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The Mission of the Church - Part 1

May 14, 2023 Preacher: Chris LaBelle Series: Various Messages

Topic: Church Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20

Sermon Text:

 Illustration: Getting the cart before the horse. When a cart is before the horse, the cart cannot move. A horse is designed to pull heavy things. A horse behind a cart is in incorrect order, if you are trying to pull a cart or a carriage. If we do not first know Jesus and what He has done for us, how can we understand the Great Commission, or the mission of the church?

 

Main Point: The Mission of the Church is on the Foundation of Christ.    

 

Transition:

 

  1. Jesus Has All Authority (v.18)

 

Explanation:

Definition: ἐξουσία- a state of control over something.

  • What does it mean to have authority? For many, we view someone who has an aspect of control over our lives to some capacity. It may be our boss, our teacher. As a father, you have authority over your children. As children, you view your parents with having authority over your life. We uphold our policemen, firefighters, and first responders with authority, knowing they are the ones who can handle situations or emergencies out of our control.
  • Many reject authority. They do not like, nor do they want someone to exhibit authority over their lives. Many are rebellious to authority figures in their own life.
  • We see from the beginning an attempt at some point from Satan to object God’s authority and take it for himself. A rebellious act toward the one who created him. A kúdetá against the one God. His attempt fails and he and a third of the angels are cast out of heaven.

 

If Jesus has all authority, why does He have it? Important adjective “all”.

  • What do we know about what just happened? Jesus had just suffered a horrible death at the hands of the Pharisees, buried in a tomb, and remained for three days. The stone was rolled away and both Mary’s went to check on the grave where Jesus was buried. What did they find and see? An earthquake, and an angel of the Lord rolling a stone away to an empty tomb. The resurrected Jesus.

 

All authority has been given to Jesus. He conquered the grave. He defeated death. He paid the ultimate price for our sins. This is fantastic news. This is the good news.

 

  • Because of the resurrection, Jesus can emphatically tell His disciples that He has been given all authority in Heaven and Earth. Jesus, like a good leader and being God, has the right to be the authority and send the disciples off on the Great Commission. He was not only God in the flesh as the rightful fulfillment of King and Priest, but also Lord over those He would save, and eventually all people.

 

Illustration: We all have had a good boss or two in the day. One that had authority over our work. Ones that would take good care of us, making sure we had what we needed to do the job safely and correctly. Ones that would not hover over our work, but encourage us and teach us how to do the job correctly.

  • Jesus, however is greater than any boss we ever had. Has more authority over anything we can imagine. Is bigger than we can even fathom in our brains. His authority makes Him greater than we can ever think of.
  • A theologian wrote on the board, “God is other people.” One of the students got mad at the statement and walked up to the board after class, inserted a comma after other. The board now read, “God is other, people.” This rephrase represents the chasm between God and people.

 

Look at what Scripture tells us about the position of Christ.

 

Philippians 2:9-11 tells us, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • God is not without understanding, is He? This has been the plan all along. This resurrection from Christ, is the direct fulfillment of the prophet Daniel.

Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night vision, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

  • Why do we know this is where Jesus is getting this from? He mentions earlier this same authority using the title “Son of Man” in Matthew’s Gospel in Matthew 26:64, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.

 

So, Jesus now has all authority. But there are two domains in which He has been given this authority. It’s given to Him in heaven and on earth. A profound statement.

  • Heaven- All of what God was instilling in the nation of Israel as a picture of what was to come, is fulfilled in Christ. Jesus inherits the Davidic Kingship over Israel, fulfills perfectly the covenant made to Abraham to include all people in the history of redemption, and fulfills perfectly the Mosaic Law. Jesus is the perfect spotless lamb. He was sacrificed on the day of Passover. He offered His blood in the Temple not made with hands, in heaven. All of these earthly examples of worship given to Israel, were merely copies of the real thing in heaven. Jesus accomplished all of this, but the mission is not over. He will return.

Hebrews 9:23-28, “Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, not to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

 

Transition: Not only was Jesus given authority in heaven, but also on earth.

