Here is yesterday sermon from Proverbs 16:16-19 and Isaiah 59 “Do You Hate What God Hates?” Do you have a category in your mind where God actually expresses a hot hatred toward sin? Proverbs 6 lists seven sins the Lord hates. Yet, in the gospel, God loved us so much to send Jesus to take the wrath of that sin He hates so much.
A few weeks ago, over seven area evangelical churches met together for a night of worship and prayer. I pray with six other pastors in our area every Wednesday and we have committed to support, encourage, and motivate one another to gospel unity in Northeastern Colorado. This community worship service was birthed out of our relationship as pastors in order to model this unity and encouragement that we experience ourselves to overflow to our respective churches.
The theme of the evening was joyful obedience to the Great Commission as evidenced in Jesus words in Matthew 28:19-20: “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What is the main verb in this passage? It starts with “go” and in our English translations we may think that “going” is the main thing we are to do. Go out! Get going! Go door-to-door! GO! “Go” is NOT the main verb. It is actually what is called a participle or a modifier of the main verb. Usually participles end with “ing.” It really should be translated “as you are going.” So Jesus assumes that we are already going. Jesus assumes that we would be making disciples in our daily lives as we go. We are commanded to make disciples in the natural ebb and flow of our lives within our current relationships.
No in fact, “make disciples” is the main verb in this sentence. It is the primary command. Jesus tells us that we have fallen short of the mandate if we don’t make a disciple. There are two other participles that connect to the primary command. They are “baptizing and teaching.”
We then must ask the question, what is a disciple? If we are called to make one then we need to know what one is. The first qualifier is that a disciple is a believer who has made his or her profession in Christ public through the waters of baptism. This is a person who has been immersed under the water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism does not save you, but it is a beautiful symbol of how God has saved you by grace. It symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as well as it illustrates the death of our old life in sin whereby God has raised us to new life in Christ. If you have not followed Jesus in believer’s baptism by immersion I encourage you to make an appointment with your pastor to discuss this in more detail.
But the second qualifier is that we are to be teaching believers. But it doesn’t end there. Notice how specific Jesus was in His wording. We are to teach them to observe or obey all that Jesus commanded. So it’s not just teaching for information, but teaching for transformation. This involves more than just dumping Bible trivia into our heads so that we are full of knowledge. Instead it involves immersing ourselves in God’s Words so that it takes root in our lives and translates to active obedience. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” One of the crucial roles of the church is to facilitate the spiritual growth of believers to grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Craig Blomberg asserts, “The verb ‘make disciples’ also commands a kind of evangelism that does not stop after someone makes a profession of faith. The first of these (baptizing) will be a once-for-all, decisive initiation into Christian community. The second (teaching them obedience) proves a perennially incomplete, life-long task.”
Are you a disciple of Jesus? Have you trusted Him alone to forgive you of your sins? Are you committed to making disciples yourself? Are you part of a Great Commission church? I pray that all of the Bible-believing churches in Northeastern Colorado and around the world remain firmly committed to obeying Jesus’ Great Commission.
Craig Blomberg, Matthew, New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1992), 431.
How do you know if you’re truly saved? Many Christians struggle with assurance of their salvation. They often wonder if God loves them less when they are struggling with sin and that He must love them more when they are living the “victorious Christian life.” Evangelicalism has been plagued by an overwhelming confusion between justification and sanctification as the ground of our assurance, position, and acceptance in Christ. Romans 5:1–2 reads, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
When sinners trusts in Christ for salvation, two permanent transactions occur—(1) all of their sin is credited to Christ, and (2) the perfect righteous record of Christ is credited to their account before God. Based upon this great exchange, God declares us not guilty, accepted, and forever in positive standing before His holy throne. We have peace with God. We have access to God in grace. This is the truth of justification and should serve as the basis or foundation for our assurance of salvation.
We must clearly understand how our assurance of salvation is rooted in what God alone has done for us in Christ through the power of the Spirit. In other words, our foundation for acceptance by God lies in the imputed righteousness of Christ given to us through justification. This is the objective reality that we must always put first when examining our salvation.
Yet, the Bible also speaks about sanctification, which is our growth and progress in godliness. Justification refers to our permanent position, while sanctification refers to our steady progress. 2 Peter 3:18 states, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” As believers, we should be growing in our faith and showing demonstrable evidence that we are genuinely saved. You should at times examine your life to see if you are bearing lasting fruit and growing in Christ. Yet, this progress is not the basis of God’s love for you. His love for you is constant based upon the righteousness of Christ, not your performance.
