The King’s Commission for the Nations

Steve Viars March 26, 2016 Matthew 28:

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3 reasons we joyfully follow the resurrected Christ

I. Because We Affirm His Rightful Authority

A. His death, burial, and resurrection leads us to worship

Matthew 28:17 - When they saw Him, they worshiped…

Matthew 27:27-31 - Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

Matthew 14:31-33 - Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Matthew 28:17 - When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.

1 Corinthians 15:3-6 - For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep…

B. We are delighted to submit to the One who died for our sin and is now alive and seated on His throne of grace

King of my Life I crown thee now, thine shall the glory be; Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow, lead me to Calvary.

Daniel 7:13-14 - I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.

Matthew 28:18 - And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

II. Because We Accept Our Compelling Mission

“If a Christian understands all the rest of the gospel of Matthew but fails to understand this closing passage, he has missed the point of the entire book. This passage is the climax and major focal point not only of this gospel but of the entire New Testament. It is not an exaggeration to say that, in its broadest sense, it is the focal point of all Scripture, Old Testament as well as New. 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 have 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.” (John MacArthur, p. 329)

A. To encourage others to become followers of Christ

Matthew 28:19 - Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…

1. “Therefore” – the proper response to understanding His authority

2. Make disciples

“The root meaning of the term refers to believing and learning…In this context it relates to those who place their trust in Jesus Christ and follow Him in lives of continual learning and obedience. “If you abide in My word,” Jesus said, “then you are truly disciples of Mine” - John 8:31.” (John MacArthur, p. 340)

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 - Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

3. As you are going

4. Of all the nations

B. To challenge men and women to identify themselves with Christ

Matthew 28:19 - Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…

1. Why be baptized?

2. Not to earn salvation

Titus 3:5 - He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…

3. But as a nearly immediate evidence of your newfound faith

a. You are publicly proclaiming who you are trusting for your salvation, and your understanding of what happened internally the moment you believed

b. As a beginning of a life of rapid obedience

Acts 2:41 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

III. Because We Enjoy Seeing the Delightful Fruit

Matthew 28:20 - teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

A. The importance of teaching

Colossians 1:28 - We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

B. The goal of application

“to observe”

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Well, have you noticed that this is an election season in our country? Pretty hard not to, huh? Well, one of the core issues that's frequently raised is that of foreign policy and how the various candidates think we should respond to the nations. It's amazing how frequently that topic comes up. One candidate continues to face questions about our handling of the crisis in Benghazi when she was the Secretary of State. People want to talk about that. Everybody had to weigh in this week on what they thought about whether it was appropriate for President and Mrs. Obama and their family to go to Cuba. One gentleman, this week, introduced his panel of so-called foreign policy advisors. Then, there was also the discussion about whether or not we should be involved in NATO or whether we should fund that at the same level that we have. Of course, endless arguments about how to deal with those in our country without documentation from other nations. Several candidates this week spoke to an influential Jewish group to articulate their position on Israel.

Isn't it interesting how many of these conversations about how we ought to relate to the nations involves God's chosen nation or the candidates' positions on countries like Iraq and Iran and Syria and Turkey, all part of ancient Babylon and during Old Testament times? Then, there was the terrible terrorist attack in Belgium this week and persons talking about their position on that. Now, you understand, I'm not asking you what candidate you support. You understand that? That is far afield from anything that we're concerned about here. I'm encouraging you to think about this: How interesting it is that our country is constantly talking about how we ought to respond to the nations and how even under republican and democratic leadership over the decades, nobody has come up with a final answer.

