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The Great Commission: Making Disciples
Matthew Lesson #202
May 27, 2018
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word that illuminates our thinking, that Your Word is the output of Your thinking—it is the expression of a part of Your omniscience. It gives us that which we need to know in order to understand what You have created and why You have created it and why You have created us.
“Father, as those who are members of the church, the body of Christ, we are new creatures in Him and we have been given a special mission and a special task.
“Father, as we study the closing words, the closing commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, the end of our study of Matthew, we pray that You might give us insight into its significance, and how we fit within the flow of that mandate.
“We pray that You would open our understanding to see how these things apply to us. In Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 28:18–20; we’re going to begin our study of these last three verses in Matthew. We started Matthew 4½ years ago, and I hope that has been a rich study for you as it has been for me. There’s a tremendous amount here.
It’s the longest of the Gospels, and as I pointed out in our introduction, it has the most teaching of our Lord. We have five different discourses—teachings of our Lord—for different purposes. Since some has been quite misunderstood and misapplied over the ages, we’ve had to take a lot of time on that.
But when we come to the end here, we see that after the resurrection, Jesus has laid the foundation for the Church Age.
In the past few weeks, as we’ve studied about the resurrection, we began to look at the resurrection appearances: The appearance to Mary, the appearance to the other women that went to the tomb that morning in Matthew 28:9, the appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Then we looked at the appearance to Peter, which is just barely mentioned, but we know that’s the time when in privacy Peter confessed his sin of denying the Lord, and he realized his forgiveness at that point. There’s the appearance to the Ten.
Now all of these occurred on that resurrection Sunday, as we have studied. The appearance to the Ten: Judas, of course, by this time has committed suicide, and Thomas was not present. The sixth appearance was to the Ten plus Thomas.
At the end of that section in John 20:30–31, John summarizes that Jesus did many other signs other than the eight that are described in the Gospel of John, “He did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these—that is, these signs—are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
Last time, we studied the next appearance, which is the appearance of Jesus in Galilee, to His disciples, but there were only seven there. There are four who are missing. He appeared to those seven, and this is when we emphasize, in the first part of the narrative, He is providing the fish for the men as they are out fishing and demonstrating that He is the source of their nourishment; He will provide all of their needs.
When they recognize Him on the shore, they come ashore, and He has prepared breakfast, He is again feeding them, providing for them, and this becomes the object lesson for His conversation with Peter.
When He is talking to Peter then, He emphasizes that their role is to feed the sheep. That’s one of several different ways in which this mission that is given the church is identified.
The reason I say that is because we live in a time today when, as a result of maybe the specificity of Matthew 28:19–20, this is elevated. It’s called the Great Commission, and is elevated as if these other statements didn’t occur.
We will be reminded this morning and see that there were many different times that Jesus stated the mission in different ways. So, this isn’t the only time that He does this.
What we know in terms of His activities is that following that morning, Jesus met with His disciples on the mountain.
Matthew 28:16, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee.”
That’s just the summary statement. Once Matthew gets us to a certain point, he just really compresses and summarizes what happens after that. He doesn’t talk about all of the appearances to the disciples, he doesn’t talk about the conversation there on the Sea of Galilee with the other disciples. He just compresses and summarizes what Jesus did and said.
Matthew 28:16, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed to them.”
We know that His first appearance to them after they went to Galilee was what we studied last week in John 21; it was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, so this would be another appearance. Some people identify this with His appearance to the 500 that’s mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15. But this seems to be an appearance that just involves the eleven disciples, and He is giving them their apostolic mission at this point.
We know also from 1 Corinthians that He appeared some time during this time to James, the half-brother of the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then Paul says that He appeared to him as one out of order. It was sometime later, but there’s that physical appearance that took place.
I want to take a little time as we look at this passage to analyze the context because it will help us understand a little bit about what’s going on here. We have to look at this in terms of what it is saying and not what is usually imputed to it. There are a lot of things that are said about this particular passage, so we have to be careful that we interpret it correctly.
Matthew 28:18–20, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ ”
First of all, we have to understand a little bit about the setting when they go to this mountain. Then we have to look at it in terms of what Jesus said.
1. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
What does that mean? Don’t run past that too fast. What does it mean when it says “all authority has been given to Me?” What does He mean “all?” What realm of authority is He talking about here?
2. “Go therefore.”
There have been, I dare say, hundreds of thousands of missionary sermons based on this, as it’s expressed in English with the command to go: therefore you should go and be a missionary. But it’s not a command in the Greek; it is a participle.
The only command in these verses is to make disciples. The command isn’t to go, the command is to make disciples, which is the next statement,
3. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
What exactly does that mean? Think about this: making disciples has become a real buzzword in evangelical Christianity since the post-World War II era. You have discipleship groups, you have discipleship programs, you have all kinds of things related to discipleship, and really, when you hear that phrase today what probably comes to most people’s mind is that there’s one way to do this, and that’s with a small group, because that’s what Jesus did. He had a small group of twelve disciples. But we will have to look at Scripture to see if that is so.
4. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
What is the significance of this phrase? What is being talked about here?
5. “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
Neither of these terms “baptism” or “teaching” are imperatives, so how are we to understand that?
6. Jesus makes the closing statement. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We will look at this today and wrap it up next week.
As we look at the context of these events, we recognize that Matthew doesn’t record all the appearances of our Lord to His disciples. In fact, the last time that we were in Matthew specifically, I pointed out that at this particular point, Matthew just begins to summarize and compress these events. He doesn’t go into all the details.
Back in Matthew 28:5, the women have come to the tomb, one of the angels is at the tomb and addresses the women on that resurrection morning, and after showing them the empty tomb, she says what? She says, “You need to go meet the Lord in Galilee.”
That was the last thing that our Lord told them before the crucifixion, was “Go before Me and I’ll meet you in Galilee,” but they didn’t believe it. They’re still in Jerusalem, which shows that they never understood that He was going to be raised from the dead. They were skeptical, they were doubting. It never occurred to them when the tomb was empty that they were going to really meet Him in Galilee.
In Matthew 28:9–10 as the women leave the tomb, our Lord appeared to them and what did He say to them? He said, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
Again they’re told to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. So, what can we assume from that? That when they did report to the disciples, they told them to go to Galilee, did they go? No, they didn’t go. All of this, remember, is in the morning of the Resurrection Sunday.
Later Jesus will appear to Peter. Then, He appears to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they report back that they’ve seen the resurrected Lord. Then the Lord appeared to the Ten. All that was on that Resurrection Sunday. They’re still not leaving and going to Galilee.
They’re there for another week through the feast days—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which would have ended the next Sabbath. The next Sunday morning is when Jesus appeared—that’s when Thomas is with them—and we have the scenario with Thomas believing that the Lord has now been raised from the dead.
Finally, they get it, and go to Galilee. The next scene, as we saw last time, is the seven who were fishing at Galilee. They’re not catching anything, and Jesus provided the fish for them, and then Jesus cooks their breakfast for them.
At that point He is talking to Peter, and He gives a mission statement there to Peter, and He tells Peter that you are to “feed My sheep,” and He states it three different ways, as I pointed out last time. One has the idea of “feeding My little lambs,” providing for the spiritually young, the spiritual newborns, feeding them.
The second way He states it, He says “shepherd My lambs.” There He uses a term where He is talking about older mature lambs, and He uses the phrase for leading, for being a shepherd. The third time he goes back to the first word, which has to do with tending or feeding, and then it’s directed towards the mature sheep.
The point of this is if you just had the Gospel of John, what you would see is that the primary mission is to feed the sheep, which is an idiom for saying, “You need to teach them the Word.” “You need to teach My sheep, My followers, the Word.” That is the mission as expressed by Jesus to Peter.
Earlier in the first meeting when He met them on that Resurrection Sunday, He told them, “I am sending you.” Again and again, the point is Jesus is telling them in many different ways, “I’m sending you out. I’m sending you on a mission. You’re to feed the sheep,” and here it’s expressed in terms of discipleship.
We can’t separate the command to make disciples from those other commands. They’re all related. They help us to understand what’s going on here. It should affect the way we understand or evaluate what is so popular today in terms of small groups, because that’s not the pattern of the early church. They didn’t understand the command to say that they are to go out and have small discipleship groups.
