The Gathering at La Junta Baptist
Sunday, May 5
  • He Has Made Me Glad
  • Lord I Lift Your Name On High
  • Since Jesus Came Into My Heart
  • Victory In Jesus
  • Introduction
    Disciple: The Art of Following Jesus
    “Evangelism: The Disciple’s DNA”
    **Note** The presentation must be one of “opportunity” not warning.
    Our church has before it today a weighty decision. Probably the most weighty decision that this church has faced since its beginning over 80 years ago.
    The decision is so weighty that—before we make the decision—we must know what is the right question. Asking the wrong question will not lead to the right answer.
    So—when faced with a such a weighty decision—what is the correct question for a church to ask? Well, I would say that we could formulate the question into two questions. But these two questions are actually the same question.
    First, we might ask “What would be the will of the Lord in this situation?” Second, we could ask “How can we best fulfill the Great Commission?”
    But those are not two different questions. They are the same question. What would the Lord have us do? He would have us fulfill the Great Commission. So whether we ask the first question or the second question, we are asking the same question. More simply: “How can we get the gospel of Jesus Christ before the most people possible?”
    There are many other noble goals that come before the church.
    Sometimes our greatest desire is unity. We can know if unity is our primary goal when our first question when faced with a big decision is “Who will it upset? Who will get angry?”
    Sometimes our greatest goal is familiarity. When familiarity is our primary goal, we are more interested in our history than we are in our future. The Israelites were so interested in familiarity that they would have rather lived in the slavery of Egypt rather than to go into the Promised Land. The result of their confused priority was the death of a generation in the Wilderness of Wandering.
    Sometimes our greatest goal is comfort. When this is our greatest goal, we make decisions primarily by “what will it cost? Not only financially, but personally? Will it cause me to change my routine? Will it cause me to adjust my schedule?”
    None of these are—in of themselves—bad things. But when good things replace the best thing, then the good becomes the enemy of the best.
    The best thing is ALWAYS “Will Jesus Christ be honored through my participation in the Great Commission?” Where this becomes secondary, the Gospel becomes minimized. When the Gospel is minimized, it will become sacrificed.
    It will be sacrificed on the altar of an idealized (and false) history. It will be sacrificed on the altar of personal preferences. It will be sacrificed on the altar of selfishness.
    Jesus’s warning to the church of Ephesus, when they left their first love, was that they would be blown out like a candle in a hurricane. In other words, churches that ignore the importance of the Gospel will eventually die.
    Our primary goal must ALWAYS be our participation with Jesus in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
    Indeed, the Great Commission should be part of the DNA of what it means to be a Christian.
    So, what is the Great Commission?
    Read Text
    Your participation in the GC is directly related to your recognition of Jesus’s authority. Jesus said in verse 18 that all authority—whether it is in heaven or in earth—has been given to Jesus.
    To say that Jesus has “authority” is not saying that Jesus is kind of a leadership guru who knows what he is talking about. Follow His counsel and things will turn out better.
    Jesus is saying that He alone has the final word for how we are to conduct ourselves and to how we are to spend our lives. The word that is used for “authority” means that Jesus is absolutely free to make whatever demands He wants to make. He is not constrained by anything. He is not controlled by anything. He has absolute freedom.
    He freely chooses through His love for you and His love for the lost to make your life a significant and valid contribution to the movement of the Kingdom of God. As you participate in the Great Commission, your life has value and purpose to eternity.
    Jesus says that the Father has given all authority over to Him. The question is whether or not we recognize the authority of Jesus.
    If you want to know whether or not you recognize authority, you must examine what is the final factor that determines the decisions that you make and the life that you live.
    According to the Bible, you recognition of Jesus’s authority in your life is whether or not you are participating in the Great Commission.
    By claiming to have “all authority,” Jesus is claiming the two things: First, He is claiming the right to give the “marching orders” to His followers. This is Jesus’s authority over His people. He is announcing that He is our authority and we are His subjects. A Kingdom requires two things: a king and a people. He is the King. We are the people.
