Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV
I often read this passage thinking of Jesus talking to the worldwide church, but reality is, verse 16 tells us Jesus said this to 11 humble fishermen. That was the worldwide church! He told 11 humble fishermen to make disciples in every nation! What an incredible command for 11 meager men! I don’t think they would have come up with such an ambitious goal on their own. Left to themselves I think they would have come up with a more realistic goal. But they weren’t left to themselves. Jesus was still with them and the Holy Spirit would help them accomplish more than that tiny group imagined possible.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12 NKJV
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Ephesians 3:20 NKJV
Each one reached one like Andrew always did, as well as preaching to crowds like Peter did in Acts 2, and they soon began multiplying as “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47. It is amazing to think that just as people today trace their family tree back for hundreds of years, that every believer today is a believer because someone was reached by someone who was reached by someone who was reached by someone etc. etc. who was reached by one of the 11 fishermen Jesus was speaking to! As a matter of fact, some have been reached today by one of those fishermen! A pastor told me when he was a teen, he found Jesus one night, when he picked up the Bible and read the book of John. Two thousand years later, John’s personal writings are still reaching millions firsthand!
Never has a group been so successful amidst such opposition!
Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love Christ has bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.-Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 679-680.
How it must have comforted John, when He saw Jesus in the midst of the lamp stands which represents the churches. See Revelation 1:12-19. Jesus was still with His church,and has promised to never leave His church. So don’t you leave it either! As a matter of fact, by sending the Holy Spirit we all have local access to God. A former student of mine who moved to the mountains of Chile, wrote to tell me he had begun personal Bible studies with a friend on his way home from school. When my young friend shares the gospel on the rocky roads in the mountains of Chile, the same Holy Spirit is with him that is with the General Conference President in Maryland. The General Conference office has no location advantage. The Holy Spirit is all over the world!
With the Holy Spirit all over the world and Jesus in the midst of His church, we can do amazing things! Greater than we even imagine possible. The good news is it is Jesus’ church and not mine.A couple summers ago the senior pastor at my church took another assignment. It was just me leading out until another senior pastor came in the fall. My church had a lot going on, and I almost became overwhelmed until I remembered it wasn’t my church! It’s Jesus’ church. When I was a lay pastor and Bible Worker in a small church in west Texas, the members occasionally told me they could not survive without me, and I was young and dumb enough to believe them. Fact is the membership more than doubled after I finally left! It wasn’t my church; it is Jesus’ church! Also during that same time, another church I was helping had a leader who thought he owned the church, since he thought he gave most the money. He tried to manipulate me to follow him instead of the senior pastor. I told him I work for Jesus and not the richest person in the church. He laughed at me! He finally took his money and left, thinking the church would collapse without his money. He forgot it was not his church! It was Jesus’ church, and right after he left, we had some evangelism meetings and so many people started coming into the church that we had to build a bigger building!
I studied with several young people in the first church I was talking about, and they were baptized. They came into the church with some new ideas. They wanted to change the times for Sabbath School and church service. The older members were upset and one of them told me, “Don’t let those kids take over our church!” She was insinuating it was her church and not theirs. Sadly every single one of those young people left! They did not want to take over the church. They just wanted to be part of the church.
Unfortunately some try to manipulate others by telling them it is not their church, it belongs to God, when in reality they just want to do their own thing, not God’s. So don’t let anyone tell you to keep your opinion to yourself because it is not your church, unless they are also willing to keep their own opinion to themselves, because it is not their church either. Fact is we are all a part of the church and have a responsibility and voice.
Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. Proverbs 15:22 NKJV
But over every one of us, Jesus is the Head of the church. It is His church, and its success depends upon Him. John was glad to see Jesus in the midst of the candle sticks in his day, and I am glad to see Jesus in the midst of His church today. I am also glad Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit to help us fulfill the Gospel commission.
Look how far the church has come since Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is just as powerful today and will help us take the Gospel into all the world when we depend and cooperate with Him.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.