Hebrews 2:1-4 Warning: Neglecting Salvation

Hebrews 2:1-4            Warning: Neglecting Salvation                                 WC McCarter
I know that some of you enjoy going to the lake, and almost all of us have spent some time on a boat at some point. We bought an old boat a few years ago because we lived only a few miles from a lake, and we thought it would be fun. Joseph and I worked on that boat a little at a time. We tore things out, put new things in, painted it, etc. It is fun to have a little project like that boat that can take your mind off of things from time to time. We had fun tinkering with it. Anyway, out on the lake we like to cruise around, bask in the sun, park and swim, and just enjoy the water. Heading back to the dock to load up is what we dread. Many times it is busy, crowded, and, listen, we are not professionals. A boat tends to drift. It is hard to direct the boat to the dock, and it is even harder to get it back on our trailer. I guess you would call it a tri-hull, but you have to line it up on the rollers in the middle. It takes lots of practice, close attention, and teamwork. We have never spent enough time going to the lake to get good at it. If you do not pay careful attention, you can really embarrass yourself in front of a crowd of people.
In our scriptural text today we are warned against two things, drifting and neglecting. The author of Hebrews is concerned for the Christians to whom he is writing. He is troubled that they may drift from the message of Christ which they had heard and they may neglect a great salvation. In this warning, the believers are exhorted to pay careful attention to the things they have heard. They are also to be motivated by fear of the judgment of God.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Careful Attention [Drifting] (1)
“Therefore” is always important. Based on everything the author said in the first chapter, he now speaks to us (by the Holy Spirit) with a word of exhortation and warning.
The Gospel message of Jesus as Creator, Christ, King, Savior, and God is what you have heard. The message of Christ’s preeminence and superiority has been proclaimed in your presence, and you have believed. Now you must pay careful attention to that message. You must continue to grow in it. You must continue to trust and glory in it.
I love the word that the NKJV uses, “Lest.” We will drift away if we do not give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard. We must pay the most careful attention to the Gospel or it will simply slip away from us. This phrase, “Drift away” was used in ancient times to refer to several things. The phrase was used to refer to a ring slipping off of someone’s finger, water leaking out of a jar, something going the wrong direction such as a piece of food going down the windpipe, a boat drifting away from a pier to which it had been roped, or (I think) the best example is that of a boat that is heading to harbor, but misses its desired port because it drifted. Boats can drift for several reasons: strong currents/winds, or the crew could be neglecting their duties. If the captain’s eyes are not set on the desired port, they will not arrive there, but will drift away. What does he have to do? He must pay the most careful attention. He must give earnest heed. “Notice, however, that in Hebrews 2:1 it is the person who is drifting” (Guthrie, 84). This language points to something subtle, doesn’t it? We are told that a Christian can drift away from the faith before they even realize it. You can easily end up far removed from the Gospel.
Just Punishment [Neglecting] (2-3a)
We will see that Hebrews is showing throughout the book that Christ is superior to all. What we see in verse two is that not only is Christ superior to the angels, but the message that He proclaimed is greater than the message that the angels declared. We are once again looking at a contrast which will prove the author’s point about Christ. We can also begin to better understand why the author has spent so much time contrasting Christ and the angels. The Gospel proclaimed by Christ is far greater than the Law mediated by the angels. He argues from the lesser to the greater. If the first point is true, how much more meaningful is the second point?
In first century Judaism, it was a common tradition that angels were on Mt. Sinai with God to declare the covenant with Israel. Yet, there is some biblical background to this belief. In Deuteronomy 33:2 it says, “The Lord came from Sinai . . . and He came with ten thousands of saints [myriads of holy ones or angels].” The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:19, “The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.” Stephen says in Acts 7:38, “[Moses] was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.” So, you see, many in the first century believed that the angels were on Mt. Sinai to declare the word of God in the Mosaic Covenant. They were the messengers of the Old Testament Law. The Law was the Word of God. It was binding on the people. Every transgression and disobedience received a “just reward,” which is used ironically to denote punishment (O’Brien, 85). The Law was meant to put the fear of God in people. It was strict, it was hard.
