In our previous lesson, we introduced the LORDSHIP of Jesus and discovered that the word LORD actually means an absolute owner. The point of the lesson was that the LORDSHIP of Christ and UNITY cannot be separated. Unless we all accept Jesus as our absolute owner and master we will never have unity. On the other hand, unless we have unity how can we truly say that Christ is our absolute owner and master?
In this lesson, we will look at one final part of the LORDSHIP of Jesus and the PLAN of God.
In past lessons, we saw that God’s PLAN for the church contains many things that benefit Christians who struggle to survive in a very difficult world. These are very important to us all, but there is much more to the PLAN. God wants THE CHURCH to help him reach those who are NOT YET part of his family!
While it is true that Christianity gives a person REST from the problems of sin and separation, God is not calling his people to a life of leisure and relaxation. On the contrary, in many of his stories, Jesus spoke about WORK that the Father has prepared for his children to do. In fact, just before Jesus left the Earth, he called his disciples together one last time and gave them a COMMISSION1 to carry on the work that he himself started—seeking and saving the lost!
These words are contained in several passages that are actually different accounts of the same event. Many Bible scholars often refer to this event as the giving of the “Great Commission”. The most complete account of this is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Please read this passage and record the details. Jesus was speaking to his followers and sending them out into the world to seek out and preach GOOD NEWS to lost people.
He told them that while they were going around they were to PREACH/TEACH the Good News to every creature so that people from all nations might become disciples (learners). Next, they were told to BAPTIZE those who BELIEVED so that they would be joined with Christ’s blood and be saved! He also told them to continue teaching those who were baptized to DO ALL THE THINGS that he commanded them to do.
It is interesting to note that in saying these things, Jesus set in motion a CYCLE. The following diagram graphically illustrates this cycle, which by his own words would continue until “the end of the age”.
Another passage that contains an account of the Great Commission is Mark 16:15-16. Notice how this parallels what we found in Matthew almost exactly and by combining the two accounts (as we learned to do from our study of Malchus’ Ear) we get a much better understanding of the Great Commission.
A third account is found in Luke 24:46-49, but you will notice how this account concentrates more upon the details of HOW the words of the Commission fit into God’s PLAN!
The Great Commission was the foundation for the work of the early church, just as it was the foundation of Jesus’ work while he was alive. In the same way that the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sent his disciples. Many religious groups today use this Great Commission as their reason for sending missionaries, priests, and pastors to teach lost people all over the world. However, many people make one mistake when they study about the Great Commission. They believe that these words were intended for only a few Christians—for the “professionals” who have special training and titles—or for those who have been “CALLED to the ministry”.
If we examine the history of early Christianity, we will find evidence that helps us see if the ideas people today have are correct. Consider carefully what we find in Acts 8:1-4. There was a great persecution and Christians living in Jerusalem had to leave but the apostles remained in the city. This passage says that the “ordinary” Christians went from place to place teaching as they traveled. It was these Christians, and NOT the apostles (the professionals), who first spread the Good News outside of Jerusalem!
Why did these people teach others about Jesus? Why should ANYONE teach people about Jesus? This topic was discussed by Paul in the second letter he wrote to the Christians living in the town of Corinth. He gave them several reasons why they should become teachers of the lost people.
Please read 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 and record the main points. Verse 10 is a statement regarding the Judgment Day and it says that every person must stand before Jesus to be judged and that his judgment will be based upon the things each person did while they were alive. Then verse 11 makes a very important point about this Judgment. It says that since Christians KNOW what God will do to people who do not obey him, then THEY must try to persuade them to change. If those people do not become members of the NEW AGREEMENT, they will spend eternity in HELL and no Christian should want that for anyone. Therefore, Paul shows that members of the NEW AGREEMENT must try to convince people to become Christians.
