|Posted on May 6, 2014 at 10:25 AM|
After his resurrection from the dead Jesus spent time assuring his disciples that he was, in fact, alive and preparing them for their work as his witnesses in the world. Each of the gospel writers; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record their own version of what is called the great commission. Taken together these accounts reveal what Jesus expects from his disciples as witnesses. Since his ascension back into heaven from the Mount of Olives over two thousand years ago the only Jesus the world can see is that which is revealed by the witness of his disciples. Paul refers to our collective witness as disciples being the "body of Christ" or the church, and assures us that Jesus as the "head of the body" is in absolute control of his church.
The most detailed commission Jesus gave to his disciples is recorded by Matthew, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Based on his own God-given power in heaven and on earth, Jesus commanded his disciple to teach all nations. Every believer is given the privilege of being a witness for Jesus as they fulfill their high calling of God to love others like Christ. In a gathering of two or more such believers in identity and union with Christ their power to witness increases as they fulfill the commission Jesus gives them. The book of Acts provides us with the history of the first churches established and empowered by the Holy Spirit working through the disciples of Jesus following his ascension back into heaven.
Today we enjoy the same privilege in our generation as did those early disciples. As individual believers in Christ we are promised the indwelling Spirit of God just as the first disciples received him. Although we do not have any eyewitnesses of his resurrection as were the first disciples, we are witnesses none the less. Every believer is indwelled with the same Spirit of God that led and empowered both Jesus and his early disciples. In addition, we have both the historical record of the early church as well as the detailed description of the gospel in the New Testament scriptures. To the extent that we are enlightened by the Spirit to the truth of the New Testament we are witnesses to the full meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Like those first disciples we too are commissioned to not only make disciples of all nations, but also to baptize them in the name or identity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This refers to more than the symbolic ritual of water baptism. It means that we are to teach new believers about their spiritual union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this union that gives us a new identity and satisfies our deepest personal needs. The rite of baptism symbolizes our death with Christ on the cross, our burial with him in the tomb, and our resurrection with him to eternal life. It is because of our new identity in Christ that we are able to live a new lifestyle.
Finally, we are to teach others to observe the commands of Jesus. This means that we are to instruct others to hear and follow what Jesus is telling them to do with their lives. This is the new lifestyle of grace and truth as opposed to the old lifestyle of law and lies. It centers on the believer's faith in their new identity and the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit rather than trusting the opinion of religious men. This we do by providing an example for them in the way we live our new lives as Christians. Trusting the indwelling Spirit to produce his fruit (the character of Christ) in us and empower us to love others like Christ; we become true witnesses for Jesus at home, in the work place or market place, in our community, to the utter most part of the world.
Categories: Indwelling Spirit of God