  • Earth- The work of Christ still moves forward. It’s not like Jesus came to this earth only to die for our sins, be buried, and resurrect to the glory of the Father. This would be enough. This is enough to believe to become born again. So, don’t misunderstand what I am saying.
  • But, Jesus is even more powerful and authoritative than we even imagined. Jesus is ruling from the right hand of the Father, as Jesus alluded to earlier in Matthew. This means that Jesus is still very much present in our lives. Still very much active in the affairs of mankind. We cannot fathom the purposes and the reasons as why God does things in my life, our lives, this church, this country, and the world.
  • Most importantly, Jesus has established His authority through the church, universal for all time. Scripture points to the authority of Christ.

Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

Colossians 1:18, “And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

 

Ephesians 1:20-23, “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

 

Application: Years upon years of church persecution, including prison, jail time, isolation from family, friction in marriages, reformation, dividing of denominations, and the Church has not been availed. The church still stands today. Satan, his demons, man, government, will not and cannot prevail over Christ’s Church. His mission will move forward with His sons and daughters.

  • Redeeming Grace exists today because of Christ. Those that have been at Grace Bible at its height, and here at it’s lowest, can see the work of God in this place. Nothing we could have done on our own. This church has survived by the authority of Christ. His hand has been on this place. Whether it be the work of God in bringing Pastor Kevin here, the replanting of the church, the generous donations, the installment of new pew cushions, air conditioning, the steady growth we have seen in over a year, the voting in of two new elders, the steady faithfulness of many church members here. Christ’s authority and promise remains. In order for Redeeming Grace Church to continue moving forward, it is to solely depend on the authority of Christ. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

Transition: Knowing that Jesus has been given all authority, He tells us to go and make disciples.

  1. Go, Make Disciples (v.19-20)

 

Explanation: Read v.19

  • After explaining to the disciples His given authority, lockstep with the Father, Jesus tells the disciples to go, and make disciples of all nations.
  • Making disciples is no longer limited to the reach of the Israelites. His plan is now universal in application.
  • The word ἔθνος or “nations” means, “a body of persons united by kinship, culture, and common traditions, nation, people.”
  • People have been divided over ethnicity for all of history. God used Israel as a nation separated from others for His specific purposes, wars have been fought over the rights of different races, and we see today, a divide among our nation over the rights of minorities. In Christ, racism no longer exists. All people are welcome to receive the salvific work of Christ. His commission is now universal in application. Not that all people are saved, but it is open for all people to receive. This is why Jesus tells the disciples to, “Go..” (19).
  • The disciples were to wait for the Holy Spirit to descend on the first believers. The church is to preach the gospel for all people to hear. Make disciples who will share and help others make disciples.

 

We see the account in Acts when Jesus gives them final instructions on what to do and where to go.

 

Acts 1:7-8, “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

 

  • And the disciples went. They shared the gospel and thousands were saved at Pentecost. All of us have been saved by someone sharing the gospel with us. For thousands of years, this has been the case until we stand here this morning. If you are born-again, be relieved to know that God has been using people for a long time to bring us here to this moment. To come together as a body of believers to worship Christ. To go, and share that same hope that we have, that was given to the first-century church.

 

Application: Listen, one thing I love about our church is the support for missionaries throughout the world. It truly is a blessing to financially support and pray for the ministries and people sharing the gospel to unreached people and villages. Since I have been here, I got to hear and see how God was using the Fullers, and next week how God is using Tony Royals. We should always pray for our missionaries, send out missionaries, and go ourselves.

  • But, this is not one of those guilty, sell all your possessions and move to a remote village to make disciples. While that may be the call of many, Bobby being one who has this desire. This commission is for all of us right now, to go where we are currently at.
  • Jesus not only commissioned the first disciples to share the gospel to all people, but the local regions as well. He commissions us to share the gospel here in Southgate and Downriver, and if you are called to do so, bring the gospel to the rest of the nation or world.

Explanation: What does it mean to make disciples and be a discipled?

