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God Sent His Son, part 4

God sent Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ sent the apostles. The apostles send us to the world to preach, teach, baptize, and make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:1; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 26:53; Psalm 139:8-12; John 20:21-23; Matthew 16:18

Jan 05, 2014 12:00 PM


When I mention the word “authorities”, or more specifically the phrase “the authorities”, what comes to mind?  Do you get warm and comfortable feelings of security and safety?  Do you feel at ease when “the authorities”, whoever those authorities may be, are on their way to your home?

Suppose I were to say “the authorities” were going to come to church today.  In your mind, would that be a good thing?  Would it provoke an emotional response from you to know “the authorities” would be paying us a visit?  It would depend upon who those authorities are and what they are authorized to do.

Kim Jong-un, is the supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  Recently, according to a Chinese news agency, he executed his uncle and five other aids who were deemed enemies of the state by stripping them naked and feeding them to a pack of 200 starved dogs.  So if you live in North Korea and “the authorities” come to your house, it could go very, very badly for you.

Power and authority go hand in hand.  Those who have the most authority are enabled by that authority to do whatever is within the legal and legitimate limits of their position.  A boss in a factory has a degree of authority over the workers.  A school teacher has certain rights and authority over his or her students.  A policeman has power and authority to maintain order, and if necessary by force, within his particular jurisdiction.  The US Armed Services have lots of power, but no innate authority.  They cannot use their formidable power except by order from Congress and the President because they have the authority to tell the armed forces what they can and cannot do.

Elders have authority in the church to correct and rebuke and admonish and teach.  Parents have, or are supposed to have authority over their children along with the physical power necessary to maintain order in the home and correct wayward and disobedient children.  Bouncers have the power and authority to physically throw rowdy clientele out of their employers’ establishments.  The the police, the FBI and other governmental agencies (otherwise known as “the authorities”) are authorized to investigate crime and incarcerate those responsible.

We are all familiar with the concept of authority and authorities.  There are those who use their authority well.  And then there are those who do not, such as the maniac Kim Jong-un.  He reminds us of the ego-maniac Nebuchadnezzar who threw Daniel into a den of hungry lions.  He’s like King Herod who sent soldiers to Bethlehem to murder all the little boys because of the threat posed by the infant Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, the King of the Jews.

One of the things that makes this talk about powers and authorities somewhat difficult, especially when so many evil men abuse their authority, is Scripture which tells us that all authority comes from God:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1 ESV)

All governing authorities--including the supreme leader of North Korea, Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod--have been instituted by God.  Obviously they are not all good.  But that does not mean authority is inherently bad.  It  depends upon who is wielding that authority.

We should be very happy to hear Jesus say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 ESV).  What does that mean?  What are the implications of that statement?  Jesus claims to be the possessor of all authority everywhere.  His jurisdiction is heaven and earth.  The entire universe.  It means He is God.  Only God possesses all power and all authority everywhere.  And that, beloved, is a very, very good thing.  All power and all authority, everywhere, and always, belong to Him.  His authority is comprehensive and superior to all other authority.  He is King of kings, Lord of lords, and the Authority over all authorities.

Which means, at the very least . . . He can tell us what to do.

What would be the opposite of authoritative?  Weakness?  Impotence?  Double-minded?  Wishy-washy?  Uncertain.  Unsure.  Unstable.  Tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.  That is what the people of Jesus’ day were accustomed to because of the lack of authority their teachers possessed.

Years ago, a Christian book publisher produced a number of books on theological topics such as the end times and sanctification and other topics that are somewhat debatable.  Those books presented the most prevalent views on the topic being considered.  They were written by some of the best proponents of each view.  I’m sure it was meant to be helpful, but what it amounted to was a confusing mess!  By the time you were done with one of these books, you either had no idea which view, if any, was the correct one, or you were tempted to think it must not really matter which view is correct because if it were all that important, it would be much more clearly taught in Scripture.  That is what happens when people are taught without authority.

The teachers of Jesus day did not teach with authority.  They quoted this, that, and the other rabbi and prefaced everything by turning the opinion light on (like I sometimes do).  But Jesus never did that.  It reminds me of an advertising poster I’ve seen at Hardee’s: “Eat like you mean it!”  Which I think is an outstanding slogan.

Jesus taught like he meant it.  He taught as though what He was saying was right and irrefutable, because it was.  Jesus’ view on Scripture or anything else He addressed was THE right view, not subject to debate.  That tended to irk the religious professionals, i.e. the Pharisees and Sadducees and the scribes.  Whenever they disagreed with Jesus, they were always wrong.  Because He not only taught with authority, but He was the absolutely authoritative teacher.  Only He could teach with 100% accuracy and 100% confidence.  It probably came across to the Sanhedrin as arrogance.  It was undoubtedly humbling.  And they would only take so much humbling.

Jesus did everything like He meant it, because He did mean it. He even went so far as to exert his authority over scripture: “You have heard it said do not murder.  But I say unto you . . .” He said he had authority over the observation of the sabbath: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

With power and authority He commanded the elements to obey His will.  He even exercised authority over nature by commanding a storm to cease and a tree to die.  With authority, He spoke to the sick and afflicted and instantaneously cured them of life-long illnesses.  He instantly reconstructed broken and twisted and diseased bodies.  He even raised people from the dead!  With authority, He commanded demons to depart from the bodies of their helpless, tortured victims.  And on the night of His arrest He said to Peter, Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53 ESV).  He has authority over angels also.

Then, in a display of ultimate authority, he rises from the dead: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Jesus’ authority extends even over death itself.  Over His own death!

And now, in Matthew 28, just in case anyone doubted (and some did), he makes this completely outlandish statement:All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” And there is no one who deserves that place of absolute power and absolute authority more than the Son of God.  We rejoice in it.

