(You can listen to the sermon, preached on April 1, 2012, here.)
Back in Kentucky, life stopped on the first Saturday in May for the “most exciting two minutes in sports”—the Kentucky Derby. Over 185, 000 people could come to Churchill Downs to watch the 20+ horses run down the track in their majestic glory. I was never one to put money down on the horses, even the Kentucky Derby, but I always loved to watch God’s creatures run full throttle down that track.
If you have watched any type of race (horses, auto, etc.), have you noticed what happens in the moments up to the green flag being waved or before the gates open? Those horses are literally chomping at the bit to get out! They are ready to get to the race! They are ready not just to get out of the gate, they are ready to run and they are ready to win!
This morning, we look at Core Value #5. On the posters in the hallways here at church, the word that has been used to describe this is the word ‘Go.’ This is an appropriate word. We have talked about coming/assembling together, about preaching /listening to the Word, why we give for the glory of God, and why we pray.
Core Value #5 asks the question, “Why do we have to leave?” Why can’t we just stay here? Because I know that there are so many who want to stay here all day, every day, right? No, I know better. In fact, it’s so sad that there are those who name the name of Christ who want to spend as little time with Christ and His people as possible, but just enough to ‘get by.’ What is encouraging is that there are those who cannot wait to come here to be with their brothers and sisters in Christ, to hear the Word, to sing praises to Him and encourage others, to have the privilege of giving a portion of what God has given to us, and to connect to Him with others in prayer! There is a big piece of heaven that takes place here in these walls!
So why do we have to leave? Why can’t we just stay here all our lives? But an even more important question is, why can’t we, even after we leave this place, simply be around our fellow Christians. Is there anything wrong with this?
Yes! There is nothing wrong with being around other Christians—we need to be to strengthen and be strengthened; to comfort and be comforted; to encourage and be encouraged in Christ. But we leave to be unleashed! And this is not only implied but also stated clearly in what we have termed throughout the centuries as the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 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 you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus was alive—and is alive! But there was still work to do with his resurrection! It was time to invest! The Great Commission begins with verse 18: “All authority in heaven on earth has been given to me!” The risen Lord Jesus has conquered sin, death, and hell through His full obedience! And since death cannot kill God, Christ was exalted to the highest place and given the name above every name (Philippians 2:9-11).
It’s with this understanding of Christ’s authority that He unleashes us out of the gate. He came to rescue those out of the world, and now He unleashes His people into the world with the gospel and work by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ into full affect in the hearts of those who have ears to hear.
Jesus calls us to “go and make disciples.” This is the main thought of the entire Great Commission. And it is a commission, isn’t it? And we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), sent under the authority and with the authority of one country into another. The apostle Paul implores us as ambassadors to tell this message: “Be reconciled unto God.” A holy God and a sinful humanity are at war with one another, but God (the offended party) is the one who initiates the peace terms for reconciliation. It’s called ‘the gospel.’
What is the gospel? This is a great question. If you will look to the screen, I want to share with you a gospel presentation from Two Ways to Live. This is my favorite way to share with others what Christ has accomplished for us!
So God is the loving creator of the world. He made the world and everything in it. And he created man to rule the world! But humanity decided to rule the world his own way and rejected God’s rule over the world. We have a world full of people trying to be bosses. The Bible says we are all “in Adam” and have chosen the road that exalts us rather than God. The result? We tell God, “Leave me alone! I don’t want you,” so we die and after that face judgment and we will get in the next life exactly what we asked for in this life—a life away from the things of God.
But God loved us enough not to leave us that way—He sent Christ to die the death we deserved to die, to take the punishment we deserve to absorb, and brought forgiveness. He was raised to cleanse our hearts and souls and to wipe the slate clean! Through his forgiveness, we can start clean in Christ because our sins our paid for!
So when Jesus tells us to Go and make disciples, He calls us to go with this gospel. Which brings us to our first part:
1. Invite (we go with the gospel): To bring all peoples under the gospel so they be changed by the gospel and come around others who have been changed by the gospel.