That can really be traced back to some of these campus ministries that sprung up in the Post-World War II era. They had a great impact: the Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ, and numerous other groups that were involved in evangelism, that were involved in teaching the Word. That type parachurch organization is not the vision that is expressed in what Jesus is teaching His disciples.
Matthew 28:16–17, “Then the eleven went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed to them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
I bet that most of you are like me, and when you first read that as a summary, you’re thinking they’re still doubting the resurrection. Now that might be possible because remember five of the disciples were not there on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus told them where to catch the fish, and then Jesus cooked breakfast for them.
But I don’t think that’s what this is talking about. I think by this time they believe in the resurrection. They’re all there. They all see Him in front of them. They’ve heard about Thomas. At that point they’re all believers in the resurrection.
I want you to pay attention to what is said here, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
See the contrast is not with unbelief of the resurrection, it’s in terms of worship. The basic idea of the word for worship is to submit to God, to submit to His authority, and that is expressed through this word that means to bow the knee.
Originally PROSKUNEO had the idea of throwing a kiss, but it was seen as like a salute to a king or ruler, someone who is in authority over you. So the contrast isn’t with unbelief, the contrast is with uncertainty about His authority at this point.
That’s important because the first thing that Jesus says is “All authority has been given to Me.” I say that we have to understand what is said always within the context of what surrounds it. What surrounds it here is an issue of worship, expression of authority, and in the middle of that, this question about doubting.
They’re not doubting the resurrection. They may be doubting the mission. “So where do we go from here? What we do now? The religious leaders have crucified You. We are now being hunted down by these religious leaders. What’s the game plan? Where do we go from here?”
It probably came from the four, I’m just guessing, because the other seven were there on the Sea of Galilee. They would’ve heard that clear mission statement given to go feed the sheep.
Slides 9 and 10
The next verse, Matthew 28:18, we see the first statement that Jesus makes; this is at the mountain: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’ ”
This is an interesting statement. What exactly does He mean when He says “all authority?” Is this an expression of universal dominion? Is this an expression that He now is the Ruler of the earth? Is this an expression of His kingship?
That is how much of Christendom historically has understood this. It took some new twists in the 20th century, and it’s been read within the context of the history of Pentecostal thought that Jesus now has kingdom authority.
I was listening to some videos recently that had a lot in there about archaeology, and the archaeologist who was our tour guide who was speaking, kept saying everything about Jesus was about the kingdom, and the more she talked, it was kingdom this and kingdom that, and I thought, “She doesn’t understand anything about the kingdom.”
That’s what sad today, because we have too many Christians who just think very superficially and don’t understand what exactly is going on with all the stuff related to the kingdom. So, they immediately read this, and they read this as kingdom authority.
Turn to Daniel 7; nearly every writer connects this to Daniel 7. But you have to understand that people usually interpret Daniel 7 usually within a false grid of what happens in the end times. One of the most important passages: we’ve discussed this before. I’m just going to hit a few high points to give us an understanding of the chronology of these end-time events.
Daniel 7 is a vision that Daniel has that focuses on these four beasts that arise out of the sea. The sea would be the Gentile nations, and these four beasts represent characteristics of four successive kingdoms. Each one continues certain characteristics of the previous kingdom or the previous animal, and then it culminates in a fourth beast.
Daniel 7:7, “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”
In these previous beasts, you see the succession of the empires from Babylon to Medo-Persia to Greece; the last one is Rome. Rome has two stages: first the historic Roman Empire, then there is the picture from here and from the image of the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had of the statute, that it gets restored.
The restored Roman Empire is made up of ten nations. These are the ten horns mentioned at the end of Daniel 7:7. There’s a historical chain here. You go through these different kingdoms, and you’re still in the Roman kingdom. It’s made up in the future of these ten kingdoms, and then there’s another horn, an eleventh one that is called the “little horn that pops up.”
Daniel 7:8, “I was considering the horns …—He is meditating, ‘What are these kingdoms about?’ Then another little horn comes up among them—“before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots …”
Now that’s violent. He sees that there are ten nations, then there’s another nation, another power. A horn always represents power or authority. This little one pops up and he’s going to pluck out three of the others. That indicates a violent takeover by the little horn.