What a wonderful message it is that Christ has delivered to us! The Gospel greatly exceeds the Law. Christ is vastly superior to the angels. If the message of the angels brought condemnation onto the heads of all those who were disobedient, then how could one escape if they heard the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ and chose to ignore it? I cannot say it any simpler than the author of Hebrews has, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” The author of Hebrews has already demonstrated the superiority of Christ over the angels, now he bases a new argument on that fact. If it was bad to ignore the law, it is even worse to ignore the Gospel!
So Great a Salvation (3b-4)
At the end of verse three and going into verse four, we get some details about this great salvation. “The author rounds out his exhortation by emphasizing the reliability of the message of salvation spoken through the Son. . . (O’Brien, 88). This salvation was first announced by the Lord and then it was confirmed by the Apostles and those who heard Him. The author and recipients of Hebrews did not hear the Gospel directly from the lips of Jesus. They were in many ways like us. They did not witness these things for themselves, but believed what others declared to them. Of course, they heard it from those who were first-hand witnesses, a privilege we do not share. God Himself bore witness to this salvation in various ways: signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts. Salvation is a work of the Triune God! The Lord [Jesus] first announced it; God [the Father] has testified to it with signs, wonders, and miracles; and the Holy Spirit has also testified to it by distributing diverse gifts. We can expect no less than the wrath of God on those who neglect so great a salvation that has been purchased, offered, and confirmed by the Triune God.
What were these mighty acts? Well, just think of the ministry of Jesus. He was constantly performing great miracles which were meant to be compassionate and merciful, but most importantly were to validate His words. Jesus said, If you don’t believe my words as they stand, at least believe My words because of the works which I have done. He healed all kinds of diseases, He fed multitudes with only a picnic basket, He cast out demons, He raised the dead and so much more. Now think of the ministry of the Apostles. As they went out into the world preaching the Gospel, they were also accompanied by many signs and wonders.
Notice that the signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts are not the message. They are only witnesses to the message. They are supports and proofs of what was being proclaimed by all those who went out sharing the Good News of Christ crucified and risen. When we make the supernatural occurrences the chief component of our message we have distorted the true Gospel. The Good News is not that you will never get sick in this life, that every Christian will speak in different languages, or that we will all be rich if our faith is strong enough. No, the Gospel message is that God has done something for you in the person and accomplishments of Jesus Christ that you could never do for yourself. He has paid the penalty for your sin which allows you into a relationship with God that will last forever. I don’t care about being rich now if I can have an eternity with Christ in glory! All the wonders of this age mean nothing to me in comparison to the great salvation that Christ has given me! It is a powerful word. Great power surrounds it and is included in it. Those mighty acts of testimony are just that, testimony. The Gospel is the true power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Remember what we learned from the first paragraph of Hebrews: all of human history was bringing us to these last days when Christ would speak to us. The exhortation is for you and me to listen to what He is saying to us!
(2) If we are to pay careful attention to what we have heard, then we are compelled to examine again our response to the Gospel. You never grow out of the Gospel. You never graduate from faith in Christ Jesus. You must continually trust Him and continually respond to His saving work until the day you die. A disciple is a learner. You must learn of Him until you breathe your last.
(3) Don’t waste your life! Don’t drift through life with no aim or purpose. It is too easy in America to claim the Christian faith and simply waste your time. You are here for a reason. God has gifted and called you to do all sorts of significant things in this world. Don’t waste your life!

Hebrews 1:5-14 Jesus Christ: Angels Worship Him

Hebrews 1:5-14          Jesus Christ: Angels Worship Him                           WC McCarter
Do you ever find yourself letting your mind wander when you are reading your Bible? Maybe you begin to read the Bible, but you quickly put it aside because it is too difficult or you end up more confused after you read than when you first began. Maybe you even fall asleep when reading your Bible. Why is that the case with many Christians? I think there are several reasons. Let me give you a few: we do not first pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds to give us understanding of the Scriptures, we do not have the right mind-set when we approach the Bible, we are often tired (around bed time) when we decide to spend a few minutes reading, etc.
