Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 1)

“Incomplete and Imperfect!

(Matthew 28:16-20 & Luke 10:1-24)

Today, we start exploring the 3rd of the 4 core values of First Baptist Church. Each of the core values is connected to one of the 4 colors on our logo and each is being taught and reinforced with a wristband of the same color. Today you have received or will receive on the way out, a yellow wristband that says, “Living and Giving Generously.” Please wear it with me for the next 6 weeks as we focus on this. You may continue to wear your previous wristbands that the leaders and staff of the church have provided for you at their own cost, but at a minimum please don’t throw them away. Keep them somewhere noticeable as a reminder of what we are all about.

Our mission statement at FBC is “We exist to transform stories through the gospel of Jesus Christ” and if this mission is happening in us (it must happen in us if we are following Jesus in an abiding relationship) and through us (as fruit of what He is doing in us and not as our own performance goals; it is the Holy Spirit who bears fruit on our branches!) then we will see our vision unfolding inside our fellowship and outside into the communities we live, work, and play: “We desire to see our communities thriving to the glory of God.” It’s all about relationships!

 

Our faith and values provide us with the guard rails by which we can participate in fulfilling our church’s mission and vision by the power of the Holy Spirit. The four core values are: “Loving others as God first loved us” (red); “Developing people for a life of service” (blue); “Living and giving generously” (yellow); and “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life” (green). Firm in our faith we are to walk in these ways.

 

We are putting up all these banners so that you know who we are and what our mission and vision statements are (in the Gathering Area as you walk in) and what our faith and values are (inside the worship center). We are not investing precious resources for decoration, but to align us (like a car getting its alignment) so that we are all traveling in the same direction on the same mission. Amazing what God can do through a people who are working together and don’t need any credit because their account is already overflowing with God’s grace.

 

For the next 6 weeks we are going to focus on yellow—living and giving generously—and then while I am on sabbatical (August 25 is the final sermon that I will give in this series), we will all focus on green—growing closer to Jesus in every season of life (that 3-month focus culminates on Sunday, November 24, the night I return). We are each in a different season of life, the key is to support one another in our spiritual growth in each and every season of life.

 

This series is also finishing up the 7 big words that we have been learning over the last year: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO! If you missed some of those Sundays, you can watch or listen to any of the sermons and/or read the sermon notes on our ever-improving website at www.newcastlefbc.com. These 7 big words are the building blocks for us being the people of Jesus Christ, committed and submitted to His teachings for His Father’s purposes and glory. Each of these words is an invitation, a promise, and a way of life.

 

The primary way we have been inviting you to experience the promise and way of life of these 7 big words is FBC’s “7:1 Initiative!” It is our hope that each of you will have 7 friends at FBC who you trust and are growing with as the church, people who connect you in the body and people with whom you belong. We also hope you have 1 place of service at FBC where you are impacting others and multiplying what God has given you for His purposes and glory.

 

The “GO: Living Eternally Today!” series will be constantly reinforcing all this 7:1 initiative because you will see that living the Great Commission life is living both a life of community and service. We are better together when we are in Jesus together!

 

The main scripture for this sermon series called “Go: Live Eternally Today!” is Matthew 28:16-20. Listen to the Great Commission:

 

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

This is the Great Commission, not the great suggestion. It is not an optional “opt-in” activity for those who choose it nor an advanced option for those who want to be radical. This is what part of being in the yoke of Jesus, this is God’s will for your life. Like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, if you want the chocolate, you have to take the peanut butter. You can’t just lick off the chocolate and then hand back the peanut butter. Well, you can, but what a mess…

 

We are going to dive into the Great Commission in this series, but today we are simply going to focus on the who: To whom did Jesus give the Great Commission? Matthew 28:16-17 teaches:

 

1) To “the Eleven disciples”: They had an incomplete fellowship! Judas was gone, the fellowship was broken, trust has been shattered, betrayals occurred, disappointments erupted, but here is Jesus still giving this group of followers the Great Commission.

 

2) To “some were doubtful”: They had an imperfect faith! Not only was their fellowship incomplete, but they did not all believe. These were imperfect followers of Jesus entrusted with God’s eternal plan to reach all people with the greatest message ever.

