We are on the last & final topic of the series called ‘The Church’.
The title of today’s sermon is ‘The Ministry of the Church’ and the passage we are looking at is Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 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,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus, after spending 33 years on earth as a human being, walking through this broken world with us, through all the vulnerabilities we humans go through so He can identify with our struggles, tempted in every possible way just as we are tempted but still lived a perfect and holy life pleasing to God the Father.
And after spending the last 3 years in ministry, preaching the Kingdom of God, making disciples out of uneducated, sinful men, teaching and enlightening them about the Kingdom of God, offering Himself to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for the atonement of our sin and rebellion, he exchanged His righteousness with us & finally rose up from the dead and sealed this new covenant with us of restoring us back to Father. And now Jesus is at the end of His ministry and He is giving out his last commandment to his disciples.
These disciples after hearing these commands from Jesus, on His instruction they wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus waited when he started His ministry, and then scattered all around the world preaching the good news of the Gospel, making disciples and teaching them to obey.
Today we are the recipients of God grace because of these men who took Jesus’s command seriously against all the odds, challenges, threats, pain, suffering, even death and made Jesus and truth of the Gospel famous all around the world. A special thanks to Thomas who when led by the Holy Spirit travelled to our nation India in the year AD 52 and faithfully preached the Gospel, later was killed in AD 72 in Chennai for spreading the Gospel.
Brothers & sisters, we all are called & commanded to do the same. This is the ultimate purpose of our lives and the ultimate purpose of the Church as we saw a couple of Sundays back. It is to lift up Jesus to this dying world and communicate this message of hope.
And the funny thing is that this almighty, all-powerful God doesn’t need us to accomplish this task, he can do it on His own, but he invites us to have this amazing privilege to participate in His work as partners – For which He rewards us, on earth and in heaven.
Therefore, lets pay careful attention and understand this Great commission in depth and how it applies in our current context of life.
I want to share four things from this passage that are important for us to know and learn.
1. It’s a command and not an instruction, from the highest authority.
We all work in corporate companies, imagine the Founder & Managing Director of your company invites you to his cabin and personally assigns you a task to do and also promises to reward you for doing it. How would you respond?
Will you say ‘I’ll do it whenever I get free time?”, or “I’ll see whether I want to do it”.
No, we will never say that, instead we will be so excited that we will keep aside every other work to complete the task, in fact some of us will even work extra hours to get the job done, just to please your boss and get his compliments.
Brothers & sisters, the one who is speaking to us is Jesus, to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given. If an assignment from an earthly boss can move us and shake us from our comfort zone. Consider, the one who is speaking to us is almighty God.
And when the most powerful person on heaven and earth speaks to us, it’s not just an instruction that we can chose whether we want to do it or not.
There is no other option then to take Him seriously and get on with the task.
2. Go & tell, not come and see
The instruction is quite clear. It is to ‘go & tell’ and not ‘come and see’. – “Go therefore …”
In the Old Testament, or in the old covenant the presence of God resided in the “Tabernacle of God”, in the temple, where people would come with their sacrifices to receive pardon from their sins. But if we study the structure and ordinances of the temple we will learn that they were mere symbols pointing us to Jesus and the ultimate display of His work on the cross.
Instead of we bringing the sacrifice for the atonement of our sins, he came and gave himself as a sacrifice once for all. The Bible tells us that now we are the temple where God resides.
Today the church is not a building or a structure, church is the people of God – temple of God where God resides (1 Cor 6:19).
When Jesus is asking us to ‘go therefore’, he is telling us to take His presence with us into this dying world. Which means, when we invite and have a coffee conversation with a friend or a college we are allowing them to have close proximity with the presence of God residing in us. When we are talking to them and expressing our hearts, inviting them into our lives we are expressing God’s heart to them and inviting them to God’s Kingdom.
Here’s some practical ways in which we invite them to give us a listening ear. Remember, these are only effective when we are thoroughly soaked in the Gospel and are experiencing the transforming work of Christ in us.
