Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Fourth Benefit of Being A Church Member: In The Place of Evangelism”

Matthew 28.18-20

 

I am what is called a local church Baptist. By that, I mean that I do not believe in what is often called the universal invisible church. I think that not only was the universal invisible church concept a contrivance dreamed up by Protestant theologians during the Reformation to counter the arguments of Roman Catholic theologians that the Church of Rome is the universal visible church, but that there is also no evidence found in the Word of God that supports the notion of every Christian being baptized by the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion and being thereby incorporated into some universal invisible body. When a person is born again, he is incorporated by his spiritual birth into the family of God, not the Church.[1] The Church is a visible body that was brought into existence by the Lord Jesus Christ to execute the Great Commission that He gave to the apostles and disciples who were in His Church before His ascension to the Father’s right hand on high. As I have already repeatedly shown in weeks past, a person becomes a part of a Church of Jesus Christ when he is Scripturally baptized, which occurs after he is converted. So, conversion makes one a member of the family of God, baptism makes one a member of a Church congregation, the body of Christ.

Why did the Lord Jesus Christ bring the Church into existence? The concept of the ekklesia was not new to those in the first century. Called out ones existed in all forms, from the mob at Ephesus to the wandering Jews of Moses’ day, to a legislative assembly.[2] Each was very properly described by Luke in the book of Acts using the Greek word for assembly. That said, only the Church of Jesus Christ is an assembly owned by the Savior. As well, the Church of Jesus Christ, that kind of assembly which was brought into existence by the Savior, exists for the sole purposes of executing the Great Commission and thereby glorifying God.

Turn to Matthew 28.18-20, where we will read our text for today, which is but one of the passages in the New Testament that contains our Lord’s Great Commission. When you find that passage, I invite you to stand and read along with me silently while I read aloud:

 

18    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 alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

This is a portion of Scripture which is quite familiar to most of you, so my intent is to point out but three things during this exposition time before I bring my sermon:

 

Thing First, THE CHURCH HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED TO EVANGELIZE

 

Though I will not take the time to show my Scriptural arguments presently, you folks know that I do not think the Lord Jesus Christ chose to preside over a disorganized mob who felt free to do what was right in their own eyes. On the contrary, He founded the Church of Jesus Christ, what He called “my church” in Matthew 16.18, and that He was speaking to His Church when He uttered the words of Matthew 28.18:

 

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

 

This verse shows that the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, claimed all authority in heaven and in earth. The word “power” translating the Greek word exousia in this verse, meaning the right to control or the right to command, authority.[3]

So, the Lord Jesus Christ declared His absolute right to issue directives, His absolute right to tell His disciples what to do, His absolute right to give His Church her marching orders. And in the next two verses, He does just that. Read verses 19-20 with me:

 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

 

But the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ’s marching orders to His Church are sometimes misunderstood, so allow me to resort to the Greek text from which the Great Commission is translated.

 

Thing Second, THE CHURCH HAS BEEN AIMED IN EVANGELISM

 

It is one thing to be authorized. But authorized to do what? You will agree that some Churches and pastors are very confused on this point. To illustrate, there is a Church not too far from here that baptizes about 100 people every Sunday morning, totaling about 5,000 baptisms per year. But their average auditorium attendance rarely exceeds 150. Still other Churches and pastors are confused in another way, resulting in thousands of professions of faith each year coming from what they call soul winners who go out and urge people to pray a sinner’s prayer, supposing that those people who repeat those prescribed words and make a profession of faith but who never darken the Church house door are genuinely converted. And then there are those expositors of God’s Word who suppose that they are doing the job by studying all week long and standing before the people come service times to teach the deep things of God.

