All, Not Some, Authority
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 28:16 (Holman) The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them.
Hoping to be alone with the 11 after His resurrection, Jesus asked them to leave Jerusalem for Galilee. He wanted privacy with them before He ascended.
Because they obeyed, going where He directed them, the 11 received the honor and blessing of hearing Jesus’ Great Commission first hand. Had they been anywhere other than where He commanded, they would have missed out.
Galilee was a long way to walk, about 68 miles, the distance between Springfield and Joplin, to have one visit with Jesus. The 11 knew it would be well worth their effort. It is always a blessing to spend time with Jesus.
Matt. 28:17 When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.
“They worshiped.” What else could they do? They had seen Him dead. Now He was alive again. They deemed the resurrected One worthy of worship.
“But some doubted.” Be comforted. Faith, to be effective, does not have to be perfect. Reproach not thyself. Faith can be real, albeit weak or wavering.
Matt. 28:18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
All, not some, authority: unconditional, unlimited, and unrestricted. Jesus would have been hard pressed to find a more forceful way to state His claim. Fortunately, Jesus had no trouble backing up this in-your-face talk.
Our Master, Jesus, “was established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He can rightly authorize us to do His work because our Heavenly Father authorized Him to authorize us.
We gain from Jesus’ victory. Stuart Townsend effectively presents this amazing paradox in his powerful song “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.” We sinners caused Jesus’ death. “Behold the Man upon a cross; My sin upon His shoulders; Ashamed I hear my mocking voice; Call out among the scoffers.” Coming forth victorious over what we did to Him, Jesus was rewarded by being raised. Townsend bluntly asks the right question, “Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer.” Why should we who caused His death benefit from His victory? I cannot explain why, but I know we, despite our sin, have benefited. His victory made us winners too.
Jesus has authority “in Heaven.” Hands with nail scars extend to the Father on our behalf. On a once bleeding brow, “majestic sweetness sits enthroned” (Stennett). A crown of sovereignty replaced a crown of thorns.
He has authority “on earth.” This is the difficult part. Heaven yields to Him, but Earth is a rebellious place. Jesus is Master over every force, every religion, all governments, and each life, but His Lordship is resisted by Satan, the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). An adversary stole the throne, and fights with reckless abandon to retain every inch of his stolen property.
“On earth” battle lines are drawn. God the Father created this world to be His; Satan usurped control. God the Son wants it back; Satan clutches his stolen loot. God the Holy Spirit advances through us; Satan is resisting.
Individuals are the front line, the trench warfare, in the battle zone. The war rages within each one of us. In every believer—man, woman, child—God the Holy Spirit works to win back the Father’s rightful territory.
Yes, I said every child. The tug of war can begin early in life. Children often first grapple with their lifelong direction when young and pliable. I sent a first letter of inquiry about missions to the IMB when I was about 12.
Last month, Al Jackson, Pastor at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama, came to Second to speak with our staff, Deacons, and New Church Start team. Many consider Al to be the number one missions-minded Pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention. Through his church have come over 240 people now in full-time service around the world. I asked Al where his missions passion started. He said in Sunbeams, a childhood missions organization, when Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering coin boxes were sent home with the children.
We need everyone, including children, to embrace the mission cause. This is why we discuss children being involved in missions before they are old enough to talk about it. At baby dedications, I tell the parents they must be willing to let their child grow up and become a missionary. Second also offers many affordable mission and ministry opportunities for children.
The idea of children on mission is not radical. Our young can serve our Lord as well as pagan children served false gods. Even young idolaters rendered service. “The sons gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven” (JR 7:18a).
This missions vision and life purpose must be taught first at home. If our children hear little about missions from parents at home, we can be fairly sure our children will grow up with little or no missions passion.
This is a good barometer to measure our missions fervor. Does our own family know we care about the Great Commission? If we don’t talk about missions in the safe privacy of our home, we won’t discuss it publicly.
If we don’t talk about the Lord’s business at home, probably no one is hearing it from us. We are often like Shakespeare’s sad woman who missed love because she “never told her love”. We Christ-followers are this way too often. Many of us have never told anyone of our love to Jesus, and of His love for others. If we do not tell at home, where else will we tell it?
All, not some, should share in this work. I pray every member of Second wants to carry the Gospel to every lost person in every part of Earth. Surely we can agree on this: the Great Commission applies to us all.
Anyone who loves the Lord can do something for missions. Any time only a certain privileged few are doing the Lord’s work, something is bad wrong. I have no more access to God than anyone else. Is it only the 11 or ministers? No. When going into battle, a partial army is not a good thing.
We need for all of us to be pray-ers, go-ers, and yes, givers. We need people who give their money as a way of saying, “Having prayed and gone, I have seen first hand that others are the main ones set apart to do this work. You find someone to take Jesus’ story everywhere. I’ll give to send them.”
We cannot all retrace the steps of Paul, who went where no one had heard, but we can help make sure others do. Many places like this still exist.
When we are all yielded, there will be no lack of funds. Money troubles are a heart issue. The problem is not over there, but here, in us.
I refuse to deflect blame away from me. I believe we can succeed as the eleven did. I refuse to say the Holy Spirit is not as powerful as He was.
A major part of the 11’s success was, they gave all—land, money. It was not demanded of them, and is not of us. They gave anyway, as should we. People ought to see mission fervor in our actions, words, and money.
Please, no lukewarmness here. A ho-hum few can dampen the spirit of a whole church. Anyone not stepping to the fore can cripple the work.
Mediocrity does not inspire. Why should God bless mediocrity? Why should it inspire us? But a few on fire can invigorate a whole church.
If we should keep white hot fervor about anything, shouldn’t it be for missions? Wouldn’t it be number one? All roads should lead to missions.
Till missions is our passion, till we render sweat and toil with sheer joy, till we give with pure delight—all due to the filling of the Holy Spirit—we will not pray, go, or give much. If missions is a sidelight, a diversion, God will not receive our best. For missions, we need to leverage all we are and have, including our prayer folder, our calendar, and our wallet.