On A Mission For God

We are facing a new year with lots of challenges ahead of us. Personally and corporately, we are on a mission for God. Our mission statement in Makati Gospel Church is “Glorify God by Multiplying Biblical, Committed and Loving Followers of Jesus Christ.” This defines our church.

That’s why we will focus on an aspect of our mission statement in our Sunday messages starting today until February. Allow me to explain what I call the “M=GC3 Strategy.”

First, let me share Our Mission: MASTER’S GREAT COMMISSION. We read this in Matthew 28:18-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.’”[1]

Here it’s clear that the Lord promised us His power (“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”) and His presence (“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”) if, and only if, we fulfill His great commission. Now what’s the Great Commission? People think that the words “Go,” “make disciples,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are four commands. But, in the Greek, the only command is “make disciples.” “Go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are participles or the means to make disciples. In short, “Matthew 28:18-20 has just one command with three supporting action words which explain how to accomplish the command.”[2]

Basically, a disciple is a follower. “In the NT this term becomes almost a technical term for the followers of Jesus...”[3] In the Greek, “make disciples” is an active, imperative verb. Imperative means it is a command. So, we are disobedient if we are not leading people to become followers of the Lord. It is in the active voice which means that we do the work of disciplemaking. God will not do it for us.

Was this command limited to the original Apostles? Acts 14:21 says that in the city of Derbe Paul and his companions “proclaimed the good news... and made many disciples”.
[4] And Paul commanded 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.”[5] Thus, the Great Commission applies to all of us.

Now, “going” has to do with winning or sharing the Good News to people. That’s how we start making disciples. Jesus did not command us to make converts. It’s God’s responsibility to convert or open up a person’s heart to Him. He commanded us to go and reach out to people with the Gospel. But, once the person accepts the Lord Jesus as Savior, it’s our responsibility to lead that person to grow as a follower of the Lord. That is why we are to make disciples, not converts. We are to lead the convert to become a committed follower. We baptize the person. Baptism means “pledging submission to His lordship.”[6] Then we build him up to maturity and teach him “to obey everything [Christ] have commanded [us].” Colossians 1:28 says, “We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so that all of Christ’s followers will grow and become mature.”[7] We are to equip people to make disciples who will make disciples who will in turn make disciples. So our mission is the Master’s Great Commission.

Second, let’s look at Our Motive: MASTER’S GREAT COMMANDMENT. When asked what the greatest commandment is, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[8] Though we have two commands here, note that Jesus said that “the second is like it”. That shows these commands are a unit. We cannot have one without the other. We love God and people. We love God by loving people. 1 John 4:20-21 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

The Great Commission is the “what.” We are to make disciples. The Great Commandment is the “why.” We are to love God and people. We pursue the Great Commission because of the Great Commandment. We glorify God when we fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Third, let’s look at Our Ministry: MULTIPLY GODLY CO-WORKERS. Here in our church, we believe that every member is a minister. Every worshipper is a worker. God called and gifted all of us to serve Him. The Lord had set the benchmarks for His followers.

God called us to multiply. The Great Commission made that very clear to us. We are to be fruitful followers for the Lord. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”[9] If we do a study of the word “fruit” in the New Testament, we see that it does not only refer to character such as “the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control[10] but also to “converts as the results of ministry”.[11] In Romans 1:13 Paul expressed his desire to visit Rome and preach the Gospel there “so that [he] may have some fruit even among [the Romans], just as [he] already have among the rest of the Gentiles.”[12]

God also called us to be Biblical. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
[13] To hold on to His teachings means to obey them. A true follower of the Lord is an obedient follower. That’s why in the Great Commission Jesus said we are to teach people to obey everything He has commanded us. For us, we teach the Bible not just to increase our knowledge but to change our lives. The Bible is for transformation, not just information.

God also called us to be committed. Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and shall not hate his own father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple; and whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”[14] That’s shocking! You may be saying, “Wait a minute! What does it mean to hate everyone I love including myself?” I like how the Good News Bible clarifies it for us: “Those who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me more than they love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and themselves as well.” That means that if our love for others and ourselves would look like hate when compared with our love for God.

Now, what does it mean to “carry one’s cross”? The death penalty at that time is by crucifixion. If their mode of death penalty was by electrocution, Jesus would have said, “Carry your own electric chair.” It means we are to deny ourselves and to die to ourselves in order to obey God.

Thomas Constable wrote, “Jesus mentioned two qualifications for being His disciple. First, one must be willing to give up his or her primary allegiance to family and self. Second, a disciple must bear the burden of public identification with Jesus even to death if necessary”.[15] We are to love and obey God in everything and above everyone. Following Christ calls for our utmost commitment.

Lastly, God called us to become loving followers. Jesus said, “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”[16] Here’s another way how we can express our love for God. It is by loving each other. This is the best testimony we could give the world. As I’ve said last week, though doctrine is important, the world does not care if we have the right doctrine. What they cared about is how we relate to each other as a church. That’s the challenge. We must live out the truth by loving each other. People come to our church with problems. Now if they see us quarrelling, then they not join us. They would say, “I have enough problems of my own. I will not add to it by becoming a member of your church.” Jesus prayed the night before He was arrested, “I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.”[17]

If we put all these points together, we will come up with our mission statement: “Glorify God by Multiplying Biblical, Committed and Loving Followers of Jesus Christ.”

Someone wrote, “We go where our vision leads us.” I call upon each one of you to join us in fulfilling our mission statement because all of us are on a mission for God.

Let us pray...

[1]Bible verses are from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.
[2]Dr. Dann Spader, The Everyday Commission.
[3]Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
[4]NET (New English Translation) Bible.
[5]2 Timothy 2:2.
[6]Dr. Thomas Constable, Notes on Matthew 2000 Edition.
[7]Contemporary English Version (CEV).
[8]Matthew 22:37-39.
[9]John 15:8
[10]Galatians 5:22-23.
[11]Mounce.
[12]NET Bible.
[13]John 8:31.
[14]Luke 14:26-27.
[15]Dr. Thomas Constable, Notes on Luke 2000 Edition.
[16]John 13:14-35.
[17]CEV.

Note: Pastor Cortez delivered this message last Sunday, January 7, 2007, at the English Service and the Mandarin Service of Makati Gospel Church.

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