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. World changers for a changed world

WORLD CHANGERS FOR A CHANGED WORLD

 

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Introduction.

Xenophobia, 78 year old German nun – raped and murdered, mother hijacked and shot in front of her children, beloved school teacher found murdered, defacing of heritage statues, encouragement of unlawful deeds by politicians, corruption, blatant disregard for all laws, land grabs, etc. etc. Now, who can guess in which country this is all taking place?

The real issue is, what can we do about it? We all will realise that we live in a country of declining values, declining morals, a degraded view of the sanctity of life, disrespect for one another and each other’s property and so we can go on. Now, none of us are really in a position to change it all. We have one of two options. We can sit and do nothing or we can do our bit.

Edmund Burke was spot on when he made the following comment. He said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Now, the nature of the problem is not difficult to establish. Why do people do what they do? We have seen it time and time again from Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) 1 And you were dead (dead) in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world (deviant), following the prince of the power of the air (demonised), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (disobedient)3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind (deranged), and were by nature children of wrath (damned), like the rest of mankind.”

Every imaginable evil behaviour is linked to these verses. The only solution for man is to be saved by grace, and in that process, you and I have a vital role to play. It is called world evangelisation, or as per my theme today, ‘world changers for a changed world’. We cannot live with the mentality that Jesus might return tomorrow and therefore, who cares? Christ might tarry a few more hundred years, what then, what kind of world do we leave for future generations?

For too long the church has paid professional missionaries to change the world. Let’s see what Christ has to say about it, and then we will talk about it in practice. So what is the answer to the issues in this world?

Firstly, the answer lies in the command of Christ.

Now, does Jesus have the right to command us to do anything? Sure He does. Without studying our broader theology the very answer we need is contained in verse 18 where Jesus says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." "Authority" means the right and power to do something. So Jesus means that he has absolute right and all power to do as he pleases in heaven and on earth. There is no authority in heaven which can call the will of Jesus into question, and there is no authority on earth that can call the will of Jesus into question. And no power on earth or in heaven can frustrate His will when He exerts all his power to achieve it. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Without this declaration of Jesus' authority, we could never venture confidently to make disciples. On what possible basis do we have any right to tell anybody in this world that they should change their whole way of thinking and acting and become a disciple of Jesus Christ? Only one thing could justify such outlandish proselytizing all over the world—that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and has been given an absolute authority over natural and supernatural forces so that every human and every angelic being will give an account to him. If Jesus has that kind of authority, then we Christians not only have the right but are bound by love to tell other people to change and become his disciples. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth; more than all the World leaders put together. He is the absolute sovereign of the universe, and one way or the other every knee will bow to him. So, when He says jump, we have one simple question and that is “how high?”

Notice the word ‘therefore’ in verse 19 and remember when we see ‘therefore’ in the Bible we always ask what ‘therefore’ is there for. He has all the power and therefore those who bend the knee of allegiance to his authority have from Him the right and the power to go and make disciples everywhere. We don’t just do it because He told us so; we do it because He has the power and authority. Nothing is more reasonable and more loving than to plead with the rebellious creatures of Jesus Christ that they turn and give their devotion to the King of kings who will have the last say in this world.

Now before we turn to my emphasis for today – what is it that Christ commands us to do?  A bit of a Greek lesson in verse 19 and 20 will help us in our understanding of the text. It says: 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Verse 19 & 20 contain 4 verbs which are ‘go’, ‘make’, ‘baptise’ and ‘teach’. Now commonly people think that we are commanded ‘to go’ into the world, and because we don’t want to, or do not see it as our calling we pay missionaries to do the work. But that is actually not true. Nobody is commanded to go. Its fine to go, but you are not commanded to go. Now before you think that is good news, and lets you off the hook, it is actually not.

Let me quickly parse the words for you and you will understand what I mean. The Greek words are: poreuthentes for ‘go’ mathyteusate for ‘make disciples’, baptisontes for ‘baptise’ and didaskontes for ‘teach’. Now notice the endings of the words. Mathyteusate ends with ‘ate’ and the rest of the words end with ‘ntes’. Now, based on the way Greek words are ended believe me that the only imperative or command in this section is to ‘make disciples’ as the rest are all participles. Now, the question is, what does a participle do in the Greek language? Without getting too complicated, a participle is basically considered a "verbal adjective". It is often a word that ends with an "-ing" in English (such as "speaking," "having," or "seeing"). It can be used as an adjective, in that it can modify a noun (or substitute as a noun), or it can be used as an adverb and further explain or define the action of a verb. Poreuthentes for ‘go’ is an aorist participle, based on the ‘the’ before ‘ntes’ while the other participles are present active participles based on the ‘o’ before ntes.

A better translation will actually be: “as you are going, or having gone (based on the aorist), make disciples, baptising them and teaching them.” Now why is it important to waste our time with Greek stuff in a sermon on this? Is there a spiritual significance, is there a lesson in it or are we just being clever with the Greek. Well let’s then get to the point for today and try and drive a message home and it should change your theology and your life for that matter.

Secondly, the answer lies in the method of Christ.

We have already established that the command is to make disciples, but how, when and where do we do that? The tendency amongst most Christians I know is to say that verse 19 tells certain people called ‘missionaries’ to go, and that is not my calling, as I am not a missionary, therefore I will not go and make disciples. This is quite a subjective opinion.

