The Commands of Christ (Lesson Four)

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The Endurance Jesus Commanded

Following Jesus takes the believer through seasons. There will be seasons of great joy and excitement associated with answered prayer, obvious blessing, clear direction from God, and great fruitfulness. But there will also be seasons where it seems like God has gone, prayers go unanswered, trials pile up, doubts abound, nothing seems to work. God comes near for our good and he also withdraws for our good. Christ calls us to follow him in a way that requires endurance.

“…you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  Matthew 10:22

  • What exciting promise did Jesus make to his followers in Matthew 10?

(That at the end of our earthly lives, we will be saved from this world and its hardships to fellowship with and worship God in heaven.)

“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.”  Matthew 13:20-21

  • What is it in Matthew 13 that seems to disappoint Christ?

(Christians who give up the good work and life of a Christian (emphasis on them receiving hardships because of their faith))

Some Christians follow Jesus according to their feelings. If they feel excited about God they read their Bible, pray, and attend all church meetings. But if they lose their excitement and don’t feel like serving Christ through Bible reading, praying, and worship, they backslide. But Jesus wants us to endure.

“…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”  Romans 5:3-4

  • According to verse 3, why does God let us suffer?

(Suffering helps us learn how to endure through hardships.)

  • According to verse 4, why is this both important and good for us?

(Because it builds character within us, which leads us to hope.)

 

James and Emily Gilmour

James Gilmour was a Scottish missionary to Mongolia who made lonely, heroic efforts to preach the gospel to a people steeped in Lamaist forms of Buddhism; spending summers with nomadic Mongols on the plains of Mongolia and winters with Mongols in Peking. After his wife died in 1885, he labored in eastern Mongolia until his death at age 47, after 21 years of missionary service. He knew great physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual hardship. Numerous times he wanted to quit because his calling was so difficult. But he couldn’t escape the knowledge that it was the Lord’s call for his life. Despite only seeing a handful of converts under his ministry throughout his years of labor and hardship, he endured for Christ.

Emily Prankard Gilmour traveled from London, England, to Mongolia to marry James Gilmour on December 8, 1874. She learned to speak the Mongol language and willingly shared her husband’s experiences and dangers. Twice she spent the summer travelling about the plains of Mongolia with him, sleeping in a tent, and enduring hardships. Physically unable to endure such a hard life, she worked among the Chinese girls in Peking, where her husband joined her in the winter to work among the Mongols who came there. They had three boys: James, William, and Alexander who died as a toddler. Mrs. Gilmour died on September 19,1885, not long after the birth of their third son.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  • According to 1Corinthians 13, what is it that enables the believer to endure?

(Love (for God and others))

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3

  • According to these verses, how are we to run with endurance and what reason is given for doing so?

(Whatever lies ahead of us, we are to run with perseverance. Life is no a sprint but a long distance race. We must pace ourselves, but keep moving!…….We are to do so because Jesus, our Lord and Master, gave up his life for each of us and our salvation. This should give us courage and strength during difficult times.)

In the Book of Revelation we read of Christ commending the Ephesian church for enduring against persecution, in the midst of evil, and the claims of false apostles. But not only had the Ephesian church endured, they had endured without growing weary. May God grant us endurance in following and serving him so that we too do not grow weary in the things that we should be passionate about for Christ.

The Spiritual Power Jesus Commanded

Christianity is not about merely being religious or even being good. One of the hallmarks of authentic Christianity is spiritual power. The Scriptures warn against only having an outward form of appearing to follow God while simultaneously denying the power of God necessary to follow God. Jesus doesn’t merely command us to follow him, he commands and empowers those he calls, to follow him. No one is a Christian until they are born of the Holy Spirit. When Christ was with his disciples, he gave them power to minister. Before he left them though, he commanded them not to begin ministering until they received the power of the Holy Spirit to do so.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  Romans 1:16

  • How is the Gospel described in Romans 1?

(The Gospel shows God’s power to save anyone who believes.)

“Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.”  Luke 4:14

  • When Jesus began his ministry shortly after being baptized, how is his return to Galilee described?

(He didn’t just return—he returned filled with the power of the Spirit!)

Christ wasn’t just an interesting person to listen to. He was far more than just a great teacher. He was a powerful teacher! Jesus didn’t just teach the Gospel, he demonstrated the Gospel.

“Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  Luke 9:1-2

  • What did Christ give his original disciples and why did he give it?

(He gave not only power over all demons, but authority. He also gave them the ability to do healing miracles. These were all for the purpose of proclaiming the kingdom of God.)

But what the original disciples experienced from Jesus was only temporary. It lasted only for the time he was with them. But Christ made a promise to these disciples that this power would abide with them after he had returned to his father in heaven.

