Sermon Messages

Sun, Oct 07, 2018

The King's Marching Orders

Do you know the difference between primary authority and delegated authority?  If your mother sends one of your siblings to call you in to supper, that's delegated authority.  Their words carry weight, but only because they have been commissioned by someone else with greater control.  On the other hand, if your mother herself calls you in to supper, that's primary authority!  Every kid knows (or soon learns) that while it's bad to ignore delegated authority, it's worse to ignore primary authority!

 In our text, before giving some very profound instructions to His followers, Jesus claimed primary authority.  He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."  Up until this time, Jesus never claimed "all" authority.

 Certainly before His "incarnation" (the taking on of humanity) Jesus was equal with God.  But as the apostle Paul explains; although He was "in very nature God, [He] did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [i.e. held onto], but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness," (Phil. 2:6-7).  In other words, He willingly submitted Himself to the Father's authority.

 Consequently, Jesus said on many occasions during His earthly ministry that he possessed a delegated authority--delegated from God the Father:

  • Jn 14:24 = "...These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."
  • Jn. 5:30 = "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."
  • Jn. 7:16 = "My teaching is not my own.  It comes from him who sent me."
  • Jn. 8:26,28 = "26I have much to say in judgment of you.  but he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world. ...28When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me."
  • Jn. 12:49 = "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."
  • Jn. 14:10 = "The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."


So, Jesus' authority was a delegated authority until the crucifixion and resurrection gained Him authority in some special sense.  That passage in Philippians 2 that we quoted a moment ago, goes on after telling of Jesus' obedience unto death--"even death on a cross"--to say, "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name..." (Phil. 2:8-9).

 Commenting on Jesus statement in our Matthew 28 text, Harold Fowler writes, "Jesus...majestically claims this cosmic authority with a naturalness that is appropriate only for One whose right it unquestionably is.  Without yielding once to Satan's offers of world dominion, He overcame and was rewarded with His own rightful, true sovereignty."

 So then, here at least (and here at last), Jesus is speaking with primary authority.  I emphasize it so that we'll understand the force and the magnitude of the command that follows.  It is a simple order requiring only 60 or so English words (depending on the particular translation you use)--even less in the original Greek.  Yet it is the "Magna Charta" of the church. It is the King's marching orders to His Subjects and followers! And what does He say? "Therefore go 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 I have commanded you."

 The Duke of Wellington once attended a lecture where a theologian was denouncing missions.  The lecturer pointed out that missions were an economic drain on the churches and that missionaries often went into primitive areas and upset the native cultures, causing chaos and strife.  He argued that it would be better to permit them to continue in their own unenlightened ways.

The old general listened for a while and then arose to challenge the speaker.  "What were the final orders our Master left?" he asked.

"Well," stammered the speaker, "He said to go into all the world and make disciples."

"That's the way I've always understood it," the Duke replied.  "I'm no theologian.  I'm a soldier, and as a soldier I know that my first duty is to carry out my commander's orders.  When my commander gives me marching orders, I march. All I can say to you, sir, is look to your marching orders!"

 Friends, I too want to remind you to "look to your marching orders!"  And I particularly want to point out that there are four parts of this command that are to be obeyed.



We are commanded to "Go."

Jesus put the church in boots.  His disciples were to be walking delegates for the cross.  And, at first, they were!

  • We read in Acts 2 that, after Peter preached the first gospel sermon, about 3000 were baptized into Christ. (Ac. 2:41).  We also read that "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
  • In Acts 3 we have an example of Peter & John going to a paralytic and preaching to the multitudes.
  • Acts 4 tells us the number of Christians had grown to about 5000 men. (Ac. 4:4).  And while the San-Hedrin plotted their strategy "to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people" (Ac. 4:17), the church was praying, "Lord...enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." (Ac. 4:29).
  • As a result, we read in Ac. 5: "...more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number." (Ac. 5:14).  Although they were beaten by the Jewish authorities and threatened not to speak in the name of Jesus, we read of the apostles; "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."
  • By Acts 6 we read no more of souls being "added" to the church, but of their numbers being "multiplied" (KJV), "increasing," or "increased rapidly" (NIV), of the word of God spreading, and that "a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." (Ac. 6:1,7).
  • And finally, I especially want you to note in Acts 8 that when a great persecution broke out against the church so that the Christians were scattered throughout the land, "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." (Ac. 8:1-4).

