibility is to preach and teach the Gospel, it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to make our witness effective.

III. Why should we help fulfill the Great Commission?

Let’s look at 4 reasons.

1. Jesus commanded us to do so. Jesus said, “Go!” But the sad thing is, most Christians have never taken this command seriously. But look at the world around us, what’s happening, what’s going on?

If we take our Lord seriously, we must dedicate our time, talent, and treasure to fulfill the Great Commission. Remember what Jesus has done for us.

Consider Mark 8:34-38. “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his father with the holy angels.”

2. There are people who are lost without Jesus Christ; this includes family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, associates, etc.

Romans 3:23 reminds us, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,…”

John 14:6 states that Jesus is the exclusive answer. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

In Acts 4:12, we see again that only the person of Jesus can save us. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

3. People everywhere are hungry for God. All over the world.

4. There is an urgency. We must have an urgency to complete this command while the doors of opportunity are still open.

John 4:35-36, “Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

IV. When will the Great Commission be fulfilled?

The Great Commission is God’s idea and only He in his almighty power and all knowledge knows when and how it will fulfilled. Consider some of the following verses from Scripture:

Acts 1:7, “And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

Matthew 24:36, “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

Mark 13:32-33, “but of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”

As Christians sharing the Gospel should be our number one priority each and every day, each and every minute, to each and every person. Why? Because the message of Jesus brings joy as we see in the story of Jesus’ birth? “And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2.10).

V. Where must we go?

Acts 1:8, “but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

We are to be involved in helping reach the entire world, but here Jesus gives us a strategy.

Jerusalem: in your own home, in your neighborhood, in your school, at your work.

Judea & Samaria: in your community, in your county (Atchison, Holt, Nodaway), in your state (Missouri), your nation (United States).

Rest of the world

But, as we go, Jesus gave us a promise: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28.20b).

Jesus is telling His disciples then and His disciples now, He will be with His followers spiritually until the end of this age, meaning until He returns.

Matthew 1:23b says, “and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

We must go out and obey His commission. Because even when we fail, He is faithful.

VI. How can I help fulfill the Great Commission? (Application)

Remember the 3 T’s: Time, Talents, Treasure

1. Become a Christian.

2. In everything, start with prayer. Take time to pray-ask God for guidance. Pray for the pastor, others, missionaries. Pray hearts will be softened.

3. Take inventory of your talents. How can you serve? We have all received gifts the we can use to help fulfill the great commission.

4. Learn.

a. Be in church, be in bible study, be in Sunday School, be in fellowship.
b. Learn how to share the Gospel.

5. Be a mentor. Who can you come alongside? Invest in another. Teach another Christian to share the Gospel. Remember it is about multiplication.

6. Share your treasure. Give.

7. Develop a strategy: home, neighbors, relatives, work, school, county, state, nation, world.

The Great Commission reveals the heart of God. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that it is God “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

It Begins with the Head

As we gather on the first Sunday of 2019, many of you will have made resolutions for this new year. For most people, the essence of making a resolution is personal. What can make me feel better? What can make me look better? This is true whether the resolutions are about tangible items or intangible goals. But many resolutions have to do with health. And really health deals with both of the two questions I just mentioned – feeling better (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and looking better (to ourselves, in the eyes of others, etc.)

I can relate. I recently looked at my passport picture which was taken just four years ago. The picture on the left is from a little further back – just over seven years ago, shortly after we moved to Fairfax, and the one on the right was taken last week.

Pastor Andy in Oct 2011 and Jan 2019

Although my change in appearance was not due to a new year’s resolution, I definitely feel better and look better. And it is more than the eye test. My blood work and other numbers reveal that I am much healthier now than I was then. That does not guarantee that I will be alive tomorrow, but being healthy usually allows us to accomplish far more than when we are not healthy.

Over the past few months, we took a high-definition look at the modern church (including our church) against the early church. (That sermon series, The Church in HD, can be found on the blog’s previous host: ffxbc.blogspot.com.) Looking in high-definition allowed us to see more clearly the areas where we need improvement. Around the same time, God provided this year’s theme for our church, and thus 2019 is The Year of the Body. Just as individuals need to be healthy to reach our personal goals, the church needs to be healthy to accomplish the goals God has for us. After all, the church is the Body of Christ. So, this year we will be reviewing the major systems of the human body and compare those systems to the necessary processes (systems) that can help to make the church healthy. The eleven major systems of the human body are (in the order of review for us): Reproductive, Respiratory, Skeletal, Circulatory, Muscular, Lymphatic/Immune, Nervous, Endocrine, Digestive, Exocrine, and Excretory.

Before we move into our passage for this week, let me share one other picture that will serve as a reminder for us in 2019. The picture is of a bucket filled with water. The phrase “the weakest link” is a common expression meaning that a chain is only as strong as the weakest of the links. The picture of the bucket represents something similar. The bucket can only hold water up the point of the shortest part. Anything more begins to spill out.