Folks, each of those types of ministries misses the point. In Matthew 28.19-20, the Greek text contains only one verb, only one command, only one directive. , the only verb in this passage, is a directive to make disciples.[4] You do not make a disciple by baptizing someone. You do not make a disciple by teaching someone. You do not make a disciple by leading someone to pray and then profess Christ as Savior. Keep in mind that only Churches are by this passage authorized to make disciples. It is preposterous to imagine the Savior would have issued this directive to professing Christians who were not baptized and involved in the Church. Also, keep in mind that if a Church’s goal, or if a pastor’s goal, is to get professions of faith they will fail in making disciples. If the goal is to baptize people, they will fail in making disciples. And if the goal is to teach and train people, failure will ensue in the attempts at making disciples. “We need to get folks saved.” That sounds good, but that is not what Jesus Christ commanded His Church to do. What He told us to do was make disciples. But what is a disciple? The Greek word, which is the same root word as the verb used by the Lord when He told us to make disciples, describes someone who is a learner, who is an adherent, who is an apprentice.[5] To find out what a Christian disciple really is you need to pay attention to how a Christian disciple is really made, which is my next point.

 

Thing Final, THE CHURCH HAS BEEN TOLD HOW TO EVANGELIZE

 

Though there is only one verb, an imperative verb, a commanding verb, in the Great Commission, telling us what to do (make disciples), there are three participles. “Every participle is both adjective and verb.”[6] Therefore, the participles show us how we are to make disciples:

Though the first three words of Matthew 28.19 are translated “Go ye therefore,” the two Greek words they translate are literally rendered, “Going therefore.” But the Church is not supposed just to go as if walking about would satisfy the Lord’s will in the matter. Acts 8.4 perfectly illustrates what the Savior meant:

 

“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

 

So, you make disciples by going. And as you are going you preach. Not sermons necessarily, but in some way proclaiming the good news.[7] There is wide latitude in how we can do our going and our proclaiming, but throughout the Christian era, there has always been going and proclaiming. The two activities are always inter-linked.

The next participle that modifies the Lord’s command to make disciples is found in the phrase translated,

 

“baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

 

So, we go. And part and parcel of our going is our proclaiming. That is a portion of our disciple-making activity. Proclaiming to individuals or proclaiming to groups, so long as there is Gospel proclaiming. The next portion of our disciple-making activity is baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. What is not mentioned in the Great Commission is the prohibition against baptizing unconverted people. We are not to knowingly baptize the lost . . . ever. Thus, implicit in the Great Commission is that when we proclaim the gospel, we will see some come to Christ, even though this is not stressed in the passage before us. So, we proclaim the Gospel. Of those who respond and who seem to be saved, we baptize. But keep in mind that proclaiming the Gospel is not our goal. Baptizing is not our goal. Making disciples is our goal. And going and proclaiming and then baptizing are only two facets of our disciple-making activities.

The third and final participle found in the Great Commission is found in the first half of verse 20:

 

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

 

Please notice, if you only teach God’s Word you are not fulfilling the Great Commission. Even if you teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded them, you are still not obeying the Great Commission. The Great Commission is such that it is only obeyed when you seek to obey it, when you purpose to obey it, when you expend effort to obey it. And you obey the Great Commission when your commitment is to make disciples, not to go only, not to get souls saved only, not to baptize only, and not to engage in a teaching ministry only.

Parachurch ministries typically make no effort to obey the Great Commission. Either they focus on getting people saved only, or on teaching people only, without even pretending to have the scriptural authority to baptize hopeful converts. And even Churches that engage in one activity while excluding the others, or minimizing the importance of the others, end up disobeying the Lord Jesus Christ’s direct command to make disciples. But what if a Church’s goal is to make disciples? What if we are committed to honoring the Lord Jesus Christ by intending to do what He has told us to do, by going and proclaiming, and by baptizing, and by teaching to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded? What if we let God do what only God can do while fervently and prayerfully doing what our Savior has commanded us to do? Can we go and proclaim, or in our case go and witness, and go and get them and then preach to them? Yes. Can we baptize those who God has drawn to His Son Jesus Christ to save? Yes, we can do that, too. And can we then teach them to observe all things whatsoever our Lord has commanded them? Yes, by God’s grace we can do that, as well.