One of the most difficult things about studying the Bible is trying to interpret the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament. People shy away from studying the book of Hebrews because it uses the OT so much. Sometimes we read a sentence in the New and look to the reference in the Old and they do not line up. Why is that? Well, there are a few things that may be going on: the New may quote the Old; the NT author may be paraphrasing the Old; and lastly, our OT’s are translated from the Hebrew Masoretic texts, yet the NT author may be quoting the Septuagint (Greek OT). That last thing is what happens in the book of Hebrews. The author was well versed in the Greek language, and he uses the Greek OT as his Bible. Today, we encounter several OT quotations about the Christ. In verses one through four, we encountered seven details about the Son of God. In verses five through fourteen, we encounter seven OT references about the Son (five being from the Psalms). As we saw last week, verse four introduced our subject for today: Christ is far better than the angels. Jesus Christ is a more excellent name. The one point that I would like for you to remember today is found in the title of the sermon: Angels worship Jesus Christ, not the other way around. How can we be clear that Christ is far greater than the angels? Angels worship Him.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Christ’s Unique Sonship (5)
In verse five, we see two OT quotes about Christ’s unique Sonship in relation to God the Father. He is to be categorized with God rather than men. Was Jesus fully humanity when He came to earth to sacrifice Himself? Yes, that is true of Him. But before time began, in eternity past- Christ has been the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The OT sometimes calls angels, “sons of God.” Yet, none of the angels have ever been given the title “Son” (the [singular] Son). Christ was Son even before the incarnation, but He has been powerfully declared Son by the Father when He was seated at God’s right hand. The two OT quotes in this verse come from Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Both of these verses refer to an earthly king of Israel in OT times, but the author of Hebrews shows us that Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of them. He is the Son who has been made King of the universe. What does it mean that today He has been begotten? On the third day when He was resurrected combined with the day that He ascended back to glory, the Father declared to all of creation what has always been an eternal truth: “Jesus Christ is my Son, today I have begotten Him. I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son.”
By asking us this question (“to which of the angels did He ever say. . . ?), the author of Hebrews is not trying to figure something out. He does not need our help in discerning the place of Jesus Christ. He heard from the Apostles and was inspired by the Holy Spirit to proclaim with great emphasis through a rhetorical question that God the Father has never spoken to an angel in the way that He has Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the unique and superior Son of God. No one shares this unique place with Him, not even the angels.
Angels Worship Him (6-7)
For Christ to be “Firstborn” is to continue the Sonship language. This does not mean that Christ is the descendant of God the Father, and it does not mean that He was the first creature of the universe. “In this Old Testament context [Psalm 89:27] it is a title of honour expressing priority of rank” (O’Brien, 69). The OT verse quoted in verse six comes from Psalm 97. The Psalm is calling on all the angels to worship God. Thus, the author of Hebrews is calling Jesus Christ “God.” Angels are to worship the Son. For me, it is a done deal when the argument gets to this point. If angels are to worship Christ, then He must be far greater than any of them. In fact, the picture is that of Christ sitting on His throne as King of the universe while being worshipped and served by His angels who are ministering spirits. They come and go as He pleases. They work and do as He sees fit. The verse quoted in verse seven says just that. May I remind you that Christ is not only King of the universe, but He is the Creator of all things (including the angels). In the first paragraph of the chapter, we were told that Christ is the heir of all things and that He made the worlds. He upholds all things by the word of His power. Angels are subservient to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of all things, the King of the universe.
The Son’s Work is Complete (8-12)
In verses eight through twelve, we get two more OT quotes that are quite lengthy. They come from Psalms 45 and 102. Here we see that Christ is explicitly called God. Notice His royal state in the words throne, scepter, and kingdom (Morris, 19). What we learn from these verses is that Christ does not belong to the created order (O’Brien, 72). He is set apart and above the universe. The original context of the statement, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” originally referred to a Davidic king. It does not seem appropriate to call a mere human “God,” does it? I think it is because the statement was ultimately intended to refer to Christ. He is God, whose throne endures forever. The reason that David’s throne lasts forever is because Jesus is sitting on it forever! The creation, we know, will wear out, but Christ will remain. He will never change, but will always be the same. “He began the universe and he will finish it” (Morris, 19).
Better than the Angels (13-14)
The most famous of the OT quotes comes at the end of our passage. Psalm 110:1 is quoted in reference to Christ. This Psalm is used often in the NT to show the might and authority of the Son. God has never said to any angel that He would seat them on a throne at His right hand. In fact, they are the ones who are commissioned to work in order to destroy Christ’s enemies. They are serving Him for all eternity. They are no more than servants. Christ sits down, but they are constantly moving and working to accomplish His purposes in the universe.
