Matthew 28:19 | Go and Make Disciples | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: Matthew 28:19
Well, this morning we are continuing in our series in Matthew 28. Again, if you’re new and haven’t been here before, we just launched our church February 15th. This is our third official week.
And there are a lot of things that we could have preached on. We could have started in Genesis where the canon of Scripture starts. We could start in Matthew 1 where the New Testament starts. We could have preached on the supremacy of Christ, which is a great place to start. We could have preached on a lot of things. We chose to preach a series about the end of a certain period of time.
It was the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. And if you’ve ever had a loved one who was going to be dying, and they had some final words for you, you know that those final words are important. Those loved ones don’t say things on their death bed like, how ‘bout the weather? Or, did you see that Cardinals game? Things like that. They say important things before they’re going to leave.
Now Jesus died and then rose again and was going back to heaven for a time, and he was leaving his Spirit on earth, and you know where his Spirit resides? In the hearts of believers. And he was telling his believers, you be me on earth while I’m in heaven. So his final words before he went to heaven were, I’m going to give you a command to go and do.
So we’ve chosen, as a leadership team, to go through this section of Scripture, the final words of Jesus on earth, so that we’re clear that we want to do what he commanded us to do. There’s not a lot of mystery about it. We just want to be faithful to do what he says he wants us to do. And that, namely, is to make disciples of all nations. There is one command in these verses that we’re going through for seven weeks. One command. And we come to it this morning.
We started talking about the fact that he was talking to the disciples two weeks ago, and we said, okay, hold on. Let’s pull the car over for a second and just ask ourselves, what’s a disciple? If he’s giving a command to disciples, let’s make sure that we are one. What’s a disciple?
Then we looked the next week, we looked last week at the fact that all authority is his, in heaven and on earth. All authority is Jesus Christ’s. Because this whole disciple-making business will not be easy. It will be hard; there could be persecution; there would be trouble. That’s going to happen. But he says before he even launches us out on the commission, I’m in charge of everything, as a way to comfort us.
And then today comes the actual command. I’m basically going to preach on five words today. Matthew 28, the first part of verse 19: “Go therefore and make disciples.” Next week we’ll get to the second part of that sentence, and I’ll preach on three words: “of all nations.” So this morning, “Go therefore and make disciples.”
In his commentary on this chapter, pastor John MacArthur gives basically a call for us to see that this is the central message of Jesus for his church. I’m going to read some portions of that commentary, and it’s a number of paragraphs. Hang in there. Don’t let the rain lull you to sleep. I’ve chosen every word here that I’m going to take from his commentary, and it’s important to understand. So listen as I read. MacArthur says this:
This central message of Scripture pertains to the central mission of the people of God, a mission that, tragically, many Christians do not understand or are unwilling to fulfill. It seems obvious that some Christians think little about their mission in this world, except in regard to their own personal needs. They attend services and meetings when it is convenient, take what they feel like taking, and leave little concern for anything else. They are involved in the church only to the extent that it serves their own desires. It escapes both their understanding and their concern that the Lord has given His church a supreme mission and that He calls every believer to be an instrument in fulfilling that mission.
Then he asks this question:
If the average evangelical congregation were surveyed concerning the primary purpose of the church, it is likely that many diverse answers would be given. Several purposes, however, would probably be prominent. A large number would rank fellowship first, the opportunity to associate and interact with fellow Christians who share similar beliefs and values. They highly value the fact that the church provides activities and programs for the whole family and is a place where relationships are nurtured and shared and where inspiration is provided through good teaching and beautiful music.
At a level perhaps a step higher, some Christians would consider sound biblical teaching to be the church’s principle function, expounding Scripture and strengthening believers in knowledge of and obedience to God’s revealed truth. That emphasis would include helping believers discover and minister their spiritual gifts in various forms of leadership and service. Like fellowship, that too is a basic function of the church.
Adding a more elevated level, some members would consider praise of God to be the supreme purpose of the church. They emphasize the church as a praising community that exalts the Lord in adoration, homage, and reverence. Praise is clearly a central purpose of God’s people, just as it always has been and always will be a central activity of heaven, where both saints and the angels will eternal sing praises to God.