Then I suggest we do that in corporate fashion during the Church’s outreach times, and in individual fashion at work and over the backyard fence. We can do this, people. We can obey our Lord and Master. So, let us do just that.

 

SERMON:

 

Significance.

Interesting word, significance.

Significance is a word that refers to importance, to consequence.[8]

What possible significance could you have apart from your involvement as a member of this Church? And I am not referring to the significance that comes from selfish and wicked ambitions, such as we see in politics, or in Hollyweird. Neither am I referring to the kind of significance that amounts to nothing more than vain attempts to establish a person’s own righteousness, which God says are filthy rags.[9]

Generally speaking, a person’s attempts to be significant are vainglorious attempts, self-righteous attempts, prideful and egotistic attempts. But when a child of God involves himself in his Church ministry to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, his life acquires a significance that only eternity will fully reveal.

Allow me to touch lightly on some aspects of a Christian’s involvement in his Church, and how participating in his Church’s efforts to obey our Lord’s Great Commission is . . . significant.

 

First, MAKING DISCIPLES IS A GREAT TASK

 

Is there a greater task anywhere in the world than seeking to reach the world for Christ? As if to stress the enormity of the task before us, Mark 16.15 records these words of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

 

If you participate in our Church’s Saturday night evangelism, as well as give to our missions effort, then you are engaged in a ministry of worldwide proportions. You might think that our little congregation isn’t much, and you would be right on in your evaluation . . . but for God. You see, little is much when God is in it.

Concerning the gospel ministry such as we are involved in here at Calvary Road Baptist Church, the Apostle Paul wrote, in Second Corinthians 2.16,

 

“And who is sufficient for these things?”

 

A few verses later, in Second Corinthians 3.5, he wrote these words:

 

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

 

Then, in Second Corinthians 12.9, he recorded words the Lord Jesus Christ had comforted him with:

 

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 

And what was his reaction to his inability in the face of the enormity of his task? With Christ’s grace available, he wrote,

 

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

 

My friends, evangelism is a great task. And we are not up to the task. But God knew that, and He is well-pleased to use us anyway. So, let’s get busy and enjoy the blessings that rain down from heaven as we work on this huge job of evangelizing the lost.

 

Next, MAKING DISCIPLES IS A GLORIOUS TASK

 

It is glorious to be useful to God. It is glorious to be used by God. It is more than wonderful to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. But I speak not of any feeling that derives from service to God. Rather, I speak of that which pleases God, that which glorifies God, that which lifts up and exalts Him.

Let me read John 15.8 to you. Speaking to His disciples, who comprised His Church remember, He spoke these words:

 

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

 

This is from that passage dealing with the vine and the branches. The Lord Jesus Christ is the life-giving vine, and the disciples are likened to branches that, when they abide in Him and He in them, bring forth much fruit. We understand fruit here to be the souls of men.

So, when we participate in evangelism, we bear fruit from time to time. When something interferes with our fruit bearing, God will prune us (which is to chastise us and remove unwanted things from our lives) so we will bear more fruit. But what I want to point out at this time is the way the Father is glorified by it all. You see, God is holy, and sinners are vile. So whenever God saves anyone through faith in Christ, and His great grace and love are put on display for all to see, He is glorified. And as Revelation 4.11 clearly shows, glorifying God is why we exist:

 

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

 

So you see, there is something terribly wrong with any professing Christian who habitually passes up opportunities to glorify God. And evangelism is one of the best ways to glorify God.

 

Third, MAKING DISCIPLES IS A REWARDING TASK

 

First Thessalonians 2.19 shows us that when someone is instrumental in evangelizing a sinner, he is given what is called a crown of rejoicing. As a matter of fact, that person who was once lost but is now a disciple of Jesus Christ as a result of your efforts, your prayers, and your testimony, is your crown of rejoicing.[10] And when the Lord Jesus Christ gives out rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ, He will give you a crown for the part you played in that disciple’s life. While others in this lifetime are like a finger in the water, that when slowly removed leaves no evidence and makes no mark, your life has significance. You impact people for Christ. You make a difference that counts for eternity.

