When it comes to talking with others about Jesus, a lot of us treat it like a spectator sport. We leave it to the professionals, the pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. But Jesus' great commission applies to all of us as believers.
And today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg challenges us to get out of the stands and onto the field of play. He's teaching from Matthew chapter 28 verses 18 through 20. Notice the great commission as it's given to us here at the end of Matthew. I'm going to make three statements from the text, and I think that they are easily understood and hopefully, by God's goodness, will be carefully applied. The first is this, that what we find here is a claim that only Christ can make. Secondly, we find in this a command that only Christ can give. And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore. It is the authority of Jesus that gives us the responsibility to evangelize.
That's the reason for the therefore. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Now, you go. Therefore, you go. To tell the world—to tell the world, the whole world—that God will forgive and reconcile sinners to himself through Jesus.
That's the good news. That although we're bent, crooked, messed up, and apparently unfixable, the good news is that despite our rejection of God, our rebellion against his commands, our disinterest in his authority, and so on, he loves us with a pursuing passion. And he comes to us and speaks to us, because God loves saving people—so much so that he unleashes his church to be about the business of doing that very thing.
Now, there's a logic in this, isn't there? And it helps us to answer the kind of question that is inevitably put to us. This is what people will say, What right do you have? Or of course, what right do you think you have to interfere in the religion of another country or of another culture or of another classroom? The answer is, the right that I have is because I am in the service of the one in whom resides all authority in heaven and on earth. The answer is not because I feel a surge in my tummy.
It's not because I feel guilty. It's because it is an inevitable consequence of who Jesus is. The whole world needs to know who Jesus is. If Jesus is gonna reign wherever the Son in its ultimate expression, how is that going to happen? Except through the church of Jesus Christ understanding the claim that only he can make and obeying the command that only he can give.
Now, notice it. Go therefore and do what? Well, make disciples of all nations.
What does that mean? It means simply this. Bring people to Jesus so that they might be converted. It doesn't mean go and try and bring your lifestyle into their orb. It doesn't mean go and try and share your ideas with them about religion. No, it means go to them and share Jesus with them in such a way that they understand to meet Jesus is a crossroads.
It is a crossroads. You either are gonna follow Jesus and bow beneath his command, or you're gonna reject Jesus and go on your own way. That's what it means to go and make disciples. In fact, if you want to turn for just a moment, I'll show you how amazing it really is in the John 20 passage, when the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord, John 20–21. Jesus said to them, Peace be with you. That's peace, the peace that comes from the work of Jesus. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. When he said this, he breathed on them, said, Receive the Holy Spirit.
A kind of little prophetic foretaste of what is going to come on the day of Pentecost, it says. And then he says, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them. If you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. So he's saying to his followers, You have the prerogative to declare the remission or the retention of sin. Now those of you who've been brought up in a Roman Catholic background were taught that this actually leads you to the Roman Catholic confessional. Roman Catholic dogma is that this was a unique prerogative given to the apostles, which is then passed down in the apostolic pattern in through the popes and to the priests, and so the priest in the confessional has the ability—and the only one who actually has the ability—to do what Jesus is saying here at the end of John's Gospel. But this is not about something that is given to a small, unique priesthood. This is something that is given to all believers.
Do you understand this? In other words, if you're talking with somebody about Jesus, who he is and why he came, you're able to say to them, You know, there is a promise here that I want to share with you. And that is that if you receive the message that Jesus proclaimed, if you receive the gospel, your sins will be forgiven. Oh, says the person, really.
Yes, and the other thing I should mention to you is the warning. Because if you do not receive the message, your sins will be retained. Picture pilgrim with a great burden on his back. Picture twenty-first-century pilgrims in your office with great burdens on their backs, in your classroom, on your street. Where may the burdens be relieved?
In whom? Well, here at the cross, rolled away. We used to sing it as children in Sunday school. We didn't really know what we were on about, I don't think.
I get it now. Rolled away, rolled away. And the burdens of my heart were rolled away. Every sin had to go. Neath the crimson flow, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every sin had to go.
And the burdens of my heart were rolled away. We say to people, Listen, the message of forgiveness is a promise to be received. If you receive it, your sins will be forgiven. If you reject it and you die in your sins, you will be lost for all of eternity.
That's why it is so profoundly important. And that's why, again, it is a claim that only Christ can make. We're not out here to offer a brand of religion in the smorgasbord of religious and spiritual opportunities that are available to us in Western culture. We're actually out there under command of the king to say, Listen, I've got a story to tell you. I'm here to, with God's help, make you a disciple. Now, come back to Matthew.
And what does it say? Make disciples. Make disciples. Baptize them. Baptize them. What is a baptism?