All of those emphases are thoroughly biblical and should characterize every body of believers. But neither separately nor together do they represent the central purpose and mission of the church in the world. The supreme purpose and motive of every individual believer and every body of believers is to glorify God. . . . through the redemption of sinful men, and it is through participation in that redemptive plan that believers make themselves most glorify God.
Two more paragraphs:
Therefore the believer who desires to glorify God, who wants to honor God’s supreme will and purpose, must share God’s love for the lost world and share in His mission to redeem the lost to Himself. Christ came into the world that He loved and sought to win sinners to Himself for the Father’s glory. As Christ’s representatives, we are likewise sent into the world that He loves to bring the lost to Him and thereby bring glory and honor to God. Our mission [listen] is the same mission of that of the Father and of the Son.
And he finishes with this:
There is only one reason the Lord allows His church to remain on earth: to seek and to save the lost, just as Christ’s only reason for coming to earth was to seek and to save the lost. ‘As the Father has sent Me,’ He declared, ‘I also send you’ (John 20:21). Therefore, a believer who is not committed to winning the lost for Jesus Christ should reexamine his relationship to the Lord and certainly his divine reason for existence.
Fellowship, teaching, and praise are not the mission of the church but are rather the preparation of the church to fulfill its mission of winning the lost. And just as in athletics, training should never be confused with or substituted for actually competing in the game, which is the reason for all of the training.
Pretty clear words. And by the way, he’s not the only one that says that. Christians throughout the centuries have been trying to convince one another this is the mission that we are to be on. It’s about preaching the gospel to the lost. If we want to worship perfectly, fellowship perfectly, love one another perfectly, we’ll do that one day. In heaven. We won’t get to do this in heaven—reach out to those around us and show them how they can have eternal life.
So this morning, I want to go through these five little words and give you two elements of Christ’s last command on earth that we must obey. There are two aspects to this last command—go and make disciples—two elements of Christ’s last command on earth that we must obey.
1. You Must Go.
The first element is that you must go. You must go. I take that from the first two words of this sentence, “Go therefore.” What’s the “therefore” about? The “therefore” is in response to the comfort and the authority that God gives us. He’s in charge. Christ is in charge over heaven and on earth, and so he says, “Go.” Because he’s in charge, we go. If Christ wasn’t in charge, I’d be a little reluctant to go up to an unbeliever and preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. But he is in charge. He is sovereign over everything. We go because of his authority.
And then the word “go.” To move away from one place into the direction of another. We understand what “go” means. That’s the definition. And going is often uncomfortable and risky. It’s much easier to stay. Stay in the living room with the blanket around you by the fire watching TV. Much more comfortable than going to the lost and preaching a message that tells them they are lost and need Christ to save them. So to go is to be uncomfortable and it’s to take a risk.
And this would have grabbed Jesus’ followers. This would have caught their attention. See, Old Testament Israel was meant to be a light to the nations just like the church is today. There’s one difference. Old Testament Israel had people coming to look at them and examine how they worshiped this God. They were meant to show something different. They were meant to show not a community that worships idols and prays to the sun so that it can give them crops, but they were meant to show the world a community that worshiped the only true God, Yahweh, the I AM. And the real mission of Israel was for people to see them worshiping.
That’s why the story of Jonah is unique in the Old Testament. God didn’t normally send Israelites to go and preach good news of repentance to different countries. He did to Jonah; that was unique. Normally, you had people like the Queen of Sheba come to visit Solomon to say, what’s all of this about? That’s the original way it was going to happen.
And then when Jesus comes, he comes first to Israel, to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then he goes to the Gentiles as the Israelites reject the gospel, as the Jews reject the gospel. And he tells his followers, okay, listen, you’re going to go and tell people about my coming kingdom. That would have been different than the Old Testament pattern.
And so Jesus sends his disciples out in just five months after they commit to following him. So evangelism is not for super Christians; it’s for normal and new Christians.
