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Disciples Making Disciples

Notes & Transcripts

Mission: The Great Commission

Matthew 28:18-20 | Vince Miller

Good morning. If you're visiting with us I think this is a great morning to be here

because we want to give you a little bit of an update of what we've been doing.

Paul and I have been trying to help in a transition and that's really our responsibility.

Our responsibility is to help this congregation move from our last Senior Pastor to

our next Senior Pastor. During this time we

know that things can be a little unsettling, but we want to let you know that we've

been working hard behind the scenes to provide you with some things and with

some direction we believe will be helpful for the future. Paul Bishop has been

working specifically with the staff and giving them some direction in this interim

time, helping them to understand their roles as it relates to each other while we're

without a Senior Pastor and then giving them direction, moving forward. Also we've

been providing board development for our governing board here at this church,

and I’ve got to tell you that has been a fantastic time. Paul and I both have sat in

numerous meetings with the board talking with them about things like our

constitution, talking with them about theological challenges, working through issues

that they've faced in transition. We've talked about the vision of the church, the

history of the church, the mission of the church, strategy, future goals and values

that they would like to bring together to this body of believers in casting a vision for

the future. Now these have been really invigorating conversations where our board

has dug in deep to the history that Ridgewood has had over many years, and then

trying to figure

out how we can position ourselves as a congregation toward a new future.

Taking into consideration all of this as well as God's truth, I've looked out at an

incredible board of people who do deeply love God and are straining forward

together. Now all these meetings aren't perfect. There are some heated debates

sometimes and some deep discussions and some feelings

that come out. But I’ve got to tell you this board does genuinely look at each other

and love each other, and it's been fantastic for me to witness that over the last four

months that we've been here.

Now out of this time, the board has decided that they want to make some things

known to you. So over the next six weeks we're going to discuss these things

beginning with our mission and values. As they've been pondering over our history

and the new future that we would love to see together, they have designed for us

a mission and values that I believe are really truly biblical

and are going to lead us into a new season. Now the relationship between a

board and its congregation is a delicate one, and at times it can be very unsettling

as well. Obviously this church, as a non-profit organization and also one that falls

underneath the authority of Jesus Christ, believes that what we see in the New

Testament as a structure for an elder board in Timothy and Titus is the design. Not

only that, but we understand that it is our fiduciary responsibility in this world, in

this state, in this government that we have a relationship with the congregation as

well. And so in this there's this delicate balance that happens there, where we as

members vote to elect board members that then come together and by the Spirit

of God, under His truth, speak as one voice on behalf of this congregation, and that

we place ourselves underneath their authority including me. And that we engage

in a relationship of trust with them knowing that we selected them and that they

are designing a path forward into the future. This catalytic relationship is important

on both sides of the fence. Number one that we trust them and number two that

they fall underneath the authority and biblical leadership laid out in God's

Word. And we hope that they're making the very best decisions for this

congregation and for each one of us on behalf of God. Now that relationship can

feel uncomfortable at times, but today I have to tell you that over the past six weeks

there has been much thought, much prayer, many discussions, that have been very

thoughtful and meaningful, behind the scenes where today

we would like to reveal to you what we believe God's mission is for Ridgewood

church in this place in the coming years.

With that what I'd love to have you do is to turn to Matthew 28 this morning.

Matthew 28 beginning in verse 18, I'll read there through the end of the chapter.

And to set this context up while you're turning your bibles there and taking a look

at the text, we have to know that this is the very end of Jesus's life and there's

nothing more important than last words. We hang on them

for dear life. Those last words that someone will speak to us sometimes are the

most important words, and I believe that because this is Jesus Christ saying these

words knowing that He's departing from us, that they're probably some of the most

important words that Jesus Christ will ever say. For many of you these will be very

familiar but I want to take a fresh look at them this morning. It says this:

"And Jesus came and said to them all authority in heaven and on earth has been

given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the

name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that

I have commanded you and behold I am with you always to the end of the age".

Fantastic words. These words are so full of so much truth that you can speak them

for literally a month, but we're going to take one Sunday morning to make two very

important observations

before we share what we believe that the mission for Ridgewood church is.

