Yet how often are we prone to look at, or even obsess on, the evidence of the Fall in our daily lives rather than the redeeming work of God in our midst? How quickly we complain, embrace anxiety, even encourage conflict, as if we are glorifying God by saturating our hearts and minds with the trite, trivial, and temporal. Now before you begin to think that I am adding shame to your guilt for not giving thanks in all circumstances, let me offer this helpful observation: I think we are not consistent in our thanksgiving to God because we do not look to the gospel to empower our praise. Praise is not an obligation accomplished but a response enjoyed.
Consider the relevance of this: We are called to live holy lives, not to merit God’s favor but to be like him, to grow in godliness, to mature in Christlikeness. As such, to live our lives in holiness is not a burden of conformity but a family trait to be embraced and enjoyed. What is even more extraordinary about this is that our holy God calls us saints, even now, even as we wrestle with our sinful flesh, even as we are on this side of eternal life. We are saints of God, because of God’s grace alone through faith in Christ to the glory of God alone.
In this sense, every Lord’s Day is Memorial Day in the church, where we decorate not the graves of the fallen but look to the crucified who is risen, where we not merely commemorate the greatest sacrifice ever made but find our very life in it. And through the ordinary means of grace, we remember the extraordinary means of our redemption: Christ crucified and resurrected. Just as it is the Lord’s kindness that leads us to repentance, it is his provision that leads us to praise.
There is never a moment too late for the One who created time. There is always purpose in his delay, as Jesus reveals at Lazarus’ tomb, explaining to Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:39). As John Piper puts it, “God’s interest is to magnify the fullness of His glory by spilling over in mercy to us.” And so, Jesus lifts his eyes heavenward praying, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). And then, he who is the Life cried out, “Lazarus, come forth,” (John 11:43, KJV), and Lazarus did indeed come forth, alive and well.
Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, and conviction were done in the dark, both literally and figuratively. He who was sent in love and came in truth encountered neither on that dark night. He was betrayed with a kiss, arrested without cause, tried on false testimony, convicted though innocent. Yet, everything that happened to him on that night, including Peter’s denial, was presented as truth. The entire evening was Satanically staged to have the appearance of truth. The fallen angel of light is an expert at this.
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.