So he takes these disciples, and he says in Matthew 10, you’re going to go out, and you’re going to preach the good news. But listen, don’t go to that area; don’t go to that area; you’re just going to go to this area. And you even hear in Jesus’ words throughout the gospels this call for people not to go and preach the good news. Don’t go tell anyone what I just told you. Don’t do this yet. And we wonder, why did he do that? Wouldn’t Jesus want everyone to know who he is? Yes. At the proper time.
See, up until then, people thought, he’s just a religious teacher, and yes, he’s doing some miracles. He’s healing some people. So, yes, he’s a little different, and there’s some interest there, but we’ve had prophets before. What’s so special about this one? And then he died. And then, he literally, historically, physically rose from the dead. That’s a game changer. That changes everything.
Now he says, go everywhere. Go to Jerusalem; people in this city need to hear it. Go to the region Judea; go to Samaria, the region outside of Judea; and go to the uttermost parts of the earth. The resurrection changed everything. Go everywhere.
So going would have been different from what they had been hearing before the resurrection. Now because of the resurrection, they can go. They would go tell about someone who rose from the dead. So, go therefore and make disciples. Everything necessary has happened: his perfect life (he came to live a perfect life), his sacrifice for our sins on the cross, the resurrection happened. He had given them his Spirit or would soon give them his Spirit to go. He’s about to leave the earth and leave them to go. There’s nothing else for them to wait for other than the Holy Spirit; and we see in Acts 2, he comes; and then you see at the end of Acts 2, they go.
So we could say, if you’re a believer, you do have the Holy Spirit in you. And if you have the Holy Spirit in you, you are to go. That’s the apostolic model. It’s the model Jesus gave us.
These disciples leave the comfort of their homes and they go throughout the world. History tells us they all go to different areas, different regions, and they are often—ten out of the eleven of them are martyred for their faith. John’s exiled to Patmos. But they go all over. They start scattering. They start obeying Jesus Christ’s commands.
And you know what? They didn’t just say to the churches, the people that were being converted and forming the churches in these areas, they didn’t just say, you stay here; you just kind of do your thing; and we’ll go and we’ll preach about Jesus Christ. They expected the members of the church, the new believers, to be preaching Christ also.
Listen to Colossians 4: “Continue steadfastly in prayer.” So Paul is saying this to the church at Colossae, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I might make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col. 4:2-4). Okay. Paul asking that as he preaches Christ, he wants the church at Colossae to pray with him that he can do that effectively. And Colossian believers, you kind of just stay home, and I’ll take care of this. No.
Verse 5: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” He expected them to give testimony to Christ as well. This isn’t just for the leaders of the church; this is for the Christians who make up the church.
1 Pet. 2:9—Peter, talking to everyday Joe and Jane Christian in the church—Peter, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Do you believe it so far? This is our mission? It wasn’t just for the apostles? This is for all of us to pass on to other people? Christianity can’t die with us. It can’t. First of all, he’s promised it wouldn’t, but then he compels us to go. Go and take the gospel to people. They were originally known for being his followers; now they are known for being the preachers of him, the early church.
So let me ask you the question, has your heart been stirred to go to people? My hope is that as we take seven weeks to go through this command so that we get it right, Christians in this room would have in them a sort of conviction. I need to do this better. I want to be more faithful. This needs to be the mission of my life.
I agree. I’m doing something pretty audacious here. I’m a new guy coming into town. We rode in on December 1st and I’m telling a roomful of believers not that there should be something that is important to you; I’m telling you this should be the most important thing that you ever do. This should drive your every day, drive your existence for living. I admit that that could be rather arrogant. But I don’t think it is. Because I’m just saying what Jesus said.
I want to be faithful to what his mission was and what he expected of all of us. My prayer is that you would be challenged, that you would make changes, that you would go and talk to people, and that you would wear your Christianity on your sleeve to go tell people there is a Christ that can save you from eternal punishment and loves sinners.
But while I pray that there would be conviction in this room, I also pray that there would be comfort. Maybe you say to the Lord, I haven’t done this faithfully. I’ve wasted opportunities. I haven’t preached the gospel to the lost like I should. I’m telling you, your God is a God of comfort. Remember that he forgave your sin. He forgives all that and he empowers you to go. So you can feel beat up for a little bit but also feel warmed and encouraged by the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I want you to be encouraged by the comfort that comes in Christ.