- Through Our vocabulary –
Speaking the Kingdom language:
- When we speak Words of Hope that help people see life beyond their present pain and suffering
- When we speak Words of Life that put King Jesus on the pedestal for others to see and admire
- When we speak Words of acknowledgment & gratefulness to God for others to learn and follow.
- Through Our responses –
Our faithful responses to the brokeness of this world:
- Our response when we go through financial crises in trusting His provision.
- Our responses when we fall sick in relying on His Sovereignty.
- Our response when we are tempted to sin in saying ‘No’ at all costs.
- Our response when we see delay in Gods answering our prayers in knowing that He makes everything beautiful in His time.
- Our response when our bosses sit on out head in trusting in the ultimate authority.
Our responses to such situations testify the fact that nothing in this world bothers us because we rest in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
- Through Our values –
Walking the talk:
- Doing the right thing at all times regardless of what the consequences are.
- Walking according to principles and commandment prescribed in the scripture. – Not out of compulsion but with joy.
- Through Our service –
Having a Servantheart:
- Going the extra mile to bring the hope of Christ to a person in need, physical or emotional.
- Serving the poor, caring for the orphans, providing for the widows.
- Sacrificing our time, energy and resources to comfort others in need.
Remember, these are means through which we can invite others to hear us out, but the ultimate goal is Gospel proclamation. Sharing the True Gospel in a clear, meaningful, & effective manner is most important, not the Gospel that promises health, wealth & prosperity but the Gospel that promises eternal life in heaven whether in riches or poverty; pain, suffering or good health, not a work-based Gospel that says to get this you have do this, but a Gospel of grace, that says its a free gift we receive without doing anything in return – All we do is believe in the Son of God & trust Him.
3. We are called to make disciples, not mere friends and colleagues
Don’t settle and be satisfied that you have made some unbelieving friends and that you hang out with them often. Our job is not complete unless we make a disciple out of them.
And it just doesn’t happen like that, there is an investment of time, money and resources we need to consider if we have to walk and disciple people. If time, money, comfort matters to us more than saving our loved ones from pain, sorrow & misery then we have to consider offering them as a sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom.
Jesus left His glory and came for us, sacrificing everything, the disciples of Jesus left the comfort of their homes and sacrificed their lives so that we could find hope.
What is it that the Holy Spirit asking us to do? Are we making disciples or just friends with whom we like to hangout and chill, mostly so that we can feel good and relieved from the daily stress.
We ought to be making disciples, not just hang out with them as friends.
4. Teach them to obey, not just attend church and sing Christian songs
Let us not be like those parents who are happy that their children go to church, by-heart bible verses and sing Christian songs. Unless we’ve understood and experienced Gospel transformation and are walking in obedience to God word, no Christian activity will save our lives.
We are not inviting our friends to do Christian activities with us but we are inviting them to walk in obedience and to fulfil the God given purposes in their lives.
It is not the good feeling of being part of a church, or a good feeling of being part of an exuberant worship that brings life transformation. What brings life transformation is the truth of God revealed in our heart that leads us to walking in total surrender to Him.
Therefore, we need to consistently and faithfully encourage one other to walk in obedience to God’s word. Jesus said “If you love me you will obey me”. There is no loving without obedience. If you come to me and say you love Jesus, I will only be able to validate your love for Jesus if I also see unconditional obedience. – That’s how even Jesus will measure our love when we meet Him.
Teach them to obey, not just attend church and sing Christian songs.
In all of this, brothers & sisters, be encouraged – Jesus is with us and walking alongside us. He promised never to leave, never to forsake, his hand of protection, his comfort, his strength, his wisdom, his power is always with us.
This is the ministry of the church, the ministry of every single person sitting in this room. I hope I’ve given you compelling reasons to find your joy in serving in the Kingdom of God and tools to start acting on it. I believe you will be like the faithful servants who used their talents for God’s glory and when you meet your saviour and master in heaven you will hear him say “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master”.