Here's the first observation that I make about this text. It is this, that in times of

uncertainty and change it is important to lean on mission. In times of uncertainty

and change it is very, very important to lean on mission. I was imagining this week

what it would be like to be these dudes.

They're standing on a hillside, Jesus is looking down at them, and I'm wondering

in my mind what they're thinking. So back your mind up 22 months before. Just 22

months before, less than 2 years, Jesus called His first disciple, follow me. As He

begs him to come follow me, Jesus was going to turn twelve guys’ lives upside

down or we might say right side up. He preached a paradoxical gospel, a sense of

good news that was so different from the world, that we hear a small portion of in

the great Sermon on the Mount. This paradoxical change unraveled their lives, it

unraveled their family traditions, it unraveled the commerce of their lives, the

economy

on how they made money. It called them into deep challenge that was actually

going to cost each and every one of them their lives. And Jesus turns their world

upside down in a very short period of time. He spent day in, day out with each one

of these men, teaching them the secret ways of God and making known to them

that they were in a new season, that the Kingdom of Heaven had come.

But no one told them that He was leaving. He hinted at it, He talked about it from

time to time, but no one had any idea that He was going to be captured, beaten,

spit upon, crucified and die. I mean they weren't expecting that so they're lives had

been turned upside down, right side up then upside down again, and then all of a

sudden in three days we see Jesus Christ, the first man in history to get Himself up

from the grave, defeats death and darkness, defeats sin all by Himself, gets up out

of the grave and starts walking around for a period of about forty days. With this

there's new hope. Life turns right side up again or so we think, until He meets them

in this place,

looks out at them and says I'm leaving again. How might they feel? What's going

through their brains? How do they feel about the political climate, the emotional

climate, the future of their lives, the church, even the persecution that they're

enduring at the moment? Do they think in their minds that maybe the same end

that came to Jesus Christ would also come to them? Were

they concerned about their livelihood? You bet. We find them scared, hiding,

worried about the future and then Jesus brings them a mission. All authority in

heaven and on earth has been given to Me, and I now give it to you. And you know

what He does in this moment? He gives them a mission to lean on, an extraordinary

mission. It's fantastic.

Just a couple of days ago I took my son to a movie, and we saw this movie entitled

“The Walk". It's a story about Philippe Petit, who's a Frenchman, a young man who

came to America with a

mission. His mission was this, extraordinary. He wanted to walk a high wire

between the two tallest buildings in the world, the World Trade Center Towers. The

south tower was still being built, and he looked up at it one day while it was being

built and said, "I'm going to walk a high wire between two buildings". Fascinating

mission, consumed his life, absolutely consumed his life. The entire story talks about

this mission that he had, how he pulled what he called accomplices into this mission,

a group of people that helped him to spy out the building to help him to understand

all the little idiosyncrasies of what it might look to walk a high wire at the highest

point of all the world, thirteen hundred and twenty feet above the ground with no

safety equipment whatsoever, illegally. He called it the coup. And of course we

know that he did it. Just before the completion of the buildings for forty minutes he

passed eight times across these two buildings with no safety equipment

whatsoever at the age of twenty four. He still lives today in New York City,

accomplished his mission. Now I find that to be very fascinating, because in the

story that was told on this film you can see how mission-centric this young man

was

beginning about the age of twenty. He became so fascinated and so fixated on

this moment that he could think about nothing else. All he could think about was

this tiny little picture he saw in the newspaper one day about these two towers that

he was going to walk between and he couldn't

get it off his mind. It portrays him as almost going crazy about this thing. And for

me that is the depiction and the power of leaning on mission, the power of it.

I have a friend named Bob. Bob for a number of years has worked for GE Capital.

