“Sent on a Mission in 2016”
January 3, 2016
A number of you have asked if we are ever going to return to the Book of Romans, and the answer is, “Yes, starting next week!”
We took a detour last Summer due to my hospitalization and then our sermon series on working for the Lord and then for Advent and Christmas.
But, Lord-willing, we will return again to our study of the book of Romans starting next Sunday morning. So come ready next week to review what we have learned so far.
But today is the first Sunday of the year 2016, and I want to use our sermon time this morning to bring focus to what we’re going to be all about as a church this year. What our church is going to focus upon in 2016.
And here’s what we we’re going to focus on this year...
What are supposed to focus on every year:
The gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
Our church’s purpose statement is very simple:
Lanse Evangelical Free Church exists to glorify God by bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.
Our message is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
And today, I just want to bring us back as a church to remind ourselves again what our mission truly is.
The last paragraph of Matthew 28 is often called “The Great Commission.”
It tells the story of that important moment in history when the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ told His apostles what their mission was to be.
And the mission that He gave them is the mission that He is giving us together, the mission that is the beating heart of the church in this age:
To make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Let’s read it. I want to back up all the way to verse 1 to get a sense of the context.
In chapter 27, Jesus was crucified.
The baby born that first Christmas grew up, lived a perfect life, taught about the kingdom of God, gathered some followers around Him, and then was treacherously betrayed, barbarously treated, and then cruelly killed.
But He didn’t stay dead! He not only came back to life but after coming back from the dead, He had a mission to send His disciples on.
Here is one of (if not THE) most important facts in human history: Jesus Christ has come back from the dead.
And if you believe that and know that historical fact that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, then that should affect every area of your life.
For the last month, we have been talking about “taking heart” because Jesus has overcome the world.
Well, Jesus has overcome death! Death!
So, take heart!
The title of our message for today is “Sent On a Mission in 2016.”
I like to get sent on a mission.
I love it when someone has a mission for me to fulfill.
Heather says, “Matthew, I need some groceries. Here’s the list. Head over to State College and bring back these items or die trying!” She never says that last part. But sometimes, it’s implied.
“I’ve got a mission for you.”
Now, not all missions are the same. When she says, “Would you take out this stinky compost bucket out to the compost pile?” I don’t get the same exciting feeling.
Do you like to be sent on a mission?
“I’ve got a job for you. Here’s what I want you to do...”
Well, the resurrected Jesus had a mission to give to His disciples, and we are to carry it on today. Look again at verse 16.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.”
Verse 7 and verse 10 recount how Jesus had given instructions to His team, through the women who were the first witnesses to His resurrection, to meet Jesus at this particular mountain in the northern territory of Galilee.
He had promised to show up there, alive! V.17
“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
I love that. How realistic is that?!
In my mind, they are approaching, and they see Him, and they are overjoyed and filled with worship, but some of them can’t help wondering if it’s true.
I mean, people don’t just come back from the dead, do they?
But there He is!
And then in verse 18, as I picture it, Jesus comes to them. Up to this point, they are approaching Him somewhat tentatively wondering whether it’s true. But now Jesus steps towards them, and it’s all true. He is alive! V.18
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Stop there for a second.
Wow. That’s a lot of authority.
That’s about all of the authority that there is, isn’t it?
All authority in heaven.
All authority on earth.
And it’s been given to Jesus.
Now, didn’t He already have that? Didn’t he already have all the authority?
As God the Son, yes.
But now as the resurrected Lord of all, He has that authority in a new way.
He is the King of King and the Lord of Lords, and He is undefeated forever.
Before, He could die. Now, He’s gone through death and won.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (1:18).
And that alone should cause us to worship Him!
It’s right what we’ve done this morning by worshiping Jesus.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to King Jesus, and here’s what King Jesus desires His authority to authorize... verse 19.
“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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Here’s the mission that we are sent on in 2016:
Make Disciples of Jesus Christ.
The main command in verses 19 and 20 is to “make disciples of all nations.”
All of the other commands: going, baptizing, teaching are all participles that explain how to do that main imperative of making disciples.
The Greek word is “Mathayteo.”
To make a disciple.
To make someone into a follower.
We use the phrase, “bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Being a disciple is a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
And making disciples is our mission.
That’s the mission that the risen Lord Jesus gave to the apostles and to His church.
