“The Marching Orders of the Church” by Pastor H.B. Charles
What does it mean for the church to be on mission for Jesus? First, you must believe the claim Jesus makes.
Jesus declares, “All authority in heaven and in earth has been given to me.”
Notice that Jesus here claims more than power. He claims authority. Power is the ability to get things done. But authority is jurisdiction, freedom of action and the legal right to use authority
Note the scope of Jesus authority. He says, all authority. I wish I had time to just list the sphere of authority of Jesus, but let me sum it up for you to say if Jesus has all authority, it means nobody else has any.
Now note the specifics of His authority. He says, “I have all authority in heaven and on earth.” Jesus is declaring that both Satan and his army of demons and Michael and his army of angels must bow to the authority of Jesus Christ.
But not only does He have authority in heaven, He also has authority on earth. He is Lord of course over the communion of the saints but He is also Lord over the world of unbelievers.
So what whatever the culture says about the church? So what whatever the president may decide? So what whatever congress rules on?
Jesus has the last word and if He is in charge of heaven and earth, let’s preach with joy and confidence that His kingdom shall come and His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
If He has all authority in heaven and earth, it means the church can’t succeed if we depend on any other authority. He’s in charge of the church.
Secondly, to be on mission for the church means you must obey the commission Jesus gives.
Verse 19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
This is the divinely commanded, all-inclusive, non-negotiable mission of the church. The singular imperative. The main thrust and the central idea of the text is this call to make disciples.
Note that Jesus does not give the disciples permission to make disciples for themselves.
Pastors, we must not build little kingdoms for ourselves in the Lord’s church. He does not tell us to make disciples for ourselves. He says you are to make disciples for him, and that does not just apply to pastoral ministry. Every disciple is to make disciples. No believer and no church is faithful to Jesus Christ if your primary work is not obedience to this commission Jesus gives.
Verse 19 begins with the word “go” and that makes sense because you can’t spell gospel without first spelling the word “go.” But Jesus does not tell the world to come to the church, He tells the church to go the world.
The word “go” is a modifier of the main verb. Literally the text would read, as you are going, therefore make disciples.
He does not tell them to “go” suggesting they sit on the mountain otherwise. He knows that they are going but He says as you are going let me shape what you do as you go.
As you are going, make disciples. As you are going where? As you go to church, and home, and school and to market.
In other words, Christian discipleship is to be the believer’s lifestyle, not a ministerial elective. What we do on Sunday morning is meaningless, useless, and fruitless unless we are training and equipping our people to be witnesses for Jesus on Monday morning.
Discipleship is both an event and a process. It’s a moment in time when a convert is baptized and initiated into discipleship, but at the same time it’s a three-fold process.
We’re going to bring the lost to Jesus for salvation, we’re going to bring them to church for baptism, but then He says we’re going to bring them to maturity by teaching them.
Man-centered worship services, therapeutic preaching emphasis, and pragmatic ministry programs may pack the crowds in, but it won’t make disciples. If disciples are going to be made in the church, when the shouting and singing is over, somebody’s got to teach. Somebody’s got to open the word of God and explain truth to the people about Him.
He says don’t just teach selectively. Don’t just teach your pet doctrines, your hobby horses and your favorite subjects.
He says you’re to teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. Don’t pick and choose. Which means, if we’re doing our job some Sunday’s they’ll leave shouting and some Sundays they’ll leave mad.
Don’t just teach that they’ll know better. Teach that they’ll do better. The goal ain’t for them to have a notebook full of sermon outlines. The goals is for life transformation, not just mental education. Teach them to observe, to obey, to submit to “all that I have commanded you.”
We must believe the claim Jesus makes. We must obey the commission Jesus gives. But then we must embrace the comfort Jesus shares.
That’s verse number 20. Jesus here does not promise I will be with you. He announces, “I am with you.” Not only is it a personal assurance. It’s a perpetual assurance. “I’m with you always.”
There’s not a time, not a season, not a moment, not an experience, not a problem when the Lord isn’t with us. We do our work not only with the power of Christ but also with the presence of Christ.
The omnipotent one of verse 18 is the omnipresent one of verse 20. Not only do we have a transcendent Lord, we also have an eminent savior. Divine sovereignty is not only on our side, it’s by our side.
There are times when you feel all alone. There are times when you don’t have anybody to stand up and speak on your behalf. But I want to tell you, you ain’t in this by yourself.
When the burden is heavy and the night is dark, He’s there. When your friends are few, He’s there. When the storm is raging, He’s there.