GE Capital just dissolved last week. Over the last nine months they've been selling

off portions of this massive billions of dollars industry to a bunch of other

companies. For the last nine months Bob has been wondering what am I going to

do, waiting to hear the news about what's happening,

what's going to happen. What's going to happen? Am I going to stay? Am I going

to go? Am I being let go? Am I going to move to another employer? What's it going

to look like? For nine months he heard nothing. Just stories about hold on, hold on,

hold on, hold on, hold on. But if you've worked in the fortune 500 company you

know what I'm talking about. The essence of the mystery of this moment, the pain

of this moment, wondering do you have a future. Bob is the most incredible

Christian man I've ever met, he's incredible. He loves God so deeply, but I've

watched over the last nine months his entire career just feels like it's coming

undone. All he did the last ten to fifteen years of his life was work with C-suite

individuals in big companies, and this guy feels like his entire life is coming undone.

On top of that, during those nine months, Bob got very, very sick multiple times;

knee problems, back problems, and then about a month ago took some medication

and now his vision is blurred and he cannot stand. He's been in a bed for the last

month and a half not knowing if he has a job or health. And he's been to the doctor

multiple times with multiple MRIs and multiple blood tests, and they can't figure out

what's

going on.

Talk about a man who's living in mystery right now. Bob is living in mystery and I

talk to him about once or twice a week trying to get him to anchor his soul into

mission. It may seem trite,

but it's the most important conversation I can have with him. And he is trying to

keep his life centered in the mission of Jesus Christ amid a very uncertain future,

and if you've been in a situation like this you understand exactly what I'm talking

about and how it feels.

Yet when you look at the Bible there were people down through time who hung on

to mission as an anchor in times of uncertainty. Look back to Moses, handing the

baton off to Joshua knowing that Joshua's going to have to do some things in the

land of Israel that no man has ever done.

Moses takes all of his intellect and wisdom from the land of Egypt and hands him

an understanding of God's history and of how to handle this land of Israel that he

is going to have to conquer without Moses. And so he gives Joshua a mission at

the end of Deuteronomy. It's this, be strong and courageous, do not be afraid for

the Lord your God is with you.

Those are powerful words. They were so powerful that you read them again at the

beginning of Joshua, be strong and courageous, do not be afraid for the Lord your

God is with you. And if you listen to the words carefully they're all about the

character of a human being following God. It's about the internal things that we

build that leads to the difference that we make in life. Moses handed this mission

to Joshua, but then hundreds of years later, David, who is not allowed to build the

temple of God, turns to his son Solomon with all of the resource that he had

gathered, millions and millions and hundreds of millions of resources that David

had gathered together, and because he wasn't allowed to build the temple he had

to build some courage into his son, and

guess what he said to him? Be strong, be courageous, do not be afraid for the

Lord your God is with you.

Let's talk about mission. There's nothing like it in unsettling times when we feel that

our soul is coming undone, our call is to lean on that mission and that higher

purpose. If you look at

Job 1, verse 21, you see some of the most incredible words that come out of a

God-fearing man's heart, mind and soul. Job says this after his entire family is

annihilated, all of his commerce is gone, all of his cattle killed, he says these words,

“Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gives

and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Is that not a fantastic

mission or what? Blessed be the name of the Lord. I believe that for Job that was

his anchor in that time, to call upon God's name regardless of the circumstances of

his life, regardless of the issues he faced, regardless of his economy, regardless of

his relationships

that he had a mission that was a higher mission than any other mission.

I believe that Christians should live a life with more purpose and meaning that

anybody else on the face of this planet. With all my heart I believe that. Because

when I look out at the world and I look out at their fleeting mission, it always leaves

them empty and begging for more, more success and more money, more family,

more traditions, more behaviors, more retirement, more cabins, more boats,

whatever it is that we try to fill our life with. Even walking a high wire will leave you

empty one day, because it always begs for more. I believe Christians live life with

more purpose because their purpose is external to them. Because they've been

given purpose and mission by Creator God to the creation, and when the Creator

God speaks to the creation, He tells it where to go.

So for us who are sitting in this room that call Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior,

we are

designed to walk out into the world with more purpose and meaning than

anybody else in all creation. We should not deter our path from that, and in

uncertain times we lean on it. We lean on it for strength when we feel the season

is changing. And you know why? Because in that moment that we came to Christ,

where we decided to abdicate our ways, we actually laid down

our life's mission before Jesus Christ. And then in that moment we take up God's

mission. It's no longer our way of life and our vision and our future and our

retirement and our ways. It’s now God's way, and we become a slave to Jesus

Christ, abdicating our way, realizing our way is not best. Therefore we are created

for the first time with real purpose and meaning, and that we follow the Designer's

plan for each and every one of us.

