22 October 2017
GO AND MAKE
WE DO not forget the last words of those we love. On the contrary, we treasure them. Why? Because they remind us of them. That is especially true if their last words are uttered as they take their last breath here on earth.
Matthew wrote about the last words of Jesus. He tells us that they included a call. Just before he left this world he told his disciples to go. They were to go to the people of world. They were to go to them with a specific aim in mind. They were to teach them. To teach the people, that is, about Jesus Christ.
We know why. It was so that their hearers would become disciples of Jesus. That is, that they would turn to him, come to know him, love him, listen to him, learn from him, follow him, and live for him.
We read these last words of Jesus at the end of Matthew’s gospel (see chapter 28 verse 19f). You have probably read them. Or it may be that you have heard them read.
I ask you to spend a few moments thinking about what Jesus Christ calls his people to do. What I would like you to do especially is to think about why Christians are to go and teach the people of the world about Jesus Christ.
We shall not say every-thing that could be said. But we will say that there are at least six reasons why you and I want to heed Christ’s words.First, Christians tell others about Jesus because it is what they are commanded to do. At this point some will say that the words recorded by Matthew at the end of his gospel were spoken by Jesus to the eleven apostles who went to the mount which Jesus told them to visit (Judas, the twelfth apostle, was dead, having killed himself). But we should not use that fact to assert that the command was only for the apostles.
There are at least two reasons why we can say that what Jesus said to the apostles he also says to all Christians.
(1) All Christians are to proclaim how excellent Jesus Christ is (see 1 Peter 2.9).
And (2) the apostles did not behave as if they were the only people who were to make known who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and what Jesus promises.
Note, for example, that Paul told the Christians of Colosse to let the Word of God dwell in them richly as they teach and warn each other (Colossians 3.16). And we think of those Christians who were put under pressure because of their love for Christ Jesus. Being scattered abroad they went every-where proclaiming the word of Christ (Acts 8.4).
Secondly, Christians tell others about Jesus Christ because they know it is their duty. Our responsibility is to obey. It is to do God’s will. Failure to heed his commands is no minor matter. It reveals that your love for Christ is seriously defective. Those who love him do what he commands (John 14.15). And they do it gladly.
God’s sovereignty and our duty go hand in hand. We do not emphasise one and neglect the other. God is active. He is working his purposes out. Not one of his decrees shall fail. Christ will build his Church (Matthew 16.18). Nothing shall stop or impede that work. God is sovereign.
How does he build his Church? God, who sovereignly rules over all things, uses people. He uses his people. Their responsibility is to hear and heed his will.
The primary means appointed by God by which men and women come to faith is the proclamation of his Word. Faith comes by hearing; by hearing, that is, the Word of God (Romans 10.17).
Who is to share God’s Word with those who do not yet believe? All believers, who as God’s children, are to make him known to family, friends and strangers. Each one is called to function as salt and light in this world.Thirdly, Christians tell people about Jesus because they love them. They love their enemies, as Christ teaches us to do (Matthew 5.43). Love for all people is a distinguishing mark of a Christian. That love is seen in the way they long to see people come to know and love the Lord Jesus.
The Saviour the Christian knows is the Saviour the Christian wants all people to know. But people need to discover who the Saviour is. That happens when Christians speak to others about who Jesus is. It happens when they declare the praises of the Christ who has called them from darkness into his most marvellous light (1 Peter 2.10).
Put another way, Christians make known what an excellent person the Lord Jesus Christ is. They tell people that he is God made man. They tell them that Christ became a man so that men and women may be reconciled to God.
The love of Christ within them constrains them to make known the love of God for mankind. They are eager that people should discover that God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that all who believe on him should not perish but have life (John 3.16).
Fourthly, Christians tell others about Jesus because their hearts are full of gratitude. Being deeply aware that they do not in anyway deserve what they enjoy through faith in Jesus Christ, they express their heartfelt thanks to God by making him known.
They know that they are freely forgiven. With thankful hearts they seek to tell others how they too can find forgiveness.
They know they have been born again. They know they are anointed with the Holy Spirit. They know that God lives in them. With grateful hearts they tell others how they too can know that new birth and anointing.
They know they shall never cease to enjoy the love that God has for them in Christ Jesus. With hearts filled with praise, they tell others that, through faith in Christ, they can also be assured of a place with him in heaven for ever.
Fifthly, Christians tell others about Jesus because they want to please God. That is the driving desire of their hearts. As a child wants to please his or her parents so believers want to do that which is pleasing to God.
They know that God takes no pleasure in the death of sinners. They know that God wants to see those who oppose him turn to him and be transformed. And knowing the God-given means by which rebels may be reconciled to God, Christians seek to please God by making his Word known.
They are prepared to declare it in season and out of season. They do so by the way they live as well as by what they say. They live godly, holy lives. They speak of their Saviour praying that those who do not know him will seek him whilst he may be found. And they long to see people not cease to seek God until they find him.
And sixthly, Christians tell others about Jesus because they have a burning passion in their souls to glorify God. Why does mankind exist. We have been created by God to enjoy him. We exist to worship him. We do not exist to further our reputation or status before others. We are not here just to live a life of leisure. And we do not exist merely to seek money or wealth.
We need money to purchase food and clothing. And we need to rest and be refreshed. But, at the same time, we know that the pursuit of these things alone produces misery. It does not and cannot create lasting happiness. True peace, happiness, and contentment are found in God alone. Therefore, desiring to ascribe all the praise and glory to him, we speak of what God has done for us.
We point away from ourselves to Jesus Christ. Yes, we are to be those who bear witness to him; and we are to be those who yearn to see people reconciled to God, yet, as we do so, we do not seek to draw attention to ourselves. Our aim is to decrease so that others may see the loveliness and glory of Jesus Christ.
We speak of him who humbled himself and took manhood to himself. We speak of his perfect childhood. We speak of his public ministry. We speak of his miracles. We speak of his arrest and trial. We speak of his death on a cross. We speak of the fact that he is risen, and that he lives to receive all who call upon him for forgiveness. We speak of the fact that those who embrace him with faith immediately begin to enjoy life in all its fullness. And we speak of the glories of heaven that those who love him shall enjoy for ever with him.
In this way Christians go to teach others about Jesus. As they do so they see people from all nations become disciples of Christ.
How active are you in doing what God has called you to do?
George Curry 15 October 2017