Do you remember when your kids were teens and you would leave them at home alone, maybe for an hour or a weekend? If so then you know that the most important thing that you wanted them to remember were your last words.
“I love you, remember your homework”, “I love you don’t forget to do the dishes and clean your room.” “I love you, remember no parties and don’t burn the house down.”
Some of Jesus’ last words to his kids, the apostles were read for us earlier. Or at least a portion of those words, the part that Mark recorded. If we want to capture all of those words we need to look in all three gospels and the book of Acts. And when we put them together we get something like this:
But then after 40 days of miracles, and teaching Jesus has this to say to His followers: “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’ You are witnesses of all these things.
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Those fragments by the way are found in Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-19, Luke 24:47-49 and Acts 1:8-9.
This is week one of our “Hashtag This” series and over the next couple of months we will be looking at various phrases and words in the bible that would warrant a Hashtag.
And perhaps you are wondering: What is a hashtag? According to Wikipedia: A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the hash character (or pound sign) # (also known as number sign or octothorpe) in front of a word or unspaced phrase, either in the main text of a message or at the end.
So, in this case each of those scriptures might have included the hashtag #gointoalltheworld
This is also week one of Partner Month at Cornerstone. Each October at Cornerstone we highlight various partners who we have chosen to work with to change the world. In today’s case you will hear from Selinda Van Horn who represents GP or Global Partners, which is our sending partner.
And the reason that we have partners at Cornerstone can be summed up with #gointoalltheworld.
The words that were read for us earlier are in reality the mission statement of the early church. You know what a mission statement is right? It is when you have boiled the purpose of your life or the life of your church down to a concise statement of purpose.
Over the past three Sundays we’ve looked at why Cornerstone is what it is and why we do things the way we do.
And it ultimately goes back to our mission statement. Cornerstone Wesleyan Church exist to reach pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding them into a practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit. That is our mission statement, the short version is Cornerstone Church exists to reach pre-Christians, the even shorter version is Cornerstone exists to help de-populate hell.
And if Cornerstone Wesleyan Church does not reach pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding them into a practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit, then we have failed to do what we set out to do.
The greatest measure of our success is how well we fulfil our mission statement.
But it’s more than that for you and for us because along with the mission statement that we have for our church is Christianity’s mission statement which was given to us by Jesus: “Christianity exists to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded.”
If we are not doing that then we have failed, so let’s look at the mission statement of the church.
1) What Is Supposed to be Done There has to be a reason why the church is here and why the Lord leaves us in the world after we get saved. I mean let’s think about it, the world is cold and uncaring, full of pain and grief and heaven has none of that. And so isn’t that where we really ought to be? But that isn’t where we are.
So, why are we here and not there? In John 20:21 Jesus, tells His disciples why they are being sent out John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
So we are being sent by Christ in the same way that Christ was sent by the Father, and why was that? Apparently to help depopulate hell. John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Winning the lost is the bottom line that’s why we are here, that ought to be the mission statement of every Christian and every Christian Church, to reach the lost.
It was Charles Spurgeon who wrote: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
Sounds like Spurgeon was committed to keeping people out of hell.
But more than that Jesus reminds us in John 10:10 . . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. So how do we not only help people obtain an eternal life when this life is over, but make the life on this side of eternity a full life, an abundant life?
Well, Jesus offered a couple of suggestions in his teachings when he told the disciples in Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth.” And so we are told that we are to be an influence in the world, both preserving it and flavouring it as salt, and then Jesus added to that in the next verse when He said Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world.” So we are to light the way and brightening the world as light.
2) Where It’s Supposed to Be Done
Jesus told his apostles in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Today that might sound like this;
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Halifax, throughout the Maritimes, in Canada, and to the ends of the earth.”
Basically that means everywhere. Too often we qualify the word missions by adding either foreign or home to the beginning of it. But the church only has one mission and that is to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that Christ commanded.
We have an obligation to reach people where ever there are people.
