Updated: Sep 11
I begin this by addressing all of you as saints. Why did I do this? I started this way purposely as a reminder to you that you are part of an eternal family which can not be broken. Not even the gates of hell, with its evil spirits, are strong enough to destroy what God has promised us through His grace and Mercy. I decided to remind you of your God-ordained title because if you call on the name of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are a saint. As believers, we need to comprehend better our role and power in the kingdom of Heaven and start using it to complete the task at hand, to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost and broken world.
I apologize in advance if you opened this today, hoping for a safe, feel-good message. Sadly, today's message is not presented to make us comfortable; today's message is a sharp reminder that we still have work to attend to while we are here on earth. This message is not intended to make us feel good in your life, nor is it intended to make us safe. This message is a reminder that there are still millions of people in the world, many as close as your next-door neighbor or the person sitting next to you at church, who still have not heard the Gospel in its entirety. This message is a call to action, a battle cry, or a rally call to do as Paul directs the Church of Ephesians when he says.
In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. - Ephesians 6:16-20
Today's church and its counterparts in the world call people such as popes, nuns, bishops, priests, and cardinals saints. Many of these people did great and mighty works for the Lord, but that does not negate the fact that an arbitrary group of men, using a random set of none biblical rules, decided through the man-ordained process called canonization who they do and do not consider a saint. In an epic case of overreach, these councils redundantly bestow and elevate their select group of men and women to a level that they have no power to do and, ironically, to a level that all believers already hold. How can man ordain what he has no power to ordain?
The Bible, on the other hand, holds a different understanding of what a saint is. The Bible is God's Word and, therefore, has the power and authority to call us out, His saints, by name. The Bible contains the true meaning of the word "saint" and the proper understanding that you, the children of God, are saints already.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. - 1 Peter 2:9
Peter, the rock upon which Jesus testifies the church will be built upon, understood from his time with Christ that God did not differentiate between the men of the cloth and the men of the street. The honor and prestige of being called a saint is not reserved only for those religious men wearing long robes with fancy titles; God values all His children, everywhere and from every nation, equally and with love. Your salvation, deliverance, and ability to share the good news of Christ are not predicated on your seminary degree but on your understanding that you are grafted into God's chosen race and that there are responsibilities in that. Who adopts a child but does not expect them to live by the family rules?
Peter and the other disciples understood what it meant to be a chosen race. These Jewish men had long ago learned the Torah and understood that the Israelites were God's chosen people; scripture is crystal clear on this beginning all the way back in Genesis twelve. Genesis twelve is an essential chapter in the telling of the Gospel. It is where the story of God's favor on one family ends, and a covenant is established with an entire race of people.
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." - Genesis 12:1-3
We are all saints, every believer reading this, regardless of what sin hides in the dark corners of our lives. We are saints of the Most High; we are not perfect; actually, the exact opposite, we are broken and battered. We are not Glorified but still under the constraints of sanctification. We look nothing like God, yet we are called saints nonetheless. And as saints, we have power and a mission.
My question today is... Are we using our power to complete our assigned mission, or are we sitting and waiting for others to do our work for us?
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And 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. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 18:16-20
I believe in the truths we find in scripture. One of the things that I find most remarkable about the Bible is its ability to be its own proof text. If we read something in the Bible that seems at odds with the whole of scripture, we can go back and see where our interpretation falls short. God is a god of order; the earth sits at the correct axes for life to exist, 23.4%, and contains the proper amount of oxygen. 21% for us to live. We are positioned 93 million miles from the sun, close enough to keep us warm yet far enough to stop us from combusting and burning out. We have a concentrated ozone layer in the stratosphere to protect us from the sun's rays. Everything is created to perfection, to the exact order and specifications that God wrote. He maintains it still today; he created it, so who would be better suited to sustain it and the life of His saints. God does nothing carelessly, including sharing his Word with us from the Bible.
If you're not holding a real paper one, I invite you to grab one. Pick it us, can you feel that? Can you feel its physical weight? Now open up to the first verse of the first page, and read it:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1
Are you able to feel it? Do you sense the spiritual weight His words hold? Did you pick up the order and precise use of words? In nine short words, we learn of the beginning of time, matter, and space; we lear of the Genesis of everything. As I said before, we can proof check this verse against other bible verses to verify that this is a statement of absolute truth. Let's examine some proof text for Genesis 1:1 and its claim that God created everything.
Colossians tells us that:
For by him all things were created, in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
In the first three verses of the Gospel of John, we learn that:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Lastly, at the conclusion of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, in chapter four verse eleven, it says:
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
God created all things and did not go about creating the world all willy-nilly. He did not go about the plan for our salvation in a hazardous manner either. God is a god of order, and His Word is no exception. The most extraordinary proof we have to support the Bible is the Bible. And since we believe this book to be true, we must listen when it commands us to do something and take something seriously. A prime example of this is what we now call "The Great Commision".
Let's take the rest of our time to explore our God-given duty as heard in The Gospel of Matthew.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 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." - Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. - Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew, James, Jude, Matthew, Philip, Simon, and Thomas went to Galilee, the home of Jesus and the soon-to-come epicenter of the Jewish migration north to Judea after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD by soon to be, emperor Titus of Rome.
And just like that, the eleven had conflicting feelings, like many of us when things in life get hard. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Again, Jesus repeats His claim that God the Father has entrusted all power and authority to him.
Therefore go and make disciples. A disciple is a student. Jesus is not asking His deciples to go out and convert people, all He asks is that they teach about Him. of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; Baptism is not reserved for Sundays or by pastors alone. Baptizing is a command of Christ to us all. There are no qualifiers in this statement. Jesus does not say go to seminary and then baptize once you have mastered all this theological mumbo-jumbo. He says the exact opposite. Meshia does not direct us to learn and baptize; he directs us to teach and baptize.
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. What is this "everyting" Jesus commanded them? John tells us three chapters later.
Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My Word he will never see death." - John 8:51
What does one have to do to keep the Word?
The Word in Greek is Logos, or the reasoning expressed by words. Jesus is the physical manifestation of the kingdom of Heaven. In other words, Jesus is the physical representation of the Word of God. Not some of God's words but all of God's words. According to John, Jesus directly says that we are to keep and live in obedience to all of the words of God, just as Jesus did.
In His second letter, Peter clarifies this and adds the point that we should follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We should live life as close to the way He did as possible.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. - Peter 2:21-22
So again, we ask, what commands did Christ call us to obey? All of them, not just the ones from the New Testament and not just the ones from the Old Testament. As gentiles grafted into God's chosen people, we must commit to not only sharing in the eternal reward offered to God's chosen people but also in their earthy labor and suffering.
Christ is the answer, regardless of the question. Christ is the truth, irrespective of the situation, and Christ commands us to Therefore go and make disciples.
Who are you disciplining?