One pastor said, everybody is called to go. And some go here. So it’s not that you all have to pick up and move to some other country and go. Everybody’s called to go but some go here in Prescott. Some go here in your neighborhoods. But you go somewhere, get out of your comfort zone, and you go.
So again, I tell you, everything’s been done. You’ve been given the perfect life of Christ, sacrificed for your sins; the resurrection has taken place; you’ve got the Holy Spirit; he left you to be the light of the world—ambassadors, as Paul would say in 2 Corinthians 5. He’s left you to be salt. He’s left you to be his representation. You have the complete cannon of Scripture. You’ve got the assurance that he’ll build his church. You have everything you need, except you don’t have a lot of time. We don’t have a lot of time. One life to reach those who are around us with the gospel of Christ. We’ve got everything we need but not a lot of time.
The quote goes, “It’s only good news if it gets there on time.” We have good news and people around us don’t. But it’s only good news if it gets to them.
J. C. Ryle, a pastor from many years ago in England, said this, said these challenging words to the church: “Let us never forget that this solemn injunction is still in full force.” I’m going to read that again.
Let us never forget that this solemn injunction is still in full force. It is still the bounden duty of every disciple of Christ to do all he can, in person and by prayer, to make others acquainted with Jesus. Where is our faith if we neglect this duty? Where is our charity? It may be well questioned whether a man knows the value of the gospel himself if he does not desire to make it known to all the world.
So I ask you the question again, is Christ compelling you to go? Because I want you to hear loud and clear the Lord is saying to you today, if you are in Christ, you must go and preach the gospel to the lost.
So what do you do when you go? Okay, I’m going to go; I’m going to do this. I’m going to go and view my waiter at the restaurant a little differently now. I’m going to view my mechanic a little differently. I’m going to view my lost aunt a little differently. I want to go. I want to go and make him known, because this was the heartbeat of Jesus, it became the heartbeat of the apostles, and it’s supposed to be the heartbeat of me. I’m going to see everyone around me a little bit differently. I’m going to go. But what do I do? That’s the second element.
2. We Must Make Disciples.
The second element is that we not only go, but we must make disciples as well. We’re not going to tell people they can just have a nicer life, that God will make them healthy and wealthy and prosperous. We’re not even going to just to be nice to unbelievers. We’re going to make disciples of them and that means that we want to see them follow Jesus Christ. But there is a little problem—actually, it’s a big problem. They’re separated from the ability to do that. Their sin keeps them from being followers of Christ. They can’t do it. They still have old sin-sick hearts. So we bring the message, which they then believe, which gives them a new heart so that they can be a follower of Christ. So we bring them a message.
What’s the message? God is just. God is holy. He’s the creator of everything; therefore, he owns everything. Everything. His creation, rebelled against him, sinned. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. All of them have gone astray, each to his own way (Isaiah 53). All of them have sinned. But God, because he is gracious—there doesn’t have to be a “but” there, by the way. He could have judged and executed the entire world and been totally righteous and just. But God, being rich in mercy, sent his Son to give them a new life, a new perfect life that would be put on their account, and he would take all of their sin. That’s a substitution. And Jesus Christ came to be the substitute for sinners and sinners simply need to acknowledge that is me. I need a substitute. I am separated from God. I am sinful. That is me. I’m rebellious. And when they repent of their sin and believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, they will be saved forever.
That’s the message, whether we tell it in three hours to someone on a plane or we tell it in two minutes to someone walking down the street. That’s the message, the gospel message—that Jesus Christ died for sin and rose again, so you know that it’s true. Christ died for sinners, was raised for our justification, and now we get to go and tell people the good news.
So what do we do when we get to an unbeliever? What do we do? We can invite them to church. That’d be okay. It’s a good start. We can be nice and show them Jesus Christ. That would be a great start. But our ultimate goal with every unbeliever is to get the message to them, get the gospel message to them. Hey, can I tell you about who Jesus Christ really is? Hey, you probably hear a lot about what Christianity is; can I just be very clear on what it is? Oh, I don’t believe Christianity. Oh, I know you don’t believe it, but can I just tell you what it is? Oh, I don’t want to hear about Jesus. Can I have thirty seconds of your time? You just talked to me for ten minutes about why you think the world is the way it is. Can I have a little bit of your time to talk to you about who Christ is?
