Summary: he great commandments provide MOTIVE, MANDATE, MISSION, AND A MEASURABLE PROCESS for the local church.
THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS AND THE LOCAL CHURCH
Sermon Objective: The great commandments provide MOTIVE, MANDATE, MISSION, AND A MEASURABLE PROCESS for the local church.
He traveled to every hamlet in Essex County. His passion was to start churches, encourage the saints and teach people the word of God. Cyrus Comstock was born in December 1765 and lived his life in the Champlain valley.
Cyrus was also an inventor. Are you familiar with the “buckboard wagon?” It was originally designed as sold as the “Comstock Wagon” and was the most comfortable method of transportation across the rocky terrain of the North Country.
The tall, somber man was a school teacher by trade and his passion to see people learn made him a natural for ministry. He bought a farm in Lewis Center and used it as his home post as he preached in the school houses and remote settlements of the county. He eventually planted and pastored a church in Elizabethtown.
Father Comstock preached and pastored long before Sunday School was invented but, being a teacher in his early years, he knew the need for children to be educated properly and the Word of God seemed like a natural tool to him. So he published a book on Religious Instruction for Children and each page carried the motto “Feed my sheep.” In 1827 he published a second treatise for adults.
(From Lewis N Powell’s book, “Out of the North Country: Christian Pioneers of Northern New York”)
Father Cyrus Comstock was a man of love. Love for God and love for his neighbor. He considered everyone in Essex County to be his neighbor and parishioner. He would probably have echoed the famous words of John Wesley, “the world in my parish.”
Father Comstock was a missionary. He visited every hamlet in the county and planted churches to boot. The people lived in hard times (this was immediately after the Revolutionary War) and people needed encouragement. Father Comstock felt that the Gospel and Christ’s church were the two proper mediums for giving such encouragement.
THE GOSPEL AND THE LOCAL CHURCH
We don’t always look at Jesus’ great commands from this perspective but I am sure you would agree with me when I say these instructions must, indeed do, inform the DEVELOPMENT, DEPLOYMENT, and DEPORTMENT of the local church.
Cyrus Comstock ministry would indicate that he grasped this too.
Listen to the text.
The Greatest Commandment (12:28-34)
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these."
32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Do you mind if I just ask some questions today? These questions are related to the “The Great Commandments and the Local Church”.
DO YOU SEE ANYTHING INHERENT IN THESE COMAMNDS
THAT SHOULD INFORM THE LOCAL CHURCH’S MISSION?
In other places Jesus states it somewhat differently (i.e. Matthew 28:17-20) but I think these commands not only summarize the law and the prophets but the mission of the church too.
It does not take a very creative imagination to extract principles like worship, fellowship, and evangelism from these verses.
For example: loving God with your whole being is indeed another way of worshipping him. A couple of weeks ago at “Food For Thought” we discussed a Biblical understanding of worship. One of the things I showed the others was how many words are used and translated as “worship” in the New Testament. Some of those words specifically relate worship as being acts of service and feelings of devotion to God. Words like: “sebein” (Mark 7:7; Acts 18:3, Acts 19:27) which stresses the feeling of awe or devotion or “latrueo” (Phil. 3:3; Acts 7:42; Hebrews 10:2, Romans 12:1) which means to worship via religious service or homage inform this.
Loving your neighbor as yourself certainly goes far in instructing the local church to nurture fellowship and to engage in evangelism.