“For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”  Acts 2:39

  • Who was this promise of spiritual power also promised to?

(US! God calls all people to himself.)

You can’t get the power of the Holy Spirit from a book. You can’t get the power of the Holy Spirit from a magic prayer. You can’t get the power of the Holy Spirit from a seminar. The power of the Holy Spirit can only come from the Holy Spirit! Jesus taught his disciples that this required waiting and praying. While some churches are keen to be politically powerful, it is my prayer that we will be spiritually powerful. I pray that we will be led by the Holy Spirit; empowered by the Holy Spirit; filled with the Holy Spirit; and baptized in the Holy Spirit. May our power be truly spiritual. We have for too long underestimated what this kind of power could achieve for Christ in this generation and for generations to come!

The Unity Jesus Commanded

“And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one….As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

John 17:11,21-22

  • What was the theme of Jesus’ last prayers before his crucifixion?

(That his followers would be united in love for each other and their heavenly father.)

Unity is different than unison. Unity involves purpose, direction, common goals, and cooperation. Genuine unity incorporates diversity (differences). That is, you only need unity when you have differences but are trying to achieve the same thing.

Unison is sameness. It doesn’t tolerate differences. While unity demands being of the same mind, it doesn’t mean we have to think the same way. We can be united in Christ because we are all committed to his cause of seeing God glorified throughout the whole earth, but we can approach it in different ways from different perspectives and even with different interpretations of the Bible. One of the principle ingredients of unity, then, is a gracious attitude.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8

  • What did Peter say was necessary for believers to be united?

(Sympathy…love for each other…kind hearts….humility)

We can therefore do things differently, and even disagree with each other, but still be united! One of the hallmarks of mature Christianity is being able to disagree with another Christian yet still warmly fellowship with them.

“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.”  Romans 14:1

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”  Romans 15:7

  • What does Romans 14 and 15 call for between Christians and how can we do this?

(We are to be welcoming to all. We can do this by putting aside our pride and judgment. We must remember that each person is loved and uniquely made by God. We are called to love and love only.)

For there to be unity there must be the building of relationships between believers. This process will inevitably lead to disagreements, offense, and tension, but it doesn’t have to lead to bitterness or hostility.

“The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  John 17:22-23

  • According to John 17, what is at stake for the Church to be united?

(What is at stake is the world’s knowledge that Jesus IS the son of God and that God loves everyone just as much as he loves Jesus.)

  • How can we, as the Church, become more united?

(Again, stop categorizing and judging people. Be welcoming to all as God’s good creation.)

The Commission Jesus Commanded

3

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

What does Jesus want us to do? We end this study where we started: The Great Commission. Evangelism is the central task of the Great Commission but it is not central to the Great Commission. Jesus is. The Great Commission is not just about reaching people for Christ, rather, it is about giving him the honor and glory that he deserves.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

  • How much of what we do according to 1 Corinthians 10 should be about giving Christ glory?

(EVERYTHING we do should be about giving glory to God.)

  • Does this mean being more or less “religious?”

(Less religion…more being like Jesus.)

The Great Commission Starts with Disciples

  • Can you be a Christian and not be a disciple of Christ? Explain.

(I’m not sure there is a correct answer to this. For me, you can be a Christian without being a disciple of Christ. Being a Christian would simply be accepting Jesus as your Savior. Being a disciple would involve actively following him, serving him, and clinging to his teachings.)

A disciple is a learner. A disciple is a follower. A disciple is a servant. Being discipled involves being taught, being led, and being corrected.

It’s estimated that only 2% of all Christians have ever read their Bibles through from cover to cover. At a recent youth pastors’ conference a quick show of hands revealed that none of those present had read all four of the Gospels! It is my prayer that our church will be discipled into daily readers of the Bible. It is also my prayer that the Bible teachers within our church will be able to give the supplementary backgrounds to God’s Word that will enable us to understand it better. It is then my prayer that the pastors and leaders within our churches will help us to live the teachings of the Bible.

The Great Commission should be the reason why we draw breath. We should acknowledge that we are alive for God’s glory and that he was given, and will give, us everything we need to fulfill it. May God help us to become a Great Commission community where we love, accept, affirm people, and yet disciple.

Conclusion

The commands of Christ that we have covered over these four lessons represent only a portion of the actual commands Jesus gave. I give you the following to ponder as we end this study:

  • Have you ever thought about the things we have discussed being commands of Jesus and not just suggestions?
  • Does it make any difference to you that they are commands and not suggestions?
  • Are there things in your life standing in the way of fulfilling the commands we have discussed? If so, how can you start addressing these things in order to remove the stumbling blocks?

**Thank you for joining in on this study.  Feel free to “like” or leave a comment.**

 

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