I believe that that's what Jesus Christ is handing us here. He's handing us purpose

and meaning,

our design, our mission, clarity for the future. And He says this, "all authority in

heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all

nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe all I have commanded you and behold I am with you to

the very end of the age." And in this unique relationship that we have with God,

where our His purpose becomes ours, there's a synergy of the Spirit that happens

here, where He empowers us to live with meaning like we've never seen before.

And when we own this personally, when we truly personalize this, it can become

beautiful, absolutely beautiful, and then in uncertainty nothing matters.

We've been living through a changing season here a little bit at Ridgewood. I know

that it's not easy to transition from Joel who's been here for well over two decades,

who'd been a man of great commitment and authenticity and character and

leadership. And as he was called away and a transition time comes, it causes our

mind to wonder what does the future hold. But in those

moments we don't lean on our own heart. We lean on the truth of Jesus Christ.

We lean on what He wants, not what we want. And these times are not that hard

for us. When I look at what the church around the world suffers, these are very

insignificant moments where we're taught again

to lean on the mission of Jesus Christ. And the great part about it is He doesn't

conceal it from us, He tells us what it is.

Which brings me to my second observation here, and it is very important. It's the

words in this text. Make disciples. That's our mission. Make disciples. Now we see

that as two words in English when really it's just one word in the Greek; comes from

a root word in the Greek called mathetes, and mathetes is a word that means

student is what it means. It means student, learner,

and you put this action with it because there's an activity placed with it in the

Greek, make, so making students. The object here is the Holy Trinity, or we can say

Jesus Christ who has all authority. So the mission here is to make students, actively

making students of Jesus Christ. Now this is a very, very high and personal calling

to each and every person sitting in this room. If you call yourself a Christian I want

you to own this mission personally, personalize it that it is your and my job to make

disciples.

Jesus doesn't intend for this to be light. He intends for this to feel heavy and

important and critical to the future. He's not talking about simply sharing our faith,

although that's a component of what a student does and what a teacher does, it's

not the only component. Because if Jesus meant for us to just share our faith, He

would've used a Greek word euangelion, which means to share your faith, which

we transliterate evangelism. But Jesus isn't just talking about evangelism here.

He's talking about something more, something deeper, something more

meaningful, make

disciples, which infers so much. But Jesus doesn't just call us to do that without

actually doing it Himself. Jesus Christ did this. In fact I want to suggest to you this

morning that the most important thing that Jesus ever did as a human was He

made disciples.

Now let me convince you of that. Jesus Christ here on this earth did amazing

things. Every one of us probably believe that. Jesus Christ was incredible, He came

born of a virgin, and we celebrate a holiday around that it's so magnificent,

Christmas. He rose from the dead, we celebrate a holiday around that too, it's

called Easter. And between these two holidays He performed things that were

astounding, beginning with turning water to wine, healing people's sight, creating

limbs on people who hadn't walked ever in their life, healing a bleeding woman,

raising Lazarus from the dead and a number of other incredible things that Jesus

Christ did. By

the way, that only God could do. Now those were things that Jesus had to do to

prove to us that He was God in the flesh. But I believe that the most important thing

that Jesus Christ ever did was actually in His human flesh, and it was purely human,

it was call twelve men that were going to carry on the good news of Jesus Christ.

Because you know what, without them we would have never heard of a single one

of these things, ever in our entire life. In fact you're sitting in this room because

someone else poured into you.

The essence of this truth is so powerful but Jesus was methodical about it. Twenty

two months before His death, He said in Mark 1, “the Kingdom of God is at hand”

and then He really began calling followers. At that twenty two month point Jesus

Christ looked out at four men, called four fishermen and said "follow Me". In that

moment, the world was turned upside down. In that moment life changed as we

know it and Jesus, because He never did a single thing by accident, planned

methodically to do this because He knew that He was going to die and that if He

didn't

take the time to develop twelve men, eleven then it turned out to be, critical to

the foreign mission of the church, if He did not develop those twelve men the

gospel's not heard by you and I. Jesus Christ in this moment then becomes The

Discipler, the Chief Discipler, the One who's going to lead us into an understanding

of what it means to be in relationship with God. Now this

is profound, and the act of a disciple maker, making disciples, is very unique, it's

very unique, powerful and important.

