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CHRISTIAN LIFE - FOLLOWING THE GREAT COMMISSION Matthew 28:18-20

FOLLOWING THE GREAT COMMISSION

Matthew 28:18-20

 

In 2 Timothy 1:3-7, Paul wrote to young Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God within him.” We discovered the Gift that Paul spoke of was the gift of the Holy Spirit. If we, as Christians, quench the Holy Spirit over and over again, there will come a time when the fire that burned when we first were saved has become only smoldering coals.

 

Paul told Timothy, let the Holy Spirit give you

Power to witness

Power to love

A sound mind that is disciplined to make time for the things of God.

 

The problem with Timothy was the problem most Christians have if they are not constantly on guard--the fire of the Holy Spirit had almost gone out. Now the question we all need to be asking is, “How can I fan into flame the gift within me?"     Can anyone help me?  Well, this is one thing you have to do yourself.

This is something

Your pastor cannot do for you.

Your parents cannot do for you.

Your friends cannot do for you.

Even God will not do this for you.

 

WE CAN FAN INTO FLAME THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BY SPENDING TIME IN THE WORD OF GOD.

 

It is interesting that Dwight D. Eisenhower said of God's Word,

"To read the Bible is to take a trip to a fair land where the spirit is strengthened and faith renewed."

 

Someone else said of the Bible,

"The Bible should have written on it, ‘Warning: This Book is habit-forming.  Regular use causes loss of anxiety, decreased appetite for lying, cheating, stealing, and hate. Symptoms: Increased sensations of love, peace, joy, and compassion.'"

 

The Devil will do all he can to get every child of God so busy they will not have time for God’s Word. He knows the Word of God will fan into flame the Gift of God within each of us.

 

WE CAN FAN INTO FLAME, THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BY CONFESSING UNCONFESSED SIN.

The world we live in does not want   to acknowledge sin, let alone confess it. In fact, many people do all they can to excuse it. Sad to say, so do some who claim to be Christians. They do not want to admit they are sinning. But if we, as Christians, want God to work within us, we need to recognize sin which is usually very hard, and confess all known sin in our life.

 

Jesus said in John 7:38,

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

The following verse is,

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

 

The tense is continuing. Jesus was saying that those who keep on obeying Him, or trusting Him, with of their innermost being shall become streams of living water continuing to flow. What is He talking about? What did the next verse say?           

Because Jesus was not yet glorified.

When was Jesus glorified? It was not on the cross. He was humiliated on the cross! He was glorified when He ascended back to the Father and the Holy Spirit came and dwelled in the hearts of believers.

 

When believers allow Jesus to reign in our lives, the Holy Spirit will come forth, flowing like a stream of living waters, flooding this world with the gospel of Christ Jesus! This  glorifies Christ! However, He cannot do that unless Christ    is Lord of our  lives. God the Holy Spirit can only use someone who is surrendered full-time, not part-time.  The Holy Spirit will not work fully with the part-time Christian--and maybe not at all.

 

That same command given to “fan into flame the gift of God” is still given to every child of God in this place, and just as Timothy obeyed, we need to obey also.

 

Much that can be done as the Holy Spirit works through us even when we might not see opportunities. This account has such a message—supposedly a true story.

 

An elderly lady heard a message such as I am sharing with you.  She told her pastor of as she was leaving the service,

“What you have said is true but it does not fit me. I am home all by self. I have no job to go to as I once did so I do not see people. I would like to have the Holy Spirit flow through me to others, but that is impossible because of my age and being at home all day."

The pastor of wisely said,

“Do you see a mailman at your home each day?"

"Yes."

"Do you go to the drugstore to buy medicine?”

"Yes."

"Do you not frequently call repairmen to fix something in your home?”

"Why yes."

"Do you not have a service station where you buy gas for your car?"

"Yes."

"Do you not go to buy groceries every week?

 

She got the message and began to realize that she had had many opportunities, but the Devil I had blinded her to them. The next day the milk man came by. He started back to his truck when she said, "Sir, I would like to ask you something; do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior?"

He said, "Lady, why do you ask me that? I have been waiting for the longest time for someone to show me how to become a Christian."  

She led him to the Lord. Before she   died, this little lady, who thought she was all washed up, led 12 people to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.

 

From the very first Sunday School class we attend to the very last missionary presentation we listen to, the verses of Christ's "Great Commission" are drummed into us. Is it possible that we've forgotten the powerful meaning of this passage through its frequent repetition? To treat the final words of Mathew's Gospel as anything less than the most crucial command of the entire Bible is to misunderstand the theme of reconciliation that runs through both the Old Testament and the New. God promised reconciliation almost immediately following the Fall (Genesis 3:15). His plan culminates in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the subsequent disciple-making Church evidenced in 2 Corinthians 5:17-24.