We want to get the message to them, not just get them to church, not just get them to do nice things. But it’s in our hearts; I want to get the gospel to them. I want to preach the gospel to them. That’s what we do. We make disciples, and they need to respond to the gospel in order to be a disciple.
I want to show you what Jesus’ followers started doing once they received this command from him. So he said on the mountain, go make disciples. And then a few days later they were in Jerusalem together, which is a different mountain, the Mount of Olives, where he would ascend to heaven. And he told them again, remember what I just told you in Galilee (see Matthew 28). Now in Acts 1:8, he says, okay, go—Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, uttermost parts of the earth—you’re going to go. So he told them the message two times, two different mountains, and then he went up to the sky. And he had told them, when the Holy Spirit comes on you, my Spirit—so when I leave, I’m going to come again; my Spirit’s going to be in you—when my Spirit gets in you, then you go preach. And so what did they do?
Turn to Acts 2. Acts, chapter 2. The book of Acts is the book about them obeying this command, in essence, and what happened. Acts 2:1-13:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. [So Jesus has ascended. They are all in one room together, waiting for the Spirit.] And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues [or languages] the mighty works of God.’ And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
So what’s happening here? The feast of Pentecost is happening, so Jewish followers of God are in Jerusalem from other parts of the known world, other parts of the known world, who speak different languages. And when the disciples get the Holy Spirit, they start speaking in tongues, which wasn’t gibberish, it was languages—they’re named here in Acts 2. They start speaking in other languages the works of God.
What works of God do you think they would be talking about? Well, just a few days earlier, God himself died on a cross and rose from the dead for sinners. I have a feeling that’s what they’d be talking about. And that’s not just some speculation because if you go through the book of Acts, that’s what they are talking about—the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross of Jesus Christ, and his resurrection.
So now all of a sudden people who don’t speak their language are hearing, in their own language, the gospel. God has empowered them with the Spirit to preach the gospel in their own language. They didn’t have time to learn the Cappadocian language or the Bithynian language, translate the Old Testament Scriptures, and then teach those people. Time was of the essence. God gave them the ability to speak those languages and they started speaking to them and people got saved. They heard the gospel. That is what was happening. So they start speaking the works of God.
Acts 2:14—Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost—he tells them, no, no, no, they’re not drunk. They’re not drunk. This has been prophesied before. And he says, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. He preaches the death and resurrection of Christ in Acts 2:22-36.
So Peter—who was on the mountain, and Jesus told him go make disciples of all nations—Peter, as soon as he gets the spirit, starts preaching about the death and resurrection of Christ. And he preaches so boldly and clearly, in Acts 2:37-38 the listeners say this: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Peter preaches the gospel to them, and they say, how shall we respond? And Peter says, repent and be baptized. In other places, repent and believe. The reason baptized is there is because believers are just baptized. That’s what they do. So repent and believe, we read in other places as well.
Philip goes to Samaria. Remember? Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria. Philip is obeying part of this great commission. Philip goes to Samaria, and Acts 8:5 says, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.” So what do we do when we come across an unbeliever? We proclaim to them Christ. We don’t tell them, vote politically like I vote. We don’t tell them, just do moral things like I do moral things. We don’t do that. We preach Christ. We preach Christ to them.
Acts 9:31: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” The church is meant to multiply through the proclamation of Jesus Christ by the people in the church. The church is supposed to multiply. That’s how Christ said he would build his church.
And then you get to Acts 13, the first missionary endeavor. So people have gone to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Acts 13 is when they start to go to the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts 13:1-5, the first missionary endeavor where the Holy Spirit says, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Verse 3: “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.” Uttermost parts of the earth. “When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogue of the Jews.” The word of God is the gospel of God. They proclaimed that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in a synagogue of Jews. Got that? They went to Jewish people and said, Jesus Christ is your Messiah, and He has risen from the dead. That’s the message. And that message should not have changed for us. It’s the same message that we preach.
