Movement Requires Action
September 26, 2013 2 Comments
This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry on Wednesday, September 26, 2013
Key Text: Matthew 11:25-30
Any movement requires some sort of catalyst. As Sir Isaac Newton put it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If I want a frisbee to move, I can’t just look at it and hope it moves. I have to pick it up, grip it, and throw it. It requires me to act. Movement is the mission; throwing is the catalyst.
The same is true of the Great Commission Movement (Matthew 28:18-20). We, as believers, must take action to keep it moving forward. Disciples make disciples who make disciples. This is the movement! To be a part of the Great Commission, you must be willing to do some work. You can talk about the Great Commission all you want, but until you strap on the yoke of Christ, you aren’t a part of it.
In Matthew 11:25-30, we see two actions that the Great Commission Movement requires. Being a part of Christ’s mission for believers requires the we practice active dependence and active discipline. Let’s look at each in-depth.
The Great Commission Movement Requires Active Dependence (v. 25-28)
In order to be a part of the Gospel Movement, you must first be a Christian. Becoming a Christian isn’t about checking off a list of good deeds, gaining human wisdom, or just praying a formulaic prayer. “What must I do to be saved?” asked the jailer in Acts 16. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” Paul and Silas answered. Those that desire to be saved must depend on the Lord alone for salvation.
God is the founder and source of salvation (Hebrews 2:10; 5:9). As we see in this passage, God the Father is the one who hides and reveals the surpassing value of Jesus Christ from mankind. For those that wish to remain independent of God and trust in their own knowledge and deeds, salvation is hidden. Though they may seem “wise and understanding” in the world’s eyes, their stubborn and unrepentant heart refuses to accept the gospel. This is our natural inclination in a fallen world. We don’t seek God on our own, but would rather find satisfaction in the fleeting pleasures of self and stuff (Romans 3:9-20). In our pride, we willfully reject God’s offer of salvation and insist we can do it on our own. This lifestyle is burdensome and difficult, leading to eternal judgment instead of eternal rest (Romans 6:23). In this, God is just to condemn all sinners to hell.
Though none of us deserve it, God graciously brings some to see the ugliness of their sin and draws them to faith and repentance (Romans 5:6-11). In contrast to the “wise and understanding,” those that come to faith in Christ are like “little children:” abounding in faith and humility. While we were dead in our sin, God reveals himself to us, transforming our hearts and minds so that we desire him above all else (Ezekiel 36:25-27). God’s choice isn’t based on anything that we bring to the table (riches, popularity, knowledge, etc), but is completely dependent on his “gracious will” (Ephesians 2:1-10). Salvation is hidden in God, revealed in Christ, received by faith, and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-14). This is hard for us to understand, but it is a consistent call to believers throughout Scripture. As John Calvin puts it in his commentary on this passage, “Whatever God has determined [in his good pleasure] must be regarded by us as right.” As a part of the Great Commission Movement, we must continue in our dependence on God’s will, that he will “work all things together for the good of those who love him” while “leading us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Romans 8:28; Psalm 23:3; Philippians 2:12-13).
The Great Commission Movement Requires Active Discipline (v. 28-30)
Salvation frees us from the heavy burden of our sin and the labor of legalism and self-righteousness. In our fallen state, we don’t even realize how heavy this burden is until the Holy Spirit convicts of our sin. When we answer Christ’s call to “Come!” we are freed from the bondage of sin. This doesn’t mean we can just sit around and abuse our freedom by sinning all the more (Romans 6:1-14). Jesus wants us to continue the Great Commission Movement.
Often when we hear verses 28-30, they are taken out of context to support the idea of easy believism: “Just come to Jesus and everything will be peachy. You don’t have to do anything else, just chill in your little Jesus Jacuzzi because you are set for eternity. It’s that easy. You’re set.” This type of belief appeals to us because it doesn’t cost us much and certainly doesn’t require any dedication on our part after we become a Christian. However, this idea is as ludicrous as saying “Sign up for the football team and you will win the State Championship. You don’t have to come to practice at all or play any games. Just sign up and you get the ring.”
The Great Commission Movement requires us to be disciplined disciples. Notice that Jesus removes the heavy burden of self-righteousness and replaces it with his own light burden. This is the condition of our freedom. He replaces our burden of sin with a burden for sinners. He ties himself to us with his own yoke. What is a yoke? It is a piece of wood that tied two animals (usually oxen or cattle) together so that they could work together to accomplish a task like plowing a field, pulling a cart, or harvesting a crop. A yoke is for work. It’s not a fashion accessory. When Jesus gives us his yoke, he comes alongside us to war against our sin and accomplish the disciple-making mission. He wants us to be a part of redeeming the fallen world. He wants us to be a part of His movement!
This requires us to take action. If you want to excel at anything, you must put in many, many hours of training and practice. Studies have shown it takes over 10,000 hours to master something. The same is true for the Great Commission Movement. True faith is an active faith. Take a look at the Great Commission. Notice the verbs used: “go,” “make,” “baptize.” What do these verbs have in common? They are action verbs. Works accompany our faith. James writes, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?…For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:14-26). Of course our works don’t save us, but they are an evidence of saving faith. It is essential that we are growing in our faith through spiritual disciplines, sharing our faith with those God has placed in our lives, and encouraging others who are a part of the Christian faith. It may cost us relationships, material possessions, or personal health and comfort, but it is nothing compared to the salvation we have been mercifully given (Luke 14:25-35).
Our task may seem overwhelming, but the Great Commission Movement is completely different from any other movement. Why? Success and rest are guaranteed. As one saying goes, “God gives the birds their food, but He doesn’t throw it into their nests.” God’s sovereignty is what gives us confidence for effective evangelism and discipleship. We believe that God has elected some people to salvation, and that he has called us to bring them to faith through the preaching of the gospel. Because of God’s sovereignty, we are guaranteed to be successful in evangelism — the elect will certainly come to faith (Luke 10:2). That takes the pressure off us as evangelists. We present the facts of the gospel, and if God is pleased to do so, he regenerates the person and draws the person to himself. Yes, we should study and offer good answers (2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15-16), but the salvation of others does not depend on our clever arguments; it depends on our faithful presentation of the facts of the gospel, and on God’s miraculous work in bringing people to faith. And after we have been faithful during our life here on earth, he promises us eternal rest for our souls. If that doesn’t motivate you to share your faith with others, I don’t know what will. (For more on this topic, check out Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by JI Packer)
Join the Great Commission Movement
Do you claim to be a part of Jesus’ Movement, but you aren’t taking any action to make disciples? It’s time to get to work! Strap on the yoke of Christ, train yourself in righteousness, and get busy. Let’s work together to take the gospel everywhere the Lord leads us, adding others to Christ’s Movement.
On the flip side, are you laboring and heavy laden? You may still be under the burden of your sin, trying to earn joy and salvation independent from God. If God is revealing your burden to you, answer Jesus’ call to “Come to me.” Take his yoke and learn from him and he will give you eternal rest.
So, Christians, let’s get to work. Let us be active parts of the worldwide Great Commission Movement that is revealed in Christ Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.