Not only do the angels serve Christ, but they serve His brethren. The angles serve you! They are working to help you get to the finish line. They are constantly protecting you, helping you, and serving you. They want you to be saved because their Creator and King wants you to be saved.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Put angels in their proper place. They are created for two tasks: worship Christ and serve believers. They are mighty beings, but they are merely created.
(2) It is an awesome thing to consider the salvation to which we have been called. We are being saved by the mighty work of Jesus Christ and He has even sent His angels to serve us to that end!
(3) The most important thing you can do with chapter one of the book of Hebrews is to see the big picture of Jesus Christ. We have now seen together that Christ sits in a unique position. He is outside and above all of creation because He is, in fact, the Creator. He is the heir of all things, the One who brought the worlds into existence, and He upholds all things by His powerful word! He is the Son of God in a way that no angel or man ever was or is. He is not an angel, but is worshipped and served by angels. He has sat down on His throne because His work is finished, and yet the angels continue to minister as He sees fit.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not an angel. . .
            He is Creator. He is Savior. He is King. He is Son. He is God!

Hebrews 1:1-4 Jesus Christ: The Final Word

Hebrews 1:1-4            Jesus Christ: The Final Word                                   WC McCarter
You will notice that, for the book of Hebrews, there is no formal introduction as in a letter. There are no greetings, there are no prayers, and no name is stated for the sender or the recipient. For this reason, many have called this a sermon. We actually do not know what man wrote this book or to whom he was writing it. Many suggestions have been made for the sender and recipient. It is reasonable to believe that Apollos wrote it to congregations in Rome. Apollos was a well spoken, educated, and influential man who knew the Scriptures and believed in Christ. The city of Rome had many congregations by the time this was written (maybe in the AD 60’s), and there were many Jewish Christians living in the Empire’s capital. What we can be certain about is the fact that the document known as Hebrews was uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews has made it into the New Testament, the canon of Holy Scripture, because of what it declares. Isn’t that an awesome thought? The book is powerful in many ways, but especially in its proclamation of the excellency and preeminence of Christ in all things and its exhortations to believers to continue on in what they have heard.
From the beginning of the sermon, the author dives head first into the deep end of theology and doctrine. These believers had heard the Gospel and believed; now they needed to mature in it. The same is true of us today. You have heard the Gospel. You have believed it. Now there is a great need for you to spiritually mature in the faith you heard from the beginning. This is called discipleship and sanctification. Discipleship is to leave the milk of the word behind in order to move on to solid meat. It is to press on in your learning. The Christian life is not about hearing and believing in the beginning only. It is to become a life-long learner of Jesus Christ, an eternity-long student of the great I AM. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. In the beginning of your Christian life, when you first believed and were united to Christ, you were placed in a position of holiness “in Christ.” God the Father looked at you and said that you are holy. Now, for the rest of your life, the Lord calls you to move toward actually becoming holy. This is called progressive sanctification. God has called you holy, now you must become holy. The book of Hebrews will help us, encourage us, warn us, and equip us to press on in discipleship and sanctification. There is much to learn and apply to ourselves.
In today’s sermon, there is one thing that you need to know from the passage: Jesus Christ, the Son of God is the final word. He is God’s final revelation. The first four verses make up one long sentence in the Greek New Testament. This one long sentence is written to demonstrate how God has always been a speaking God, but now His speaking is complete. His final word has been spoken. The final revelation has been made manifest. The Word has put on flesh, dwelt among us, purged our sins, and has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Speaking God (1-2a)
God is not a silent God. He has not remained in a heavenly place, far away from His creation. He has constantly spoken and revealed Himself. From the beginning, God spoke the worlds into existence. He spoke and heaven and earth were created. He spoke and light came into the world.
God spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets. He revealed himself to our ancestors long ago. He did so at various times and in various ways. The Old Testament covers much of human history, especially in relation to the formation of the Jewish people. It was written over a long period of time as well. Think, also, about the variety of ways that God revealed Himself in the Old Testament period. He did so by dreams, visions, mighty acts, appearances, commands, promises, and more. As glorious as those revelations and events were, they are now seen as incomplete when compared to the final revelation that has come through the One who is Son.
