1. Last week we celebrated the birth of
Christ. Come Easter time we will celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
But after the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead in a glorified human
body, and before He ascended to His Fatherís right hand on high until
His enemies be made His footstool, He showed Himself alive with many
infallible proofs to hundreds of witnesses.
2. Over a span of several weeks following
His resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ seems to have made about a dozen
appearances to different combinations of believers and apostles before
His miraculous ascension.
3. On one dramatic occasion, which is
recorded in Matthewís Gospel as well as in Mark, and is referred to by
the apostle Paul in First Corinthians 15, the Lord Jesus actually
appeared to some 500 people.
4. Turn to Matthew 28, where we read of
that occasion in which the risen Savior spoke to His 11 remaining
apostles in the hearing of all those other witnesses who had gathered to
see their Master. I read beginning at verse 16. Please stand and read
silently while I read aloud:
16 Then the eleven disciples
went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed
17 And when they saw him, they
worshipped him: but some doubted.
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.
5. There are three divisions to this
1A. First, THE APPOINTMENT
16 Then the eleven disciples
went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed
17 And when they saw him, they
worshipped him: but some doubted.
1B. In Verse 16 We See The Discipleís
1C. Their risen Savior, Who they had
now seen a number of times since the resurrection had occurred in
Jerusalem, had apparently directed them to meet Him somewhere up
high, some place out of the way and remote.
2C. So they went there. And if
comparing different verses provides a clue, they told a number of
other people who went along with them, and who are referred to in
First Corinthians 15.6.
3C. But the focus of our text is on the
surviving eleven apostles (Judas, the betrayer, having killed
himself). They obeyed. They followed their Masterís directions.
They met Him in the appointed place at the appointed time.
2B. In Verse 17 We See The
1C. When they saw their risen
Savior they "worshiped" Him. The word translated
"worshiped" is found in 54 verses in the New Testament,
usually referring to a person prostrating himself before God. So,
there is little doubt that the disciples recognized the deity of
2C. "But some
doubted." Who are these "some?" Perhaps there is
still lingering doubt in the hearts of the eleven. But it is likely
this refers to those few in the crowd of 500 Paul referred to who
would not be satisfied by even the most solid proof of the
resurrection of Christ.
3C. Donít forget that the
Lord Jesus Christís intimates were quite difficult to convince of
His resurrection. They were not easily sold on the idea at all. But
by the day of Pentecost, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of
God, they were all so supernaturally convinced that what they had
seen with their eyes was true truth, that Jesus really was indeed
risen from the dead, that they literally gave their lives to spread
4C. So, we, too, should not
be terribly surprised to find some who "worship" Christ
still have doubts about His resurrection. Just keep in mind that
anyone who is not firmly convinced of the resurrectionís reality
is not truly converted, since the resurrection is one of the three
legs upon which the saving Gospel message stands.
2A. Next, THE AUTHORITY
18 And Jesus came
and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and
1B. First, the phrase "and
Jesus came and spake unto them" perhaps this is what dispelled
the last remaining doubts; Jesus drawing near. They had all worshiped
Him from afar, though some doubted. But now, as He drew near, the
remaining doubts took flight, never to return. Each one had seen
Jesus, closely, intimately, personally, memorably, undeniably,
unmistakably ... alive!
2B. What does He then say to
them? "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
But He already had all power, all authority, by right of creation.
After all, from John 1.3 we know that "all things were made by
him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Here,
however, the Lord Jesus speaks of a different authority, an authority
bestowed upon him by the Father to function as Redeemer, to execute
His office of Reconciler and Mediator. And in that office He exercises
absolute and undisputed sovereignty.
3A. Third, THE ACTIVITY
Based upon His undiluted
authority, His sovereign power, the Lord Jesus Christ then sets His
apostles upon a mission they will give their lives working to achieve.
I read the words of A. T. Robertson, famed Southern Baptist scholar of
days gone by: "It is the sublimist of all spectacles to see the
Risen Christ without money or army or state charging this band of five
hundred men and women with world conquest and bringing them to believe
it possible and to undertake it with serious passion and power."