“He plucks them out by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.”
He’s arrogant, he’s pompous; the concept of a lot of eyes indicates knowledge. The next thing that we see in this chronology is in Daniel 7:9, “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated …” These previous events have taken place on the earth, then these thrones are put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated—this is God the Father.
His “garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool—all the whiteness and brilliance all emphasize His holiness and His righteousness—His throne was a fiery flame—a burning fire, that often represents judgment, then He has His court before Him.
It is reminiscent of what we see in the description of the throne of God. We’ve been studying this a little on Tuesday nights. This represents very closely to what John describes as the throne of God before the Tribulation begins.
That would fit here. And it doesn’t get into all the events of the Tribulation, but this is the heavenly scene. It’s all about judgment, and that’s what the Tribulation is: it is God pouring out judgment on the earth during those seven years.
This brings us to a point where we understand Daniel 7:12, “as for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.”
There’s a time when all that power sort of develops and feeds into the next kingdom and culminates in this little horn’s kingdom.
Daniel 7:13, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, came with the clouds of heaven … Coming with the clouds of heaven! He “came to the Ancient of Days.”
Very similar to the Lamb of God coming to the throne of the Father in Revelation 5 where He’s going to take the seven-sealed document, which is His title deed to the earth.
He “… came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.”
Daniel 7:14, “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom.”
The giving of dominion and authority to the Son of Man doesn’t occur, according to the chronology in Daniel 7, until just before He returns to the earth to destroy that fourth and final kingdom. That’s not the scenario of Matthew 28:19.
So, to think that when Jesus says “all authority” there and just out of the blue—sort of like a Rorschach test where you have just an inkblot, and you say, “Oh, what does that look like?” And you just sort of use your imagination and say it looks like a butterfly or looks like a snowman or it looks like the map of China, or whatever.
That’s what people do when they see the phrase “all authority has been given to Me.” They say, “Oh, this must be …” “Sounds like …” “It’s familiar.” “It must be Daniel 7,” and there’s no further thought taken. There is no analysis of Daniel 7 there to say, “No, that can’t be what it’s talking about there.”
The picture that we see in Daniel 7 is that God is on His throne, judgment on the earth is taking place. At that time there is this fourth kingdom that is coming into its final phase and the antichrist, who is the little kingdom, has taken control. It is at that time that the Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days and He is given dominion and glory and kingdom.
Our conclusion then is that in Matthew 28:18, when Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me,” that this is not the delegation of kingdom authority because that doesn’t come until just prior to the Second Coming.
This idea of kingdom authority has its roots in Pentecostal theology, which historically was pre-millennial, but they weren’t always so precise in their theology, didn’t have a lot of training and it blended in by the 50s with certain themes that were coming out of Amillennialism.
Amillennialism is the idea that there’s no literal Millennium, no literal earthly kingdom—it’s a spiritual kingdom. That would mean that right now we’re living in the kingdom. That developed into Kingdom Now Theology: we are now in the kingdom, so we can exercise kingdom authority.
That became blended at the same time with something that came out of a hyper-Calvinism: Postmillennialism: the Christian Reconstructionist Movement; and it gave rise to Dominion Theology. (Let me see … somebody named Tommy Ice and Wayne House wrote a real thick detailed book called Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse back in the late 80s.)
That’s when it became popular. This movement has just kept going, and it’s been very popular in charismatic circles having to do with the restored apostolic movement.
It got popularized by music. That’s one of the reasons I’m real critical—not in a sort of a negative sense, but we have to think about the words we sing—and why I’m careful about any terminology in hymns that relate to Jesus presently being a king.
In 1978 there was a Pentecostal pastor who was quite well-known and quite influential by the name of Jack Hayford out in Southern California, and he wrote a chorus called “Majesty.” Some of you have sung that before and probably didn’t think a whole lot about the words. That was a popular song in the church that I took over when I went to Irving. I knew a lot about Jack Hayford and learned a lot about this and pretty much cut it out of our repertoire.
