Consider the immediate reality of this eternal life! How we live now has meaning and significance. As R.C. Sproul said rightly, “Right now counts forever.”  And as Jesus is the Way, it is through him that we live this life. The way to eternal life and the way to live life are one in the same—through faith in the Son of God. This is why Paul could say, “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20), and that “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:17).
Therefore, Christ has not commissioned us to do something we should not or that we cannot do. Rather, he has given us both the authority, through his Word, and the power, through his Spirit, to take the gospel to our neighbor and the nations, confidently pronouncing the forgiveness of sin that is found in Christ alone. And this is not a commission for some but for all of us, according to our gifting and calling. Some are called to go to other countries to different people with different languages. Some are called to serve here, continuing to make and mature disciples, administer the sacraments, and preach the Word. But all of us are called to pray for and support the ministry of the church, in her going, sending, and equipping, which we do in the authority and power of Christ Jesus our Lord, who is with us always, to the end of the age.
If we are to go into all nations, making, sealing, and teaching, our going must be motivated by something greater than subduing or separating from cultural circumstances. Running for the hills to hide every time the winds of culture change is not what Jesus meant by going and making disciples. And mourning the supposed demise of the church because of political change does not testify to the truth that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ. Our going, like our redemption, is to be grounded in the grace of God in Christ. It was only after the Lord revealed himself to Isaiah, giving him the grace to confess and be forgiven, that he could say, “Here I am! Send me,” and be sent into the most difficult of circumstances. When our hearts are captivated by our cultural circumstances, we tend to retreat into protectionism, but when our hearts are captive to the grace of God, we will have a heart for our neighbor and the nations.
The Great Commission then is only understood in the context of the church, for it is the church who mobilizes missions, making disciples, administering the sacraments, teaching the Word, and enjoying Christ’s on-going presence in our very existence. Therefore, do not heed those who would lead you to see the lost as your adversary, and do not run from the Great Commission by retreating into your holy huddle. Through the church we are to live out the Great Commission. The world is before us, so let us be going, making, sealing, and teaching, as we are ultimately one body worshiping one Lord who is with us always, to the end of the age.
The bulk of Paul’s first epistle, chapter after chapter, deals with the problems of a dysfunctional church. And then, once he seemingly addressed every issue, he does something that may seem elementary: He preaches the gospel. Actually, to be precise, he reminds them of it. They have heard it before, but, like every church, they need it again.
We were made to live forever, but death prevents it. Our only hope is the death of death. Which is why Jesus could be angry in witnessing death and joyful in pursuing it. In the words of John Owen, “He underwent death, that we might be delivered from death.” The death of death in the death of Christ.
In the March 2021 issue of First Things magazine, Francis X. Maier reminds the reader that as the Roman Empire was crumbling, Augustine was writing the City of God, drawing from what he witnessed first hand in Rome, notably pride, corruption, and brutality. Yet, he did not advocate for a Christian cloistering from the polisContinue reading “Augustine’s 4 Points on Christians and Politics”
In what could be considered an unveiled description of the preparation and presence of the high priest behind the veil, we find that in Christ we now have access to the Holy of Holies, which for all who are in Christ is “the new and living way.” We find that Christ’s body was indeed the veil, pierced for our transgressions, and severed that we might draw near to God, not cowering in fear but “with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” crying “Abba! Father!” as children, indeed “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17). God himself is unveiled to us!
The cross of Christ is a foreign concept to the world, meaningless except in its finality, or perhaps curious in its novelty. Jesus of Nazareth died upon a cross. But if the one who died was also the Christ, the Anointed One, in fact the Son of God, then the Roman instrument of suffering and shame became the cross of Christ, an atoning altar for sin. Upon the cross, Jesus died a sinner’s death yet committed no sin. The purpose of his death was not his sin but yours: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The irony of Jesus’ trial before Pilate is that Jesus, who is Truth, tells the truth, and Pilate can’t deny it. John records that when Pilate asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, Jesus responds characteristically, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (John 18:33-34). Were it not a matter of life or death, it’s almost comical. He already knows and understands the accusation, but does Pilate?