Notice the parallel contrasts: the eras, in the past and in these last days; the recipients, our ancestors and us; the agents, through the prophets and by His Son; and the ways, in various ways and (implied) one way (O'Brien). The revelation of God has come down to us, and God’s revelation has now come to fruition in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Descriptions of the Son (2b-3a)
The Son is heir of all things. The Son has entered into the fruition of His Sonship as heir of all things in His heavenly place. To be Son and Heir is to fulfill a role. In that role, our Lord became flesh, was obedient on earth, offered Himself for sins, and is now exalted. This is what it means to be the Son of God which is why He is unique.
The Son made the worlds (universe). The One who is heir of all things is the One who made all things. The word “worlds” can also mean “ages.” He is the Creator of the ages. As Creator, He is sovereign over all things.
The Son is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the Son is the express image of the Father’s person (the exact representation of His being). “Brightness” means “radiance.” This is a great picture of how Christ is the full revelation of God. It is not a reflected glory. He IS the glory of God. He is not like the moon which is a mere reflection of the sun. He is the radiance of the sun. To be even more exact, no one has ever actually seen the sun, but we have seen the radiant beams of light which emanate from the sun. No one has ever seen God, but Christ has made Him known. Christ has shown us God. When you see Him, you see God. When you hear Him, you hear God. When you worship Him, you worship God. “Thus the Son is a perfect ‘imprint’ of the ‘very being’ of God” (Cockerill, 94). Together, these two phrases, “. . . preserve the distinctness of the Son while affirming that the finality of his revelation is based on his identity with the God he reveals” (Cockerill, 94).
The Son upholds all things by His powerful word. The One who is heir of all things is the One who has created all things. He is the same One who sustains all things. The wording actually tells us more than His sustaining work. He is the One who directs the ages. He is orchestrating all things to bring them to their intended purpose, God’s purpose. His ultimate purposes are to make purification for sins and return to rule with His people in a restored and cleansed kingdom. “Bearing all by His powerful word” is a phrase referring to deity.
The Son’s Work is Complete (3b)
The Son’s mission on earth was to purge our sins, to make purification for sins. “Purged” means “cleansed.” He intends to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, to remove all of the pollution of sin, and to remove the barrier between humanity and God. He completed that mission and afterward sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He has done what we cannot do. He has paid the price for sin that was far too lofty for any of us to pay. The debt is clear. The wrath of God is satisfied for all those who are in Christ. He has borne the penalty for our sins as our substitute.
Better than the Angels (4)
Christ has always been far better than the angels, but “became” much better in a new way when He sat down after completing the plan of redemption. As great as you may think that the angels are, Christ is far greater. The author of Hebrews begins his letter (sermon) by declaring that Jesus Christ is far better than the angels. The Jews of the first century had an obsession with angels much like our culture today. Angels are considered awesome beings, superior, elegant, authoritative, and much more. However great you may think angels are, the book of Hebrews says, Christ is considerably more excellent.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) The entire letter to the Hebrews was written with one reason in mind: to encourage Christians who were faltering in their faith. It is a call to endure. Those Christians in the first century were facing brutal persecution from the Jews and later even the Romans. The message they needed to hear was that they had made the right choice by coming to Christ. We need to hear the same message today. No, we have not faced the same persecution that they did, but this world is alluring. But listen, the truth of the matter is that God has spoken in these last days by His Son. We do well to listen. If not, we are only building up wrath for ourselves for the last day.
(2) Maybe you are looking for a sign; or maybe you are waiting for an answer; or possibly you are considering a verdict; let me help you, turn to Jesus Christ! His is the more excellent name. He is God’s final word on all matters concerning life, faith, salvation, and eternity.

Matthew 28:16-20 What is the Mission of the Church?

Matthew 28:16-20      What is the Mission of the Church?             WC McCarter
I struggled for years trying to understand the mission of the church. I still have bad habits of thinking wrong things about the mission, sometimes. I have always believed in evangelism, foreign missions, and the like. Yet, I looked around and saw so many churches that were committed to the spread of the Gospel, but they didn’t really even know the Gospel themselves. They wanted others to hear it and come to a knowledge of the truth, but they themselves were/are not growing in it. That is why I wanted to talk last week and this week about the church, gathered and scattered. We need to gather to grow in the Gospel, and we need to scatter to share the Good News with others. What was confusing for me is no longer an issue. I can say as a matter of fact that Matthew 28:16-20 is the mission of the church. We do not have to spend a year writing a “mission statement” like all of these other churches who are trying to follow a business model. All we have to do is stop and listen to our Shepherd’s voice. He is saying, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.”