Well, it's a public profession, isn't it? There's no such thing as a secret disciple. I mean, either your discipleship will destroy your secrecy or your secrecy will destroy your discipleship. No, eventually, if you really bow beneath Jesus, you will stand up and acknowledge it. This is not a question about the nature and the style of baptism.
Leave that aside for now. Baptism, in every context, is a public identification with Jesus. It is the mechanism whereby we become visible members of a believing community of faith.
So what Jesus is saying is, Don't just go out there and ask people to make decisions. Make sure that when they come to Jesus that they will profess it clearly and they will be part of the professing church. And thirdly, that you will be teaching them. Teaching them. Teaching them what?
Teaching them these things. First importance, says Paul in Corinthians, doesn't he? That I deliver to you as of first importance that Christ died for sins and so on, so that those who have become the followers of Jesus will understand basic Christian doctrine, so that then the followers of Jesus will not simply be going out into the community to give our testimony.
Don't misunderstand me. We are going to give our testimony. But our story to proclaim to the world is not a story about something that has happened in us, but it is a story about something that has happened for us. Some of us don't have a very dramatic story about what happened in us.
Every story is actually dramatic, but it's not. I was never a hell's angel. I never fell off a Harley-Davidson and banged my head on the floor and was met by an angel that told me to go here and so on. I got nothing like that at all. No.
Neither do you, mostly. And furthermore, if you just tell people about what has happened inside of you, they will very quickly come back and tell you about something that happened inside of them. And whether it involved Buddha, whether it involved New Age, whether it involved yoga, whatever it was, it involved meditation, and they'll just say, Oh, I'm so glad for you! I'm so glad that that's how you found it! And as soon as you get there, you're stuck! You see? You say, No, no, it's not about what I found. Well, then, what are you talking about?
Well, because that's not what we're talking about! What we're saying is, Jesus—Jesus—is the one who has stepped into time, has made God known to us in the fullness of his person, and has died in the place of sin and has risen triumphant and comes to live and reign in the hearts of those who trust him—a story to tell to the nations that will turn their hearts to the right. Of course he's doing something in us, but the real mystery is that he has done something for us.
It's a command that only he can give. You know, we've got many activities here at Parkside Church—all good, all necessary, but all to serve one priority. To serve one priority. To see men and women being converted, seeing them baptized, fearlessly identifying themselves as followers of Jesus, seeing them being taught, being catechized, growing in an understanding of Scripture and of Christ and of his work.
And this does not happen and will not happen. This kind of widespread evangelization will only happen when it is undertaken by all. This command is not given to a select few. This command is given to the followers of Jesus. It is a charge that is laid upon the whole church, a whole gospel for a whole world. And I can sense that some of you would say, Well, you know, I don't know that I'm even fit to have any part in that.
Well, that's a good starting point, isn't it? The reason that some of us say nothing is because we have nothing to say. We got nothing to say. Because we ourselves are, if you like, unconverted believers. Unconverted believers.
Sitting Sunday by Sunday, answering the catechetical questions, getting the right answer because it's on the screen. But in our hearts, going home and saying, But I am not a child of God. I am not a follower of Jesus. I know I'm not.
Well, good that you know it. But do you want to stay that way? I have a promise for you.
Forgiveness. I have a warning for you. Well, some say, Well, I'm afraid to take part. I'm afraid. Good. Welcome to my club. I'm afraid too. You're in good company.
Not just my company. You're in the disciples' company. Back again at the end of John, and at the evening and the end of the day, they were all there with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.
These are the people that have gone out to evangelize the world. A tiny huddled group saying, Look out, we may be next. We don't want to go the same way our master went.
No, no. Keep those doors locked. Did you lock the doors?
Make sure the doors are locked. And when you read the commentaries, the commentaries spend pages on, How is it that Jesus got through the door without opening the door? You know. It's like, What? And it's the same thing about, Well, how did he get out of the grave with the grave clothes?
They're not… Get out of here. Listen. The grave miracle is not how he managed to get in but how he got these characters out. That's the miracle. It was over. We're done. Collapsed. Buried. Finished.
And Jesus came and stood among them. He says, Now, guys, get out of here. Get out of here. And do what I told you to do. Oh, we need peace. It's mine to give. Oh, we need power. It's mine to supply. Oh, we need your presence.
Well, you can be guaranteed it. So it brings me back to Matthew again. You can tell I'm bouncing between all of these records—a claim that only Christ can make, a command that only Christ can give, and a comfort that only Christ can provide.
I've fearful… Yeah, I understand. Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age. There will be a new age when Christ returns, but he says, You can be guaranteed my presence from now until then. Matthew's gospel had begun with this amazing declaration, hadn't it?
And the virgin will conceive and bring forth a son, and his name will be called Immanuel, God with us. And people say, God with us? God with us?
