Summary: If we truly believe then we will want to share the Gospel in actions as well as words.
Introduction: The passage that we study today is called the “Great Commission.” The disciples have gone to Galilee to meet with the Risen Christ. These are the last words of Jesus to His disciples and in them He does three things:
1. He assures them of His power.
2. He gives them a commission.
3. He promises them that He will be with them always.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we read Your command, help us to understand and follow it. Amen.
It seemed interesting that our scripture today should be the great commission since yesterday the Deacons spent most of the morning exploring how to make Geneva a welcoming church and we were welcoming new members this morning. It seemed a pretty consistent message to me that the Lord wanted our attention on the great commission.
When the Deacons asked me to speak to them about being a welcoming church, I went to the Presbytery office where they have a good library. They pointed me to a book by Reverend Clinton M. Marsh entitled Evangelism Is… I found it an excellent book with very practical ideas based on the scriptures. What I particularly appreciate in this book is the emphasis on what our motivation should be for bringing friends, family, and strangers to Christ.
The first and most important motivation for bringing people to Christ is love. When we believe that God loves us through Christ and that in the Holy Spirit our lives can be changed, the most loving thing we can do is share God’s love.
In the book, Reverend Marsh tells the story of two men who worked together for years.
Joe went to church every Sunday, Harvey not at all. One Monday morning, Harvey said, “Joe, I went to church yesterday,” whereupon Joe responded excitedly, “Harvey, I’m sure glad to hear that.”
Harvey continued, “The preacher said some things that bothered me. He talked about the wonderful things that Christ does for those who accept him, and the great losses to those who do not. Do you believe that, Joe?”
Joe replied, “Sure, that’s what it’s all about.”
Harvey burst out passionately, “No, Joe, you don’t believe that.”
Joe bristled, “Yes, I do believe that!”
Harvey shook his head sadly, saying, “No, Joe, you couldn’t really believe that and work side by side with me all these years and never say a word about it. No, Joe, you don’t believe it.” [Clinton M. Marsh, Evangelism Is… (Louisville, KT: Geneva Press, 1997) 20]
If Christ has made a difference in our lives, then surely we should want to share Him. Hasn’t there been at least one time in your life when Christ sustained you? Think back over your life and remember that time.
I know when Christ saved me. Christ saved me when I was first trying to parent my adopted daughter Deborah now twenty-five years ago. It was hard being a single mother, trying to take care of her. Terrible things had happened to her and it became clear to me that I couldn’t do it on my own. That was the moment when I realized that Christ was the foundation that was holding me up.
If we truly believe in Christ, then our greatest motivation to share Him is love. If we truly believe in Christ, then our second greatest motivation to share Him is grace.
We’ve made mistakes. We make mistakes. We are going to continue to make mistakes, but somehow God forgives us. That’s grace.
Reverend Marsh writes:
When I was a boy making the morning fires in the fireplace, sometimes, as I cleared away the ashes, I would find some glowing embers from the fire of the night before. I would lay some kindling wood on the coals and blow gently until it glowed bright red and then burst into flame. Jesus knew that underneath the ashes of a misspent life the divine embers lay, awaiting the blowing of the Spirit…Jesus had faith in the power of the love of God to redeem [sinners].” [Ibid. 67-68]
If we truly believe in Christ, we will want to share His grace.
The third motivation to share Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Jesus doesn’t send us out alone. Jesus sends us with the Holy Spirit.