Whenever you experience doubts, anxiety or stress about your performance as a Christian, do not look within yourself to evaluate your acceptance by God based on your growth. God’s love for you does not fluctuate depending on your performance. Whenever you measure God’s love for you based upon your growth, this can lead to frustration, guilt, or even pride.
Instead, by faith, look outside of yourself to Christ and find your identity in who He is and who you are in His imputed righteousness. The Reformers differentiated between two kinds of faith—a reflective faith that looks inward for signs of personal faithfulness as opposed to direct faith that looks outside to Christ alone as the basis for my assurance.
How do you know you’re truly saved? Have you trusted in Christ alone to forgive you of your sins and are you resting in His finished work on the cross? Do you believe what the Bible says about one who is saved, instead of relying on your feelings to gauge whether or not you think God accepts you? The first answer to the question lies in trusting in the objective work of Christ and the doctrine of justification.
Yet, you must also examine yourself to see if you are showing signs of spiritual growth. Are you reading your Bible? Praying? Gathering for public worship? Partaking of the Lord’s Supper? Fellowshipping with other believers? Sharing your faith? These are marks or evidences of growth in your life, but they are not the basis, grounds, or foundation for your salvation. They are evidences, but not the foundation. The sure foundation is your permanent position in justification. The evidence of your salvation comes in the slow and steady progress in your sanctification. Confusing the two can become spiritually disastrous.
Jonathan Edwards said, “Pride is the worst viper that is in the heart and the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communion with Christ…the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts.” The sin of pride hides deep within the recesses of the human heart and inevitably leads to many grievous offenses. The scary thing about pride is that we often do not see it in ourselves, but clearly see it in others. We are blinded to our own arrogance and self-sufficiency and become complacent and lulled into a deadly sleep when it comes to dealing with pride in our lives.
What does God feel about the sin of pride? Proverbs 8:13 says this, “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” In fact, the sin of pride is an outright abomination to the Lord as evidenced in Proverbs 16:5: “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” Listen to this stark warning from Proverbs 16:18-19: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” The apostle James also admonishes us to be aware of the dangers of pride in James 4:6 when he writes, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Clearly we can see from the Scriptures that the living God hates pride. He opposes it, abominates it, and will not tolerate it. And yet how many times do we get wrapped up in pride and arrogance and think to ourselves that it is really no big deal. We make excuses for our pride and try to justify our attitudes and we do not truly see how God actually feels about this inexcusable sin.
So how do we humble ourselves before the Lord and kill the sin of pride? 1 Peter 5:5-6 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” Pride is a ruthless enemy like a cobra who strikes when we least expect it and causes tremendous damage in by its venom.
The sin of pride can only be combated with a healthy dose of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His cross. John Stott encourages us with these words: “Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross that we shrink to our true size.”
It is only when we look at Christ on the cross and realize that we as depraved sinners should have died ourselves that we shrink to our true size. We are humbled by the grace and mercy of a loving God toward ill-deserving sinners. We are brought to our knees in desperation and thankfulness that Christ would dare love such sinners as us and forgive our sin and shame when He Himself was the perfect Lamb of God.
So how do you fight pride in your heart? You do what the great Puritan John Owen prescribes. He said, “Fill your affections with the cross of Christ that there may be no room for sin.” Fill your heart and mind with the glories of Calvary. Fix your eyes on Christ alone. Constantly look toward the all-sufficient Savior who rescued you out of bondage to sin and frees you to make much of Him, instead of making much of yourself.
Why do you and I exist? A Google search for the phrase “Why do I exist,” produces 11.8 million hits. Amazon has 24 books with the title “Why Do I Exist.” There is no shortage of resources on finding purpose and meaning in life. As humans, we have a fascination with finding ultimate purpose in life. Since we are created in God’s image, He has hard-wired us to try to answer this ultimate question of why we are here on planet earth. The comprehensive and Biblical answer to that question is summed up in the famous line from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This statement is not the answer you will hear from the world. The world says that life’s meaning is wrapped up in self-centered pursuits of pleasure. The world’s mantra is this: “The chief end of man is to worship myself and enjoy as much selfish pleasure in the here and now as I possibly can!”