That means that we have an obligation to reach our next door neighbour, to reach the guy across the street, to reach the lady on the other side of town, those in Quebec and California as well as those in Ghana and Haiti.
And it needs to be intentional. It won’t just happen. If we don’t plan a way for it to happen then don’t count on it happening.
At Cornerstone reaching the lost is a priority, not just in Hammonds Plains which is our Jerusalem, but also in our Judea, our Samaria and to the very ends of the earth.
And early on we realized that we wouldn’t be able to fulfil all of that mission by ourselves.
3) Who is Supposed to Be Doing It If we were to look at who was there on the day of the ascension we would discover the eleven remaining apostles, but the great commission had to have been for the entire movement at that time, it wasn’t enough for those eleven to be committed to evangelism without the rest of the group being committed as well.
The great commission is meant to be a mission statement for all Christians. It doesn’t matter what Christians call themselves, whether it be Wesleyan, Nazarene, Baptist, Pentecostal or whatever. They have a common mission and that is, to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that Christ commanded.
For Christianity to survive, Christianity has to be committed to the mission of winning the lost.
When we stop making disciples and stop baptizing people then at that point the Church will begin to die, and it will die within one generation.
But the great commission has to go beyond simply being for all of Christianity; it needs to be a burning passion for the Wesleyan Church. Without the desire to win souls to Jesus Christ our denomination will become just another empty shell in the ecclesiastical wastelands of our country.
But the great commission has to go beyond simply being for all of the Wesleyan Church it needs to be for this church right here. Without the desire to win souls to Jesus Christ our church will become just a service club, we’ll be like the Lions or the Rotary Club.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the Lions or the Rotary club it’s just that they are not the body of Christ and we are, or at least that’s what we are supposed to be.It would be so much easier to convince people of the value of evangelism if the Bible said that the only way that you could get into heaven is if you brought somebody with you, but it doesn’t.
However, listen to the words of Christ in John 14:21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
You want to be loved by God and by Jesus? Sure you do. Well here’s the ticket all you have to do is to obey Christ’s commands and one of those is Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”
If that was a command of Christ and we don’t do it then John 14:21 says that we don’t love him, and only those who love Christ are loved by the Father and only those who are loved by the Father are going to get in.
4) How it’s Supposed to Be Done The power of the Holy Spirit is the means; the method is not defined. Deng Xiaoping said “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.” When we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives neat things happen. The Bible tells us in: Mark 16:17-18 (Jesus Said) These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
Now some people get really caught up in those particular things, but they are simply indications of the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who minister. It is a promise of enablement and protection.
How many people who were serving evil now serve God?
When Selinda and Jesse move to their new field they are going to have to learn to speak in a new tongue because their mother tongue is English.
When Val, Joel and Dana were working in the clinic in Haiti last spring weren’t they placing their hands on sick people to heal them?
I don’t think that you ever have to worry about me picking up snakes, and I think some churches try to prove the deadly poison promise with the coffee they serve.
Sometimes we get so caught up in how we should do it that we never do it. It was Thomas Jefferson who said “In matters of style swim with the current in matters of principle stand like a rock.”
Do you remember when Nike used the phrase “Just Do It.”? I would like that to be my message to the church, “Just Do it” Listen again to the promise of Christ in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Canada, throughout the Maritimes in Canada, and to the ends of the earth.”
There are two things that happen when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, two evidences of his presence. 1) We receive power 2) We will tell people about Jesus.
If our lives do not exhibit power and we are not witnesses than it would appear to be very obvious that the Holy Spirit has never come upon us.
As far as evangelism on a personal level that is all of our responsibility, you can no more shirk that than you can walk past a drowning man and not throw him a rope.
But on a broader spectrum there are those who God has called to reach people where you can’t. And that’s why we have partners.
We realized very early in our existence that we couldn’t do it all, and in many cases there were already people doing it. Which is why we have chosen to partner with organizations like Soul’s Harbour, World Hope, Compassion, Open Doors and Global Partners in order to change the world.
After all “Christianity exists to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded.”