Now, let's take that one step further. What the US government wonders about as a nation, each one of us wonders about as individuals, and correspondingly, we wonder about as a church: See, how should we respond to the nations? Now, if you're a follower of Christ, you probably have at least an inkling of belief that you're supposed to love the nations. Regardless of what governments are supposed to do, I assume you would say this morning, "Well, I am supposed to love the nations." Well, here's my question for you then: Exactly what does that look like? How would you practically evaluate whether or not you have been doing that this past week or this past month or this past year? If someone had asked you when you were walking into the church house this morning, "Now, since last Easter, over the last twelve months, have you been loving the nations?" What would you say and what evidence would you give to support your answer? Well, here's the good news. That question of exactly what it means like for people like you and people like me and people like us to love the nations, that is answered very practically and very powerfully just a few days after the first Easter. That's what I want to talk with you about this morning.

Please open your bible now to Matthew chapter 28. If you don't have a bible with you, just pull out the one from under the chair in front of you and go to page 25 of the back section. Those bibles start the numbering in the New Testament for reasons I don't fully understand. You'll find it on page 25 of the back section of the New Testament or Matthew chapter 28. Our church's theme this year is loving the world. The past several weeks, we've been thinking about that from the perspective of the gospel of Matthew. We have been focused on Jesus and the nations. Well, our study today brings us to the very end of that book where followers of Christ are given the king's commission. If we really want to know, "How are we supposed to relate to the nations," here's what the resurrected Christ would say to every one of us.

I'm in Matthew 28 beginning in verse 16, "But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw him, they worshiped him. Some," interestingly enough, "were doubtful." Don't you love the honesty of the word? Some were doubtful. "Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, 'All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.'" Please think about that. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always even until the end of the age." We're talking this morning about the king's commission. With the time we have, let's just ring out everything we can from this passage and look for three reasons we joyfully follow the resurrected Christ.

What is the great commission? Why should we do this? Well, one because we affirm his rightful authority.

I. Because We Affirm His Rightful Authority

You know, I've had several people say to me casually the last few weeks, "I don't even know who I'm going to vote for this year." It can be confusing for sure partly because many of us believe, humanly speaking, that there are significant ramifications of this upcoming election to our country. For example, just assuming for the moment that a Supreme Court justice is not seated this year. I'm not arguing that that's right or that's wrong. Please don't send me emails about that. Let's just assume for the sake of argument that that won't happen this year. What that means, obviously, is whoever is elected as our next president will have the responsibility to put forth his or her nominee for the Supreme Court. Well, if the President did nothing else than that in the next four years, that would have a significant impact on the course of our country. All of that can be rather troubling. Who is our next authority going to be?

Well, back up. What about deciding who you're going to submit your life to? Not who you're going to pick for the next four years, but what about who you're going to submit your life to? There's an important election. Who you're going to select as your ultimate authority for now and for all eternity, what question would be more important to get right than that? Followers of Christ have decided Jesus is our rightful authority, supremely because of the very events that we're studying this weekend. Now, how did the disciples approach this announcement? Did you notice it in the text? The passage says when they saw him, they worshiped. Now, we can't be dogmatic about this, but many bible students believe that this, the events we're talking about, the giving of the great commission, it probably occurred about 25 or 30 days after the resurrection. Still fresh on their mind is what they knew Christ had done for them. You see, why, when they saw him, did they worship? In fact, you can just let your eyes scan back over the previous chapters and just pick out anything that Jesus had just done. Why did they worship?

Well, think about this. Matthew 27:27, "Then, the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around him. They stripped him, they put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and a reed in his right hand and they knelt down before him and they mocked him saying, 'Hail King of the Jews.' They spat on him and they took the reed and they began to beat him on the head. After they had mocked him, they took the scarlet robe off him and put his own garments back on him and they led him away to crucify him." What probably would have amazed the disciples the most was not the diabolical sinfulness of man, but the restrained power of the savior. He could have stopped them.