I’m going to give you the ABCDE of the Great Commission passage:
Appointment – Basis – Commission – Discipling – Eternal Promise
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Appointment (vv16-17)
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.
17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
The twelve chosen disciples, who were made Apostles, were now down to eleven. Judas Iscariot had fulfilled Scripture, obeyed Satan, and ultimately went to the place where he belonged. The remaining eleven had basically scattered, except for John who had followed Jesus to the trial before the Sanhedrin and then to Calvary where Christ was crucified. Now the eleven have been restored to fellowship and obedience. They have followed the command of Jesus to go into Galilee to a certain mountain.
At the beginning of the 28th chapter, Matthew recounts how an angel of the Lord commanded the women who had gone to the tomb to tell the disciples that Christ had been raised from the dead and the He was going ahead of them into Galilee where the disciples would see Him. Jesus met the women on their way to tell the disciples, and He tells them the same thing, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” The women were obedient and so were the disciples. Apparently, Jesus gave them a specific location on a mountain, or hillside, of where to meet Him. Notice a couple of things: first, special things often happen on a mountain in the Bible, and especially in Matthew; second, this takes place in Galilee which is Gentile territory. Put these two ideas together, and you can see that the Lord is about to reveal something special that is going to be for the whole world.
Now look at verse seventeen. How awesome would it be to see the resurrected Lord?! When the group of disciples saw Him, all they could do was bow down to Him. They literally bent their knees and bowed their faces to the ground. While they all did this, some of the group doubted. What did they doubt? Did they doubt themselves, or what they were seeing, or the resurrection? The word Matthew chooses for doubt refers more to hesitation than to unbelief. I think that some of them were confused and did not know how to react to this encounter with the risen Lord.
The Basis (v18-19a)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. . . .
19 Therefore. . . .”
We have already seen the stage set for something special. What is it that Jesus will do or say? He comes and speaks. The first thing he says is, “All authority has been given to Me.” Do you realize the magnitude of this statement? This is the One was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, taught the deep things of God, performed mighty miracles, willingly gave up His life on a cross for the sins of the world, and was raised from the dead. This is the One who says, “All authority is Mine.” What is the scope of His authority? It is all authority in heaven and on earth. That covers it all! We have come to the climax and conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew has been leading to this point, showing that Jesus is King over all. Now we hear and see it plainly.
What is it that Jesus is saying? How is it that He can make such a claim? This claim can only be true if Jesus is fully God. Only God has authority in heaven and on earth. Yet, Jesus is distinct from the Father. This authority “has been given” to Him in the sense that He has fulfilled all He intended to do according to the Father’s plan. He has paid for the sins of many as the substitute on the cross, and He has been raised from the dead. When did He give it up so that now He can receive it again? When Christ came in the likeness of men and put on flesh, He emptied Himself of His divine authority. While He still exhibited great authority and power, He was limited during His ministry. Now He has returned to that glorious place of sovereign power and authority with the ransom for sin paid and the resurrection as a thundering statement of victory.
This is the basis on which Christ makes His command. He uses the word “therefore” to say, because I have all authority (on that basis), I command you to go and make disciples. What a privilege it is to know the One who has all authority in heaven and earth! What an obligation it is to be entrusted with His commands!
The Commission (v19a)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
On the basis of all that we have discussed, the Lord Jesus commands His disciples to go and make disciples of all the nations. Christ’s authority extends over all the nations, and the Good News of His sin-forgiving, life-giving work is to stretch out to all the nations. Yet, the emphasis is not so much on going, but it is really about making disciples. That can be done here and there. In fact, it must be done here and there. The main point is that disciples are to be making more disciples wherever they find themselves in this world.
The word “disciple” means “learner.” The Lord commands us to make learners. We are not talking about simply getting people to raise their hands, sign a card, or come down the aisle. We are talking about uniting people with Christ through baptism and helping them to become life-long learners through teaching them to observe all the things Christ has commanded. That is a true disciple, anything less than that is not worthy of the call that we have found in Jesus Christ. We can see this described in the next couple of phrases.