A couple more verses. 1 Cor. 1:18. You don’t need to turn, just listen. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” You’re going to preach the gospel to people that think it’s foolish. That’s dumb. A Jewish carpenter from Nazareth is my savior, you’re telling me. Okay, thanks, neighbor. But to those of us that believe that message and get that message and see the power that has come to us since that message, no, no, no, that’s the power of God, that message.
Romans 1:16—“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Now, listen, we have to be clear on the gospel. That’s our mission. When we go and try to win unbelievers through some other method, we’re not giving them what is the message that has the power of God. Oh, they might be offended if I imply that they would be sinful. Okay, then don’t tell them they’re sinful, but there’s no power with that message. The message is that they’ve sinned and been separated from God; but he, out of his grace and mercy, has given them a sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who can be theirs. That’s a powerful message. So we don’t shrink back from it. We preach that message.
1 Cor. 15:1-4—Paul says this—and listen, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wrote about a lot of things. There’s a man in your church who is having an immoral relationship with his stepmother, and you haven’t done anything about it. There are women in your church who are not being submissive to church leadership. People are suing each other (2 Corinthians 6). There are all kinds of broken things in Corinth. They weren’t being very moral. 1 Cor. 15:1-4—“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” Listen. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
What does that mean for us? You come across an unbeliever who is having marital problems and thinking about divorce, you can spend a lot of time telling him about how to be a faithful husband. Okay. But he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in him. There’s no reason to want to be like Jesus Christ, who loved his bride to the end. You preach the gospel to him, he responds to the gospel, and he gets the new heart that John 3 is talking about. Then guess what he can do? Be a faithful husband. We preach the gospel to the lost.
There’s a friend of mine named Pious. That’s a good name for a Christian—Pious. He’s from Uganda. Pious wasn’t always a Christian, just like us. He wasn’t always a Christian. Pious moved to the United States illegally, paid to marry a woman who would simply get him U.S. citizenship. Pious moved to Los Angeles and took a job as a security guard at a bank. He was an unbeliever, in sin, and a man named Byron would regularly go to that bank. It was his bank. It was Byron’s bank. And he’d see Pious and Byron would just talk to Pious. Good morning, how are you? And they struck up conversations and Byron would then preach the gospel to Pious. Pious didn’t want to hear anything of it.
Byron knew that Pious didn’t have many friends, and so Byron and another man from his church were going to a wedding in San Diego, about two and a half hours away, and they were supposed to bring a third friend with them but the third friend at the last minute backed out so they had an extra spot. So he, the day before the wedding, was at the bank and invited Pious to take a ride down to San Diego with them because they were going to a friend’s wedding. They knew Pious would probably say yes because he didn’t have much to do, didn’t have many friends. Pious came with them.
That two-and-a-half-hour car ride changed Pious’s life. Actually, there’s a better way to say that. That two-and-a-half-hour car ride changed Pious’s eternity. They preached the gospel of Christ to Pious. They talked to him, answered his questions. He had objections; he had fears; he had questions. They answered them; they were there; they did that. Pious then repented of his sin and turned to follow Christ. He became a believer, went to seminary, and he is making plans right now to go back to Uganda and to pastor a church there.
Pious repented of his sin. Shortly after he was saved, he went to the U.S. government and told them all that he did. And they said, thank you for telling us; you can stay. That’s what a real believer does. When someone really comes to Christ, they repent of their sin. They make it known. They make it right because they’re followers of Christ now.
It all started with a Christian who just talked at a bank. That’s how it started. How many banks do we go to? How many stores, how many restaurants, how many neighbors do we have? How many family meals do we have where we’re around lost people all the time? It just starts with someone talking.
And you know what? Jesus said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; do you know how he intends to build his church? Through us. It’s humbling, isn’t it? Staggering. He could have done it any way he wanted. He could have saved people by dropping a Bible open to Romans 10:9 on their doorstep, they read it, they get saved. He could have done it that way. He could have done it a million ways. He chose to do it through us. And he was very clear about that when he left to go to heaven. Never underestimate what the Spirit can do through you if you are faithful. Never underestimate what the Spirit can do through you if you are faithful to this command.
