The Great Challenge

Setting the stage:

Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, was buried, rose from the dead, and appeared to His disciples a number of times over a period of 40 days…
Jesus, on one occasion, told them to head to Galilee because this is where most of His followers lived…
He was planning to meet them there…
We are talking here of more than the twelve He chose to be leaders in this movement … now eleven because Judas betrayed Him and then took his own life
We are talking here of a good number of followers…

1 Corinthians 15:6 “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep (died).”
You see, the message of the Church was twofold:
1> God has now established His Kingdom upon the earth
2> The King of that Kingdom is Jesus and He died, was buried, and rose again from the dead three days later – He is alive!
So, it was and still is important that there were credible eye witnesses to the FACT that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive… people whose lives had been transformed by this event
And there were over 500 hundred original witnesses to His resurrection
He had appeared to:
1> Mary in the garden on Easter Sunday (John 20:11-18)
2> Peter and John together – John 20:19-20
3> Both of these men separately – Luke 24:34
4> The 11 together – Luke 24:36
5> The 500 followers all at the same time – 1 Corinthians 15:6
6> James (Son of Zebedee) – 1 Corinthians 15:7
7> James (half brother of Jesus – author of book of James) – Acts 15:13-21
8> The apostles (numbering more than 12) – John 20:19-20 … 15 others named in N.T.
9> Paul (Saul) – Acts 9:4-6
These appearances happened over a 40 day period…
In the passage I want to look at – Jesus has called His disciples, the original 12, now 11 – to meet Him in Galilee where most of his followers – the vast majority of the 500+ lived
Let’s read our Scripture for today:
Matthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Message version:
“Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.’”
Jesus is giving His followers their “marching orders”
The mandate of the Church
The task that we are called to accomplish
The work He has called us to do
The reason we are here
Why He didn’t immediately take us to Heaven when we were saved
The commission He has trusted us with
The Great Commission as it is known
The call on the Church … every local church worldwide
The challenge…
Jesus came:
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and to save the lost.”
He is asking His followers if they were willing to give their lives to fulfilling the reason He came to earth
He is in Galilee and those whom He called to be the leaders of His new movement are gathered just as He had asked them to do…
But, not all are sold out to Him and the work He is asking them to become involved in…
We just read it:
“And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”
“Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.”
Fair enough … Jesus is not forcing anyone to do anything (free will)
But He is asking them to willingly join Him and complete His work
He is offering them the opportunity of a lifetime – to be involved in something with serious and eternal significance
He is giving them the chance to join the greatest adventure any person could ever want
He is presenting to them “THE GREAT CHALLENGE”
Take the world for Him and His Kingdom
The winning of the lost one soul at a time
The spreading of the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations (Matthew 24:14)
The battle between the Kingdom of God and the domaine of darkness
But some were not sure…
“And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”
“Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.”
Let’s stop for a minute … because some today are not sure “about worship, about risking themselves totally”
WORSHIP…
When we think about worship – worshipping Jesus
Our singing praise and worship choruses during our daily devotional times
Our singing as a church when we gather together (corporate worship)
Worship is defined as extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object or person that we esteem and value
Devotion is defined as a feeling of extreme, strong love, deep passion, or loyalty
Devotion – the use of time, money, energy, and life itself for a particular person or purpose
* Merrion-Webster on-line dictionary
Worship is our constant focus on God giving Him all the honour, glory, and respect-esteem due to Him – with the willingness to serve Him and do what He asks (obedience) REGARDLESS OF THE COST
So, Paul writes (Holy Spirit states):
Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The Message Version: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life––your sleeping, eating, going–to–work, and walking– around life––and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well–adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well–formed maturity in you.”
Our worship is more than…
Our worship is life lived in a way that honours God – Jesus!
Our worship is stepping into “The Challenge” and saying ‘yes’ regardless
MUSLIMS – They worship:
When you hear of a terrorist attack … this week in Afghanistan
33 this week
292 since the start of the year
These terrorists are, in their minds, worshippers of God
Some of the early followers of Jesus may have doubted but not these men
Some of the early followers of Jesus “..held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.”
Not these terrorists – worshippers
They go charging in to their death yelling “Allah Akbar” (‘God is great’)
They are worshipping their god called Allah … giving totally of themselves
We call it radical terrorism / radical extremism – – – – They call it worship
To quote Paul: “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Muslims … a “living sacrifice” to their god Allah
These Muslims are focused on ‘god’
These Muslims are giving their life for his cause (sacrifice)
These Muslims are willing to die to bring glory to their ‘god’
They are committed
They are dedicated
They are enthusiastic
They are passionate
They are willing
They are “sold out” in the most extreme terms
But, our Scripture today, speaking of the early Christian followers of Jesus states:
“… but some doubted”
“… Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.”
Maybe they doubted the resurrection
Maybe they doubted that Jesus truly is God
Maybe they doubted the cause – the call to “go and make disciples”