When we invite people to church, we are inviting them to a place where the gospel will be clear not only in the preaching, but also in the lives of those who have been changed by the gospel! We need to have Andrew as our guide in this quest. Turn with me to John 1:40-42:
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus[b] was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
In the next paragraph, Jesus calls Philip to follow him. Philip then comes across Nathanael.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
So Andrew came to Christ, then brought Peter to Jesus. Philip came to Christ told Nathanael to come and see. Do you see a pattern? All believers want to bring others to Christ! We need to tell them one-to-one! But another effective way is to bring them to church! If you are encouraged by what God is doing here, tell someone about Christ and His church here at ARBC! You may say, “Well, I’d invited them, but our church isn’t perfect!” What church is? If you had a perfect church, you’d have it made up of perfect people—that’s not happening. But are we striving to honor and obey the Lord and His Word?
· Invite them to church to get under the Word and meet people.
· When we have our ARBC 101 class in June, let them know about that and invite them then?
· Invite them to Big Days such as Resurrection Sunday, Christmas, or other special times like VBS or the Egg Hunt or any special services we have. In fact, our staff is praying hard that 400 people will show on Easter Sunday morning for our worship service. Will you pray for those 400 souls and begin to invite people?
2. Invest (and we sow in the gospel): To help all in our church apply the gospel through the Word
So we are to go and make disciples. Inviting people to church is great, but it’s not enough because Christ tells us it’s not enough. There is more to this. There is a process in place. Having church attenders is not the same as making a disciple. Maybe we need to define what a disciple is. Jesus helps us!
Read on in the Great Commission. Jesus says, “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The baptizing and teaching encompass the Christian life, with baptizing dealing with the beginning and the teaching with the continuance of it!
What does it mean to ‘baptize’? This is important for us to think through because there is a lot of talk regarding what this means. But what we see when someone is baptized, we see how one is taken under the water and brought up again. Romans 6:1-4 helps us understand:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
The sign signifies a deeper truth, doesn’t it? We are to be immersed in Christ—our entire lives! This brings us to the teaching. As Christ invested in us, we invest in Christ and His Word. Through the cleansing power of the Word, we come more and more under the influence of the Spirit.
- · Invest the gospel, sow it in!
- · Invest in a small group: Sunday School classes!
- · Invest in a mature Christian who can help plant those seeds of the gospel in you in your walk.
3. Involve (so all grow in the gospel): To move all in our church to use help others grow in the gospel through service.
Christians are not simply called to rest in the fact that someone invited them. They are not simply called to be invested in in baptism and simply to be taught. We are called be involved in inviting others and investing in others.
In what way? Look with me to 1 Corinthians 12:27-31:
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
We are involved because we are the body of Christ in this world. We use our bodies to help strengthen the same said body, but also to work in the world for the good of others. We are individually members of it with specific gifts—gifts that God invested us so we can be involved investing in others. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that these gifts are given to equip others for the work of the ministry.
The gifts fall into two categories: teaching gifts and helping gifts. Not everyone is called to teach, is gifted to teach. Some have the gift which turns into a passion to “speak the truth in love.” There is a passion to have others know the truth, but we must remember something that I shared with our teachers when we met a couple weeks ago. I had someone say to me, “You are not called to teach the Bible—you are called to teach people the Bible.” Paul called Timothy to “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
In what way will you be involved in inviting and investing in others? What steps will you take to become involved in the kingdom work in the life of our church?
4. Increase (so the world knows the gospel): So God brings the increase with the seed He has given us to sow the joy of His Son in all peoples.
Look with me at 1 Corinthians 3:6-9:
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
The context of this is that there were some who were rallying around certain preachers of the gospel more so than the gospel. But who are the messengers? Some plant the seed, some are used to water that seed planted—but who causes the growth? God does. Bill Fay, who put together the Share Jesus Without Fear curriculum puts it right when he said that it is not our job to save people (that’s God’s job). Success is when you are obedient with what God called you to do—and He will bring in the increase.