Faithlife
Faithlife

Going In Obedience

Coming to Going  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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“GO everywhere and TELL everyone the Good News.”

“GO everywhere and TELL everyone the Good News.”
“Come!” I’ve said it before and I’ll say as long as the Lord lends me breath, “Come!” is one of the greatest words ever spoken by Jesus—and He said it more than a few times. Just picture Him – in your mind – as He says,
“Come”
“Come to Me all who are weary…”
“Come to Me [and I will give you rest for your soul.]
I can almost hear Him on the final day of the feast suddenly scream out to the crowd, “Come to me all who thirst”
“Come and see.”
“Come follow Me!”
In fact, the word COME is used five times in the last four verses of the Bible.
That’s where we started several weeks ago…with the Good Shepherd compassionately inviting us, the weary, scattered sheep OF A THOUSAND HILLSIDES to follow Him, to COME.
We have all come to Him, weary and scattered like sheep who didn’t have a shepherd—some of us were broken, some of us just plain tired, some were young, some of us came to the Good Shepherd when we realized something was missing in our lives. But somehow, somewhere, at sometime we heard the gracious invitation, “Come!”
And we came… (unless you haven’t)
From there we grew, as we joined with others—we grew in numbers—that’s always exciting!
And we grew in purpose—and in understanding of why we exist; and what God has in store for us. In the Message Eugene Peterson paraphrases to say, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for…”
We watched as the disciples ventured out and grew in faith and in ability—just as God means for us to do. To test what we’ve been taught—you know try God’s Word on for size.
We watched as the disciples ventured out and grew in faith and in ability—just as God means for us to do. To test what we’ve been taught—you know try God’s Word on for size.
We saw how upset Jesus got when the Pharisees insisted on ritual purity while their hearts were a hot-mess. He told the disciples, “except your righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees you’ve no part in the Kingdom of God.”
And we were challenged to grow in devotion—a hundred years ago General Catherine Booth wrote that the three things we were short on in The Salvation Army were Simplicity, Purity and Devotion. I daresay things haven’t changed much.
As Paul said, “The spirit is willing—but the flesh is weak.”
We came; we grew; and now it’s time to GO.
Pray…

GO

Years ago Pam and I used to GO to a retirement center once every three months or so. We were given an hour to hold a meeting for those who wanted to attend. Five minutes to preach and 55 minutes to sing their favorite songs and one song that was always chosen is the song, In The Garden.
I come to the garden alone,
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
It starts out with the word I love so much: “I come…” I heard the invitation, I answered, I came. And still He invites us, to come. Austin Miles, the author of the song, kindly phrases the beginning of the song, “I come to the garden”; not I came. Not a past tense, not a once and for all deal— “I come…” I hear the invitation and I come. Over and over I come—perhaps this morning you’ve heard or you will hear the invitation—and you will come to the garden. Then “He speaks”
And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
2.
It starts out with the word I love so much: “I come…” I heard the invitation, I answered, I came. And still He invites us, to come. Austin Miles, the author of the song, kindly phrases the beginning of the song, “I come to the garden”; not I came. Not a past tense, not a once and for all deal— “I come…” I hear the invitation and I come. Over and over I come—perhaps this morning you’ve heard or you will hear the invitation—and you will come to the garden.
Austin Miles was a pharmacist whose hobby was photography—but at church he was the song leader. He was even known to compose a few. His first try at having a song published went so well he was offered both a contract and a job as an editor.
Then one day the publisher wanted a song that was “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line, one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows in dying beds.”
Miles turned to the 20th chapter of John for his inspiration—Mary Magdalene in the garden with Jesus. In his own words, “I seemed to be standing at the entrance to the garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary.” He says as he saw the picture in his mind the words just came to him and he wrote them as fast as he could.
Verse three says, “I’d stay in the garden with Him…” wouldn’t we all? wouldn’t we all? But it continues, “But He bids me GO…”
GO—sooner or later we all get to that point—the point where He bids us GO. Not to GO from his presence—but from the comfort of the garden. Not to GO from His rest, but still—to GO about His work. Not to GO on without Him—but to GO with Him to work He appoints us to do.
Jesus says in "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would GO and bear fruit…” (NASB)
Evangelical Christians have always loved the evangelical part—or the GOING. But these days even evangelicals aren’t so crazy about the going part.
In , Jesus said to them, “GO into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Mark’s gospel has the shortest ending of all the gospels—and there is some debate about whether Mark authored the last few verses—but in Mark’s get-right-to-the-point style—Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith; for not believing that He had risen from the dead.
And then after getting on them for their lack of faith, He tells them to GO. Let me just suggest that if faith isn’t an option—then neither is going.
Not everyone can GO to Kenya—though I suspect more can than do. Not everyone can GO to Haiti—but lots do. But there are lots of places we can GO. In one of the great turn of events in the history of world religion—countries like South Korea and Japan are now sending missionaries to the United States because we aren’t answering our own call.
In fact, one Japanese denomination has been recruiting American ministers to plant churches in S. California. Some of these churches will speak Japanese – but most won’t. They see the need—God said GO and so they are.
Certainly The Salvation Army is on the move—we are in over 130 Countries worldwide. Why? In the words of Austin Miles, is because “He bids [us] GO”. Jesus said, “I chose you, and appointed you that you would GO …” (NASB)
He bids [us] GO into a world of woe.” All The World
All The World
But as gentle and wonderful and poetic as Austen Miles is with his song—and though it does a marvelous job a rousing me gently from my tendency to hang out in the garden—He doesn’t bid me GO! Ministry is never intended to be purely personal—He bids us to GO and He bids us to GO into ALL the world.
The word “all” here is emphatic— what does ALL mean? Well in the Greek there is no doubt what all means.
We might say ALL sometimes but not really mean ALL. We call it painting with a wide brush. All men are lazy. Well that may be generally true—but all trombone players aren’t. In Greek “all” means “The Whole!” Jesus didn’t mean everywhere except some places. But how do we obey a command as vague as “GO into all the world?”
Well, I like Paul’s approach—Paul wanted to GO where no one had gone before. He was kind of the Apostolic Captain James T. Kirk—remember Star Trek and its 5-year mission to GO where no man had gone before? says “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”.
If we, the Christian Church, are really going to obey the great commission, we have to stop reaching out to the reached out to, we have to stop calling the called, and we have to stop evangelizing the evangelized. There are enough sinners to GO around.
Recently I heard a church that had just opened, advertising on a Christian radio station for potential members. I’m not sure, but I’m pretty certain that most Christians listening to the radio already had a church home. There might be a few out there that were unhappy with the place they were going—but this new church was reaching out to those who had already been reached out to. They were trying to steal members of other congregations.
But why do that? Why not advertise on a secular station? Why not advertise where Christ isn’t as well known?
If we would be obedient to the Great Commission we don’t need to GO around the world—but we do need to GO where Jesus isn’t yet known. That might be next door. It might be at work. It could be a member of your family - but we do need to GO. Friends...
Though all four Gospels tell the disciples to GO, they stayed.
Of course they were told to stay until the Holy Spirit came—but He came and still they stayed.
They were having such great success, 3,000 were saved after Peter’s very first sermon, so they stayed.
Jesus said “GO into all—emphatically—the entire world.” But they stayed.
If you study the history of the early Church, you will discover that God had to chase the early Christians out of Jerusalem with PERSECUTION. God used Paul before he accepted Christ to spread the gospel by making it uncomfortable for Christians to remain in Jerusalem.
Most of them had come for one of the Jewish feasts, accepted Christ, and then stayed. Until God chased them home—until He chased them to wherever in the known world they had come from.
Let’s not make God chase us into the world.