Credit for the image to benleney.wordpress.com

Our goal this year as a church should be to strengthen all parts of the bucket, but in doing so, we must make sure that the sides of the bucket are patched, repaired, or whatever else is needed to make the bucket not only stronger, but we must make the sides taller as well. How do we do this? Well, it all begins with Jesus.

Jesus Is the Image of God (Colossians 1.15)

Paul’s words in Colossians 1, beginning in verse 15 are almost certainly part of an early Christian hymn. Scholars have not found evidence if Paul wrote the words originally or if the lyrics were borrowed from the hymn for inclusion here. Ultimately, that does not matter. What does matter is that these words represent a very high view of God, and Jesus.

Specifically, this part of the passage says that Jesus is the image of God. Why is that important for a discussion related to healthy bodies and healthy churches? Because Jesus had a body. John 4 tells us that God is Spirit. But Jesus is God in the flesh. The people alive in the 1st Century saw God living in the flesh when they observed Jesus. And not just any flesh, but human flesh. And not as isolated, but among us. You may know this conceptually, but does it grip you? Of course we just celebrated Christmas – the birth of God as man. But God became man. And Jesus was the man. And thus, Jesus had a body and needed to keep it healthy just as you and I need to keep our bodies healthy.

But as God, He was interested in more than the human body, He was interested in developing a body of people who followed Him and would represent Him through their lives when He departed. Thus, the body of Jesus may not be physically present now, but the Body of Christ (i.e. the Church) is now the image of the invisible God. We are the ones who make God known today.

Michael Lucaszewski says it this way. “The church is the closest representation of Jesus we have on earth. Jesus is invisible and I have never been to heaven. But the church is the body of Christ, and I can see that. When local churches love and serve their community, worship wholeheartedly, and give generously, it’s a very real picture of Jesus.”

So, Jesus is the image of God, and the body of Christ now serves as the image of Jesus.

Jesus Is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1.16-20)

Beginning in verse 16, Paul clearly presents the Son as having authority. Notice the terms Paul used.

  • 16a – Everything was created through Him
  • 16b – Everything was created for Him
  • 17a – Everything comes after Him
  • 17b – Everything is held together in Him
  • 18 – Everything is under Him
  • 19 – The fullness of God is in Him
  • 20 – Creation is reconciled through Him

And in verse 18, we have the term body referring the Church. Thus, the church is a part of everything that is under Him. Of course, our bodies are physiologically beneath our heads, but the Body of Christ should be figuratively under Jesus – as our head.

The term head is used intentionally here as Paul is referring to the church as a body. Why? Because Jesus came in the flesh. Paul has already made this clear in verse 15 – that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Something that is invisible, does not leave a shadow, so it is not that kind of image. Jesus was truly flesh and blood (see verse 22), and the idea of Jesus as the head, and the Church as His body reflects that truth perfectly.

The question is: are we truly the Body of Christ? I don’t mean should we be; I mean are we functioning as His body? Let’s take a few moments to review what we must consider for us to be functioning best.

If Jesus is the head, then we should be developing the mind of Christ (Phil 2.5). That means we should:

  • make disciples – that is, generate new members of the Body of Christ (Reproductive System)
  • teach others to trust and follow Jesus as the head of the Body of Christ (Respiratory System)
  • develop leaders to better support the Body of Christ (Skeletal System)
  • share with others the sacrifice Jesus made for the Body of Christ (Circulatory System)
  • flex our muscles by serving others inside the Body of Christ (Muscular System)
  • create processes to better protect the Body of Christ (Lymphatic/Immune System)
  • show our care by responding to needs of others apart outside the Body of Christ (Nervous System)
  • improve the communication within the Body of Christ (Endocrine System)
  • focus on what we take into ourselves as the Body of Christ (Digestive System)
  • consider how to best care for the facilities used by this Body of Christ (Exocrine System)
  • evaluate and remove harmful or unnecessary components impacting this Body of Christ (Excretory System)

As we begin this year, I see two major problems with the ideas I just shared. First, we have a lot to consider. But we must begin somewhere. If you go to the doctor for a check-up, and you are told to “get healthy” that is too ambiguous to really help. Instead, the doctor might say, “Let’s start with your diet.” Now you have a focus. You still have to choose to do something but you have a starting point. That is what this year is…a starting point towards having a healthier church. And that leads to the second problem.

Second, to become healthy will take all of us. We do have a lot to consider, but what should we put aside? Like the human body everything mentioned above is important. Do we stop making disciples? Do we care for others who are part of His body? Do we stop teaching or serving? Of course not. Why? Because the Head, Jesus, said these aspects are important for the Church He wishes to build. Thus, we need everyone involved. We have reviewed 1 Corinthians 12 a few times over the past several months, and we need to keep the idea of all parts of the body working together fresh in our minds. As I mention a lot, our vision is to be a large church in a small town. Again, in this context “large” refers to the amount of influence we have. I believe that is what our Head, Jesus, wants from us – to influence Fairfax and beyond for His glory. But to do that will require this Body of Christ to be commited to following our leader – the head of the Church, and the head of this Church – Jesus.

Let me give you one more quote before we return to the idea of the bucket.