In fact, you realize other than this particular text, there's only one other place in the bible where the disciples are said to have worshiped Christ. Do you know when it was? It's actually recorded earlier in the gospel of Matthew. It's when Jesus stilled the sea. That's when Christ was walking on the water. Do you remember this? One of the disciples wanted to come out and join him. Who might that have been? Surely, Peter did and then he saw the wind and he became frightened and he began to sink. Do you remember this? Here's what happened next in that text. Immediately, Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him and said, "You have little faith. Why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. You know, when you're picking your authority, you might want to choose someone who's genuinely powerful. "You have little faith. Why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind stopped and those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "You're certainly God's son." See, they knew that if Jesus had wanted to stop these soldiers, he could have. What I'm saying is now having just experienced what Christ did for them and then to see him before them alive, they worshiped. Their heart was prepared like never before to affirm his authority, his rightful authority.

It's interesting though that the text also points out that while some were worshiping, some were doubtful. Say, "Who was that? Was that that doubting Thomas?" Now, we're beyond that event and we can't be dogmatic about this either. Just because the passage says that eleven of the disciples were there, obviously Judas is not, that doesn't mean that the eleven were the only ones there. In fact, some scholars believe that there were hundreds of people here at the end of the gospel of Matthew to receive this great commission. One of the reasons we would say that would be what we read about the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. "For I delivered to you is of chief importance what I also receive, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. And then he appeared to Cephas," Peter. "Then to the twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep or died."

That, by the way, is a really strong reason to believe in the truth of the resurrection because there were hundreds and hundreds of eye witnesses who were still alive. When books like 1 Corinthians were written and distributed, those eye witnesses could either easily corroborate or deny what was being written. We don't know who was doubtful. It might have been one of those five hundred. You know, the fact that that's even given in the scripture is one of those delightful places in God's word that gives us additional reason to believe its truthfulness. The bible just tells it like it is.

I know some people believe it's a fairy tale and some leaders in the emerging church just made all of this up. One of the arguments against that was then do you really think they would have left details like this in? For example, would Peter have allowed it to be included in the bible that he had denied Christ three times? No. The bible says that it happened. If it happened, the scripture is going to say that's the way that it was. Some people in Matthew 28 are still doubting the resurrection. God's word is going to record it just the way it happened.

Now, here's the larger point. This explanation of the authority that was being given to Christ to direct his followers on how to relate to the nation, that was given in a very reverent moment of worship. See, Jesus has earned the right to command me and to do and to go wherever he wishes. Would you agree with that this morning? Which means we're delighted to submit to the one who died for our sin and is now alive and seated on his throne of praise. We want to follow his authority and we want to obey his commission.

I hope somewhere along the course of your life, humanly speaking, you've had some authority that was just delightful to follow, there's was no question about that person's love for you, no question about their gracious treatment of you. Sure, they were your authority, but they were easy to follow. I hope you've had a parent like that or a boss like that, someone in your life, yes, they were in charge, but so loving, so gracious it was easy and natural to follow them. Well, extrapolate that thought a hundredfold or a thousandfold or whatever number you want to use. The one who took our place on the cross is the one we want to bow to, the one we want to obey, the one we want to joyfully follow. It's like the old hymn, "King of my life, I crown thee now." Is that where you are this morning? "King of my life, I crown thee now. Thine shall the glory be, lest I forget thine thorn crowned brow to lead me to Calvary." See, all authority has been given to him.

Careful students of the scripture may have been anticipating a day like this. One of the additional reasons to believe in the truthfulness of the resurrection and the accuracy of the gospel is how it all connects so thoroughly and comprehensively to what has already been prophesied hundreds of years before these things occurred. Did you notice, by the way, Paul, a logical thinker, as he was talking about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, continued to use this phrase at the end, "According to the scriptures. According to the scriptures. According to the scripture."