That’s what we’re all about.
That’s what we were all about in 2015, and it’s what we’re going to be all about in 2016.
It’s what Lanse Free Church has been all about since 1892. 124 years of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
And it’s what our family of churches is all about.
This Fall, we watched the videos from the national conference, and they were all about how the message of the church is the gospel and the mission of the church is making disciples of Jesus Christ.
In fact, the vision statement of our association of churches says, “We are praying that God will raise up 1 million disciplemakers impacting millions with the gospel and transforming entire cities and regions globally.”
Your church’s elder board spent time at every one of our meetings in 2015 talking about how we can keep our focus on disicplemaking as a church and also increase our effectiveness at making disciples as a church.
This is what we’re about.
We have a saying here at Lanse Free Church:
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Right?
And the main thing is the gospel.
Our message is the gospel, and our mission is to make gospel-centered disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
A “disciple” is a follower.
These days, with social media, we have lots of followers out there.
Do you follow this person on Facebook?
Do you follow that person on Twitter?
Do you follow him or her on Instagram?
In a sense, when we do, we are thier disciples. We’re “followers” on some level.
But this kind of disciple, a Matthew 28:19 kind of disciple, is following someone on a deeper level.
In fact, it’s following someone on EVERY LEVEL.
Jesus wants us to follow Him and help others to follow Him on every level.
That’s why Jesus says in verse 19 that we baptize new followers and in verse 20 that we teach these followers to obey EVERYTHING He has commanded us.
We are to baptize new followers of Jesus Christ.
First, we tell them the good news about Jesus. We introduce to them Christ.
There is no discipleship without the gospel. They have first have to hear the gospel.
And then when they believe, when they put their faith in the gospel, then the next big step is for them to go public with their faith and identify with Jesus in water baptism.
How many have seen someone get baptized? Most of you have.
What are they doing?
They are saying, “I’m with Him.”
Jesus died for me; I’m going down into the water to identify with Him.
And Jesus came back to life to give me eternal life; I’m going up out of the water to say that I believe that He given me a new life.
And I am claiming Jesus as my Lord.
And when we, as a church, baptize someone, we are also saying that we believe that this person is now a disciple. We believe that they have started the journey of faith, of following Jesus Christ with their life.
Some of you here have not yet taken this step.
Is 2016 the year that you finally go public with your faith?
Notice who is involved when you get baptized. What name do we baptize in? V.19 again.
“...baptizing them in THE name [one name] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...”
One name, one God. But three persons. The blessed Trinity.
That’s big stuff!
To be a disciple means to identify your life with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
That’s following on every level!
And not just at the beginning of your Christian life, but all of it. V.20
“...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Making disciples means teaching these followers to follow Jesus on every level.
Not just to KNOW everything that Jesus has commanded, but to OBEY everything that Jesus has commanded.
True disciples obey their masters.
They don’t pick and choose what they are going to do.
They do what their Lord says.
I think that one of the things that the church in America has neglected the most is teaching our people that they have an obligation as followers of Jesus to do everything that Jesus has asked us to do.
Like, sure you need to love your family, and love your neighbor, but you don’t need to love your enemy.
No, Jesus said we did.
Or, it’s good to pray and go to church, but you don’t have to practice sexual ethics like Jesus said to. You can have sex outside of the covenant of marriage. It’ll be okay.
No, Jesus said that sex is for marriage, and everything else is out of bounds.
Or we give people the impression that it’s good to save your money but optional to give it. No, like Donnie said last week, we are commanded to be grateful givers.
To be disciples is to follow Jesus on every level of our lives.
And it’s our mission as a church to help people to follow Jesus on every level of their lives. V.20
“...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Have you embraced this mission?
Do you see this as YOUR mission in life?
Not just to be a disciple but to make disciples? To be sent on this mission?
This Summer, our youth group is planning to attend the EFCA Challenge Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
And the theme of this year’s conference is “Live Sent.”
Our kids are going to learn about embracing this mission as their mission in life. And get equipped to live the mission out in every area of their life.
I think that’s awesome!
I think a lot of people aren’t sure what their mission in life is supposed to be.
But every follower of Christ has been sent to take part in this mission.
The apostles were told to “go.” To go to the nations.
Now, not all of us are supposed to be missionaries in the cross-cultural sense.
