My assignment for this series is the last line of the great commission of Christ: teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.
Let me begin with these questions:
Who taught you about Jesus?
Did they baptize you and teach you to obey all that Jesus commanded?
Are you obeying His commandments?
Are you going and making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded?
As I understand it, the Central Church of Christ is focusing on discipleship, is that right?
Who here is a disciple of Jesus Christ? Raise your hand.
Who here is obeying all that Jesus commanded? Raise your hand.
Who here is uncomfortable with those questions? Raise your hand. Why?
“…teaching them to obey all I have commanded you,” says Jesus.
Let’s explore that this afternoon and see what we discover and measure how we are doing.
When I think about this amazing commission of Christ to His 11 apostles, the impact is staggering. First: Go and make disciples of whom? All nations! This tiny band of uneducated Galilean Jews is handed a God sized task. You realize, of course, that we are here today because of this commission. The Dalton Church of Christ is part of the result of what Jesus put in motion way back then and way over there. Your life and mine have been impacted by Jesus through His life and His mission and the work of those who obeyed all that He commanded.
As Butch Jones must have told you weeks ago. Jesus didn’t start the commission with a commandment to go. Jesus’ commission rests on what He said before that. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Therefore, go….
This leads to our first point: Teaching to obey, begins with authority to command. Jesus Christ is not just a nice religious figure that we do church services to celebrate. Jesus Christ is the King of the universe. He shares the throne of His Father. To say, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” is not just a religious statement. This claim of ours that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, must be embraced for what it means. And it means a lot.
Since I’m the last speaker in this series, I’ll be leaning on what you’ve already heard about this month to make my point, because “Teaching them to obey all I commanded you” rests squarely on what precedes it. So if you’ll bear with me, there should be some repetition and review as part of this message.
You must realize that everyone of us is guided by SOME authority that we trust, even if it’s just our own mind or heart. To obey a commandment is to follow what some authority tells you. We like to go to authorities for all sorts of help: doctors, lawyers, judges, preachers, teachers, friends.
Most of us have learned though, that authority figures may know a lot, but they don’t always know everything exactly like they should. Doctors make mistakes. Lawyers miss evidences, judges misjudge, preachers proclaim errors, friends give bad counsel. Parents can be wrong.
Just imagine Someone who has all knowledge and all wisdom that can guide with perfect judgment and command with absolute authority. Can you even imagine that? Imagine a guide for life that is absolutely right and completely flawless every time. How’d you like to know and follow that kind of authority?
This leads to our second point: Teaching to obey involves building trust in the authority that commands us. Our U.S. currency is marked with the statement: “In God we trust.” Our pledge of allegiance speaks of “one nation under God.” These statements contrast one another in this way. We may be one nation under God, but do we as a nation trust God? God is the ruler of all nations, and originator of all governing authorities, says Romans 13. Yet, these governments don’t all trust God, even though they will answer to Him whether they trust Him or not.
If given the choice, we will only obey authorities that we trust. Think of what this implies. God has allowed us the power to say “yes” to His authority or “no.” That’s huge! That’s actually astounding! You and I choose whether we will accept the authority of Christ and obey Him, or not. God preserves our right to choose or reject His authority over us. How can this be? How can Jesus Christ have all authority and yet we get to choose whether or not to submit to His authority? How does that work? Eph. 4 speaks of one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.
Some Christian theologians say that God’s sovereign control over all leaves us with no free will. We are either chosen or not, before the foundation of the world. They would argue that God’s authority and sovereignty demands that. The truth is, God does know. He knows us. He knew Judas would betray Jesus before Judas was born. God raised up Pharaoh to display His powers that God’s glory might be known throughout the world. God knows. If it’s a question of whether God can or can not have absolute authority and control over every aspect of this universe, I vote for God. In fact, there are scriptures that plainly state that God IS in control of all things. Yet, the same scriptures also tell us that we are responsible for our deeds. How can this be? How can we have free will to choose and God be absolutely sovereign? I don’t know.
How can Jesus be both fully divine and fully human at the same time? How can God be one God in three persons? I don’t know. But I trust God. I’m not His adviser, I’m His creation and I have decided to submit to His authority and I believe and trust Him and I wish everyone else would too.
God allows us to choose to trust Him and obey Him. God WANTS us to trust Him and obey Him. God has proven Himself worthy of all our trust and obedience. He has purchased us with the blood of His own Son. He has redeemed us from bondage to sin. He has provided us with all we need for life and godliness. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has invited us to His table in eternal glory. He has given us His Spirit. He has chosen us to be His people. He has appointed us to serve as royal priests. He has made us a holy nation. He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
I trust God. I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I submit my life to His authority in obedience to everything He has commanded. Be bold! Confess the truth! Trust Him! Obey Him.
What does it mean to obey all that Jesus Christ has commanded? It simply means that we choose to follow Him and be like Him. Everything Jesus commanded, He did.
That leads to my third and final point: Teaching others to obey all Jesus commanded requires my obedience as an example.
Paul said over and over: follow me as I follow Christ. How did Paul make followers of Christ? He proclaimed the gospel to them, baptized them, and gave them both Christ’s instructions and his example to follow. Paul constantly reminds the disciples he made of his own way of life and example. He does this without apology.
Parents: how many of you tell your children to be like you: the way you pray, the way you read and obey God’s word, the way you live your life, the way you serve Christ, the way you reach out to others. How many of us can say, “I wish everyone was as committed to Christ as I am.”
If I can’t say that to you and mean it, I need to repent. I need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I need to learn to obey all that He commanded and submit my life to His authority.
Is there something holding you back? What’s so important to any of us that we can’t fully give ourselves to Jesus Christ?
Mark 10 tells of A rich young ruler comes to Jesus to ask a question: Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus points him to scripture and lists some of the commandments. All of these I’ve kept from my youth, says the young ruler. Mark 10:20 says that Jesus looking at him and loved him and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go, sell whatever you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.”
What did this young ruler choose? If he could go back and do it again, what do you think he would do? Why?
I’m teaching a homeschooling class the gospel of Mark. Wow! Jesus is amazing! Mark talks about Jesus’ authority all through that gospel. He has authority to heal sickness and cast out demons. He has authority to cleanse the lepers. He has authority to forgive sins. He is Lord of the Sabbath! In chapter 3 he appoints the 12 as apostles and gives them authority. In chapter 4 Jesus is in a boat with his disciples asleep and a storm comes and is swamping the boat. They wake Jesus up and say, “Master, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus gets up, rebukes the wind and waves and they immediately calm, then he says to his disciples, “Why are you so fearful? Where is your faith?”
They ask, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey Him!”
Yes. Amazingly, everything in Mark’s gospel, including the demons, obey Jesus, all except the people. Only a few trust and obey the King of kings.
God ordained it so that we must choose. He will not drag you to glory. If you go to heaven, it will be because, by His grace, you trust and obey Jesus Christ.
Don’t be fooled. Jesus said, “Not everyone that says to me, Lord! Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord! Did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name driven out demons, and in your name done many wonders?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you! Depart from me you workers of lawlessness.”
These words are preceded by Jesus saying, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will recognize them.”
Making disciples is the work of a disciple who has been taught to obey all that Jesus commanded, and does it.