Well, think about this matter of all authority being given to the resurrected Christ. One of Jesus' favorite ways of speaking about himself was the term Son of Man. You know, Son of Man, he frequently called himself. Why? Because that was one of the frequent designations in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Here's one of them. Watch the way the dots connect. This is Daniel 7. "I kept looking in the night visions and behold, what the clouds of heaven, one like a," remember, several hundred years before the great commission, "one like a Son of Man was coming." That's the Messiah. That's Christ. "He came up to the ancient of days," that's God the Father, "and was presented before him and to him," to the Messiah, to Christ, "was given dominion." "All authority is given to me in heaven and earth." "And to him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom." Why? What's the big question this morning? How do we relate to the nations? "That all the peoples, all the nations and men of every land, which might serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed."

While we believe that ultimately that will be fulfilled someday in the future, it's no surprise that in this moment of profound awe and worship that the disciples are told, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth." Their response would have been , "There's no authority I'd rather follow." Is that where you're coming from this morning? There's no authority I would rather follow. The one who just died for the nations is supremely qualified to tell me how I should relate to them. He knows what's best for them and he knows what's best for me.

Can I just pause and ask you this question? If we followed you around for any period of time, would there be evidence that you have acknowledged the rightful authority of the resurrected Christ? Is it obvious that the way that you relate to the nations is directed and empowered by somebody other than yourselves? See, we're never going to do the commission of verses 19 and 20 unless we deal with the issue of authority in verse 18.

II. Because We Accept Our Compelling Mission

Now, a second reason we joyfully follow the resurrected Christ is because we accept our compelling mission. Now, just to illustrate the importance of these next verses, listen to what this particular commentator says. "If a Christian understands all the rest of the gospel of Matthew but fails to understand this closing passage, he's missed the point of the entire book. This passage is the climax and the major focal point, not only of this gospel, but of the entire New Testament. It's not an exaggeration to say that in its broadest sense, it that is the great commission, to make disciples of all the nations, it's the focal point of all scripture, Old Testament as well as New. The central message of scripture pertains to the central message 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." That's interesting.

"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's convenient, take what they feel like, taking and have very little concern for anything else. They're involved in the church only to the extent that it serves their own interests. 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." Well, if that's true and it is, then what we're about to look at in these next verses, it's way more important than last night's basketball game. What I'm saying as lovingly as I can as your sweet pastor on Easter Sunday: Listen up to what the resurrected Christ says next.

Our mission is to encourage others in the nations to become followers of Christ. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all of the nations." Notice the word "therefore". Notice the logical connection. That's the response. If Jesus is my rightful authority, then I want to do what it is that he has given me to do. There's nothing more important about any person and any nation than whether he or she has had a definite time of responding to the gospel. What that means is we consider it a privilege. This isn't something that we, "All right." We consider it a privilege and an honor to live and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. If that's true, that has practical implications for the way that we live.

For example, take Cuba. Do you know how many emails I've received this week about President and Mrs. Obama visiting Cuba and what we ought to think or do about that? Not one. Not one. You know how many people have contacted me this week about the great business opportunities that might be there in the coming days? Not one. I'll tell you what I have heard a lot about. It's how we can better resource the Christian men and women in that country so that they can be the brightest light for Jesus Christ as possible and make disciples. When we had an opportunity earlier this year to provide computers and clothing and bible study software for our brothers and sisters there, bam. I mean, bam. Our church was all over that, giving over $50 thousand in cash. Just bam. Thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing and other supplies. Why? Why did that happen? It's because many people are taking their marching orders from the one who died so that we might live and who conquered death and now provides new life in him so that we can make gospel centered choices that are focused less on us and more on others.

Jesus says, "Make disciples." That's the controlling verb in the passage. What that means is we have the privilege and we have the responsibility of being a disciple-making church. I realize you might say about now, "You know, this isn't particularly entertaining." That's because I'm not an entertainer. My job is to shepherd our church family into being a disciple-making church. The root meaning of the term disciple refers to believing in learning. What are we trying to produce here? In this context, it relates to those who place their trust in Christ and then who follow him in lives of continual learning and obedience. "If you abide in my word," Jesus said, "then you are truly disciples of mine."