Not only does Jesus possess all authority, but His jurisdiction is the entire universe.  He has unlimited jurisdiction.  There is no place, not even Hell, where He does not reign with full authority:

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”

12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:8-12 ESV)

Within the godhead, in eternity past, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit determined that Jesus would be the One who exercises divine authority over the world, over men, over angels and demons, over the entire created order.  Jesus is the One seated upon the throne of Heaven as the King of the universe.

Now notice what we read earlier in John 20:

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23 ESV)

It is here that Jesus bestows apostolic authority upon His 11 disciples.  They are His personal ambassadors, His emissaries, His official representatives in the world.  They are to act, in the physical absence of Jesus, under the full authority of Jesus: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” They received the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I believe in a special sense, to do the special and unique and temporary work of apostles.

The Father sent the Son.  Now the Son authoritatively sends His apostles.  But it does not end there.  Jesus sent the apostles with a specific mission:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

“Therefore”, or “Since I have absolutely all authority everywhere, and for all time, I’m telling you to go.  You are to go everywhere.  You are to make disciples, everywhere, of all people.  I have all authority and I’m commanding you to do so.  As the Father sent me into the world, now, in the same way, I am sending you throughout the world to preach the gospel in every nation, in every place, to every person.  You are now authorized by Me to do so.  So go.”

Now someone will say, “That was just for the apostles.  He was talking to the apostles, not to us.”  Well, yes, that is technically true.  But notice what He tells them (not “asks them”) to do: “Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them all that I have commanded you.”  Well, what did He just command them to do?  Go and make disciples and teach them to do the same.  We are to make disciples also.  We are to preach the gospel the original apostles preached.  Go make disciples and tell them to go and make disciples.

The Father sent Jesus to us.  Jesus sent the apostles to us.  The apostles, with the authority of Jesus, send us by means of these Scriptures to go and make disciples.

Although that is what I believe to be the main point of this text, there are several more things I’d like to point out:

1.  Jesus commands the apostles to make disciples of the Gentiles: all nations. His final word to them was to minister the gospel to the entire world, not just the Jews.  It is not until years later when Peter is basically dragged to the home of a Gentile by the Holy Spirit that the apostles begin to realize Jesus really meant what He said--make disciples of all nations. Their hesitancy to obey His command underscores their lack of understanding of the expanse of His salvation.  The Gospel is for the world.

2.  Disciples are to be baptized.  That is not just a good idea or a suggestion or an option.  It is a command given to those who are making the disciples.  In other words, it is not the responsibility of the new believer, the converted person, to ask to be baptized.  It is the responsibility of the church to teach baptism as a normal act of obedience on the part of the church, and as an expectation of those who are born again.  If someone believes the Gospel, repents of their sin, and trusts in Christ, we as the church are under obligation to the Lord to baptize them.  We’re commanded to do so.

3.  This prescription for New Testament baptism given by the Lord Jesus to the apostles effectively eliminates infant baptism.  Infants are not disciples.  Disciples, i.e. believers, are to be baptized.

4.  When disciples are baptized, they are to be baptized in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not say baptize them in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This, in addition to Him having been given all authority is an overt claim to deity.  Jesus is claiming equal ground, equal authority, equal power, and even the same name as God.  Jesus did most certainly claim to be God right here in this text.

5.  This statement of baptism in the singular name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is also evidence of the Tri-unity of God.  In other words, the Holy Spirit is also God.  The Three are the one God, the “I Am”.

6.  Jesus authorizes the apostles to teach.  Make disciples and teach them.  The primary responsibilities of the church is evangelism and teaching.  It is easy to emphasize one or the other.  It is difficult to do both well.  But that is precisely what we’re commanded to do.

7.  Jesus commands the apostles and us to teach believers the Torah?  To instruct them in the Law of Moses?  Here is yet another authoritative statement: [Teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you. We are to teach Jesus’ commands.  And once again, we are not to teach people what Jesus asks because He never asked us to do anything.  A person who has ALL AUTHORITY never asks anyone to do anything.  We are to obey what Jesus has commanded in His word which is basically found in the New Testament but not in contradiction with the Old Testament.  They are both, together, the word of the Lord.

8.  Finally, we are not alone in our going and preaching and teaching and baptizing.  Jesus is about to leave the apostles.  They will watch Him ascend into heaven.  They will see Him enter into the clouds and disappear.  Even so, His final word to them was, “I am with you always and to the very end of the world.” Jesus’ authority extends even over time itself.  It is the Lord Jesus who will bring this world to its final destination and conclusion.

The proclamation of the Gospel is not an entirely human endeavor.  It is and will be accompanied by Christ Himself until there is no further need to preach it.  He has sent the Holy Spirit to empower the preaching of the word.  He sends angels to minister to those who will inherit salvation.  He has given us the inerrant and infallible revelation of God, the Scriptures.

God sent His Son.  The Son sent the apostles.  The apostles, with the authority given to them by Christ Himself, sends us to the world with the message of the Gospel.  And Jesus said with complete authority, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 ESV)

Are we being obedient to Christ’s command?  When you are a part of the church of Christ, you are participating to some degree in an undefeatable, supernatural work commissioned by Jesus Himself.  How involved are you?  Are you going?  Are you teaching?  Are you making disciples?

We as a church are part of Christ’s plan to take the Gospel to the world and build His church.  We are part of something far larger than what we see here.  The Lord Jesus has sent us to this place to be part of the fulfillment of His plan to save His people through the proclamation of the good news.

My question is this: Are you in the game?  Or are you just on the team?  Or are you only watching from the sidelines while others carry out the work?  Let’s pray for conviction from the Holy Spirit, and grace from God, to carry out the work He has given each of us to do here in this place or wherever He may lead us to go.


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