    Not only is Jesus claiming to have authority over His followers, but, second, He is claiming to have authority over the accomplishment of the goal: namely, the making of disciples. The first claim of authority gives Jesus the right to demand of us what He will. The second claim means that Jesus will give us the means to accomplish what He wants us to accomplish. He affirms this in verse 20 when He says “I am with you always.”
    In other words—we have great confidence that whatever Jesus demands from us, He accomplishes for us and through us!
    Now, what exactly is the goal? Jesus tells us the goal in verse 19: Make disciples.
    If you hear nothing else that I say, please hear this: the church exists for the sole purpose of making disciples. The church’s purpose is to see people come to know the Lord.
    If the church fails to make disciples, the church cannot be considered a church. It may be considered a community organization. It may be considered a club. It may be considered a group of friends. But it cannot be considered a church.
    Churches actively engage in fulfilling the Great Commission. Churches have no higher calling from God than to see that people come to Jesus Christ. Our seriousness in engaging in that responsibility reveals what we truly believer about people, about Hell, and about Jesus.
    Let me speak very frankly. If we are unwilling to do whatever it takes to make disciples, then we should take “church” off of our sign and start selling sandwiches and coffee for we are NOT doing what God has called us to do.
    What is our method for making disciples?
    First, it is baptizing them in the one name of the triune God. The visible and public evidence of a person’s conversion is emulated through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our identification with Him through baptism.
    Second, it is teaching the entire counsel of God. Not soft-selling. Not sacrificing truth at the expense of popularity. Not adding to the Word of God and not taking away from the Word of God. But simply repeating and applying God’s holy word.
    When do we do this? “As you go.” In other words, fulfilling the Great Commission is not something that you put on the schedule. It IS the schedule. We don’t fit the Great Commission around our lives. We fit our lives around the Great Commission.
    It is not an option. It is a commitment. If we are not intentionally committed to the GC, we will unintentionally lose the Gospel.
    The giving of the Great Commission implies three things:
    1. People without Jesus suffer the eternal wrath of God.
    2. People with Jesus enjoy the eternal presence of God.
    3. The decisions that churches make have real implications for what each person receives. In other words, there are real people who go to a real heaven because a church has taken the GC serious. Also, there are real people going to a real hell because a church has been unfaithful to the GC.
    I want to summarize how this applies to us in three statements:
    1. Be committed to the responsibility. According to Dana Perino’s reporting, there have been 259 selfie deaths between 2011 and 2017. [See pictures and DP’s twitter feed]. What is true of ourselves is also true of churches: over-fascination with ourselves leads to our own destruction. Many Christians are struggling and many churches are dying because they are so inward focused that they are of no use to the greater kingdom of God. They would rather take a selfie than picture the world around them.
    Every Christian has the responsibility to seek to lead others to know Christ. Every Christian has the responsibility to invest everything that they can into making fewer people condemned to hell and giving more people the opportunity to choose Jesus Christ.
    2. Be aware of the destiny/goal. The goal of the Gospel is nothing less than seeing people transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. It is not about preserving a Christless legacy. It is not about a cultural ideal. It is not about a political persuasion. It is about people being radically remade by the power of the Spirit to look more like Jesus.
    3. Be aware of the opportunity. Many churches and many Christians never experience the fullness of “God for them” because they fear doing something different. In Greek mythology, there was a “god” over the city that we know in the Bible as Corinth. Sisyphus has concocted an evil plan of rebellion. When the plan was discovered, he was punished by being forced to push a large boulder up a hill. Every time that he neared the top of the hill, the boulder would slip from his grasp and roll back down to the bottom of the hill. Sisyphus then had to go back to the bottom of the hill and start the process all over again. His punishment was the constant struggle of futility. Wanting to accomplish something, but never able to experience the satisfaction of completion.
    This is where many Christians and churches live their lives. So close. But oh so far. In many cases, the problem is a failure to recognize that opportunities that God brings before them.
    The Decision Before Us
    That leads me to the weighty decision that currently lies before us.
    About 4 weeks ago, the pastor from Midway Baptist Church asked to meet with me. If you don’t know, Midway Baptist Church is .8 miles up 199.