 

Churches today seem to dwell on anything but the fulfilling of the Commission. Many churches are so concerned with avoidance of sin and the corruption of contemporary culture that they present the gospel on its terms "be clean before you come” not "come and be cleansed" as the Bible says. On the other end of the spectrum, "seeker friendly" churches abandon real disciple-making by watering down the truth in an effort to entice unbelievers to accept the message. Even churches that have the correct doctrine on evangelism seldom put it into practice in their own neighborhoods.

 

Perhaps John MacArthur said it best in his commentary on Matthew's Gospel:

“Fellowship, teaching, and praise are not the mission of the church but are rather the preparation of the church to fulfill its mission of winning the lost. Training should never be confused with or substituted for actually competing in the game. How tragic that so much of Christ's church is preoccupied with trivialities."

 

We've got to stop treating outreach like an activity in our churches and start reinforcing it as a way of life. Making disciples should follow as naturally as baptism and taking communion once a person is saved.

 

Discipleship is coaching, not sales. You cannot "close the deal" on someone's salvation—only God does that. The Greek word translated as "make disciples” is mathetes.  It means “to become a pupil” or "to enroll as a scholar.” This clearly illustrates the idea that making disciples is a process, not an event. The root meaning of the term refers to believing and learning. Jesus was not referring simply to believers or simply to learners, or He would have used other words. Mathetes carries a beautiful combination of meanings. 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 we really desire to fulfill the Commission of Christ, our attitude needs to go beyond the "Bring them to church and let the pastor share the gospel" prevalent among American Christians. The call to make disciples is coupled with the command to "go." We cannot simply sit back and wait for unbelievers to come to us. We have to actively pursue them to reconciliation with the Father. The Great Commission is a standing order, not a goal to be attained.

 

Much has been made of the interpretation of 2 Peter 3:12, which says that we can speed up the Lord's return by evangelizing all people. While some scholars agree this may be an acceptable reading of the text, the Western Church has latched onto it to the detriment of real discipleship. If we see Christ's command as a goal, our tendency is to rush to its completion, spending our resources and time to spread the gospel to the four winds with little thought to the results of our sowing beyond a numerical representation of "decisions." When we attempt to rush the outcome, we deliver a product that may not actually represent what is desired—true salvation. This approach has largely hijacked the nature of evangelism—most Christians are intimidated out of discipleship because they aren't seeing immediate results.

 

The Biblical model is one of long-suffering personal interaction and real conversion. That means cultivating a lifestyle of growth and learning in Christ that leads to future disciples being made. It is not as simple as a head count at a church service. While there is never a drawback to the hearing of God's Word, we cannot abandon the personal nature of conversion. It is often not enough that people hear the Word but that they see it make a difference in our lives, especially regarding what lengths we are willing to go so that they can understand it more fully. The Great Commission is for every individual Christian. Another unintended side effect of the goal-oriented approach is the division of the church into "those who go" and "those who send."

 

Ephesians 4:11-13 says that members of the Body are variously gifted, but the command to make disciples is one that applies to all of us. It is perfectly right for the Body to send out those who are especially equipped to bring the gospel to another culture, but not at the expense of the larger command. When we put support in other areas in the place of our own responsibility to the local ongoing ministry of reconciliation, we are dishonoring God's command.

 

Discipleship should be taught from the pulpit often and by example. Pastors have to lead the way in bringing the Great Commission to life for the church. Unless church leaders continually remind the Body of its responsibility, Christians will not turn from complacency to action. Just preaching it is not enough. Pastors should actively engage in friendships, conversations, and social interaction with those who have not yet received Christ.

Discipleship starts with prayer. Most Christians today are so involved within church and parachurch social groups that they have little to no meaningful contact with nonbelievers. This will change only if we pray for the Lord to open our eyes to opportunities to become involved with those who need Him. Truly loving our neighbors as ourselves must involve discipleship. All too often we forget the Great Commission for a variety of reasons. We cannot commit to make it a daily priority without the Lord's guidance, insight, and careful prodding to remember His commands.

 

These points are by no means exhaustive. They are a reminder of the crucial importance of this command to our lives.

May we never allow the meaning of our mission to be lost on us for any reason.

May we work to allow our churches to sift through all their programs to return to the central focus of the Christian experience.

May we be faithful to make disciples for Christ.

 

I want to ask you Christians,

"Will you fan into flame the gift of God within you?"

  • Get into the Word of God this week, and let it start a blazing fire in your heart that will sweep your neighborhood.
  • Confess those known sins in your life and keep on trusting Him as Lord of your life to be the conqueror of every sin.
  • Then start telling people about the good news of Jesus Christ.

THE INVITATION

You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).

To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).

You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:

         Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.

      Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.

      I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.

      Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

                     In Your name I pray, Amen.