Memorial Day and the Great Commission

 

Good Morning! We are glad to be here today! This is Memorial Weekend! It was originally set aside for us to honor those who died in the service of our country. So, today I would like to begin with a question. What is the best way for us to honor ALL those who gave the last full measure of devotion to preserve the ideal upon which this, the greatest, free-est, nation in modern history, was built. Would anyone in this room deny the CHRISTIAN foundation upon which it began? Shouldn’t we do all we can to minimize the MORAL AND POLITICAL corruption that is eating away at the foundations of all that the Founders gave US to preserve? And where best to start that task than within ourselves? It is VITAL for us to ABIDE IN CHRIST! Please open your Bibles to Matthew 28:18-20 and when you get it please stand out of respect for the reading of God’s Word. How do you interpret The Great Commission? And what has IT to do with Memorial Day anyway?

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus says ‘all power is given unto me’ meaning He HAS the Right AND the AUTHORITY to COMMAND US as a SOVEREIGN LORD! The term Sovereign means LAW GIVER. His command is NOT subject to ANY other authority. Think of it this way. To set yourself in opposition to ANY command of Jesus Christ is to position yourself as an Anti-Christ!! That is not a place any of us FULLY INTENDS TO GO, is it? That is why John tells us to EXAMINE YOURSELVES whether ye be in the Spirit!

I can tell you how the world sees the way we Americans interpret the Great Commission, and it is NOT pretty. But it didn’t start that way. It started with the Mayflower pilgrims. Before they disembarked the Mayflower and set the first foot on the soil of the New World, Bradford penned the Mayflower Compact. A covenant they entered into before God. In part, it read:

In the name of God Amen· We whose names are underwritten, …Having undertaken, for the  glory of God, and advancement of the Christian  faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these present solemnly and mutually in the  presence of God, and one of another, covenant, and combine our selves together into a civil body politic….

Lets come back to the present. How do we share Jesus Christ? We open with what a change He has made in our lives. How much He loves us! Then we hit them with the zinger: If you don’t receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior, you will burn in Hell for all eternity! I love you, man; but Jesus is the ONLY WAY! PLEASE, give yourself to Jesus Christ. You won’t be sorry!

If they see your sincerity and SAY they believe, then you have done your job and the world, yes and sad to say a large percentage of the church today will agree that you did your part in fulfilling the Great Commission. Just steer them to someone who knows more than you do for discipleship and they’ll be FINE! They get to a local church and walk the aisle, give a credible profession of faith, by saying I BELIEVE, the baptistery gets heated up, the pastor says, “I BAPTIZE THEE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, AMEN!!! They get dunked in the water, washing away their sins and rising to newness of life in Christ, as an example of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, their name is put on the church role(or not), and another Christian is added to the flock.

The problem is, this has virtually NOTHING to do with what JESUS COMMISSIONED US TO DO!!

NOW before you start throwing things at me or get up and walk out, or just close your ears, PLEASE allow me to explain.

The way we carry out the Great Commission is like this: ‘ I Love You So Much, My Religion is your only hope and I just couldn’t bear to see you burn in HELL! Please, please, please accept Jesus as your Savior! God votes FOR you, the Devil votes AGAINST you and YOU cast the deciding vote!’

That is NOT what Christ had in mind when He Commissioned us to ‘teach all nations’. It is a self evident fact of life that people would rather SEE a sermon than HEAR one; and I’m NOT talking about seeing one on TV! I’m talking about setting an example of integrity, compassion, wisdom, FAITH, perseverance, calm in the face of adversity, helpfulness, and forgiveness. I’m talking about being a LIVING WITNESS of EVERYTHING JESUS STOOD FOR. Christianity is absolutely NOT a Do as I Say but NOT as I DO, RELIGION! Christianity is NOT supposed to be a RELIGION at ALL! It is to be a way of life that is so different from the WORLDLY WISDOM’S ways that it stands out as a shining beacon on a Hill; a LOVE for real TRUE LIFE as JESUS saw it, that just cannot be ignored!

But we have gone Machiavellian in our exercise of the Great Commission! Machiavelli said that people are a lot more likely to follow out of FEAR than out of love, so make sure they FEAR the prince whether they love him or NOT!

Christianity is not supposed to be frightening people to Christ, Its about DRAWING people to Him! At this point I would like to change gears. This is going to sound political for a moment, but what IS politics? The free dictionary defines politics this way: the use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control. Now, my question to you is: When we try to define the Great Commission, that is figure out the strategy involved in bringing people to Christ SO THEY CAN BE INDWELT AND CONTROLLED BY HIM, is your first thought YOUR EXAMPLE of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT in your LIFE? Or is it STRATEGY?  What do the Sunday School lessons about sharing the gospel concentrate on?  Strategy in making the church more ‘friendly’ or being more Christlike in all we do?  I’ve heard people PRAY for Christ to come into their heart and take control! Is that so they are relieved of the responsibility of the course their life takes or the words they utter?  I doubt that any would admit that, but what other possible reason is there for wanting someone else to take control of your thoughts and actions?  Paul said Follow Me as I FOLLOW HIM! How many of us are willing to stand up and tell acquaintances who just professed Christ to USE ME as an example?! I don’t know about you, but it scares me to death because I consider my example to be POOR! But Paul had some less than stellar moments as an example. He absolutely refused to take John Mark with him so Barnabas took him. Paul and Barnabas split up because of his stubborn attitude. And Peter: Paul withstood Peter to his face because Peter didn’t want to tarnish his reputation among the Messianic Jews who were having a problem consorting with Gentiles! The whole story of Cornelius speaks to that also.