    It is a church plant that was began about 30 years. They currently sit on 16 acres right on the highway.
    Midway has struggled for years. Their attendance has progressively decreased over the last 10 years due to a number of factors.
    Heartbroken, the pastor sought counsel from the State Convention. Through a series of meetings with a specialist in taking small churches and turning them around, the consultant expressed concern that the church—now down to about 18 members—would be able to see a revitalized church with their current circumstances.
    Second, the convention also expressed resistance (rightly so!) to invest too much into a church that is less than 1 mile from a church that is right down road.
    Their recommendation was that Midway Baptist Church seek to merge their ministry with the ministry of LaJunta Baptist Church.
    In short, that means that the remaining members of Midway Baptist Church would join the members of our church and we would assume the ministry of the merger of both churches.
    The pastor of Midway would resign and I would remain as pastor. Our current staff would maintain their current roles. We would receive the 16 acres and the building upon which Midway currently sits.
    By agreeing to this merger, we would—I believe—make significant strides in our level of participation in the Great Commission.
    I have shared over the past year that the projected growth of this area is astronomical. A growth that our current location cannot sustain.
    A few years ago our church had experienced a significant amount of growth. I believe God is going to do it again!
    The growth we had then led us to begin to search for pieces of land where we could relocate. We quickly found out that our church simply could not afford to purchase land and build a building in this area. It was too expensive.
    But our God—never to be defeated—has given us the opportunity to receive land for the growth that I believe He is going to bring again.
    I believe with all of my heart that God blesses churches that are faithful. God deposits His children into churches who are serious about making disciples.
    Now, there are many details to be worked out. Tonight I want to host a town hall meeting where I can further discuss some of these details. There are legalities that must followed. There are matters of wisdom that must discussed.
    There will not be any final decisions made tonight. I want to further discuss this with you. I want to hear from you. If you are in the sanctuary this morning, you are invited to be a part of this time. As a matter of fact, I would like to say to you, “Please come.”
    If we choose to take this step, it will require everyone’s participation. I cannot accomplish this. Your staff cannot accomplish this. It will take each one of us depending upon the leadership of God.
    We must be clear about what is the goal of the church. We do not come up with our own goal. We have been given a goal by our Lord.
    The goal is not passive. It is active.
    The goal of a ship is not to keep from sinking. If the ship’s goal is to keep from sinking, then it should stay in harbor. Ships that never set sail don’t sink.
    The goal of the ship is to go to a destination. It is to arrive.
    The goal of the church is not to keep from sinking. It is to go to a destination. It is to take the risk of setting sail. It must be willing to navigate waters that may sometimes be turbulent.
    Church, if we are going to be faithful to reach for the goal that Jesus has given to us, we have got to set sail. It may seem safer to stay in the harbor. But it makes us meaningless for the Lord’s commission to us. Useless.
    The Disciple’s DNA. [See Kenneth Priest on Jurassic Park].
    The Bible uses the terminology of “born again” because it is teaching us that salvation brings such a radical change in our lives that it can only be described by comparing our salvation to that of a brand new life.
    When a baby is born, he or she is born with the DNA of their parent. That DNA is coded into them so that they carry certain traits. It might be blue eyes or red hair or a short stature. But the code of the DNA will be there.
    It is the same when we are “born again.” We take on the DNA of our Heavenly Father and share the DNA of the incarnate Son.
    Part of that DNA make-up is a desire to see other people come to know the Lord. God said that He is willing for none perish. The Bible says that heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.
    Jesus said that He came to give his life as a ransom for many. He came to give His life so that we might receive His life.
    The DNA of our Heavenly Father is a desire for people to be saved.
    If we have been “born of God,” it should be inherent within us to see others come to salvation. We should have the heart of God. His DNA should be ours.
    This morning, I am asking to you ask of the Lord one thing: How can I best give my life to make disciples. No personal opinions. No confused priorities. No idols. No complaints.
    Just a people who are humbled. Broken. Willing. Faithful. Praying “Lord, do it again.” Would you come and pray that prayer this morning?
  • Where He Leads Me
  • Each One Reach One

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