Proclaim

Many versions have Jesus telling the disciples to Preach the Gospel—but we can get so hung up on that word “Preach”. Because preaching is something the professionals do.
Perhaps a better word to use here is “proclaim”. Or if you like to keep it real simple, you could simply say “tell”. How simple is that?
“GO everywhere and TELL everyone the Good News.” That’s the Major Clay version—and it ain’t bad.
All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have a version of this same commission. Though their language may vary—their point is consistent—tell out the good news! We must!
But here’s the problem—most of us are like I was when asked to give my testimony at an open air. I was so scared that I was sick to my stomach—though I had given my testimony plenty of times—it was always in front of a friendly crowd. So, I tried to muster up the courage to obey the great commission.
Turns out Jesus isn’t interested in our mustered up obedience. He wants only your grace enabled obedience. While we are tempted to make it a matter of our will, and we can certainly disobey the great commission (and frankly I suppose we do it all the time) so it does involve our will – but we are meant to understand that obedience is a matter of depending on the grace of God.
I could probably—and should probably—preach a whole sermon just on obedience to God, because we always, without fail, try to make it a morality issue, a matter of our behavior; when it is a matter of God’s grace.
Diane LeClerc, in her wonderful book, Discovering Christian Holiness, writes,
Obedience to Christ and His law is not something we must muster up, trying as we might to desire to be faithful and act faithfully. (i.e. share our faith) Grace is given so that we are empowered both to desire and to do the will of God.
It is one of those clever things about God—in obedience towards God—as we are obedient—comes the grace to be obedient. “Grace is given so that we are empowered both to desire and to do the will of God.”
You may not want to GO and you may not want to preach, proclaim or tell—the good news—but the Grace of God can help you want to, and then can help you do it.
Remember it wasn’t until the priests’ feet touched the Jordan River that the water parted. They didn’t know what God was going to do—and God didn’t spoil the surprise.
Conclusion:
I wonder why it is we are so hesitant to share our faith? Is it possible we aren’t sure of the good news? After all, we live in a postmodern, post-Christian world. It’s possible that even you, as you sit here this morning, aren’t convinced that God really is love, or that the law of Christ (including the Great Commission) is a law of love. Yep, we postmodernists don’t take anything for granted.
Well I have good news for you; the message of Christ can meet the needs of those in our age. God has always been faithful, He is faithful and He will always be faithful. “Jesus Christ” says the author of Hebrews, “is the same yesterday, today and forever!”
Again, Diane LeClerc writes, “When a person submits himself or herself in obedience to Christ, he or she finds God to be a solid rock.” In other words – they discover that God won’t let them down.
That’s good news for you if you’re struggling to obey the great commission—it’s also good news for those you’re led to share your faith with!
Obedience to the Great Commission is simply obedience to Christ’s law of love—in fact it is the most loving thing you can do for someone. And as you obey God, He pours out on you the grace to obey. So, step in and get your feet wet—the world is in desperate need of the Good News that you possess.
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