What is this mission Jesus
Christ has given to these men that we call the Great Commission? There
is a command that is followed by a commitment.
1B. The Command Is To Make
1C. Though a bit obscured by
our English translation, there is only one verb in the command Jesus
issued, the command to "make disciples." The command is
not to "get sinners saved." The command is not to
"get professions of faith." The command is not to
"count baptisms." Requiring something more than a
sinnerís prayer or a quick dunk under water, the Lord Jesus Christ
commanded those eleven men to engage in the task of making
disciples, which can only realistically be expected to occur when
someone is really converted.
2C. Accompanying the single
verb "to make disciples" are three modifying phrases.
These three phrases establish the guidelines along which the eleven
were to function in the accomplishing of their task. They were to
"make disciples" as they would go, by baptizing them, and
by teaching them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has
3C. Obviously, a great deal
of time could be spent elaborating on these three guidelines, but
suffice it to say this: The Great Commission is a unified whole that
is accomplished by engaging in three discreet kinds of activities.
There is the going activity that necessarily involves Gospel
preaching and evangelism. This is because subsequent to that is
baptism, which only those who are converted are qualified for. Then,
once a likely convert is baptized he is to be taught to obey all
things whatsoever Christ has commanded, which certainly must mean
that such instruction is not to be provided to someone who is not
4C. Folks, this isnít
rocket science. But if there is a breadth and depth of instruction
and training that is reserved for baptized Christians, then does it
not make sense that what the lost are exposed to is somewhat
narrower and shallower? I submit this to you in the hopes that you
will see that Bible exposition is not necessarily whatís best for
reaching the lost.
5C. Every bit of evidence in
the Bible suggests that the apostles resorted to topical preaching
and teaching to reach the lost. That is, they dealt with topics and
subjects that were especially appropriate to the unsaved, rather
than teach them in verse by verse fashion as is so often the case
today. So now, with this command, the apostles have their marching
2B. Our Text Closes With A
20b . . . and, lo,
I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
1C. Understand, folks, that
this Commission the Lord Jesus charged the apostles with was a great
honor, an awesome responsibility, a profoundly dangerous mission, an
unimaginably inconvenient task.
2C. When Simon Peterís kids
got sick his wife would have to stay home with them. In order to
reach the lost they even had to give up their weekly dinner at the
restaurant, their round of golf, and time on the play station. There
were occasions when the kids got to sleep a bit late.
3C. Excuse my sarcasm. The
fact is, the Great Commission was a dangerous assignment. It would
lead to unparalleled dangers. All but one of the apostles would
suffer martyrdom, and they would each suffer beatings, persecutions
and trials we can only begin to imagine.
4C. But they were unconcerned
about those dangers and the obstacles they met along the way. And
how were their fears allayed, their concerns put to rest? They had a
commitment. Not that they were committed to the task, mind you.
Though they certainly were committed. But they had a commitment from
the Lord Jesus Christ that erased all concerns, that dispelled all
doubts, that allayed all fears.
5C. "and, lo, I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world." To which
commitment, to which comfort of the soul, to which communion for
their souls, Matthew comments, "Amen." It was enough for
him. It was enough for them all. It ought to be enough for you and
1. The Great Commission was given
to eleven men. But those eleven men were joined by another 500 who
assumed the responsibility and shouldered the task of collaborating with
2. And as time passed and the
apostles were martyred and died the baton was passed on, not to
individuals but to congregations. Apostles, prophets, evangelists and
then pastors and teachers, Paul told the Ephesians.
3. And now, in our day, the task
falls to us. The Commission is ours, but so is Christís commitment.
4. Before this morningís sermon
brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song.
1. The Calvary Road Baptist
Church is something more than 26 years old. For the past few years our
Church has been in transition, a transition that weíve not yet
2. Itís a transition away from
the Charles G. Finney approach to evangelism that has wrecked Baptist
and Protestant Churches in the west and which left our own Church with
an almost empty shell of a congregation, populated by mostly lost Church
3. We have talked about
Scriptural evangelism for quite a while now. Weíve seen numerous
Church members and even those from outside our Church come to Christ in
a Biblical way and experience the miracle of the new birth, though a
number of you are still unconverted. Weíve not arrived yet, but God
has given to us wonderful progress. To Him be the glory.