I'll never forget my grandfather teaching me how to drive. In fact all those lessons

came back to me as I taught my oldest child how to drive in the recent past. I

learned to drive on a 1959 Chevy Apache pickup truck. Now I'm not that old, I just

learned to drive on this particular truck. It was my grandfather's. In fact we did a

complete renovation of I,t so that on my sixteenth birthday this

would be my car. My very first car was a pristine, nut and bolt restoration on a

1959 Chevy Apache truck, step side, big window in the back, and I got to tell you

there was nothing automatic on this vehicle, nothing, no power steering, no

automatic windows, manual transmission, starter on the floor, slide on the seat, so

seatbelts, no nothing and it was like driving a bus, ok. It was just heavy sheet metal,

heavy steel. I got in this truck for the very first time and I was just a little fifteen year

old kid and I had to sit all the way on the end of the seat because there were no

automatic seats that moved forward, and I literally had to stand up to push the

starter on the floor, had to learn what three on the tree meant and how to navigate

that, big bus like steering wheel. And my grandfather is trying to teach me how to

take off this truck that moves very, very, very slow in this non-sink road

transmission. I can't tell you how many times I grinded that thing into gear, helping

it to find first gear. Man what an incredible experience that was for me.

I'll never forget learning on San Francisco hills how to drive this 1959 Chevy

Apache pickup truck because it is very difficult to take off after you stopped at the

stop sign. I'll never forget the lesson my grandfather taught me about how you're

going to use all your appendages to get this truck going. I was sitting at this stop

sign for the very first time, we'd gone through it, we'd

practiced it. You put one hand on the steering wheel, you throw the non-sink road

transmission into first gear, you put your foot all the way down on the clutch, at

that moment you pull up on the emergency break. I'm using four appendages to

hold this truck from rolling backwards, and I know that I've got to work the gas at

just the right time, letting off the clutch and the emergency break at the same time,

then grab a hold of the steering wheel hoping that I don't hit the car behind me. Car

pulls up behind me, steep hill, all of a sudden I just start sweating. Grandfather looks

over at me, crosses his hands and he says to me you better not ding my truck. It's

funny it

was still his truck for some reason. I was thinking it was mine and he said you

know what, if you want you can go ahead, and some of you probably remember

these moments, you can go ahead and roll back into the car behind you, and I'm

thinking in my head what do you mean roll back into the car behind me? Why would

I ever do something like that? He's like well if you start rolling too fast you're going

to hit him and then you're going to ding their car too, and then I'm going to be twice

as mad at you. So I remember sweating through this moment, got it going, rev the

engine up, slipped everything out, moved forward. Whoo that was over.

I didn't get a beating that night, but my grandfather taught me fascinating lessons

about driving. Every weekend for six months on Saturday afternoons and Sunday

afternoons my grandfather taught me how to parallel park, for two hours twice

every weekend for six months, on San Francisco hills between cars in a non-power

steering vehicle that was very heavy. I'll never forget getting worked over by him

on that. Never hit a car but can I tell you this? I can parallel

park a car anywhere. I'll go out to dinner with my wife and she'll say you can't fit

in there and I'll say yeah I can fit in there. Just to show her how much of a man's

man I am I'll squeeze that little car in there, and I'll get it right the first time every

time within an inch of the curb, and you can ask her. But it's fascinating those six

months of training, discipleship, how much they have

poured into my life, so much so that every single time I parallel park a car I think

of my grandfather; every, single time.

Make disciples of Jesus Christ. I in that moment, was a student of my grandfather

because of his plan, his time, his energy, his thinking, his coaching and mentoring

over and over and over again, and I believe that that is what Jesus Christ is calling

us to here. He's calling us not to just lead people to Christ but to make disciples of

Jesus Christ. And He hangs His mission on the

whole thing, the essence that He calls us in a personal way to do that with other

people. The power of this mission is the future of the church. This is the future of

the church and it hangs on every one of us sitting in this room, as our responsibility

to disciple others for the Kingdom, for Jesus Christ in the authority that He gave us

and in a symbiotic, a catalytic, a synergetic relationship with Him so that He is with

us forever.