It is in our hymnal; you can look it up later. It’s just one verse, but the second strophe reads (it’s sung to Jesus), “Majesty, kingdom authority, flow from His throne …”
Now who is the “His?” It is not the Father’s throne, it’s the Son’s throne. But the Son’s not on His throne yet! This fits within the whole idea of the kingdom authority.
The problem is it runs counter to Revelation 3:21 where Jesus is talking to the church, and He says, “To Him who overcomes I (Jesus) will grant to sit with Me on My throne.”
Notice it’s a future tense verb—often something in the future—that after the kingdom comes, then “I will be on My throne and “I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame and sat down—see Jesus is presently seated in Heaven—“with My Father on His throne.”
He’s seated at the right hand of the Father, He’s not seated on His throne. He’s not seated on the throne of David. He is not currently the King. That term “kingship” that is applied to Jesus is the Davidic term, and it relates to the Davidic kingship. The Davidic kingship means He’s ruling from the throne of David and has established that kingdom.
That’s not here today, because when that kingdom occurs, the New Covenant comes into effect for Israel. It’s not in effect now. It was only made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, and none of the blessings of the New Covenant are present today. There are things that are similar, but they’re not the same.
When you look forward to this, you recognize that Jesus is seated with the Father on the Father’s throne. He won’t get His own throne until He comes as the Son of Man, when that dominion is given to Him at the end of the Tribulation period.
The impact of singing choruses like this has convinced innumerable Christians today that we are now worshiping the King, and it’s not the Father.
We sing a hymn, O Worship the King, but if you carefully exegete the hymn, it’s talking about the Father and His universal role as the Creator and as the King in that sense. It’s not talking about Jesus as the Davidic King.
Hayford not only held to Kingdom Now Theology, but he held to a form of Amillennialism. Sometimes it’s difficult to pin that down, and this is important because what happens is that people start mixing or interpreting Scripture on the basis of their view of the future.
Slide 13 (skipped)
I want to review the definition of these terms I just mentioned. Amillennialism, the “a” at the beginning means “no” or “un.” It’s like our prefix “un” and it means no millennium, no literal thousand-year rule of Christ on the Earth.
As the chart shows, right now we are in the Church Age. But the Church Age is the same as the spiritual kingdom and Christ is reigning from His throne in Heaven. When this present age ends, that’s when the Second Coming occurs.
There is no future Rapture, there’s no future Tribulation period. It’s just going to end when Jesus comes back, and then we go into eternity. So Jesus is currently ruling and reigning as the King in Heaven.
You’ve just got to be careful with this Kingdom Now terminology that has leaked into a lot of contemporary songs.
Postmillennialism is the idea that the Church Age is eventually going to bring in the kingdom. There will be continual progress and then Jesus comes at the end of that kingdom. That’s blended with Kingdom Now because as you get into this, we’re somewhere around the beginning of the kingdom here, and we’re getting closer and closer.
If you believe in literal interpretation of Scripture, then you have to end up being a Premillennialist.
It’s very clear; the number 1,000 is used about seven different times in Revelation 20:
Satan is bound for a thousand years.
After the thousand years, he is released.
Christ will reign on the Earth for 1,000 years.
Those numbers must be taken literally because every other number in Revelation is taken literally.
Classic Premillennialism is you have Jesus return at the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, then He becomes the King, establishes the Davidic throne in Jerusalem. That is His thousand-year rule and reign with a literal geophysical kingdom on the Earth.
Here’s a twist: in the late 1950s there was the development of the idea that the kingdom is here, it’s already, but it’s not yet. They identified the blessings of the Church Age, like regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which are similar to but not the same as the blessings of the New Covenant, and they said, “See there, they are the same. The New Covenant has been inaugurated, but it’s not fully here yet.”
This became known as “already, not yet,” and it’s at the foundation of this horrible thing that came out of Dallas Seminary in the late 1980s called Progressive Dispensationalism. It’s not progressive, it’s not dispensational; it is this “already, not yet.”
The problem with it is, to get “already, not yet,” you have to interpret a lot of the passages in Acts the same way Amillennialists do. That way, you end up with the Kingdom Now; this becomes the problem.