 

Jesus gave His Church the Great Commission when they were an incomplete fellowship with an imperfect faith! 2,000 years later, we are still incomplete and imperfect, but God is still calling us to hear the same word: “Go!” Jesus doesn’t wait for you to be ready for Him to send you on His mission. The key ingredient of Jesus’ calling to live life focused on the Great Commission is not your capability, but your availability and willingness to take His yoke and learn from Him.

 

As many of us have heard before, “God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called!” If we wait until we are ready/complete/equipped to go, then we completely ignore the work of the Holy Spirit to empower us and make us who He wants us to be. His power is made perfect in our weakness. He’s ready to use us right now, where we are!

 

What are some of the ways we disqualify ourselves from living out the Great Commission?

  1. My faith is not strong enough or I don’t know enough…
  2. That is for pastors and missionaries, church workers…
  3. I have sin in my life or I may do/say something that hurts the effort…
  4. I’m too busy…

 

This six-week series is focused on equipping you to “Go” into your everyday life to live out the Great Commission, but today we are focusing on who Jesus is sending out and why. We’ll take the rest of the series to talk about the what’s and the how’s of living and giving generously.

 

Before Jesus ever gave His disciples the Great Commission, He would send them out on real-life training missions. Just like Regan is doing an internship with Kevin this summer before she returns to seminary, so Jesus would send out His disciples as part of their training and growth. There was no graduation or ordination to wait for, there was just today—today is the day of salvation! Let’s look at an example of this from the life of Jesus as He trains up His followers.

 

Turn with me to Luke 10 and we are going to read through this story found in verses 1-24. I will unpack specific details as a I read it…

 

I love this comment from a local church pastor on the Luke 10 passage regarding its application to our lives, “We are not responsible for saving anyone; we are responsible for telling everyone. It’s not their response to our ability; it is their response to His ability, even though it’s our responsibility to tell them.”[1]

 

“Living and Giving Generously” is the way of Jesus to live eternally today! Living eternally today is a means of grace to declare your allegiance to Jesus and not the world. It’s a way to live like Jesus for His Kingdom in a world that is actively opposing Jesus and His Kingdom. Living and giving generously is a revolution against Satan who Jesus saw falling from Heaven (Luke 10:18) when this first group of disciples (still incomplete in their fellowship and imperfect in their faith) walked in the authority of Jesus throughout their communities. And Jesus told them very clearly to not rejoice at what they did, but rejoice in their relationship with the Father through the Son. We rejoice in whose family we belong to—we are children of God!

 

Listen to this insight that further explains the importance of Luke 10:20 combined with the fact that we do not know the names of these 70 people,

 

Since God did not consider it important for us to know the names of the 70 (or 72) disciples He charged with the important task of preparing the way for Jesus, we don’t need to consider it important, either. What Jesus called attention to was not the power He gave them but the fact that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Similarly, while we may get excited about visible miracles and demonstrations of supernatural power, the greatest miracle of all is the fact that unworthy sinners can become righteous children of God (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 1:12). When our focus moves to ourselves and how God is using us, we are headed the wrong direction. It is a good reminder that, since their names are unimportant, ours are, too. It is the name of Jesus Christ alone who deserves all attention and glory (1 Corinthians 1:28–29; Philippians 2:9–11). It is enough that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.[2]

 

Family of God, we don’t have to wait until our fellowship is complete or our faith is perfect to be a part of Jesus’ Great Commission plans for our communities and beyond. We are called to bring thriving to our communities to the glory of God today and every day that is called today. We are called to go and make disciples of all people just like we are called to serve all people and love all people. Making disciples starts with you having a relationship with Jesus that transforms your story first! The Holy Spirit uses real people with real faith to make a difference in real history!

 

“You can teach people what you know, but you will only replicate what you are!”

 

We will learn more of how to do this over the next 5 Sundays, but please know that it begins with you realizing that the Great Commission is for each of us, in all of our imperfections and incompleteness. If you are in Jesus Christ, then you are ready today to be sent out. So as you go today, may the Holy Spirit empower you to live and give generously rejoicing that your names are recorded in Heaven (Luke 10:20).
 
Listen to the teaching here:

 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Jack Wellman, “5 Lessons about Jesus sending out the Seventy-Two” (August 22, 2018, accessed July 17, 2019) https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2018/08/22/5-lessons-about-jesus-sending-out-the-seventy-two/.

[2] “Who were the 70 (or 72) disciples in Luke 10?”, Got Questions Ministries, accessed July 27, 2019, [https://www.gotquestions.org/70-or-72-disciples.html].


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