4. But the effect of us realizing
the errors of decisionism* and recognizing how many of us were
unconverted was that we turned inward for a long time, working and
praying and striving to see our own come to Christ. And God has been
good to us in this regard.
5. But the essence of Biblical
Christianity is not turning inward, but turning outward to a lost and
dying world. It is now time for the Christians in our midst to wake up
from the slumber we slipped into while God mercifully worked in the
lives of our unconverted family members, and turn our gaze outward.
Itís time to stand up and gird your loins for some real work.
6. Itís now time for us to take
to heart like we have never taken to heart before the Great Commission
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us wipe the sleep from our
eyes, splash the cool water of truth in our faces, and look about us.
What do we see?
1A. First, WE SEE OUR
The obligation that rests upon
us as Christians and as a Church can be summed up in two words,
directive and debt.
1B. The Directive We Are
Already Aware Of.
1C. Itís the Great
Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ: "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."
2C. In Mark 16.15-16 we see,
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he
that believeth not shall be damned."
3C. In Luke 24.46-47 we read
these words: "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to
suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance
and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all
nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
4C. In Acts 1.8 we read the
Great Commission yet again: "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 Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto
the uttermost part of the earth."
5C. Is it not rather obvious
that the Lord Jesus Christ wants this Commission we have been
charged with tackled? Is there any doubt that the Gospel which this
Great Commission charges us with speaks of the only solution for the
need of the hour, the sinnerís need of a living Savior?
2B. But It Is Not Directive
Alone That Compels Us To Carry Out The Great Commission, But Duty As
1C. I read from Romans 1.14,
where Paul wrote of his own compelling reason for involvement in the
Great Commission: "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the
Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise."
2C. To be sure, Paul was a
chosen vessel, a God-called apostle of Jesus Christ, created and
saved specifically to labor in the Lordís vineyard, but so are
3C. What moved Paul, however,
was not so much Christís directive but his own duty. He who had
been so poor had been made so rich by Christ. He who was so
profoundly lost in his sins had been recreated so marvelously found
in Christ. He who had been so fouled by sins was now so very clean
by the blood of Christ that he was weighed down, not by Christís
command, but by his own conscience, not by Christís directive, but
by his own perception of the debt he owed to the unsaved.
4C. Should it not be the same
with you? How is your obligation to serve God and sinners under the
sound of the Gospel less than Peterís and Paulís and Johnís?
How are you less cleansed by Christís blood than they were? How
are you any less a new creature in Christ than they were?
5C. And though they have been
given grace and gifts that you and I have not been given, our
obligation is no less than was theirs . . . only the fruit that we
will produce as we labor for the Master.
6C. So, for reasons related
to both Christís directive and your own perception of duty, the
debt of obligation you have to reach the unreached, join with others
here at Calvary Road Baptist Church as we work to bring the lost to
2A. Second, When We Look We
See OUR OBJECTIVE
1B. First, What Is An
1C. An objective is a goal,
something oneís efforts are designed to accomplish. And implicit
in an objective is the requirement that your objective be within
your power of determination.
2C. That is, I cannot
reasonably establish an objective that is beyond my personal reach
of accomplishment. Thus, I cannot set as my own objective something
which only God can do.
3C. This doesnít mean I
canít pray for it, plead for it. It only means that if only God
can do it then it is not a legitimate objective that my efforts are
designed to accomplish.
2B. Then, What Is Our
1C. Turn to First Corinthians
3, where the apostle Paul reestablishes for the Corinthian
congregation what their God-ordained objective ought to be, by
showing them what his objective and Apollosí objective in their
midst had been:
5 Who then is
Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed,
even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted,
Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither
is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God
that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that
planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive
his own reward according to his own labour.
2C. Notice, from this
passage, that Paulís job was to plant the seed, while Apollosí
job was to water the seed. That is, Paul first preached to them the
Gospel and Apollos came along later and preached.