A second reason is given in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17. Please read this passage and record the main points. Paul begins by saying that the “love that Christ had for us” should motivate us no longer to be selfish because Jesus did not die only for us, but for everyone and God is not only concerned with OUR salvation, but with the salvation of the whole world! Therefore, we must change the way we think about people and be concerned about them just as God and Christ are concerned about them. Members of the NEW AGREEMENT KNOW HOW GREAT IT FEELS TO BE FREE from the burden of sin and they KNOW that God wants every person living on this earth to experience this freedom! Every member of the NEW AGREEMENT is supposed to be A NEW CREATURE with a new way of thinking! Because of this, members of the NEW AGREEMENT must try to convince people to change.
A third reason is found in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Please read this passage and record the main points. It begins with a summary point from the previous section. Paul says, “All this is from God.” By “this”, he is speaking about the reality of the Judgment Day, the love that Christ had for us, and our changed way of thinking. He then speaks about how God did TWO things for each member of the NEW AGREEMENT; 1) God made peace between us and himself, through the favor he did for us, and 2) God gave to us the work of bringing other people into peace with him, through the Great Commission Jesus left for all disciples! In most Bibles, this phrase, “work of bringing people into peace with him”, is translated, “ministry of reconciliation”.
You will often hear people refer to the work of the church as “the ministry” and preachers, pastors, and priests often speak of how they were “CALLED to the ministry”. If you listen to them talk, you will think that only certain people are CALLED to the ministry, however, Paul speaks very clear in this passage and gives us a test to use to see exactly WHO is called to this ministry! He says that God reconciled us to himself AND God gave us the ministry of reconciliation! Notice the word “AND” in the passage. This means that these two points are JOINED together and cannot be separated! What this means is simple. IF you have been reconciled to God THEN you have also been given the ministry! Therefore, every member of the NEW AGREEMENT is CALLED to the ministry! They are called BY GOD and he makes his appeal to the world through his ministers – through his people! Paul closes with the point that members of the NEW AGREEMENT are AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST!
That has always been God’s PLAN! Every Christian is a “new creature” and must have a different attitude about lost people. Paul says that all of this happens as a result of a CONVICTION down deep in the heart and that the conviction causes one to think and act in a new way! The only proof that a change of conviction has happened is IF there is action. Only when ALL of God’s people become ACTIVE in this “Great Commission” will the lost people of the world be won for Christ!
This is the final “term” in our study of the NEW AGREEMENT. Each member must be willing to become an instrument God can use to bring others into salvation! As we learned from Romans 6:11-17, each person must use the parts of their body as instruments of GOD’S JUSTICE—to live AS SLAVES OF GOD! In this lesson, we now add that we must live as his AMBASSADORS, representing HIS WILL FAITHFULLY TO THE END!
Does the fact that the religious world is so divided make you sad? Are you frustrated because you yourself were a victim of the confusion until you began studying the Bible? Do you want to do something about it? You CAN if you want to! YOU can change the world as one of God’s children, through the example of your life and through teaching! After all, look at what one person (Jesus, who was just like us in every way) was able to do!
If you believe in Jesus, are willing to make the commitment to change, are willing to admit publicly that you will follow him, and if you are willing to be immersed in water to be joined with HIS BLOOD, which is the only thing that can take away your sins, and if you are willing to remain faithful to your promise of loyalty until the day you die, THEN WHY NOT JOIN THE NEW AGREEMENT TODAY? Start your journey to completeness with Jesus as your model and Lord! Join with us in the Lord’s church and together we will spend our lives growing and working for God to help others escape the confusion of religion and have the chance to be where you are right now – having an understanding of God’s PLAN, and what he expects of those who accept the terms of his agreement!
God loves you and Jesus wants you to come to him! HE DOES have rest for your soul, and HE DOES stand at the door and knocks and HE WILL come in and eat with you! You KNOW everything you need to know!
However, YOU must decide!
You have to open the door and let him in!
1 A commission is a set of orders given to someone to guide them in what they should do. A very common way this word is used today is in the military, where soldiers are commissioned to do certain things.
2 The Great Commission is called by this name because many see it as the “orders” Jesus gave to his followers before he left the earth.
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