Here's what that means. The deriving passion for God's people is living the message of the gospel and proclaiming the truth of the gospel. Our prayer is that every person in our town, think about this, has had a meaningful interaction with a person who is genuinely living for Christ and then has had a clear explanation of what it means to become a follower of Christ. That's what we dream about. Please tell me I'm speaking on behalf of you. That's what we dream about. That's what we weep over. That's what we strategize toward. The joy and the privilege of being ambassadors for Christ, joyfully caring out the mission, which is why Paul said this, "All these things are from God who reconciled himself to us through Christ." Be glad for that. "And gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against him. He's committed to us the word of reconciliation, therefore we're ambassadors for Christ." We're happy about it. Aren't we? We're happy about that as though God were making an appeal through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ that you reconcile to God. "He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

Friends, there are some very clear Easter Sunday implications flowing out of all of this. Can I ask you some questions now? One of them would be: Are you a disciple? Has there been a definite time in your life where you've admitted your sin and you've placed your faith and trust in Christ as your only hope of salvation? If you would say, "You know, I've honestly never done that," I want to encourage you to do that right now.

You know what the good news is? The God who gave this commission is constantly drawing men and women to himself. The next one he may want to draw is you. That might be why your Aunt Ethel drug you here this morning. "I'm not even sure how I got here." This may be exactly ... Listen, God loves you so much that he does that. He's been doing that. Don't look at this in some ethereal way. This has been happening right here among this church family in some rather significant ways this year. God's been doing that this weekend. Do you realize that there are men and women who will be celebrating Easter for the first time as followers of Jesus Christ as a result of going to the Passion play? Listen, if you don't know that you know that you know that you're on your way to heaven, then God wants you to become a follower of Christ. We would urge you, we would invite you to make that decision today.

Christian friend, are you going to let this text impact you the way that God wants? I just have to ask you, as a pastor, flat out, "Are you making disciples? Is obedience to this command on your radar screen? Is one of the primary reasons you would even come to church on an average Sunday is because you want to be challenged, you want to be equipped to be a better disciple maker?" Now, part of the beauty of this is you can do it as you're going. Please don't walk out with your head down saying, "Pastor Viars gave me something else to do." You really shouldn't be a grump on Easter anyway.

No, Pastor Viars encourages us to think about everything that we're already doing through the lens of the gospel. As you are going, look at verse 19, the very first word, the word "go", that's a participle. Are you ready for a little grammar? I love grammar, don't you? That is a participle. Now, without getting too complicated, participles in the language in which the New Testament was written can be used in imperatively. Isn't that marvelous news? That was worth coming to the church. In other words, a participle can appear as a command. That's what you have here. I'm not saying that the word in verse 19 should not be translated "go", but here's the point. The main verb in this text is "make disciples" and the emphasis of the first word is "as you're going now" instead of "someday in the future, go somewhere else and do this."

Here's what that means. If you're a student, make disciples while you're a student, as you're going. If you're an engineer, make disciples while you're an engineer as you're going. If you're a basketball player, make disciples as you're playing basketball. If you're a neighbor, make disciples while you're a neighbor. In other words, evaluate yourself now, look at every opportunity through the lens of how you can live for and proclaim Christ. All sorts of opportunities, all sorts of them. You have to decide whether you seize the opportunity.

For example, one of our public schools, Lafayette Jeff, has a religious arts festival every year. Did you know that? I think we ought to applaud the fact that they do. They have a section in their curriculum where they teach their students incredibly Christ-centered music. In a public school curriculum, we ought to applaud the fire out of that and we ought to support. If we say we're a disciple-making church, then ought to support the fire out of that. Yes?