3C. But who gave the
increase? Who was responsible for people getting saved? In verse 6
and again in verse 7 specific mention is made that "God gave
4C. My friends, getting
people saved is not a valid objective for a preacher or a Church
member. Paulís objective was to preach the Gospel. Apollosí
objective was to preach the Gospel. And God rewards a man, as we
read here, for accomplishing his objectives.
5C. Our objective as a
Church, if we are to learn from Paul, is not to give the increase.
Thatís Godís prerogative that decisionists* wickedly attempt to
usurp. But we recognize that our objective is to be a Gospel
preaching Church and to work to get men under the sound of the
Gospel . . . so seed can be planted and watered.
6C. If you are working to
achieve such an objective then God will bless and reward you. But if
you do not participate in the achieving of this objective then you
are in sin and God will not reward you.
3A. Finally, OUR OPPORTUNITY
1B. We Live During A Critical
Time In History
1C. Do we not live in the
last days? Do we not see end time scenarios unfolding? Is not the
world a rapidly changing place?
2C. Is there not an
acceleration in the rate that knowledge is being acquired, in the
rate that technology is being advanced, in the rate that wickedness
3C. Let me ask you some
things, my friend, concerning your service to Christ and our
involvement as a Church in His cause: If not us, then who? And if
not now, then when?
2B. A Critical Time In History
And Also A Critical Place In The World
1C. The most important
country in the world is the United States of America. No country has
the cultural or the economic or the military clout this country has.
2C. But the most important
state in the most important country in the world is California.
Whether it be fads or finances, innovation or investment schemes,
amusement or entertainment, California so obviously leads this
country that no honest observer of the culture denies it.
3C. And yet, in this most
important state in the most important country in the world there is
a single city which dominates and overshadows all the others . . .
Los Angeles, where we live.
4C. If there is anywhere in
the world where something needs to be done for God, if there is
anywhere in the world where the Gospel needs to be firmly planted
and watered, itís here.
5C. Paul went to Rome, though
there were Christians already there, because he knew the importance
to the spread of the Gospel that city was. We see that reflected in
his letter to the Romans. And there is a parallel with this
monstrous city called LA.
6C. You and I and this Church
are in a special place, with a special message.
3B. Which Makes Us A Crucial
Ministry In Godís Plan
1C. There is no Gospel
preaching Church which does not occupy a special place in Godís
unfolding drama of redemption, but some ministries show promise of
becoming more crucial in the realization of Godís plan than do
2C. The Church in Ephesus was
more significant than the Church in Hippo. The Church in Jerusalem
was more significant than the Church in Wheeler, Texas.
3C. Our Church might be more
significant than we realize. We are in a significant time. We are in
a significant place. We do have a significant message. Will God
choose to use us in a significant way? Thatís His business. Our
business is to meet our objective, to execute as best we can the
Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have our marching
1. Little did he know when he got
on the plane that day that Todd Beamer would make a mark on American
history as a result of the choice he made about how he would die. Rather
than sit back in his seat on that place that crashed in Pennsylvania, he
decided to act, he decided to do something. Somehow people found out
what he did.
2. He didnít have a choice
about dying or not dying. He did, however, have a choice about how he
was going to die. And he died well. I suppose that as long as there are
Americans there will be a cultural memory of a man on a plane who said
to others who along with him refused to die passively at the hands of
terrorists, "Letís roll."
3. The entire course of his life
was summed up for others in his choice of how he would die. Let me tell
you something, folks. You are dying. Right now, at a rate that is
greater or less than those sitting next to you, you are dying. You may
be young or you may be old, but you are dying. You have no control over
whether or not you will die. You will die. Make no mistake about that.
4. But how will you die? How you
live the remainder of your life is how you will die. The eleven died
right, preaching Christ, knowing that their Savior had made a commitment
to them that He kept through all.
5. My friend, Jesus has made that same commitment to you and me. So,
letís die right. Letís live out the rest of our lives, heading
toward eternityís door, seeking to fulfill the Great Commission of our
Lord Jesus Christ.
* Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by
coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine,
making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which
is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward
conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency
of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these
human actions shows that a person is saved.
Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws
a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and
changes the sinnerís standing before God from lost to saved, imparting
divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the
life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification.
The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is