By Deacon Yomi Sanusi
Our focus this month has been the study of ‘all power in heaven and earth’ given to Jesus Christ and delegated as authority to us- Christians. It is time to take a few minutes and encourage ourselves to remain faithful to the Great Commission, and not be discouraged. We must recognize that every act of faith and obedience will not be met by immediate success, and be under no illusions about any prospect of ease or comfort in our necessary labour on God’s Great Commission. We must speak up and discharge the requirements of this great task, knowing that the accompanying power and the very presence of the Lord have been made available to us.
To illustrate the situation and background leading up to the proclamation of the Great Commission, and declaration of the accompanying divine authority, let us examine the background provided us in John chapter 12. The events in John 12.23-36 are illustrative of why we should never be discouraged. Jesus proceeded to complete the task before him in spite of the responses he was met with from people, culture and the establishment. At the start of this portion of scripture, Jesus was happy to answer questions and enlighten people of current affairs, and events that were soon to happen with Him at the centre. It was well known among believers and scripture scholars that he – the awaited Messiah-would soon die in sacrifice for the sin of the world. Jesus had spent everyday teaching and preparing them. He had prepared his disciples, friends, family, the community and the authorities for this event. The Jews were fixated in their belief system, customs and traditions- all of which were challenged to the core by ‘this son of a carpenter among us’.
It was therefore not surprising or unusual when the group of interested Greeks came searching, wanting to understand for themselves and know for certain what they should believe; and by consequence what they should report to others when they returned. They were the non-Jewish or gentile enthusiasts and potential believers in the work of God. They came to Jesus for crucial confirmatory field research. Jesus was physically right before their eyes and spoke directly to their ears, foretelling of his death. God directly spoke in an audible voice, providing immediate and direct confirmation from heaven.
Unfortunately, the people decided to refuse to believe Jesus, or give account or evidence for the reasons for their unbelief. It did not matter what the truth was, the overwhelming historical evidence, or instant wonder and sign in the voice of God, or miracles wrought prior. They simply refused to believe in God’s way of deciding and establishing salvation for the humanity He created.
In our daily life, we are bound to encounter excellent, genuinely God-seeking, logical, intelligent and able people of unquestionable moral standing, character and reputation. Their responses to or outlook on God must never determine our decision to obey the Great Commission and exercise the authority Jesus purposefully devolved and delegated to us. It may not so appear to anyone, but he will be there keeping us company!
Let’s revisit our Anchor Text from Matthew 28:18-20: “18. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The setting of that event was a pre-agreed location on a mountain in Galilee. The Lord Jesus had agreed that location with them before he died. The timing was after he had died and risen up. Through the suffering, death and resurrection Jesus never forgot the purpose and plan to meet them there, before his ascension to heaven.
Among his audience were at least the eleven men disciples he had spent a long time with and trained up. Although he had agreed on the location with them before they saw him captured, tortured, dying, dead; and he was speaking to them physically in resurrected flesh at a location they agreed together before his death, and despite their years of intensive training and travelling together -some still managed to doubt him.
This is remarkable since these were the relatively very few people, those who knew him best and that should have understood the history unfolding before their eyes. They should be most spiritually aware of God’s plan and way of working. They had counted all other endeavours in life less important compared to spending time with him and learning from him for more than three years. Not only for those he called and personally disciple. The evidence and proof were there for everyone he did not directly call. They chose to ignore him. Whose attention might Christ be calling today? We must seek and save the lost, expose to them the witness of Christ, answer queries according to scripture, and allow them to respond to God- not us!
We have his personal and solemn assurances. Jesus Christ himself will be with us perpetually as we carry out the great commission. That is sufficient encouragement, consolation and compensation in this age of materialism, hatred of God and perdition. The immediate verses following iconic scripture John 3.16 bear witness to the judgment, condemnation and perdition inescapable for all who somehow manage to ignore this great salvation. Jesus Christ had to resort to hiding himself from the people, right after faithfully telling them eternal and undisputable truths about their own destiny. Jews, Greeks, the cultured and the religious, the learned, the unschooled and the vulgar equally had the benefit of instant direct verification of those facts by the audible voice of God. They had their own reasons to interpret that evidence in a way that agreed with their momentary worldview and philosophy. People are no different today. The task for believers remains unchanged.
We will do well to remember to rejoice always (Phil.4.4), regardless of the difficulties in discharging our duties given the Great Commission? Our continual rejoicing in God is relevant to remembering and fulfilling the great commission. He never lies, sleeps, slumbers, fails or stumbles. In fact according to 1 Thes 5.24. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Despite Jesus Christ hiding away, he continued in his work of salvation. People did not believe him but he still went to the cross to die for them. If God did not give up we should not! We should remember his assurances that He alone is the lord, that is His name. He says He will be glorified, and there is none beside Him. (Isaiah 42:8)
Around and about us whatever the prevailing fad, philosophy, politics or convention of humans; however overwhelming some may be the perfect response is to draw near to God- hide away and renew our strength for obeying Him and continuing in this Great Commission, backed by divine power.
In rounding up let us remember the story told by Christ Jesus- the story of Lazarus and the unnamed rich man in Luke 16:19-31. The facts of that story impose on us that like Lazarus and the unnamed rich man had and were compelled to use the evidence they had in relation to choosing their eternal destinies- so are we too.
It is telling that the Lord chose this conclusion “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
It did not matter if God came down to declare wonders, miracles and signs, people will take the stance that will damn their soul to unending perdition. Only divine intervention could dent that. We have our instructions. We must watch out for the biggest hindrances 2 Tim 3.1-9. At the minimum we must stick to what you know- 2 Tim 3.14-15- and be prepared to take repose in Him and renew ourselves.
Our role is never to impress or arrogantly confound, convict of sin, condemn to perdition, pass judgment, or defeat in argument. These things are already accomplished.
We have our convictions and encouragement based on scripture. The righteous are bold as a lion, and will never be shaken. The sinner shall never have peace. Those that refuse to believe Jesus are already judged, as perdition awaits those that reject His sacrifice. God is uninterested in argument, philosophy or any challenge to His authority. He has wired into each individual the urge and quest to seek and find Him.
We should therefore just be bold and do as He said. If they did not believe Jesus even when God the father spoke out of heaven in an unmistakable audible voice, we should not be surprised if people because their hearts are yet hardened, conscience yet seared, intellect yet blind to the obvious work of salvation and the power in the simple message of the gospel.
What we do should be speak and teach about what Jesus Christ has already done. For the salvation of everyone he is a replacement sacrificially took upon his innocent self the guilt of our transgressions, iniquities, sins, defects, guilt and faults. And when we encounter obstruction remember John 12. 36b (These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide from them).
We should be encouraged to Go (take action to be proactive); teach (remind, proclaim, declare); observe (live out the life of Christ); baptize/immerse (be immersed in the word of God to the point others come with you to be immersed) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We must keep a perpetual remembrance of God’s guarantees: His perpetual presence, power and help.
The sermon was delivered on September 29, 2019.