They have this religious arts festival and for that particular portion of their curriculum, they like to have the concert at a church. Now, they have a beautiful performing arts center. They like to have that particular concert at a church. For reasons that I don't know that I've fully understood, they selected this place. They selected Faith. On a Sunday night in February, they have the religious arts festival. Again, they like to do it in a church and they like to have a church family present to support what they're doing and encourage the parents who are there. You had an opportunity. We announced that to you. You had an opportunity to decide whether or not you wanted to be part of that or not. Are you going to look at your schedule, are you going to look at your life through the lens of opportunities to make disciples?

Let me tell you about one dear woman who did. It's our former pastor's dear wife, Mrs. Good. I walked into the auditorium that night. Mrs. Good was dressed to the nines in Lafayette Jeff colors on purpose. She's that thoughtful. I mean, she was dressed up celebrating Lafayette Jeff. By time I had gotten into the auditorium, she was already talking to the family behind her and had invited them to church the next Sunday. Now, what is that? That's a person who is living through the lens of obedience to the authority of the resurrected Savior. If the resurrected Savior says, "Go and make disciples," then she's going to be all about going and making disciples. I would suggest may her drive increase. May that be true of every last one of us so Easter isn't just a day we say we believe in, but Easter is a day that has impacted the way that we choose to live.

Notice this too. It's of all the nations. It was interesting to me that Mrs. Good, as a person raised in the south, was already chatting up that couple from a different ethnic group. You see the power in that? That's why racism and bigotry can have no place among the people of God. A theme, by the way, that we're going to start studying big time next week when we start our verse-by-verse study of the book of Jonah. You might say, "I thought Jonah was about a big fish." No, Jonah is about a big hypocrite. Come see him next Sunday. Y'all come because there is a man who would not be obedient to the mission of God and, boy, did that end up in a really stinky place. Don't be like that guy is the final message of that book. It really is. It's God, the issue of God's love for the nations written all over it.

Can I encourage all of us just to pause and thank God for the compelling nature of the mission he's given us? You know, starting, Lord willing, this week our church actually has a project that we're breaking ground on between Sixth and Seventh Street on Hartford that we think is an application. You know what that is, right? That's the old Cooler Keg Bar. This church just bought the Cooler Keg Bar. I think I was out of town or something, came back, and the church bought a bar or something like that. My memory sometimes doesn't serve me very well.

Anyway, our church bought that for a dollar. There it is. We immediately tore it down and improved the neighborhood significantly as soon as we did. That one dollar investment also included the vacant property across the street. That's obviously a narrow lot and, Lord willing, we're going to put a neighborhood park there. It's going to have some spray features for kids. It's going to have a picnic area, obviously a basketball court. That sort of thing. Then, on the other side of the street, we're hoping to build the Hartford Hub. That's a neighborhood center. We're going to have all sorts of opportunities just to build relationships with the people who live there along with other programming in that place. There's spaces there for biblical counseling and all the rest.

See, what is it that the scripture has called us to do? Go. As you're going, make disciples of all of the nations. We consider it an incredible privilege and an incredible opportunity to just love the men and women who are down there and build relationships with them. Then, when the time is appropriate, to talk with them about Christ.

One of the things I love about this project, some of the people who are most excited about it are the teenagers of this church. That's right. The teenagers of this church because they've already been going down there. That's Hartford Street. That's the Cooler Keg. That was last summer. Our youth group went down there several times and had block parties. The city will let us close that street any time we want and let us put up some basketball goals and get out a gas grill and just get to know the people who live down there. Aren't you glad for the teenagers of our church? Aren't you glad? I'm going to say this. Sometimes teens get it faster than others. They're fired up about loving the nations. They're fired up about making disciples of all the nations. In fact, that might be one of the Easter Sunday takeaways. Find a teenager in this church and smooch on them a little bit or whatever is appropriate to thank them.

That's also why men and women have been sacrificing and serving with the Passion play this week. Thank you for doing that. I know some of you are just tired. You need a nap more than a sermon. Some of you are taking me up on that.

