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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Mission: (Matthew 28:19-20)

    Today’s message is of vital importance. In fact, I would say that it’s likely one of the most important sermons you’ll ever hear. I don’t say that because I think that I have anything important to say, but because this passage, aside from the message of salvation found in the gospels, is vital to the future of any church, but especially Los Lunas Cornerstone Church.
    It’s the answer to the question, “Now What?”
    As in, “I’ve given my life to Christ, I’ve surrendered to Him, I’ve repented and been baptized…now what?”
    As in, “I’m praying and reading my Bible and I go to church every Sunday, now what?”
    Is this all there is to this life of following Jesus? Just believe, be baptized, go to church, read, and pray, and try to live a better life?
    Of course, the answer is no. No, that’s not all that there is to a life of following Jesus? So…now what?
    Why are we here, Los Lunas Cornerstone? Why are we here as a church? Have you ever sat with that question? We need to.
    Why do you come to church?
    Here’s some common answers given when a poll was done on this very question, posed to people who regularly attended church:
    1. To become closer to God
    2. So their children/grandchildren will have a moral foundation
    3. To make them a better person
    4. For comfort in times of trouble/sorrow
    5. They find the sermons valuable
    6. To be a part of a community of faith
    7. To continue family’s religious traditions
    8. Feel an obligation to go
    9. To meet new people/socialize (“fellowship”)
    10. To please their family, spouse, or partner

