Summary: Second sermon in the second part of an initial 2009 series, ‘2 Things 2 B in 09’
When I started writing this sermon, I noticed in my notes that I had written down a question for each of this month’s sermons with the intention of asking it at some point in the sermon. Well, I failed to do so last week and so it is with that question we begin this week’s message.
(Slide 1) What is the church for? Not ‘who’ is it for? (An important question to be sure.) But ‘what’ is the church for?
It is for God’s purposes and God’s plans. It is part of God’s purposes and God’s plans.
I used the term ‘ekkelsia’ last week. It is a Greek term that has a community emphasis to it and when we trace this concept back to the Old Testament it is tied into the communal nature of ancient Israel.
So what is the church for? It is for God and it is for us and… it is for those who have yet to come (or come back.)
We say that this is ‘our’ church or that we ‘go to’ the First Church of God. But ultimately, the church is for God’s plans and purposes and ultimately that is centered in God’s redemption of you and me and… others.
I gave you an interesting image at the conclusion of last week’s message that I want to illustrate as follows today.
These are communities that I know we either work in, have family in (or come from), and we often visit to shop, go to the doctors, etc. We have connections in these communities through work, family, play, and life in general.
This leads me to the second question, the one that I wrote for today’s sermon. (Slide 3)
Where do we go and who is a disciple?
Our main text for today is Luke 24:47 (Slide 4) ‘With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘there is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’
This is Luke’s account of the giving of what we now call the ‘Great Commission’ that is normally read from Matthew 28. There the word ‘disciple’ is used whereas in Luke’s writing it is’nt used.
But, I felt led to this passage because it gives us a different (but biblical) perspective on what Jesus told the disciples to go and do. This is what Jesus says about ‘going… and making disciples.’
(Slide 5) ‘With my authority…’
The first thing Jesus says to them, is ‘with my authority.’ Whose authority? Jesus’ authority! Not their authority or the Romans’ authority or the Pharisees’ authority but only with Jesus’, and hence, God’s authority.
This is the opening statement and because it is the opening statement, it carries great weight. In the courtroom, opening statements are made to inform the judge and jury why or why not the accused is guilty or not guilty of whatever.
The beginning of a sermon is the opening statement. Now I know that when I open my mouth to start the sermon each week some of you have said about me over the years, ‘we don’t know what is going to happen next.’
Sometimes I am probably successful at creating a valid opening statement and sometimes,… well, there is always next week!
Jesus makes three important points with this statement. (Slide 5a)
WITH my authority
with MY authority
with my AUTHORITY
First, He says, ‘by means of; in the midst of; in the company of my authority that God the Father has given me’ go do this. Jesus was sending out the disciples (as He sends us out as well) in the midst of and by means of His authority to ‘take this message of repentance to all the nations.’ To be missional is to answer the question ‘Where do we go and who is a disciple?’ We go in the company of Jesus’ authority to be His disciples.
Now, what is a disciple? (I’m glad you asked!)
Here is one definition by Xavier Leon-Dufour (Slide 6)
“[The word disciple] is never a case of the “pupil” who receives instruction from a master, but always of someone who shares a close and definitive relationship with one person.” Xavier Leon-Dufour
I like what my fellow pastor Scott Gamiel recently said, ‘Jesus didn’t recruit disciples with the Great Commission- He called them "to be with him. The [Great Commission] came after 3 years of relationship.’
He quotes Mark 3:14, which confirms Leon-Dufour’s definition of disciple. ‘Then he selected twelve of them to be his regular companions, calling them apostles.’ A companion, as I understand it, is not a pupil. There is a relationship implied in the term that goes beyond a pupil/teacher relationship.
Jesus calls us to follow Him as well but He also directs us to ‘take the message of repentance to all the nations.’ But we cannot do so until we first make the conscious decision to follow Him. Now having this understanding of disciple as not a pupil, but a companion, of Christ, can we not feel the impact of this word, ‘with?’