“I’m convinced that the influence a church has on its community will be determined in large part not by the personality of the pastor, the size of its building or how long the ministry has worked in the community. It will be determined instead by the percentage in the ministry of each member.” – Wayne Cordeiro

In other words, the impact of a church is based upon how active each member of the Body of Christ is. To remind us of that fact, it is likely that quote might surface a few more times during this series. For now, let’s consider the idea of a new year’s resolution once again.

CONCLUSION

I began this post with the thought that many (most?) resolutions have to do with people’s thoughts on feeling better, looking better, etc. But the idea of better is relative and depends upon our perspective. Of course, our perspective is how we think about things and we think with our brain. And our brain is in our head. Thus, it begins with the head.

And the head is Jesus! As the church – the Church – Jesus must be our perspective. With that in mind, have you ever considered the notion that Jesus might have a new year’s resolution? He might have one for you individually, but I am certain He has one for this, and every church.

For Fairfax Baptist Church, I am convinced His goal is for us to be healthier as a church body at the end of 2019 than we are at the beginning of it. That does not mean that we are not healthy in some areas, but it does suggest we need to improve in others. And even where we may be healthier, we should all be able to admit that we all have room to grow – individually and collectively – because we are not yet perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus.

So, let us not forget the bucket, but more importantly let us not forget the Head of all of our ministries, our systems, and everything that makes us a part of His Church.

JOURNEY:

The JOURNEY letter for today is:        JJESUS.

Jesus is the head – plain and simple. We are called to be His body. But it a choice we must make individually and collectively. However, nothing we decide will change the fact that He is the true Head of the Church. And thus, our first letter for the new year is J – for Jesus.

NEXT STEP(S):

LEARN: In 2019, take time to discover how you best fit into the Body of Christ.

LIVE: In 2019, take time to be an active part of the Body of Christ – perhaps by trying new areas of service, but serving faithfully as He has gifted you.

LOVE: In 2019, take time to love others within the Body of Christ – even if they may be very different from you.

LEAD: In 2019, take time to lead others to find their place within the Body of Christ. It takes a fully healthy body to do all that our true Leader wants us to do.

Bread Crumbs

After nearly three years of posting weekly (or more) on Blogger (ffxbc.blogspot.com), we are moving the Bread Crumbs blog to our website. We believe this will better help us communicate in writing what is taught and shared at Fairfax Baptist Church in Fairfax, Missouri.

Most of the rest of this post remains the same as the first post on our old Blogger account because the purpose of the blog remains the same. However, migrating to WordPress should allow us more options as we move forward.

The posts on this blog will largely be from the pastor but may include the thoughts and reflections of others from time to time. Largely, the content will be an adaptation from a sermon, or other time of teaching, but again, the option exists for other possibilities. The intention is to blog here once weekly after providing some introductory thoughts, and some catch-up posts transitioned from another blog. The pastor, Dr. Andy Braams, also has his own blog which will, at times, provide reflection to the posts made here, and at other times focus on other areas of his life and or ministry, as well as covering aspects of ministry in general. Again, this blog will be exclusive to teachings and other thoughts specifically related to Fairfax Baptist Church.

The idea for the name stems from two important pieces. First, the Bible is often referred to as the Word of God. But other monikers exists as well, and one of thought, as used by one devotional is that the Bible is to be like our food – our daily bread. And wherever bread has been, crumbs are left behind. These crumbs are evidence of something greater that exists (or existed, if already eaten), but whether we cut the bread before we eat it, or slice it into more manageable pieces, crumbs are left behind. Likewise, when we peer into the Bible, whether in deep study, or at a passing glance, we may take part of the meaning with us, but we cannot consume all of it. Thus, what we take is more like a crumb. And a crumb is never enough to sustain us, but enough crumbs may allow us to maintain our strength until we can return for more substance.

The second piece of the puzzle relates to the church’s strategy. Our strategy is built around the idea that we are on a JOURNEY. A set of posts will be added soon to discuss this in more detail, but each of the letters are part of an acrostic that helps guide us in knowing what we need to do. (Our ministry is guided by words with a theme of traveling – we are all on a journey, for instance – which you can find out more about here.) But the journey we travel, or at least one that has been set for us, is marked by the examples of others who are further along the path, by the example of Jesus when He lived among us, and certainly by the written Word of God. Whenever traveling in a new area, it is nice to have known markers to have as a guide in knowing the proper direction to continue. Having someone further along the journey who is willing to leave bread crumbs can help those who come along behind. Of course, true discipleship is walking alongside of another, but we are all following the bread crumbs of someone who has gone before us.

It is acknowledged that bread crumbs are used by many to know how to backtrack out of a situation as well, and while that possibility may be pertinent at certain points on this blog, the primary purposes are the two pieces from each of the preceding paragraphs.

So, welcome to the new blog home of Fairfax Baptist Church. May it encourage you, comfort you, inspire you, and challenge you on your journey through this life. May the bread crumbs left by others guide us to learn to walk with God more faithfully. And may we learn to leave bread crumbs behind so that others will learn to walk more faithfully as well.