The Discipling (vv19b-20a)
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
At the end of verse nineteen and the beginning of verse twenty, we get two primary components of the process of making disciples. First, a person who has heard the Good News, believed it, and repented of their sins must be baptized. Second, that person must be taught to observe the commands of Jesus.
Let us start with the baptizing. The word most naturally means to immerse. In the context of the New Testament, it means to be immersed in water. A passage of Scripture such as Romans 6 makes clear the fundamental nature of baptism and the Christian life. We are taught in that chapter that baptism united the believer with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are united with Him in death and resurrection. Baptism is the time when we begin to walk in newness of life. It marks the beginning of our Christian lives, our eternal lives. To be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is to come into union with the Triune God. It is to become completely associated with all that He is, all of His person and accomplishments.
When a person has heard the Gospel, believed it, repented of their sin, and been baptized, they have just begun! After that initial conversion, they are to spend the rest of their lives learning to observe all that Christ has commanded. I have been called to be a pastor/teacher, so I have a great part in helping you to follow Christ’s commands, but guess what? We have all been commanded to teach others.
The Eternal Promise (v20b)
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
We are to continue to make disciples until the end of the age, and Christ will be with us every step of the way. That is a promise. We know that this promise is true and that He will be faithful to it for several reasons, one of the greatest being His fulfillment of the Father’s plan. He saw it through until the end. He will also see us through until the end. Christ’s return will mark the end of this age. He will return in the clouds, physically and literally. Until that day, Christ will be present with us by means of the Holy Spirit. He is truly Immanuel, God with us.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Notice the word that holds this passage together: “All.”
All Authority – All the Nations – All Things – Always.
This is an all encompassing summary of what Christ has done and intends to do. It is an all encompassing passage declaring our mission in this world. In the Upper Room the night of His betrayal and the night before His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father and said, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world. . . .” If we are left here, what is the purpose? Here it is: Be fruitful and multiply, that is, Go and make disciples.
(2) Some of us are called to international evangelism. Some of us are called to local evangelism. All of us are commanded to make disciples. Are you a sheep of the Great Shepherd’s fold? Do you hear His voice? He is saying, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.”

Ephesians 4:11-16 What is the Church?

Ephesians 4:11-16      What is the Church?                                                  WC McCarter

Did you know? . . . .
            Butterflies taste with their feet.
            Most lipstick contains fish scales.
            Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents.
            There are six million parts in the Boeing 747-400.
            The Tonle Sap River in Cambodia flows north for half the year, then south for the rest.
            For more than 3,000 years, carpenter ants have been used to close wounds in India, Asia, and South America.
            The typical lead pencil can draw a line that is thirty five miles long.
            Lighting flashes around the globe about 100 times per second or 8 million times per day.
Now, why would I include that last truth with those other wild and fun facts? We already know that we are the church. The people make up the church, not the building, or the property, or the website, or the technology. . . . We know that the church is the people, but I am convinced that we do not usually think in those terms. Today, I would like to talk a little bit about the church: what it is and what it is to be doing when it is gathered. We will do so from Ephesians 4:11-16. We will not be able to cover everything there is to be said about the church, but let's make some observations from this passage about the purpose of church leadership, the purpose of the gathered church, and what it is to be a properly functioning and healthy body.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Purpose of Leadership (vv11-12)

To find out who the “He Himself” is we must look back to verse seven, and we realize that verse eleven refers to Christ. Christ gifts the church with leadership. Notice that the church does not decide how the leadership is to be structured. Christ has decided how He wants His church to be led, and He has given men to do certain tasks. I am overwhelmed by the provisions of God. Do you realize that God will give you everything you need to follow Him? When He says, “Abide in Me,” He goes on to say, “I will abide in you.” When He says, “Endure until the end,” He also says, “I will not give you more than you can bear.” When He says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” He says, “It is Me who works in you.” And the list can go on and on. How is this related to verses 11-12? Christ wants His church to be equipped for works of service, so He gives certain leaders to do the equipping.
Apostles: “Sent ones.” The unrepeatable foundation of the church. The men who established doctrine. Uniquely inspired to write holy Scripture. There are no more Apostles today.