Listen, my prayer for every one of the persons who served so well this last week, I hope you're going to get a huge piece of coconut cake this afternoon. I hope you're going to get a long nap. In fact, I'll write you a note for your boss where you ought to have a couple of days off next week if that helps you in any way, shape, or form. It probably won't. Why are people like that doing that? Why? I'll tell you why. They want to make disciples of all of the nations.

You know, this has implications even to the way we would invest our money as a church. It might be nice to have that around here. We're not doing that. Why? Because we want to invest our funds in ministry. We want to invest our funds in winning the nations. We're on a fiscal year July to June. We have the first cut of our budget done for next year and we just sent it to the finance committee to review it this past Wednesday night. It was really interesting to see how much of that had to do with the great commission.

We want to send Matt and Dana Hall to Albania and we want to be part of the Burke's leading our ministry to international students at Purdue. We obviously have to account for the Hartford Hub expenses. We now are going to have a partial staff position to oversee our Hispanic ministries here in our town. We're launching a church plan at the Hartford Hub with Stefan and Joey. We're so excited about that. We're increasing our CDC funding to support what's going on there. Dr. Ware who was speaking here a couple of weeks ago from Crossroads Bible College, a school that is committed to training leaders in urban areas in a multi-ethnic setting. We want to increase our funding for them. We also are starting supporting a ministry called OIC. They just were doing biblical counseling in Jerusalem. Think about that for a minute. We want to support that. We want to continue to develop our Latin strategy and Cuba and Dominican Republic and all over the Latin world. We want to increase our outreach budget, plus funding all the other things that we have going on around here. What is that? We want to take seriously the command that our Savior has given us to make disciples of the nations because we believe our Savior is alive.

Now, did you see what else we have in this text? We're also given the commission to challenge men and women to identify themselves with Christ. "Go, therefore, make disciples and then baptize them." Why be baptized? Let me ask you this. What if the only reason there was because Jesus said so? Wouldn't that be enough because all authority has been given to him? Well, it's not to earn salvation but the scripture is clear that that would be a work. We don't earn salvation by being baptized or anything else, but it's a nearly immediate evidence of your new found faith. In other words, you're publicly proclaiming who you're trusting for your salvation.

See, think about it. Why did Jesus want it to be this way? You had to make a public stand. You were saying even by being baptized that what you're trusting for your salvation is your identification with the death, the burial, the resurrection of Christ, and that you recognized the moment you made that decision, you were dying to self. It's a powerful metaphor. You're dying to self and you're being raised to a new life in Christ that then begins a life of rapid obedience. If that is what my Savior has clearly commanded me to do, then that's what I want to do. In fact, you may know the rapid part, you may know that some people believe you have to be baptized in order to be saved. We don't believe that but the reason they would take that position is because in the New Testament, there's never an example of a person who genuinely comes to Christ and then waits months and months or years and years before they proclaim that publicly. The norm is on places like this, Acts 2:41, "The birth of the church so then those who would receive his word were baptized. That day, there were added about three thousand souls." See, the great commission coming to life in the early church.

I think Easter Sunday would be a great day to ask, "Have you identified yourself publicly with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?" If you say you're a Christian, have you done that? If not, how long is it going to be before you're going to obey the one you say is your authority? Before you come up with too many excuses, let me tell you for a minute about my mama. My mom grew up in a family of sixteen brothers and sisters. My mom placed her faith and trust in Christ at a little church down the road when she was eleven years old. The pastor of that church then came out to my grandparents’ home just to be sure what my mom had done and also to explain that she next needed to be baptized. Her parents said, "Well, if that's what you want to do, you can." A couple Sunday nights later, it was time for her to be baptized. No one from her family was willing to go with her. My mother, as an eleven-year-old girl, walked herself on a Sunday night down to that church and was baptized in obedience to Christ.

Now, what was that excuse that you were about to give me for not obeying Jesus? I would just encourage you if you have never obeyed him in this way to make a decision on this Easter Sunday that you're going to care for that right away.