What we have however seen in the text is that ‘go’ is a participle that defines the action of the main verb which is to ‘make disciples’. Now remember we retranslated the verse to say: “as you are going…..” or ‘having gone’. Now the implications for the disciples were major, and the implications for us are major. There is a general tendency amongst churches to argue in two ways when it comes to the task of missions. There are those churches who believe that charity starts at home and therefore we evangelise at home and make disciples at home and we pay a pastor to do that. Then there are those who believe we must go to the ends of the world and we pay a missionary to do that as they are called to go. The text however says, “as you are going”.

Here is the message which I believe is for all of us. We are all called to make disciples as we are going, or wherever we find ourselves, whether our going is at home, or our going is at work, or our going is around Polokwane, or if we move to Pofaddder in the Cape, or New York in the USA or Bagdad in Iraq. Wherever you are, you are a Christian, and you need to reach out with the Gospel of Christ to unbelievers around you and make disciples of them. Wherever you are as we sang with Michael W Smith this morning we want to get people to sing a new Hallelujah!!

There is no culture and no religion beyond the authority of Jesus and therefore no culture and no religion beyond the Great Commission. So, with His absolute authority Jesus lays absolute claim on every person in every place, and He tells all of us to make disciples as we are going. That's the foundation of all missions, domestic and frontier, whether by you and I or people who feel called for that purpose.

So simply, if we are going to leave the evangelising of the world to professionals, the job will never get done, but if we all seek to make disciples wherever we are, we might still not get the job done, but our strides will be so much bigger.

Can I ask you this morning, where are you going daily, and do you see your whereabouts as an opportunity for the gospel and discipleship? I remember the days when we could go from house to house, but that has changed hasn’t it? Nowadays we have high walls around our properties and you get turned away at the gate. But have we taken note of the open doors God has given us. Let’s name them. Friends, you do not have to worry about taking the gospel to Africa, Africa has come to you, in spite of xenophobia. We still have our workplaces. The sports arenas are open like never before. We still have our friends, and many of them are in need of the gospel. And what about our Internet and cell-phone networking.  Facebook, messenger services, Skype, websites, debate forums, comment sections, FB groups etc. etc. All of these are opportunities to get in behind walls and into countries that we could never before.

Two areas the Lord has opened for me and us as you back me are my debates with atheists and then our church website.

I have been astounded to see how the Lord has used the atheistic debates. I had to stand up and defend my faith as I see it attacked, but this has led to a number of Christians rekindling their faith, some atheists coming to salvation, and some family members of atheists coming to salvation. I have received 100’s of people making contact with me on Face Book based on the debates. The extent to which God uses it is unknown. At times we have up to 14 000 viewers observing a debate. I have so far commented in debates 5871 times and have had 114074 declaring agreement or disagreement with me. The disagreements stand on 44990 which means it is atheists who do not like what I say. I have on one occasion written over 80 pages in answering the questions of an atheist. One thing that has excited me is Christians who were starting to fall away from their faith towards atheism who have come back to the Lord. One such person has already supported Logos financially.

Let me share with you just a recent highlight. I remember two years ago on the 17th of December 2013 a young girl, a graduate from University of Natal wrote an article as an atheist, entitled: “God, fact or fiction?” insulting us as Christians and telling us just how stupid we are. So, based on her insults one would think that she is beyond reach.

Just a week ago on the 20th of April she wrote a new article: “God, fact or fiction?” in which she apologises for her stupidity and is now testifying that she came to Christ.

Our Logos Website has just taken its 200000th hit two Thursdays ago on the 9th of April.  I have just been astounded how the Lord has been using the website in the lives of believers around the world. People are using our site as a resources. The ripple effect is what astounds me, as it is not just immediate readers that are impacted, but they again tell others.

Facebook. Our Logos Facebook group now has 189 members. Prison to Praise has 94 members. All of these are open doors to impact the lives of believers.

As we are going people, as we are going and we are all going!!

 

Now, all of the above are targeted networking opportunities. Like you all, I have a life outside official Christian links.

I belong to a Kruger National Park Best Place on earth Facebook group, and daily I am finding myself being approached by all kinds of people via my personal Inbox for counsel, wisdom etc. I have at times simply encouraged others in the faith, others have been struggling with theological issues and noticed that I am a pastor and have posted their questions to me. Others are going through major trials and I am able to encourage them. Just this week, I have entered into discussion with an atheist from Australia that has targeted me for comments. See, how small the world has become. As we are going, as we are going, as we are going. Let’s be sensitive to the open doors and how the Holy Spirit can use us in these opportunities.

Church family, we live in exciting days for the gospel, but are we using the opportunities? I believe too many a pastor is happy just to polish the brains of his congregation over and over again, and too many congregations are happy for him to simply do that. I need to thank Logos for allowing me the freedom to extend my ministry outside the boundaries of this building. Sure most of those we impact will never join Logos, they will never visit us, but Church family that is the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is not about a local church building. Jesus said in Acts 1:8 (ESV) 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

What you need to do is to pray and to ask God, to show you the open doors He has for you, so that you too may become productive as a disciple for Jesus, a World changer for a changed world, as you are going.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria.

Logos Community Church: 27 April 2015