Who else has authority on earth to forgive sins? So it starts with God with us, and he ends his gospel, God with us. Jesus had been preparing his disciples for his departure. He'd said to them, You know, I'm gonna go away.
The Holy Spirit will come. They didn't have a clue, really, what he was saying. But now he says to them, And I want you to go.
And when you go, I am with you. They weren't going out to start a new deal. They were going out to continue the work that he had begun to do. That's why Luke's gospel ends as it does, and Acts begins. In my previous thing, says Luke, I told you all the things that Jesus began to do and teach. Now I'm gonna tell you all the things that he continued to do. How did he continue to do it?
Continued to do it through his followers. Now, we must stop, because our time has gone. But I want you to notice—and I think I'm right in suggesting this—that it is in our going that we experience his power and his presence. In our going.
We could add in our gathering as well. Because when we gather in this way, we go. You don't go, you don't know. You go, you know.
This is learning on the job. Go, and I will be with you. You don't go?
How will you know his presence? You say, Well, I know it in different ways. I get that. But we're talking here about a very express command.
And the same is true here. You see, when we gather here to proclaim the gospel—and I'm not proclaiming the gospel now, I'm seeking to encourage you all to get serious about the opportunity to share with our friends and invite them to hear others as they proclaim the gospel—when we gather to proclaim the gospel, the X factor—the X factor—is not the competency of the preacher. It is not the vibrancy of the praise. It is the authority of the presence of King Jesus. That he is actually here, that he is actually among us.
How will people hear unless someone tells them? This is just an opportunity, a mourning for realignment, for refocus, to say to one another, Let's get out of the stands and onto the field of play. It's an opportunity for realignment. Realignment sounds like chiropractic work or something.
I'm not gonna get into that at all. It scares me. But the idea of going, and get realigned, it's supposed to—it doesn't hurt, apparently, but it's necessary. Well, this does hurt.
Getting realigned does hurt. Because I realize I'm doubting your claims. I'm not obeying your commands.
I'm not enjoying your comfort. How about this? We've got three months till we get to the end of the year. How about if we decide that we will pray about bringing three people under the sound of the gospel between now and the end of the year?
Three months, beginning October 1. The Christmas concert doesn't count. You're not getting a freebie on the Christmas concert. Not for a moment. That's bonus points. No.
Because here's the deal. The greatest evangelistic potential of Parkside Church—except when we're scattered in the community—the greatest evangelistic potential of Parkside Church is not in special events vis-à-vis Christmas, Easter, whatever it might be, but is in the routine services, the Sunday-by-Sunday services, conducted well and under the prevailing power of God the Holy Spirit. So, three people. And then how about praying that one of the three will be converted before Christmas? So many people here between the two services, two and a half thousand people.
I'll bring in three people. One person getting converted out of three. Does that give us two and a half thousand new followers of Jesus?
One times two and a half. It's quite a thought, isn't it? A claim that only Christ can make, a command that only Christ can give, a comfort that only Christ can provide. And the job's not done. The task's unfinished. And you have been assigned under Jesus to a place that has not been assigned to the person next to you, just to you. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life with a message he's titled, The Great Commission.
Alistair returns in just a moment to close today's program. We are always striving at Truth for Life to find new ways to reach as many people as possible. You can hear Alistair's teaching on the radio, through our mobile app, on our website via podcasts and various streaming platforms. In fact, all around the world, even in areas that are hostile toward Christianity, people can hear sound Bible teaching without cost being a barrier because of your generosity when you give to Truth for Life. That's especially true from the ongoing monthly support we receive from our truth partners. If you're not already a monthly truth partner, would you join with us in the Great Commission, become part of this essential team today? Your monthly giving of any amount you choose helps take the gospel message to a global audience.
You can sign up easily through the app or online at truthforlife.org slash truth partner, or you can give us a call at 888-588-7884. One of the ways we thank our truth partners each month is by recommending books that we make available. In fact, you probably heard me mention the book we're recommending currently. It's Alistair's new book, The Christian Manifesto. Ask for your copy of The Christian Manifesto when you become a truth partner or when you give a one-time donation at truthforlife.org slash donate. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Father, thank you for the clarity of the Bible. Thank you for the loveliness of Christ. Thank you for the promise of the gospel.
Thank you for the warnings that attach to it. Complete your plans and purposes in us and through us we pray. Help us to bow beneath your command as we trust your claim and as we enjoy your comfort. For Christ's sake, amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Ever started off on a project only to face opposition and challenges? Well, next week we begin a new series and learn how Nehemiah not only faced obstacles but how he overcame them. Join us Monday. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-29 08:01:55 / 2023-09-29 08:10:36 / 9