How do we make much of God through Christ’s Commission in 2018?
Good morning church! As you’re aware we began the year by reminding each other of the church vision statement: Because we are loved, we love and serve Christ in Community through Commission for His glory. Brother Saju spoke on how can we make much of Christ in 2018. That happens by abiding in Christ and being fully devoted to Him and his purposes individually and also as a family. Last week brother Jeff shared of how we can make much of each other in 2018. We need to contend for the unity of the church and view others with the lens of the spirit and not the flesh. Today we’ll be looking at the topic of “Commission”.
Every time I think about the word “Commission”, somehow this question comes to mind “What all would I need to do or sacrifice in order to participate in God’s mission?” Am I the only one who has thought that? The mission of God is something that has been focused right throughout Scripture, so I invite you all to join me in learning what that means for us today.
The word commission from the dictionary means an instruction or command given to a group. So we all know that in Matt 28 just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave his disciples some instructions: 19 Therefore go and make disciples 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.” (Matt 28:19-20)
It is definitely an important command that Jesus has given all of us but what I hope we’ll arrive at the end of today’s sermon is that it’s something more than a command. It’s something that defines every believer in Christ. It’s something that every believer has been wired and also empowered to do.
First let’s understand what’s the purpose of the “Commission”? For that we turn to our main passage for today:
9 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. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet 2:9,10)
This amazing passage has so many things we can ponder upon. It says “we are chosen by God”. Think with me for a moment what that means. If we were chosen by the President to receive the Bharat Ratna, could you imagine how amazing that would be? Yet, the Bible says that the God who created the heavens and the earth, who existed before anything else existed hand picked you to be His people! Plus the word says we are a royal priesthood. In other words, in God’s royal courts he has appointed us to be his ministers to the people on earth. That’s what an OT priest would do.
He would represent God to the people and vice-versa also represent the people to God. Further it adds that we are “holy”. People set apart for God, made morally blameless…in effect “saints”. Isn’t that mind blowing? We are saints in God’s eyes! And it says that “we are a people for his own possession”. He owns us. We are his possession. We belong to Him. Precious in His eyes. He decides what He uses us for. But did we deserve any of this? Did we do anything to earn God’s choice? Did we do anything for which God could say You are my royal priest? Did we do anything to deserve to be called saints? Did we do anything to be God’s prized possession. No, absolutely not. We lived worthless lives only deserving of judgment and hell. But God being full of grace and mercy, sent His Son Jesus Christ to save us.
Jesus Christ protected you and me from being eternally separated from God. It came at a very very high cost. It costed God the death of His Son. Jesus being perfect and dying a righteous death, rose again on the third day to give us this new identity as described in v9.
So let’s first remind ourselves, that we didn’t earn this identity. We were given this identity by grace at the highest cost. And now because Christ saved us, he owns us. So no longer our ways, our desires, our goals define us but instead Christ’s ways, Christ’s desires and Christ’s goals.
So what’s Christ’s purpose for saving us? that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Because we have been saved by immeasurable and unending grace, and because he’s given us a new, fresh, glorious identity…we will spend the rest of our lives “proclaiming” at the top of our voices, and with our lives and with our attitudes how big and how great and how awesome is He who pulled me out of sin, Satan and death and brought me into his marvelous light which is brighter than the sun.
On one hand there is the indebtedness…Oh…I’m humbled and I don’t know how to thank God enough for what He’s done and on the other hand, there is this wonderful privilege to now proclaim about this amazing God!
If that’s not enough, Peter adds another line in v10. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We were God’s enemies at one time because of our terrible lives but now by placing our faith in Jesus…we have received mercy from God and we have also become His precious people now who are being used by God. He’s telling us to remember where we came from. Remember who you were. Remember what God did to you by sending our Savior Jesus. Remember how your life and identity has now changed.
So that’s the cause and purpose for the “Commission”. Now how does that play out in our lives? How can I “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me out of darkness into his marvelous light?”
a) Verbal proclamation of the Gospel
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
There is a going, preaching, hearing, believing and calling on the Lord. It’s very clear from this passage that people can only be saved through the gospel. And that’s why it needs to be shared. If there was any other way to save a person, God would’ve told us. The truth is there is no other way by which a man can be saved apart from preaching Christ.