Think of all the commercials that you see in a given week. They try to sell you the message that YOU are the most important thing in this world. They sell you the American dream that since you’re the center of the universe, you deserve to have whatever it is they are selling. Even within the church we are often coddled into thinking that we exist for our own glory and not for God’s. We often think God is a genie in a bottle that exists for our comfort.
Isaiah 43:6-7 reads, “…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Why has the sovereign God of the universe created us? Was He lonely up in heaven and needed companionship? Absolutely not! We must never think of God as needful of anything. He is the self-existent powerful God who created all things. He formed and made us as His children so that we would display His glory back to Him in joyful worship. Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
This word for “glory” in the Old Testament Hebrew (kabod) literally means “weight” or “to be heavy.” In summary it means that as His creation, we should view God as weighty and worthy of honor. The glory of God comprises His splendor, majesty, weightiness, holiness, and power that are intrinsic to His nature. He is absolutely glorious.
Psalm 29:2 reads, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” What does it mean to “ascribe” glory to God? Do we add to His glory? Do we somehow make Him more glorious than He already is? Absolutely not! To ascribe glory means to give Him what He alone deserves. We don’t add a measure to His glory, but we reflect back to Him the glory that He inherently has. He is worthy. He is majestic. He is powerful and glorious, and as a result, we are called to live such a life that would put on full display this glory of God to a watching world. This is ultimately why you and I exist! We exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
What is genuine revival and spiritual awakening? How do we truly know when God has poured His Spirit out on a people and granted them repentance? How do we know what it looks like when an entire community is transformed by the gospel?
The book of Jonah illustrates for us how God can transform and save an entire city in one day that is entrenched in wickedness, violence, and depravity. Jonah, the prophet of God, is called to go preach against the great city Nineveh, and instead of fulfilling his mandate, he flees to Tarshish aboard a ship. God poignantly gets Jonah’s attention through a massive hurricane and Jonah is thrown overboard, but yet is saved by grace through the most unusual “submarine”—a great fish. Jonah learns that “Salvation is of the Lord” and then is vomited up on dry land and is commissioned to preach a second time to this wicked city Nineveh.
In Jonah Chapter 3, we see five distinguishing marks of true repentance, revival, and spiritual awakening that serve to encourage us as we share the gospel in Northeastern Colorado and desire to see God pour out revival in our community.
The first thing we see is that God is most pleased to use the powerful preaching of His Word to confront sinners with their guilt and to lay them bare before His holiness. Jonah’s message was very simple, “Yet forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown!” In other words, God would utterly annihilate them if they did not flee the wrath to come by repenting of their sins. Hebrews 4:12-13 reads, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” In every great revival in the history of the world, the preaching of God’s Word has been central. Notice how these wicked, violent Ninevites responded in Jonah 3:5: “And the people of Nineveh believed God.” They trusted wholeheartedly in the Lord for salvation because the preached Word had done its amazing effect in their lives.
Secondly, when genuine revival comes upon a people, it is wide-spread and comprehensive. We see in 3:5 :“They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” The entire city (120,000 people) from the greatest to the least responded in repentance and faith toward the living God. When God pours out revival, it doesn’t just affect as small few, but impacts an entire community.
Thirdly, when God pours out revival, genuine repentance is evidenced by a heart transformation that is most demonstrated through mourning of sin and prayer. When this message “touched” the heart of the king, he traded in his royal throne and stripped himself of all pride, autonomy, and position, and mourned in an ash heap. He grieved his personal sin and humbled himself before the Lord. In times of revival, sinners mourn their sin and cry out mightily to God in prayer. The king issues this command in verse 8: “and let them call out mightily to God.” The Hebrew word for “mightily” means with violent earnestness! When God grants revival, genuine repentance manifests itself in a wide spread prayer movement where people cry out earnestly and zealously to God and desire more of Him.
Fourthly, genuine repentance always bears fruit in that sinners turn from concrete sinful behavior. Notice that the king also says this in verse 8: “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” Repentance means more than just feeling sorry for our sins and grieving over possibly getting caught. Instead, true repentance means that there is a genuine, wholesale turning from personal sin and trusting in Christ alone for salvation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10: “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Lastly, in times of true revival, sinners come to the full awareness that they are totally dependent on the sovereign grace of God for salvation and cannot demand from Him anything. The king humbly and in brokenness declares in verse 9: “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” He doesn’t appeal to his rights as king, or to his merit or goodness or position or sovereignty, but totally understands the sovereign right of the living God to show mercy and compassion to whom He wants to show mercy and compassion. All sinners can do is to cast themselves on the mercy of Jesus alone for salvation.