Jesus makes this statement, “I have been given all authority, all authority has been given unto Me.” What authority is He talking about? If He’s not talking about kingdom authority, if He’s not talking about His authority as the Davidic Ruler, what’s He talking about?
Remember, Matthew has shown us that Jesus came with John the Baptist and offered the kingdom in Matthew 4–12. Then He’s accused of doing everything He does in the power of Satan, and He announces a judgment on that generation for rejecting Him as Messiah. The kingdom offer is never given again.
Never again does He say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The kingdom offer is withdrawn because the kingdom is being postponed until He returns, till He gets that commission from the Ancient of Days, until He gets the scroll from God the Father, Revelation 5. Until that takes place, the kingdom isn’t here at all. We’re not in any form of the kingdom. We are in the Church Age.
What Jesus says to these guys is it’s a new authority base. It’s not the authority that you anticipated—which was the authority of being the Davidic King and the King of Israel. It is a distinct authority that is the authority over the church. This is the beginning of the Church Age, and that’s the authority that’s been given to Me. Because that authority’s been given to Me, I can commission you to this task.
Passages in Ephesians and Colossians emphasize the headship of Christ. Headship is simply a metaphor for authority. You know some people have come out in other areas of debate and say, “Well, headship means like the source of something.” But that’s not what the word means; it’s never used that way in classic Greek literature unless it’s talking about the literal physical source of a river. But it’s never applied to the source of authority in a metaphorical way.
Ephesians 1:22, Paul writes, “And He—that is God the Father—put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”
That’s what it means when it says, “put all things under His feet,” it’s then explained in the next clause as making Him head over all things to the church. He’s the head of the church.
Ephesians 4:15, “but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ.”
Ephesians 5:23, talking about the relationship of the husband to the wife, “the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church.” It’s authority.
Colossians 1:18, “He is the head of the body, the church.”
Colossians 2:10, “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
Colossians 2:19, “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”
Again and again and again, we see that Christ is given the authority. He’s the Head of the church. That’s the authority that He is talking about when He gives this commission to the apostles. This is the focal point.
When He says, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” then that is the basis. That explains and deals with the doubt, which is: what are we going to do now, who’s in control, where are we going? The first thing Jesus does is to explain that “all authority has been given to Me. I’m going to be the Head of the church.”
Then He gives their mission. I’ll come back to that next time because we get into some really fun and interesting details: it’s really saying, “while you are going.” It starts off with the present participle, and it means while you are going, and it is saying as you go through life, as you go through your course of life, as you go from place to place, make disciples.
That’s the mission of the church, and we have to understand what it means to be a disciple. A disciple is not synonymous with being a Christian. A disciple is a Christian who has decided to make it their agenda to grow and mature as a believer, to be a fully sold out student of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to serve Him.
In fact, this is so significant—we’ve we talked about some of this in the Matthew passages, but there are other passages in Luke and Mark related to this idea of discipleship. What I’ve decided to do is as we finish Matthew, is to have a short summer series before we get into Ephesians, and focus on what is discipleship, what is that all about.
We will come back next time, finish our study in Matthew, and then when I return from Israel, we will begin a summer series on, what is a disciple and are you one?
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word, to be reminded that Jesus is our authority, He is the Head of the body, the church. He is not now the King, but He is the Head of the church.
“As the Head of the church, He has given us a mission and that mission has to do with teaching the Word, it has to do with evangelizing the world, it has to do with making the gospel clear to everyone that comes into our path, helping them and pointing them to the direction where they can get good teaching.
“The Christian life begins with the Christian birth, and the Christian birth begins with simply one thing and that is trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior, believing on Him. The instant that we believe on Him, we have everlasting life. It is ours forever and ever and it can never be lost.
“It is because Jesus paid the price in full, the certificate of debt was canceled on the Cross; sin is no longer the issue. As John puts it in John 3:18, the issue is believing on Him, that those ‘who have not believed are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’
“Father, we pray for anyone listening to this lesson, anyone watching today, anyone here that has never trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, that they would understand that is the pure and simple gospel: ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’
“Father, we pray for those who are not with us, some who are desperately ill. We pray for Your healing hand on them and comfort for their families, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”