People are only going to believe if the gospel is preached to them! If you’ve been praying for your colleagues or neighbors…I’d encourage us to take the next step of now sharing the gospel with them.
b) Grace-filled Conversations with unbelievers
Now this in itself is not what saves an unbeliever but shows our intentionality in opening up opportunities to present the gospel.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col 4;5,6)
This is an amazing verse because it reminds us to be aware when we are around unbelievers…which is a lot of the time…at the same time trying to use every opportunity to build a connect with them. How do you do it? You are seasoning your conversations with “salt”. We know salt is meant to add taste to the food. What does that mean? I don’t think it means to make your talk very attractive using big words and many facial expressions. But I think it means being wise with your words and also speaking things that encourage people rather than discourage them. The goal of speech should be to build up and benefit the other person.
Last week at work my colleague told a story of how his friend always complained of the disappointment in marriage. He kept on saying that for many days. Finally after sometime when they all went out, someone asked him privately…is your marriage really that bad? He whispered “No, not really. It’s actually great. I have to say that because everyone else is saying it. If I say my marriage is good, people might actually think something is wrong with it.”
Now it was a humorous story, but I disagree with the whole idea of talking negative things about marriage even for a joke. Marriage is a beautiful gift from God and these conversations make people more cynical about marriage. So therefore, we need to make sure that our conversations are building people up. This will open up more opportunities to share the gospel later.
The second way by which you can proclaim the excellencies of God is by having a:
2. Sanctified Life
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:11-12)
This is something that we won’t talk about in a sermon about missions. We like to keep the two things separate: holiness and missions. However, in God’s kingdom there is no separation. God doesn’t require people who merely know how to share the gospel verbally. Anyone even an unbeliever if he is trained can share the gospel verbally. Right from the OT, God gave the Israelites the law. Why? So that they could obey and live according to God’s character and will. His purpose was that the nations around them would look at the lives and know that they worship the One true God.
That purpose of God for the holiness in his people still remains. God wants you to be holy to indicate to the unbelievers around you that you worship the One true Holy Righteous and Great God. If you go and give an unbeliever a perfect and clear illustration of the gospel but don’t live a holy life, it will not make any sense to them. They’ll probably say “If this is the kind of faith, you are calling me into then I won’t have any part in it because this is hypocrisy”. If you want to be used by God, yearn for holiness.
If you want to see a greater commitment and involvement in God’s mission, ask God to change you heart, sanctify your life, produce holiness that would align with the message that you are sharing. Does it mean that we shouldn’t share the gospel because we aren’t perfect like Christ? We will only be perfect when Christ returns but until then we pursue repentance and ask God to still use us even in our weakness.
So let it not be an excuse to not be on mission, but rather let our prayer be this way: “Lord, help me to live in obedience and purity so that the unbelievers I meet today catch a glimpse of who you are. I know I’m imperfect but Lord, you are powerful and you can change me and use me”.
The third way we can proclaim the excellencies of God is by:
22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:22-24)
It doesn’t matter if we are working at home or in the office or studying in school…the principle remains the same. Everything that we do should be consecrated to the Lord. And so it’s not the pay-check or the environment or the people or the personal satisfaction or the position that determines how you work. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO or an employee.
Since you are serving the Lord, work with excellence, work with sincerity and reverence! And the end-reward is going to be much more valuable than your gratuity or anything else you can buy on earth – it’s an eternal inheritance in heaven. As I read this verse especially…I’m convicted in my heart. I feel that at times I allow these other factors affect the way I work.
Other times I struggle with having the right motivation: either to be a people-pleaser or attain some selfish goal. None of that honors Christ. None of that makes Him look bigger and wonderful. And so I realize this is a place where I need to repent and ask God to give me the true fear and right motivations to work. As we do that, people will notice something different about us. They’ll think “this person doesn’t work hard for any earthly benefit, I wonder what is motivating that person”. And that provides you with another opportunity to talk about Jesus who brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
I also want to add one aspect about serving the local community as an expression of the gospel. When we care for the needs of the orphans, underprivileged and oppressed people around us we echo the heartbeat of our Savior who wants to bring relief, rescue and justice to our lives. Christ’s redeemed church needs to be open, aware and active in bringing God’s love to places where few people go.
Nothing speaks louder than sacrificial good deeds that meets the needs of those who don’t have enough to return back in kind.
It’s not just the verbal sharing of the gospel that proclaims the excellencies of God. Your sanctified life, your service, your grace filled conversations will pave the way for the gospel. This is the harmony of the missions.
I’m sure when we thought through these points we were all convicted on how we aren’t living or doing what we should. But let that not take us away from Christ, let us come back to him in repentance and in humble dependence so that we can be used mightily by Him.