So you see, nothing that you do to bring the lost to Christ, to bring a sinner under the sound of the gospel, to witness at work and over the fence in your back yard, is in vain. Though no one else may see what you do for the Savior, He sees . . . and He rewards faithful service. That is why Paul wrote,

 

“your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”[11]

 

Can you imagine what it will be like one day? There you will stand, before the Lamb of God sitting on the bema, or judgment seat. And when it is your turn, He will show to you each and every person whose life you had a part in bringing to Christ and encouraging to live for Christ, and He will give you for each one a crown. Of course, not long after that, you will take the crown off your head and cast it at His feet, an acknowledgment that anything and everything you did for Him was the result of His grace in your life.[12] But that moment will make it all worthwhile.

 

Fourth, MAKING DISCIPLES IS A CHALLENGING TASK

 

I say the task is challenging because there is always opposition to God and the things of God and the work of God and the man or woman of God. This whole world is under the control of the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit of disobedience, who we know as the devil.[13] He empowers and energizes all the efforts that oppose the Christian, who seeks to serve God. So certain is the child of God of real opposition when attempting to serve God that Paul wrote these words to Timothy:

 

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”[14]

 

That is why real character is needed by God’s people. It gets rough sometimes. But consider how rough it gets in some parts of the world. A Baptist church was burned to the ground a few years back in Russia, as the Russian government took steps to crush churches that are not Russian Orthodox. Mr. Putin wants churches he can control. And persecution has also been stepped up in China. My friends, in some parts of the world Christians die for evangelizing, while some professing to be Christians in our country are resolved never to give up their Saturday nights.

Is it hard to be a Christian? It is sometimes very tough to live for Christ as a Church member, to participate in a Church’s outreach, and to be identified by the wicked as a Christian. But our Lord Jesus said, in Matthew 10.32,

 

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”

 

Fifth, MAKING DISCIPLES IS A PARENTING TASK

 

Growing up in a Christian family can either be the greatest blessing a kid can ever hope to experience, or the worst cursing imaginable. Sometimes a kid is somehow impressed by his mom and dad’s God, is convicted by his mom and dad’s humility, and wants his mom and dad’s Savior. Other kids become nasty little scorners who reject the God of their parents and grieve the Spirit away. What are a mom and dad to do? How can they reach their own children with the gospel? Of course, fervently praying for their children and living a consistent Christian life in the home is very important, but perfection is not required to reach your kids. Christians, each and every one of us, are sinners. To pretend otherwise is hypocrisy that children can see through easily. But how important can it really be for a little girl to be saved from her sins when she notices her mom and dad have little concern for seeing others saved from their sins? I mean, if you are not willing to witness to the guy across the street that is dying of cancer, how real can your son’s danger be understood by him to be outside of Christ?

So you see, though Church kids are nasty and vile little creatures in their own right (a visiting mom once told me about her child being ridiculed by our Church kids on Wednesday and Saturday nights), there are things those moms and dads can do, and should do, to reach their children. Parents, in addition to showing your children what God’s Word says about them, and how you agree with what God’s Word says about them, you need to show them that the souls of men are not only important, but lost, by what you do as well as what you say. Pray with your children for their unsaved grandparents and their unsaved aunts and uncles, as well as praying for your own children.

Can you be a conscientious Christian and do everything right and still end up with a lost child who will not humble himself before God? Yes. But for your own conscience sake, make sure when you pillow your head on a Saturday night that you are no obstacle to your child’s conversion by your inattention, by your unwillingness, by your lack of concern, by your failure to give, by your prayerlessness, and by your lack of participation in our Church’s evangelistic efforts.

 

Sixth, MAKING DISCIPLES IS A PRIVILEGED TASK

 

Some jurisdictions have what are called Good Samaritan laws. Those are laws that recognize and codify into law the moral obligation to do what you can to save the life of another. If someone is dying and you can help by making a simple phone call, then you should make the phone call. Would you agree? What about if you are walking along with five gallons of drinking water, and you cross paths with someone who is dying of thirst? Do you have a moral obligation to provide water to that man who is dying of thirst? Of course, you do.