I pray that God would so pour out His Spirit of revival upon our community where the Word of God is preached in power every Sunday in our area churches. I pray that God would impact this entire area with spiritual transformation that is widespread. I pray that all of us would mourn our sin and cry out mightily to God in prayer and that a powerful prayer movement would sweep across this dry land like a prairie fire! I pray that sinners would turn from concrete, specific sins and trust in the living God and that there would be true behavior changes. I pray that the sovereign King would pour out His mercy upon sinners in salvation through Jesus and that every single person in Northeastern Colorado would love and worship Christ the Lord.
Today is the final day of this 21-day devotional. We exist to Disciple for God’s Great Commission. We do this by going, baptizing, and teaching for transformation. We also desire to present everyone mature in Christ. We seek to engage the lostness right here in Northeastern Colorado.
As a church, we are not satisfied with just making disciples in Northeast Colorado, but we are commanded to make disciples of all nations of the world. Our vision is global, because God’s vision is global.
Read Matthew 28:19-20
Notice that according to the Great Commission we are to make disciples of all nations. Not just here in our own backyard in Sterling. But as a Great Commission church we are to be engaged all over the globe. Whether that be in India, Russia, Nicaragua, or any other places with unreached people groups.
We have to have a “both/and” strategy. We need to be an Acts 1:8 type of church.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We cannot be content or satisfied with a very myopic and limited view of missions and disciple-making. We need to have strategies as a church that hit Jerusalem. What are we doing right here in Sterling to impact our community? How are we engaging lostness here and making disciples?
But also, how are we impacting the state of Colorado? The United States? Canada? The ends of the earth?
Our mandate as a Great Commission church is to make disciples of all nations.
Are you praying for our missionary partners in Russia, India, and South Asia? Maybe God is calling you to go on one of our next overseas trips!
The final critical issue in relation to being a Great Commission church is this: As a church, we can be successful the way God defines success because of the authority and the presence of our Lord Christ!
This gives me great confidence because when I look at the task before us it is daunting. Making disciples of all the nations of the world!!! Engaging a lost culture with the gospel!! I faint just thinking about it. And the beauty of being a Great Commission church is that Christ promises His authority and His presence so that we are not alone. It is by His grace and power that we can accomplish this.
Notice in Matthew 28:18 that Jesus tells us that all authority has been given to Him. By virtue of the gospel—His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus has been endowed with ultimate authority and sovereignty. So as we engage culture, make disciples, and become a Great Commission church, we go, preach, teach, engage, share, love, invest, and pray in the authority of Jesus. He is our Commander in Chief and we submit to Him.
But not only does Christ promise His authority but His very presence. In verse 20, he promises to be with us always to the end of the age.
He is with us. He goes before us. He undergirds us. He sent His Spirit to indwell and empower us. He is with us. Always.
In order for us to be a Great Commission church, it requires that you become a Great Commission Christian.
Let me ask you some questions:
- Will you see your mandate to make disciples?
- Are you growing yourself as a disciple?
- Are you burdened by the idolatry that you see around and you want to rescue these POW’s?
- Are you overcome with compassion for the lost?
- Are you willing to engage this lostness through building bridges, and being salt and light and sharing the gospel?
- Are you living in the confidence that the authority and the presence of Jesus goes before you and that He will be with you always, even to the end of the age?
John 17:18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Jesus has sent us into the world to engage lostness with the gospel. Let us pray that we will be intentional, loving, compassionate, and clear as we communicate the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection to a lost and dying world.
Let’s review our mission statement as Emmanuel: We exist to (1) display God’s glory, (2) declare God’s gospel, and (3) disciple for God’s Great Commission.
Would you wholeheartedly embrace this mission in your personal life as well as your involvement with Emmanuel?
This 21-day journey has been about refocusing on our mission as a church. And we can accomplish this mission with our without a physical building. But God in His providence has led us to build our current building as a tool for ministry.
In order to be faithful for the future, would you prayerfully consider committing financially above your tithe for the next 2 years to pay down the debt?
More importantly, would you continue to embrace God’s biblical mission for our church as we display God’s glory, declare God’s gospel, and disciple for God’s Great Commission.
Spend some time in prayer asking for wisdom from the Lord to give you direction about how you will move forward in obedience to Him.