 Those Christians took seriously the Lord's command to "Go!"  It might have been difficult in those days to find the places in Jerusalem where the disciples met to worship, but it was not difficult to find the church itself!  The church was "going," preaching the gospel, caring for the distressed, baptizing repentant believers, and worshipping that they might be better able to serve.  They knew the meaning of the word "go."

And likewise, the church today must involve herself in aggressive, assertive, "going" warfare against the forces of evil, or else be fundamentally disobedient to the Lord Jesus.

 Some say this "Great Commission" was intended exclusively for the apostles.  but the early Christians understood it as applicable to the whole church. There may have been some non-apostles present when Jesus gave this charge.  Even if not, Jesus certainly implied that all Christians obey the command when He said, "...teaching them [i.e. the newly baptized disciples] to obey everything I have commanded you."

 That sounds a lot like Paul's instruction to Timothy; "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." (2 Tim. 2:2).  So, either directly or indirectly, the admonition to "go, ...make disciples, ...baptize, ...and teach" applies to us.

 Now, Jesus didn't stipulate how we are to go--in what manner we are to be banded together, or exactly what means and methods we are to use.  He left that up to us to work out the most efficient and effective means. He didn't even specify precisely where each of us is to go.  Mark's parallel account just says, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mk. 16:15).  Whether we go to the next continent, the next country, the next city, or just next door, we are none-the-less to "go" somewhere--and to someone--with the gospel message of salvation.

 The unfortunate fact is that many have taken the "go" out of the "commission" and made it the "great omission."  How about you? Are you going with the gospel? To whom are you going? And if you admit that you haven't had a very good track record so far, to whom will you go?

 Some people like to translate this text, "As you go..." but the word "go" is no less a command than the command to teach or to baptize.  They are all grammatically the same parts of speech. the main point of this commission is to bring the message of life in Christ to all, not to wait and do so "if" and "when" we happen to go, and "if" and "when" we feel like it.  We must plan to go.  We must go "on purpose."

 We are commanded to "Go!"



We are commanded to "Make Disciples."

I know that the KJV reads, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations..."  Sometimes I'm not altogether sure which translation best conveys the proper idea--"make disciples" (as most newer translations put it), or "teach."

 "Make disciples" is good in that there is a specific type of teaching that is indicated here.  It is teaching the gospel facts with a view to bringing about faith in Christ. It is not primarily concerned with teaching those who are already Christians.  (That "teaching" comes later in the command.) But this "teaching" has to do with those who are not already Christians.  For this reason, the translation "make disciples" is a helpful translation.

 On the other hand, sometimes we get the wrong idea about how to go about making disciples.  We sometimes assume that our whole responsibility in "making disciples" is to model Christianity and maybe be ready to answer questions about it in case somebody else brings up the subject.  Not so! We must take the initiative in making disciples. If we never do more than wait for others to ask, we may never do anything but wait! And for this reason, the word "teach" is a helpful translation.  It stresses that the first responsibility is on us to get the word out.

 Unfortunately, when we do finally "go" to the lost, oftentimes we talk about the weather, or sports, or whatever else, and never get to the point.  Even talking about "the church" and her various "programs" is not necessarily the same thing as talking about Christ. It's good to invite others to the worship and/or fellowship activities of the congregation, but it's even better to invite them to Christ!  For once they accept Him, He will add them to the church.

 By the way, sometimes it's easier to invite people to a relationship with Christ than it is to invite them to a church service.  Know why? Because anybody can find fault with the church (or certain members of it), and many do. We're not perfect people.  but few, if any, can find fault with Christ.

 "But how do I bring up the subject?" you ask.  Just say, "Are you interested in spiritual matters?" or "I'd like to talk with you about life after death."  Or "May I tell you about my faith?"  Use whatever approach with which you feel comfortable, but for heaven's sake say something to fulfill your obligation to "make disciples."

 P.H. Welshimer, a preacher of a generation or two ago, and minister to the largest Christian church of his day, said, "We have nothing to do but preach the gospel, and nothing to preach but the gospel."



We are commanded to "Baptize."