Not all of us are called to learn a new language and go to a people group (which is what a nation is, a people group) that doesn’t have the gospel yet.
We are not all called to be missionaries like the folks whose pictures are on the back wall of this room.
But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t sent on the same mission.
We are all supposed to go, even if it’s just across the room.
And as we’re going, we’re supposed to be making disciples.
We’re supposed to be living missionally.
And we’re supposed to do it together.
Some people think that discipling others is a solo-sport like golf.
But it’s really a team sport like basketball.
Or one of those sports that is both individual and corporate like wrestling.
Here’s my definition of what the church is:
The church is “Jesus’ worshiping community of gospel-centered disciplemakers.”
We do this together.
Nesta Kephart and I were interviewed a year ago for EFCA Today, and that’s what we talked about in our interview. That disciple-making is community-shaped.
Everything we do as a church should be focused on working together to help people follow Jesus on every level of their lives.
So, someone might say, “I’m not a teacher, Pastor Matt. I don’t know if I can teach someone to obey everything that Jesus has commanded.”
And I’d say two things to that. I’d say, first, that you probably teach more than you know. Keep at it. Especially teaching one-on-one with folks by example and explaining why you live the way you live.
But I’d also say, “Can you make a crockpot of food for the Wild Game Dinner in February?” Because we’re working together to reach our community for Jesus Christ and every little bit helps.
What are you good at? What can you do?
Cody needs folks to get involved in the youth ministry. He’s having a meeting right after the service today to find out how people can help to make disciples of our student population.
We have a mission to accomplish.
And we all need to be all in.
Have you embraced this mission as yours?
This is an election year. You probably knew that unless you’ve been a hermit for the last 6 months.
The election is important, and as Christians, we ought to be praying and researching the candidates and making informed choices about whom to vote for this Spring and then this Fall.
But, the election isn’t as important as our mission.
As Christians, we need to keep our eye on the ball.
We need to keep the main thing the main thing.
The main thing is making disciples of Jesus Christ through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That’s what we’re all about.
You won’t hear me talking a lot about the election up here. But you will hear me talking about following Jesus Christ by faith.
Two points of application before we go to the table.
#1. BE A DISCIPLE IN 2016.
Be a disciple of Jesus Christ in 2016.
If you have not yet put your faith and trust in Jesus, I invite you to do that right now.
You can’t make disciples unless you are one already.
Turn from your sin and put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did ont the Cross for you.
Jesus Christ came back from the dead. You can trust Him!
Become a disciple. Take that step of baptism. See me about going public with your faith.
And then follow Him on every level of your life.
Are you following Jesus on every level of you life?
Or are there levels where He’s not welcome?
Are you learning to obey everything that Jesus has commanded?
The goal of being a disciple is becoming like the one you’re following.
Are you becoming like Jesus?
What needs to change?
Do you know what your Lord is like?
I encourage everyone here to read your Bible this year. We have those reading plans in the back.
Are you praying? Are you giving your heart over to the Lord every day?
I’m learning to pray the Lord’s Prayer in 2016. The Lord has impressed upon me to really learn the Lord’s Prayer as a model and guide for my prayers this year.
What about you? Are you growing as a disciple?
Are you following Jesus on every level of you life?
We don’t just want decisions for Christ; we want disciples of Christ.
What needs to change in your life?
A disciple is a someone who is changing.
Who is becoming like Jesus.
Be a disciple in 2016. Publicly and privately follow Jesus on every level.
#2. MAKE DISCIPLES IN 2016.
Get into the game.
Embrace this as your mission.
In whatever walk of life you are in!
If you are a mom, you are a discipler. Your job is to make disciples of your kids.
If you are worker, you are a discipler. Part of your job is being an ambassador for Jesus on the job and influence others to follow Him.
You don’t have to be a pastor or a missionary to take part in this mission.
We all have a part.
Every one reach one!
What can you do this year, this week, this afternoon to help fulfill the Great Commission?
Because that’s what we’re all about.
The years change but the mission stays the same until the end of the age.
And until the end of the age, our Lord Jesus goes with us.
Did you catch that? Jesus doesn’t just send us, He goes with us. V.20
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
By His Spirit, Jesus goes with us on this mission.
We are sent, but we are not alone.
Immanuel! God is with us in Jesus.
We are not alone. We are sent on a grand mission and the Sender will be alongside us every step of the way.