The other day I got an email, “Steve, are you in season?” I knew what that meant. It meant that I needed to deliver a message the next day, 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says to preach the word, be ready in season and out of season. (my paraphrase) I agreed and was eager to deliver the men’s breakfast message. At first I thought I was going to pull out a message I had preached before. It was Friday night and I had until Saturday at 9:00 A.M. to be ready. Sometimes I feel that God speaks better through me when I do not have as much time, it makes me more dependent on Him. Usually when I have extra opportunities to deliver a message, I use a message I had used before and maybe alter it some, or a lot. I thrive on audience feedback. What I mean is that builds up confidence and I become a more energetic, passionate and animated preacher. So, if I hear an “Amen,” or see people nodding, making notes, opening their Bibles it helps me. I don’t mean that in a bragging way. I mean that my confidence is up and if my confidence is up God works through me more because I am more relaxed. A stoic atmosphere shuts me down. At the men’s breakfast I enjoy preaching because the group is very engaged.
Having written all of that. I started thinking about my Matthew 28:19-20 message and then God started giving me new ideas. Or, these ideas came to my head and would not stop and since they were Biblical, I believe they are from God.
I try, try and try to break free of notes and simply preach from my heart. So, my notes do not do this past message justice, but they are below. Make comments as you wish. I apologize in advance for any typos and I hope it flows okay. They were my notes and I don’t like to read them, but help me move through.
“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”
The church’s marching orders come from:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
So, if you are here and you are a believer in Jesus Christ that means that you are here to reach other people with the Gospel. Do you realize this? Our churches have for far too long been filled with people who are gluttonous with everything but passion for the Gospel. We have been gluttonous about our preferences. We have been gluttonous about our favorite Theology, and theology is great, but it must convict and compel us to the Gospel, otherwise we are stuck in 2 Timothy 3:7: Always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the Truth. For too long we have been coming to great knowledge but the knowledge doesn’t compel and convict us to set the captive free. So, if you are a believer in Christ, you are now in the Lord’s army. My job is to be a drill sergeant. Imagine a war scene.
You are all in the military and you are on a rescue operation. People have been taken prisoners. People are taken hostage. They are taken hostage by the devil and he holds them hostage in sin. They don’t even know they are hostages. They are caught in Stockholm syndrome. It is your job, it is our job to get them out. We have to rescue them. Once they are saved they become disciples in order to rescue others.
Matthew’s Gospel begins and ends with the idea that Jesus will be with us always. Matthew 1:23:
“BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them,“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
The whole New Testament is about the Gospel
The word Gospel is used 97 times
For the most part, every New Testament letter, or book is about evangelism: let’s talk about a few and then come back to Matt. 28:19-20
Matthew seemed to address problems that were primarily where Jewish Christians were a prominent part of the audience and where these Jewish Christians kept a closer relationship with the synagogue and non Christian Jews. There is a tension focused on in Matthew between an exclusive mission to Israel and the mission to non Jewish nations. (Mt. 10:5-6; 23;15:24; 1:5;2:1-12;8:5-13; 12:21; 13:38; 15:21-28; 21:33-43; 22:1-10; 24:14; 27:54; 28:19-20) According to D.A. Hagner we cannot take one side of the other on these. Matthew still has a message on target to gentile Christians. These are to gentile Christians who may fail to value the Jewishness of Jewish Christians pressuring them to minimize all Jewish practices that were a threat to the gentile believer’s sense of equality. (DeSilva 237-238)
One of the purposes assuming a pre 70 AD date is to help Christians dealing with the persecution under Nero. (or after) Another purpose is that the shape of discipleship must follow the pattern of the rejected Messiah. Mark writes about the purpose of discipleship as well as maybe to comfort Christians or also to encourage Christians who are reserved about sharing their faith in persecution. Mark deals with things like a proper understanding of the statement, “You are the Christ”. (Mk 8:29) Mark also deals with the believers responsibility to Jewish Scriptures, the Law, Torah, etc. This is a guideline of how the Christian community is to connect with the Torah. He is writing to nourish the Christian community. (DeSilva 198)
Luke and John are the only Gospels that give their purpose: “an orderly account that he hopes will enable Theophilus to know the truth about the things which you have been instructed.” Not merely a historical work but to confirm the commitment made and instruction received by Theophilus and other Christian readers like him as they joined the movement. Luke clarifies the position of the church with regard to the Roman Empire. Luke focuses on the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people. He does talk about Theodicy which is how God did in fact fulfill the promises of the OT to the house of David. There is a Christocentric reading of the Jewish Scriptures extending this to the early church. (DeSilva 307-310)
Many suggest that this Gospel was written as an evangelical Gospel. We can even make John 20:31 as a purpose statement. “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.”
I already read Acts 1:8. Acts is all about the spread of the church from Jerusalem to Rome. Acts is all about what Mark Driscoll calls Riot evangelism. Paul comes into an area, a riot breaks out, people are saved and he moves on. Maybe that is what we need in Alliance.
Romans: 1:14ff: I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Romans 15:14ff: And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. 15 But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.17 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but as it is written,
“THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE,
AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND.”
1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians are written to a church that had been planted and now needed some discipleship.
So we have 1 Corinthians 15:1-14:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to [c]James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
The Prison Epistles:
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are all full of evangelical Theology, these are fresh, new churches.
1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians have a theme of people who have lost loved ones and were worried that they were going to miss the resurrection. So we have:
1 Thessalonians 4:16:
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
The Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus: Building up the church in proper Theology for the church’s purpose. Proper Theology leads us all to evangelism, convicts us all to evangelism.
New Jewish believers struggling to live the Christian life in persecution. So they start thinking that the old way, the Jewish way would be easier. The writer is proving that Jesus is greater than Moses, that Jesus is greater than the Angels.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for [a]sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
James: The Proverbs of the New Testament, making sure the Christians works match their belief.
1 Peter, 2 Peter: How about 1 Peter 3:15:
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 John, 2 John, 3 John: Just look at chapter 1 of 1 John:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
2 and 3 John are trying to keep heresy out of the church.
Jude had turned aside from writing a letter concerning the “salvation they share” to instead write a letter address a problem with itinerant teachers bearing a message that Jude considers incompatible with the Apostolic Gospel.
The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, the law that we could not keep to Christ who took care of our sin.
“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”
What are you most passionate about? Put aside your preferences. The Bible is about the Gospel:
1 Corinthians 9:16: For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.