In the same way, though on a plane that is on an infinitely higher level than giving a drink of water to a thirsty fellow, are you who know Christ obligated to share the good news and do what you can to evangelize the lost. Paul wrote in Romans 1.14,

 

“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”

 

What Paul meant, and what applies to you and me and to the Romans he was writing to, is that someone who knows the Savior is morally obligated to those who do not. You have a debt of moral obligation to that lost man that is infinitely great, and the only way to discharge your debt of obligation is to seek to introduce that man to the Savior. Give him a tract, witness to him, invite him to Church, bring him to Church, give him a sermon brochure. Do something!

That debt Paul referred to can also be recognized as the profoundest kind of privilege. My friends, what an astounding honor it is to be able to represent Jesus Christ, to have a Church to invite people to, to hold a Bible in your hand that you can read and study and quote from, to be able to tell people where you are going when you die, and to share with them the joy of sins forgiven.

I think many of you recognize this privilege. When I talk to other pastors, and they tell me how few of their people participate in their Church’s outreach (if their church has an outreach), I thank God that we typically have some half to two-thirds of our Church members at evangelism on a Saturday evening. That is an astounding figure and one that bodes well for our future if it continues. I dare to think that God will greatly bless our efforts, so long as we embrace a spirit of humility and deal with the issues that arise among us in an appropriate manner. We are not sinless, but we do have recourse to deal with our sins in a manner that pleases God.

 

Finally, MAKING DISCIPLES IS AN IMPORTANT TASK

 

Please tell me what corporate activity our Church could engage in that would be more important than the Great Commission. I have said that attending a preaching service is the most important thing any Christian can be involved in, but preaching is a part of the Great Commission.

What purpose, or task, or enterprise, is more challenging, is more important, is more thrilling, is more meaningful, is more significant, than this activity of making disciples for Jesus Christ? Some people are content to live out their lives without any real significance of any kind, but I am not. I am not satisfied to play, or tinker, or mess around, or do any of the many meaningless things people fritter their time away doing what amounts to absolutely nothing. I hope your feelings are the same.

 

Significance!

That is what the human mind and heart truly crave.

Significance!

God has created us in His image and after His likeness, and what God does is always significant.

Therefore, what every man wants, way down in his bosom is some significance. But apart from participation in the Great Commission, our desire for significance ends up being sinful ambition or selfish vainglory.

When you are involved in so simple a task as participating with a group of people who are trying to get visitors into Church to hear God’s Word preached, then you really are doing something significant.

How significant?

That depends upon God. Should He bless your efforts and mine, and we end up having a part in the conversion of a sinner and he becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ, and then the significance of what you have done is incalculable. But no matter what you do for God, it is always more significant than what anyone does that is not for God. And that is one of the benefits of being a member of Calvary Road Baptist Church.

I close with this passage, written by Peter in Second Peter 3.10-12:

 

10    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11    Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12    Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

 

What is done for self will pass and certainly will not last. But what is done for Christ, especially as I have established what is done in connection with the Church, will last and endure in eternity when all of this has passed. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has done nothing of significance for eternity. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neill have done nothing significant for eternity. But if you play a part, through our Church’s evangelism, in the making of a single disciple for Jesus Christ . . . you have made a mark by God’s grace that will stand forever.

__________

[1] Ephesians 3.15

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 303-304.

[3] Ibid., page 353.

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 87.

[5] Bauer, pages 609-610.

[6] A. T. Robertson and W. Hersey Davis, A New Short Grammar Of The Greek New Testament, 10th Edition, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977), page 378.

[7] Bauer, page 402.

[8] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1779.

[9] Isaiah 64.6

[10] See also Philippians 4.1

[11] 1 Corinthians 15.58

[12] Revelation 4.10

[13] 1 John 5.19

[14] 2 Timothy 3.12

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org