Prophets: In the NT age they were primarily preachers. They declared what the apostles taught. They were a major part of the establishment of the NT church. Is there a prophetic ministry today? Possibly; but I do not think that the office of the prophet is active today.
Evangelists: Church planters and missionaries. They declared the Gospel. We learn from the work of Timothy that they were also trouble shooters. Evangelists are active today.
Pastor/Teachers: There are four groups of leaders in the passage grouped by the word “some” or maybe “the”: Some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor/teachers.
This is the only place in the NT where the word “pastor” is used in the translation. Everywhere else the word “shepherd” is used. This word is equivalent to a few other NT words in English: pastor, shepherd, elder, overseer, and bishop. These all refer to the same thing. The function of the pastor is two-fold; it is to shepherd and teach. Some elders labor more on the governing side, while others labor more on the teaching side. The church needs both. I am a pastor/teacher. I am here to help shepherd the flock of God which, in this case, is specifically the Rural Hall Church of Christ. My job is to help lead and feed. I do so primarily through the exposition of Scripture.
Why am I to do this? So that you are “equipped.” That word refers to setting something in its rightful place. It is to mend something. It is to provide what is needed. Christ wants you to collectively have all that you need – preparation, resources, encouragement, etc. – to do what He has called you to do. The “ministry” belongs to the church, and proper equipping will lead to proper service. Individually, we all have things that the Lord has called us to do, but the work of ministry belongs to the church, not only one person. I am a minister, and so are you! This refers to works of service. God has called us to do a variety of things, and we will talk about that a little more next week. Let me say this, Christ wants an every-member ministry. The elders and I have discussed how we must work together as a team to shepherd this congregation. All of you, too, must work together as a team to accomplish God’s commands for Christians and the ministry that He has entrusted to us.
Not only does God want to use me to equip you, but He also wants to use me to “edify” you. This word, as many of you know, means to build up. It was used to refer to the construction of a house or building. It refers to development. Christ wants you to develop through the Word.
The Purpose of the Gathered Church (vv13-14)
UNITY- of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God
“Till we all come to the unity. . . .”
Each Christian must grow up into maturity. There is nothing worse than a spiritually immature believer who has been a Christian for decades. But, an individual growing to maturity is not enough. Christ wants us to collectively come to maturity. We can grow in appreciation for the person and works of Christ best when we do it together. You can grow as a Christian best when you are growing with others.
The word “perfect” can refer to: status, we are perfect in Christ; ultimate/complete sinlessness, which will only come at the end of the age; or maturity, which is to be sought after in this life. Christ does not expect you to be completely sinless as He was in this life, but He does expect you to become spiritually mature.
Christ is the head of the body. When a baby is born the head is usually larger than the body. The body must catch-up to the head. It must develop; it must grow up into the head. The church is the same way with us as the body and Christ as the head. He has called us perfect, not we must become perfect.
In verse 14, we have the same thing basically said in a negative sense. Christians are not to be spiritual children forever. We must become established, strong, and rooted. As Psalm 1 says, we are to be like a tree that is planted by the streams of water. That way, when the winds blow, and they will blow, we will not be tossed to and fro. We will not be carried away. This word is ready to preach another gospel to you, any other gospel to you, which is really no gospel at all. Satan wants you to believe anything but what Christ has said and done.
Proper Function of the Body (vv15-16)
To counteract this world and Satan himself, we must speak the truth, and we must speak it in love. Each part of the body must do its share for the body to function properly. An unhealthy situation occurs when some part is not doing what it is supposed to do.
The Apostle’s discussion ends with the idea of love. Love is what covers a multitude of sins. Love is what is lasting. Love is the force behind all that we do as Christians. The church should not feel ashamed for seeking the best for its own. This is almost a foreign concept in the American church today. We think so much about what we need to do in our communities and not what we need to do when we gather.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Do you only view yourself as an individual or as a “part” of the church? In America, we have been taught since we were children that we have to look out for ourselves. We have to be independent. We have to beat out the competition. Yet, that is not what the New Testament teaches. We are each living stones being built together to create the spiritual temple in which the Spirit of God may dwell.
(2) Will you commit to an every-member ministry as Christ desires of us?
(3) Every Christian is gifted by the Holy Spirit to do something for the church. What are you good at? What do you like to do? Do that very thing for the church with all your might.
*The church is called to gather and scatter.