So I like to give you implications. Because of this text, what does that mean for our life? I want to finish there so that none of us hear the word of God, are grasped by it, and then go out and don’t change. What does this imply for us? What does this mean for us? Well let’s not be fancy about it. Here’s what it means for us: Let’s go make disciples. That’s what it means for us.
Let’s not make this kind of one thing that is kind of important to this church; this is the thing that is important for this church. And later on we’ll get to, well, what happens when they get saved? What do we do with them? We’re all disciples. Yes, then we teach each other to observe all that God has commanded us, and that involves preaching and teaching and relationships and fellowship and rebuking and encouraging and being humble. It involves a lot of things, and that’s why we’re taking seven weeks to go through this. But at the very beginning, we preach the gospel so people can be converted and then follow Christ.
So you can think of the Great Commission as a coin, two sides of the same coin. Do evangelism—one side of the coin. Preach the gospel, make disciples, do evangelism. As you turn the other side of the coin over, once they are saved, then we teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded. That’s why we preach the Bible here. Because I’m teaching you and you in other ways will be teaching me all that Christ has commanded. We teach one another all that Christ has commanded. That’s why we have to be a Bible church.
But the Great Commission is two sides of the same coin. We preach the gospel so they are saved. Once they’re saved and you turn that coin over—and by the way, the middle of that as you turn the coin over is baptism; I was this; now I’m this because I’ve died, have been risen from the dead with Jesus Christ, public proclamation of our new life—and as you turn the coin over, now it’s people learn what it means to follow Christ. So we start with evangelism in the Great Commission.
So let me ask this church this question: Who will be the student who identifies a few classmates each semester and aims for ways to present the gospel to them? Who will be the retiree who notices his neighbor taking out the trash and actually tries to go out and strike up a conversation that leads to the gospel, instead of avoiding them? Who will be the high school student who looks for the lonely kid at school and seeks to befriend him or her for the purpose of introducing them to Christ? Who will be the employee who strives to work as unto the Lord, refusing to criticize the boss, gossip, complain, and seeks to develop relationships so that they might preach the gospel to their coworkers in due time? Who will be the mother and father who view their precious children as the mission field, not just little people who get in the way of housecleaning? Who will teach them with excitement about what Christ came to do and what he did for you? Who will be the Christian who tells a homeless man in Prescott that you can introduce him to someone who has the power to forgive him of all sins, past, present, and future, rather than avoiding them?
I can understand if you want to leave after this week. This might not be the most comfortable place but I want it to be the most Biblical. Jesus didn’t avoid people, didn’t avoid sins. He went to them to preach to them a message about the kingdom which gives them eternal life and that message alone gives eternal life.
I don’t like using superlatives, but there’s nothing I want more as a pastor of this church than to see you obey this command. Nothing.
Who will be the one who will pray fervently for the evangelism done by the person sitting next to you? Who will be the one who will go to the new visitor in church because they might be unsaved, in order to see them come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ? Who will be the one who will memorize Scripture about the gospel so that it will be readily on their lips? Who will be the one who will wear their love for Christ on their sleeve every day? Who will be the one who will see the opportunity around them? Who will see every situation with an unbeliever not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to reach them with the gospel? Who will be the one who refuses to believe that this commission is optional and will instead believe that this commission is great? Who? If you say that you’re a Christian, the answer should be you. Let’s pray.
Father, Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus, tells us that Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost. You said over and over that that’s why you were here. Lord, and then you left and told us to go and preach the gospel to the lost. There should be no mystery there. That command is no less forceful because we’re 2,000 years away from it. It’s a command for today. And God, we want to be a Bible church, we want to be a worshiping church, we want to be a church that fellowships together because we want to be a light to the nations. We want to be a light to the lost.
This mission was your heartbeat, Jesus Christ. Make this mission our heartbeat. Make it our heartbeat. Not just so people would be saved from hell, Lord, not just so that they can be added to our church, but because you deserve the praise and worship of every person who has ever lived on the planet. You deserve it. Make us disciple-makers because you deserve their worship. We don’t know what you’re going to do in the years to come but we pray that you would build your church through us for your glory. And we pray this in your name. Amen.
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