Maybe they doubted their abilities to do as commanded
Maybe they doubted that they had the heart and willingness to give 110%
Maybe they doubted that they would truly be willing to die for what they believed
Maybe they lacked commitment
Maybe they lacked dedication
Maybe they lacked enthusiasm
Maybe they lacked passion
Maybe they lacked a single focus – the willingness to lay it all down and follow Jesus
“…Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.”
Not sure about worship
Worship is more than singing choruses to God expressing our love for Him
Worship is about putting God first all the time
Worship is about honouring God by your total lifestyle
Worship is a life offered to God daily “on the altar”
Worship is being willing to die for Jesus and His Kingdom
Worship is an expression of total abandonment of self to God
Worship is instant and total obedience to Jesus
Worship is living life in a way that draws attention to Jesus
Worship is expressed differently in the life of every true disciple / follower
These men – terrorists – then came together, forming a team and thus worshipped Allah together as they took the innocent lives of many … yelling “Allah Akbar” (god is great)
They worship corporately – just as we gather and worship together today
Let me remind you of what Jesus said …
Matthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Message version:
“Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name:Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.’”
In spite of “some doubting” and thus not worshipping – Jesus went on to explain another aspect of true worship
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life…”
Give your life for this cause
Give Me your life and do what I ask of you (command)
After all, He is Lord – Lord, Master, Sovereign, King, Ruler over everything in the heavens and on this planet
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…”
Philippians 2:9-11 “Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth––even those long ago dead and buried––will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour of God the Father.”
Because He is King and Lord – all nations belong to Him and He has the right and the authority to send His people to these nations as ambassadors of the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20)
And, as we obey and “go”
Into our neighbourhood
Into where we shop and bank
Into where we play, exercise, entertain ourselves
Into where we work
Into each and every place life takes us
We are to “worship God” and bring Him glory by our words, thoughts, actions, attitude
We honour Him and bring Him glory (worship) by the way we live and conduct ourselves
Our lives “a living sacrifice” … summed up as “worship”
And He “dwells in the praises of His people” thus promising to “be with us “ even to the end of our life or the end of this Church age
He started his earthly life by being born as a human being – Immanuel – “God with us”
He ends His earthly life and ministry by telling us that He is still “Immanuel” …
And, that as we go to tell others of His love that resulted in His birth, death, and resurrection …
As we continue to worship Him in every action, thought, word … lifestyle
He promises to be ever present – “Immanuel” – God still with us!!
So worship is more than singing love songs to Jesus – individually or corporately
Worship is a total lifestyle dedicated to bring glory to Jesus – God with us!
By reaching out in love daily as we live regular life daily
Logically:
We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
We express that love by singing love songs to Him (worship)
But, Jesus also said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” ( John 14:15)
And, He is sending us into the world in which we live to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)
So, another expression of our love is that we obey Him and do as He has commanded … this is true worship
Thus, “going into all our world and making disciples” is worship – an expression of our love for Him
Telling others about Jesus is “worship”
CONCLUSION:
Several years ago I exited the Domodedovo International Airport in the city of Moscow, Russia
Less than an hour later a terrorist from Dagestan Republic in Russia blew up the arrival area where I had been standing waiting for my ride and interpreter
Three days later I exited a metro (subway) in the centre of the city of Moscow and within 20 minutes the subway station was demolished by a terrorist blowing himself up
From nations where I work – Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan
Places I go to preach about the real Jesus and God’s love
Jesus said: I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of       the age.”
Twice while ministering in Kazakhstan I narrowly escaped raids by the KGB who were clamping down on all religious meetings because of a terrorist Muslim attack within their nation that had killed 50…
The southern city of Taraz – the central city of Aktobe …
But Jesus said: I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
We are citizens of the Kingdom (not of Canada)
And, we are called by Jesus, the King of the Kingdom, to “… Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.”
As we do we will see Him working with us … protecting us, guiding us, directing us, helping us
Mark 16:20 “And the disciples went everywhere preaching, the Master working right with them, validating the Message with indisputable evidence.” (The Message version)
(ESV) “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”
If we will Stand up – Step out
He will Show up – Show off
Without this ‘act of faith’ and ‘act of obedience’
We don’t have true worship
We often are singing songs to ourselves
We could say that”we are holding to the outward form of our religion and denying it’s life-changing power”
Remember that “the gospel if the power of God unto salvation”
Going into our daily life letting others know about Jesus as directed by the King
It is a solid act of worship as you “… present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Maybe you have never through of telling others about Jesus as “worship” … honouring, and esteeming, loving and obeying Jesus
I would hope you would consider the thought and act upon it this week
Tell someone about Jesus and invite them to follow the King
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
https://youtu.be/NGJzkm8lZjU