  • Making disciples means to call individuals to commit to Jesus as Master and Lord.
  • This means we must go, open our mouths, and share the gospel. We cannot make disciples by merely being a good example amongst unbelievers. We cannot make disciples by acting “really good.” We cannot make disciples by being a monk and isolating ourselves from this world and it’s people. We must march forward, by the work of the Spirit, and speak.
  • God worked through history to provide opportunities for His children to share the gospel and make disciples. He commissioned Peter and John to share the gospel to their fellow Jews. He commissioned Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, He commissioned Martin Luther to nail the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church, and He commissions us to also open our mouths and share the gospel.

 

Illustration: One of the requirements of seminary was to share the gospel with one person per week while attending. It was great. Myself and several other students would go out with a Pastor at a church in the suburbs of Memphis and share the gospel. We got the opportunity to share the gospel and offer the invitation to receive Jesus. It was a reminder throughout my time of study the importance of not only learning more about the Bible, but to actually apply it.

  • One thing that really struck me later on though, was that making disciples was more than just sharing the gospel, and walking away. Making disciples means a continuation of that discipleship afterward.

 

Explanation: Look at the 2nd part of verse 19. “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

  • Making disciples also means receiving those that answer the call by faith to commit to Jesus as Master and Lord.
  • When believers come to salvation, through the hearing of the Word, they are then accepted into the assembly through believers’ baptism. This is the first public act of faith by the believer. They are going public with their faith, making a proclamation of the unity they shared/share with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. This is Trinitarian in nature. Believers baptism demonstrates our unity in the body of Christ not only with Jesus, but with its members having the same mission in mind.

 

Illustration: Mark Dever summarizes baptism as such, “Baptism itself is a summary of our faith. Baptism is a confession of sin and a picture of repentance. Baptism is a profession of faith in Christ. It reminds us of Christ’s humiliation and death as he identified with sinners and of his resurrection from the dead. Baptism presents a preview of the bodily resurrection, and it portrays the radical nature of conversion. When rightly practiced it distinguishes believers from unbelievers, the church from the world… Therefore it should protect the church from nominalism. Baptizing only those who profess to be converted—and give evidence of it—is a foundational matter for a congregation that would be healthy, sound, and growing. The regenerate nature of each member of the church is protected and displayed by the practice of believer’s baptism.

 

  • Redeeming Grace Church agrees with this model as well. Not that you have to be re-baptized again, but Article 13, Of A Gospel Church on the church website states, “We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel…

 

Transition: So, the mission of the church is to understand Christ’s rightful place of authority, to go, and make disciples in the sharing of the gospel through God’s Word, but also just as important, to learn and grow in the likeness of Christ.

 

Explanation:  Read v.20

  • Jesus gives us further instruction in making disciples, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
  • The 1st Century Church was tasked to demonstrate this. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the first disciples shared the gospel. Paul wrote most of the New Testament proclaiming the truths and promises of Jesus to the church. Stephen right before being stoned to death, was preaching and teaching all that Jesus had commanded. What does this mean for us?

 

Application: This means that God has commissioned all of us to not only go outward, but also grow inward.

  • The Pastors job is to equip the Saints to do the work of the Lord. This means Kevin, Craig, and myself are called to herald and proclaim the gospel from the pulpit. We are to teach sound doctrine in the classrooms and equip, with God’s help, by the authority of God’s Word.
  • What a blessing it was to have gone through the series of the “10 Commandments”. And to discuss further the relationship of Law and grace in our community groups. What a blessing to be able to preach the Word expositionally, and not to dictate subjectively what we think God is telling us through Scripture.

What about all of you who are not in the office of elder? Learn and grow in Christ by His Word.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

  • Our desire is that all of you would love Jesus more than anything else, not because Kevin is a good teacher or preacher, not because I am the new young pastor, or because Craig has a good sense of humor. We want you to love Jesus more than anything, because the Word of God tells us everything we need, to know God and hear His voice.
    • God’s Word teaches us how to live, how to love, how to relate to one another, how to love our enemies, how to be a father, mother, husband, wife, obedient children, how to discipline your children, how to give, how to endure, how to suffer, how to persevere, how to demonstrate mercy, how to share the gospel, how to flee from the devil.
    • Most importantly, God’s Word shows us the gospel. (Share the gospel). Born a sinner, separated from God. Dead to rights. God, by sending His own Son, made it possible to have right relationship with Him through the death, burial, and resurrection.

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