Maybe you find your own reason somewhere on that list for why you come to church. Maybe you don’t. I want you to take a second to think about this question: why do you come to church? Whatever your answer is, and be honest with yourself and with God because no one else is going to see your answer, but I want you to write down your answer to this question in your bulletin. Why do you come to church? If you’re having trouble picking one, or you’re anxious about your answer, just write down the first reason that popped into your head, whatever it is. Why do you come to church?
    Most of the motives I’ve listed here aren’t bad motives for coming to church. We should want to become closer to God and be a part of a church that will help us develop that relationship. We should want to give our children and grandchildren a moral foundation. We should want to be a better person, and to find comfort in troublesome times, and to be a part of a faith community. Those are all good motives and good reasons to come to church.
    But…these reasons are actually just a product of the reason the church actually exists. In other words, the real reason the church exists is the cause, and these other motives are the effect. These motives are actually what happens IF the church is fulfilling its reason for existing in the first place.
    So, let’s go to the book of Acts. Why does the church, all over the world, but also us, Los Lunas Cornerstone Church, why does the church exist? Why? Why are we here? The book of Acts is the best place to answer this question of why the church exists so that we will better know how to answer the question of why we come to church.
    Acts 1 gives us the account of what happened after Jesus was resurrected while He was with His disciples for 40 days before ascending into heaven. Acts 1:4-8 is where He gives the charge to His disciples that answers the question, “Now What? Why are we here? What is the purpose of the church?”
    “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So, when they had come together, they began asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” But He said to them, “It is not for you to know periods of time or appointed times which the Father has set by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” NASB
    Okay, so the first part of Jesus gathering all of the disciples to Him was to tell them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then, once they had the Holy Spirit, He says, after you receive the power that comes from the Spirit, then “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
    That right there, church, is why the church exists. As great as it is to grow closer to God, that is not the main purpose of the church. That is not why the church was created. Woah! Let’s just let that sit for a moment.
    I don’t want to discredit some of the good reasons that you may have come to church today. It’s good to want to grow closer to God, to help your children and grandchildren grow closer to God, to want to be a better person, to be a part of a faith community, to find comfort. Those are all good things, and coming to the church is the BEST POSSIBLE WAY to get filled up in all of those areas, but that’s not why we are the church.
    The reason we were first gathered as a group of believers, together, was to be Christ’s witnesses all over the earth. So, while it’s not bad to want to come to the gathering of the church for any other reason, we must understand that as we mature as followers of Christ, we must be moving toward the single reason for wanting to be part of the church, and that is to be a witness for Christ.
    We call this the mission of the church. The mission is quite simply why something exists. What is its purpose? Without a mission, any organized group, whether it’s a religious group or not, will eventually fall apart. Without a mission, a group will eventually fall apart. Why? Because without a mission, the group has nothing to work toward. No effort to drive them to work together and stay together. No common goal, and no reason to bring in others. So eventually, that group will fall apart and be no more.
    This is even more true for God’s people, the church. If we are not focused on the mission, focused on what we must do to fulfill the mission, not only will we not grow as a church and eventually cease to exist, but we will also be in direct disobedience to a known command of Christ. Simply put, if we aren’t mission minded there are two negative consequences, we will not only die as a church (1), we will be in disobedient sin (2). Yes, the mission, our reason for existing, is that important.
    This was Jesus’ command to His disciples, you can find this in Matthew 28:19-20, and is in fact the key passage for my message this morning, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” NASB
    That is our mission. From here on out, Cornerstone Church, this is our focus. It has to be! We want to mature as Christ followers and we want to be obedient to the Lord, so this must be our focus.
    So, let’s understand this command, our mission, fully.
Go.
    Think about the word “go”. What do we know about the word “go”?
    Well, it’s an action word, right? It’s a verb. It implies that you are doing something. It’s not passive. If you’re going to go do something, there is thought put into what you’re going to do, and you’re purposeful and intentional about what you are going to be doing. You don’t usually “go” by accident, do you? No, it’s usually for a specific purpose, and with a lot of thought.
    So when we’re talking about our mission, to be witnesses for Christ, the word “go” tells us that we are going to have to go on purpose. We’re going to have to make a decision to go and do the mission. It will not just happen by accident.
    Wherever we are going to go to be witnesses for Christ, to do the mission, whatever plan we put together for doing that, is going to have to be thoughtful and intentional. It will not just happen.
    The word “go” means that you will have to specifically look for and ask God for opportunities to do the mission. It means that you will have to be listening to Him, which is why I just took us through a 4-part series on listening to the voice of God. It means that we’re going to have to be looking for places where God is already moving, and purposefully partner with Him to do the mission.
    The word “go” is also really neat because there is no specific place mentioned in the mission command in Matthew 28:19-20, except “all the nations”. What “go” means here is that anywhere you go, every where your foot steps, you are in your mission-field. You can be a witness for Christ wherever you are, and in fact, we are expected, as Christ followers to do just that, to be a witness for Christ wherever we find ourselves. Wherever you go, there, make disciples. So, if everywhere we go we have the responsibility of being a witness for Christ…well…we better be prepared, right?
Make disciples.
    Again, we have another action word. Make. Something that we must be intentional, purposeful, and thoughtful about. How are we, as a church, going to make disciples? What is our specific plan for this? What tools are we using to get this done? We’ll talk about that in the next few weeks, because the how and the what have to come after the why. But, we do know right now that there is a plan that must be put into place for making disciples.
    Disciples is another word we understand, too. Are we working with God to just see people convert to Christianity? Is that what a disciple is?
    Well, no. A disciple is a follower. Following means you have a leader, in this case Christ, and you do what He says and go where He says to go. It means you listen to Him because you know His voice. It means you talk to Him and bring your questions to Him. It means you become like Him. A disciple looks, thinks, talks, and acts like the person they are following.
    We’re not just talking mere converts to Christianity here, though that is where discipleship starts. But if it ends there, it’s not discipleship. It’s something else, and that’s not what Jesus asked of us. Our job, our mission is to always be going deeper in our relationships with the Lord, and purposefully and intentionally helping others to do the same.
Baptize.
    Another action word. Baptize, or baptism, comes from the Greek word baptiz┼Ź. This word gives a really interesting picture. It gives the picture of a cucumber being immersed in a vinegar solution and turning into a pickle!
    I bet that gives you a whole new perspective on baptism, doesn’t it?
    We must understand that this is a physical baptism, definitely, but there’s something deeper at work. What this picture of a cucumber turning into a pickle tells us is that the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is not just surface level. It’s not just about coming to a building once a week or twice a week. It’s not just about what you do or don’t do. The Spirit desires to work in the life of each believer to completely change them into someone new, still human, but vastly different than the person they were before. Just like cucumbers and pickles are both still vegetables, but taste completely different.
    The job of the church in this baptism act is of course to physically baptize those who have come to believe in Jesus and follow Him, but we must also help guide them in submitting to the work of the Spirit to make them completely new. We must teach them what that looks like, and model it ourselves through our own example. We must impress upon all believers the importance of growing in maturity and becoming more like Christ.
Teach.
    Again, we find a word that is active, not passive. Teaching involves a plan. You need to know what should be taught because each believer is at a different point in their walk with the Lord. For example, you probably wouldn’t teach a new believer to preach at the pulpit next Sunday. You would teach them the basic principles of our faith, what we believe and why we believe that. In the same way, you wouldn’t teach an old saint who has been walking with the Lord for 50 years about the basic principles of faith. They’ve learned those foundational things and should be taught more substantial Biblical lessons.
    With each person that we seek to disciple, we must know where they are at in their walk so we can know what they would profit from learning most. All of this process is intentional. In the coming months, we’ll start putting together, as a church, a more intentional and purposeful path for teaching believers in this body at any level.
    This teaching work is the work of every single member of the church. With all but the newest of believers, every single Christ-follower is capable of teaching another believer something of value from God’s word. Now, it’s true that some have the specific gift of teaching, but every Christ-follower is able and should be willing and ready to teach about what Christ has done in their lives.
    This sounds like hard work, doesn’t it? It is. Becoming this type of church is going to be hard. It’s going to require that each and every one of us make sacrifices. It’s going to require that you, yes, you, step out of your comfort zone and start serving in this church in some way. These verses we’ve looked at this morning don’t single out just the pastor, or just board members, or just those who teach a Bible study. This command of Christ is to every believer. Are you a believer? Yeah? Then this command is for you. We have a long road to walk to become a missional church, a church focused on the mission: to be a witness for Christ. It’s going to require each and every one of us to get involved, not just on Sundays.
    But this is the mission of the church. We were brought together for the purpose of being witnesses for Christ. If we don’t do that, all of us, each one of us, working together to do this, this church will die and we will be in sinful disobedience.
    The cost is high, yes. It’s a price I will willingly and gladly pay because Jesus paid His very life for me. And you know what? There’s one more part to that mission. We go, we make disciples, we baptize, we teach. And what did Jesus promise?
    “and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We don’t do the work alone. He is with us, always. He is doing the work right along side us. He is seeing the mission through. He knows the cost is high. He knows it will require sacrifice and it will be hard and it might even hurt. He is with us always. He will be right there, having already paid the cost, having already made the sacrifice, and He will give us strength for the hard work and comfort for the pain it might bring.

1. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8, Paul commends the Thessalonian church for being an example to all believers. What example were they giving in verse 8?

2. Reexamine your “why” for coming to church. Does it fit the mission of the church? If not, why? Ask God this week to examine your heart and align it with His heart for His people and His world.

3. Are you ready to be a part of a missional church? It’s going to hurt, and there will be sacrifices. The cost is…costly. But the rewards are more than we can imagine. What excuses might you be holding on to that keep you from joining in the mission of Cornerstone Church, God’s church?

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