But this isn't a new plan, it's an old one. Deuteronomy 6 says this, "Hear O Israel,

the Lord our God, the Lord is one". Jews refer to this as the Sh'ma, which is the

Hebrew word for hear. "Hear O Israel the Lord thy God is one God. You shall love

the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

and these words that I command you this day shall be on your heart, you shall

teach them diligently to your children, you shall talk of them when you sit in your

house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise,

you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, they shall be as frontlets between your

eyes, you shall

write them on the doorpost of your gates". Followers of God in the Old Testament

were so serious about this that devout followers of God would wear phylacteries

on their body. A phylactery is a small leather box that contained these words a few

other scriptures from the Old Testament, and they'd literally strap it to their head

and then bind it to their arm with a strap

wrapped seven times around their hand and then around their middle finger and

they would walk with this around. If you've been into a devout Jew's house, before

you walk in, notice their doorpost. There'll be a small little phylactery nailed to the

door post. They're tiny. You might miss it if you're not looking for it. But a Jew will

have that stapled to their door post because Jews understood that the hope of

God for the future and future generations rest upon the fact that they would take

this so seriously, the message of Christ, discipling those around them as the

hope for the world.

The means of accomplishing this mission has always been us, by us making

disciples. By making disciples of all nations underneath the authority of Jesus Christ

who goes with us in this. We carry the message of Jesus Christ forward, and this

is the mission that God gives to us so personally. It is not a choice, it is an obligation,

an obligation. We must needs do this as Jesus Christ's final words are delivered

from His mouth to us. Yet the statistics show that this is the gloomy season for the

church. Do you know over the last four years that every year four thousand

churches close their door, every year. That is astronomical. Fifty percent of

American churches this year will not add a single member to their congregation,

not one. Sixty one percent of Christians this year will not open their mouth once to

share their faith with another person, not once. And in light of this, your Board of

Stewards give you a mission. Here it is, disciples making disciples for the glory of

Jesus Christ. Amen. I couldn't find a more biblical, a more true, a more mainstay

mission that those words. And through much prayer, deliberation, searching,

they are asking that you join them in this mission so that we can see a new day

for this body and this congregation here. Let’s stand together and pray.

God we are so overjoyed that You brought salvation to our lives, God that You

saved us out of our wretchedness, out of our despair, out of our hopelessness and

gave us a mission, that God by the power of Your work on the cross and Your

resurrection from the dead that You give us hope for eternal life. The beauty of

that is absolutely astounding and God we look forward to the day that we get to

enjoy heaven. In the meantime because You saved us You called us into a beautiful

mission and we pray that we would live out this mission, that each and every one

of us would own it personally and deeply, that God we would embrace it together

as a force, as a force

for the gospel because we know that the gospel is not about building temples

made with hands, it's not about the building of this place, it's about building truth

into the heart of people around us. And God that You looked at the great temple

one day and You said not one stone would be standing upon another because You

knew there was going to be a time where buildings ceased and the temple of the

heart would begin. And God You've called us to be builders in that foundation. God

by sharing with people the truth that's in these scriptures, in parks, in homes, in

workplaces, out on the lakes with people that we know and love that we know need

to hear the truth of Jesus Christ. God this is not a temple made with hands, this is

a temple made out of Your love, grace, mercy and forgiveness spoken through the

truth that You've handed down to us for thousands of years. God I pray that today

that we'd each walk out of this room with a weight on our heart knowing that we

are partakers in the greatest mission of all time, something that gives us more

purpose in uncertain times and helps us to hang on to the future here at

Ridgewood

Church. We pray Lord Jesus that You would bring disciples into this building in

hoards and that God we can march out into these streets and impact the world for

You, knowing God that You still are wanting to redeem the world. We pray this in

relationship with You Father, Son and Spirit, amen. Have a great week

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