III. Because We Enjoy Seeing the Delightful Fruit

Lastly, because we enjoy seeing the delightful fruit. See, what Jesus says is then you're teaching persons to change. That's the beauty of this. There's new life that is practical. That's the importance of teaching. That's why we put so much emphasis on this. I know a number of you teach Sunday school, you teach in ABS, you teach in our youth group. Thank you for being part of our church family, being able to accomplish the great commission of helping us practically change and become more like his son. See, it's not teaching people all that Jesus commanded. It's teaching people to observe all that Jesus has commanded. You know, you have to decide as you're leading your family and raising your family what you're going to be about. I want to encourage you to be a disciple-making family.

In our family, we're certainly not perfect by any means because of the weaknesses of the father. It's interesting when you get old like me. I know that's a haunting thought. For some of you, you're going to get old someday like the old man. That's just the way works. When you get that old, it's interesting to watch what your kids are really passionate about. Give them a cause.

Our daughter, Bethany, our oldest one, and her husband, Rob. They're busy professionals up in Minneapolis. They work in a public school system there in administrative roles. They're busy. Recently, their church decided to do a church plant and asked if they would participate. My son-in-law, Rob, was asked to join the worship team and set up and tear down at their temporary venue. He said yes. My daughter, Bethany, was asked, not just to serve in children's ministries, but to lead their children's ministries. This is the girl who 28 years ago, when we brought her to Lafayette, we had to drag into Sunday school because she was so shy. Now, she's leading the children's ministries at that church. It's so delightful to have conversations with your adult kids where they're talking about making disciples.

Our daughter, Karis, Karis graduated from Purdue, works down at Lily in Indianapolis. She and her Austin, a policeman in this town, serve in our youth ministry here in our church. I'm so glad for that. One of my favorite events in the last twelve months was when I was, Saturday morning, getting ready to meet someone and go run in front of the community center. The school bus was out there because I know the youth group was heading down to the Hartford Hub for one of those neighborhood parties. I'm just standing there stretching and all of a sudden, I hear, "Hi, Dad." "Who's calling me dad? Who is this?" I look up and there's my daughter, Karis, on the bus as one of the youth leaders having worked all week and is now heading down to the Hartford Hub on the weekend in order to make disciples.

Our son, the Bear, by the way, if you happen see the Bear, the Bear accepted a volunteer staff position this week at the Indianapolis zoo. Is that cool or what? The Bear with the bears. That's just the way it ought to be. It's interesting, just last weekend, you know, we had this Mulch Madness thing. A lot of people serving but the Vision of Hope girls did a great job. I came home from that Saturday night after I'd been studying about 8:30 Saturday night and I said to my dear wife, "Hey, how about if we just have all the Vision of Hope staff and residents over for a party here tomorrow night?" That's what it's like being married to me. It's a nightmare. She said, "Oh, another great idea." We had a kind of impromptu pizza party at our house last Sunday night with the Vision of Hope folks. Of course, Bear was right in the middle of that. What was really interesting, he says, "I was with the ladies." That's what he likes to say. What was interesting was when they all left, he's sitting down at the kitchen table, you know what he was doing? He was planning the next one. He was saying, "Hey, maybe we could have them over again and have a pool party or having a whatever." See, what do you want your kids talking about when they're adults?

"I sought a flag to follow, a cause for which to stand. I sought a valiant leader who could my will command. I found them all in Jesus, the life, the truth, the way. Beneath his flag, I'll take my stand and follow him today." Friends, give your family a cause to live for or they'll find one on their own. It's a marvelous privilege. It's a marvelous privilege to know the resurrected Christ and to joyfully submit to his authority by being disciple-making people and being a disciple-making church.

Would you stand with me for prayer?

Father in heaven, thank you for the opportunity to study these matters. Thank you for the great commission given by our resurrected Savior. May we be obedient to it and joyfully so. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video