Those who have been "taught" (and only those who have been "taught") are to be baptized!  Baptism is for penitent believers--those who understand Jesus to be the Son of God and who are committed to follow Him.  Baptism finds its authority in Jesus Christ who commanded the disciples to baptize believers. How well these disciples understood Jesus' command is shown in Peter's answer to the people of Jerusalem on Pentecost when they asked what they could do in order to be saved.  He said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Ac. 2:38).  As a result (and as we mentioned earlier), 3000 were baptized that very day.

 In all the preaching of the apostles, baptism was never omitted.  They did not believe in baptism per se--i.e. not as some mystical ritual that somehow "earned" ones salvation.  But they believed in Jesus Christ, and they baptized because He commanded it. Paul tells us in the Roman letter, that baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. (Ro. 6:3-4)  It is an act of the mind to which the body submits and conforms.  He also wrote the Galatians that baptism is the means by which we are "clothed" with Christ. (Gal. 3:26-27).  And Peter indicated baptism is the dividing line between the saved and the lost! (1 Pe. 3:21).

 You can't play around with this command as some like to do--saying it is "important" but not "essential."  It is not an option that we can take or leave as we please. So long as He who has all authority commands (as He does here) that the believer be baptized, who is it that would dare to say that faith alone is sufficient for salvation--without baptism?  Let God be true, and every man a liar!

 There's also been much controversy in modern times as to the form to be observed in baptizing a person.  Some contend for sprinkling or pouring water on the head of the initiate. But all agree that immersion is exclusively the method used in the New Testament.  That being true, why not accept that upon which all can agree?

 The immersion of a repentant believer in water for the forgiveness of sins constitutes New Testament baptism.  The very word "baptism" shows it. Paul said, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Ro. 6:4).

 Those who practice alternate forms for baptism don't even claim that other methods are Scriptural.  They just argue that the church has the authority to change the command. Change the command?! No one has the authority to change anything that is written in the word of God except God or Jesus.  The Father, who has primary authority, sent John to baptize. Christ, who had authority delegated from the Father, (and later, primal authority Himself) commanded the apostles to baptize; and the apostles, who had their authority delegated from Christ, did baptize.  They knew only one baptism, and that was immersion. To say the church has authority to make changes is to make a statement nowhere found in the Bible.

 In addition to baptism by immersion being a beautiful symbol of the burial and resurrection of Christ, it is also symbolic of birth!  Jesus said, "No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and the Spirit." (Jn. 3:5).  It is the initiatory rite into the kingdom.  It is the point at which, spiritually, we come into contact with the blood of Jesus.  Coupled together with faith and repentance, baptism brings about forgiveness of sin.

 We are commanded to "Go."

We are commanded to "Make Disciples."

We are commanded to "Baptize."



We are commanded to "Teach."

In order to deepen their relationship with God in Christ, and in order to experience the abundant life Christ made possible, baptized believers need to continue growing in knowledge.  Consequently, Jesus commanded that new disciples who have been baptized, should continue to be taught "to obey everything" He has commanded us!  

 Whereas the first word for "teaching" has as its object the making of disciples, the second indicates the training of disciples.  The first brings them into the kingdom.  the second develops the right kind of citizens within the kingdom.  The early church understood this. So Luke writes that the newly baptized disciples of Pentecost, "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Ac. 2:42).

 The whole gamut of the Christian life falls under this second type of "teaching" mentioned in the great commission.  Worship, prayer, giving, righteous living--all come under this heading. If you're not involved in some program--private or corporate--of continued spiritual education & development, then you're ignoring part of your marching orders.



We are commanded to "Go."

We are commanded to "Make Disciples."

We are commanded to "Baptize."

And we are commanded to "Teach."


I would conclude by pointing out there is a resultant promise to be enjoyed by obeying these instructions.  When we follow the King's marching orders, He promises to be with us! "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

 It is not ours to question why, but to obey.  Jesus has never failed in His promises. If we meet Him where He has promised to meet us, we can rest assured He will do what He promised to do.  The carrying out of the great commission makes us co-laborers with Christ, and faithful, obedient soldiers of King Jesus.

Powered by: Preachitsuite

Upcoming Events  

Adult Bible Study
Wed May 22 @ 6:00PM

Bible Study
Wed May 22 @ 6:00PM

Prayer Time
Sun May 26 @ 8:08AM

Traditional Worship Service
Sun May 26 @ 8:30AM

Sunday School.
Sun May 26 @ 9:40AM

Children's Church
Sun May 26 @10:30AM


Bible Verse of the Day