Those who died to preserve that shining city on a hill left it to us to LIVE to preserve it! Are we going to let them down? The founding purpose of this nation was to bring Christ to the world. We don’t HAVE to preserve the nation TO PRESERVE THE PURPOSE FOR IT. But the blessing poured out upon the entire world because we were here MUST PROVE that for all its faults and failures, America has been a channel of GOD’S BLESSING to mankind! The interaction between man and God is Spiritual. The interaction between man and man IS POLITICAL and the two ONLY MIX PROPERLY when the THIRD INGREDIENT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Something we should all remember this election year is that citizenship in America is rooted and founded in the Judeo-Christian idea of WHO WE ARE BEFORE GOD. Not Buddhist, not Hindu, not Muslim, not secular humanist, nor any other religious tradition. The pilgrims started as a COMMUNIST group and nearly starved to death. Bradford finally said they could keep what they produced and give away to the needy what they wished. From that moment on the colony prospered!

Since true capitalism is the ability of a person to pursue happiness/property unimpeded by the regulation of those with less drive, ambition, and luck/fortune/blessing, just who should be the judge of who has enough and who is properly spreading his wealth around, who should run the whole show? You? Are you righteous enough and wise enough to make sure everybody gets a fair shake? A committee then? Who would be on it? People you consider to be wise enough and righteous enough to make sure everybody ELSE gets a fair shake? Socialism always devolves into communism because the system centralizes power in the hands of a few and power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and communism leads to HOPELESSNESS and want. The Founders let us know in no uncertain terms that NO government OF THE PEOPLE will work FOR the people unless the decisions BY the people– Each of US –are based in righteousness. The righteousness they referred to rested on 2 principles: One, Love God the Father of Jesus Christ above everything else (meaning applying His principles to every aspect of the conduct of your life), and Two, Love your neighbor as yourself (meaning do unto others AS YOU would have THEM do UNTO YOU). There is room for failure and forgiveness and JUSTICE as long as the majority of the people TRY to live by these principles. But when the majority starts following the example of corrupt leaders, or just follow the natural selfishness of their hearts the system WILL fail and fall.  I pulled this excerpt from an article at commonsensegovernment dot com:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority ALWAYS votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations ALWAYS progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage
This is called the Tytler Circle.
“These words were written two years before George Washington became our first President. There is so much truth in these words it makes me shudder, especially since we are clearly in stage 7. (Stage 7 is APATHY) An honest appraisal of our country’s downward spiral is necessary to begin the process of redemption. We have continually voted ourselves increased benefits, dependent upon the printing presses of the Federal Reserve to sustain our country’s ponzi scheme. We have pawned our future and the bill WILL eventually come due.”

I believe that “eventually” will be seen by many if not most of us here today.

This fall we will go to the polls. Remember this: We are electing public servants NOT public masters!! Those who are running for office and have the attitude that they can make our lives better need to know that truth beyond any shadow of a doubt. I may not like what they consider “better”! They are elected to perform the duties of the office to which they were elected to the best of their ability, not make it a career. It is our duty to know as best we can, who we are appointing to ADMINISTER the LAW over us. If you have any doubt about their righteousness, perhaps it should affect your vote.

We can honor the fallen beginning today by learning and applying a PROPER understanding of the Great Commission! We don’t have to try to scare them into believing and we cannot love them into believing because, as Machiavelli pointed out, love is not NEARLY so compelling as fear in a morally bankrupt society!

What we CAN do is teach the nations by our example! But what about ‘baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?

Baptize is a transliteration of the Greek “Baptidzo” and it means to immerse as one would wash one’s hands in water. The baptism of John was symbolic of being washed clean of sin THROUGH REPENTANCE. Repentance is the CHANGING OF ONE’S MIND concerning SIN. That is, that sin, ALL SIN, ANY sin, defiles the person. So sin is no longer acceptable because it MAKES MY LORD look BAD!

But that is not all! Not by a long shot. The passage says we are to BAPTIZE IN THE NAME of. It says nothing about WATER! There is a great deal you have never been told about what Biblical ‘naming’ entails. The NAME is to a greater or lesser degree DEFINITIVE of the person! Good examples are Jacob and Esau. Jacob, heal grabber, later Israel, prince of God, and Esau, hairy, later Edom meaning RED. Well, what does THAT mean? It means that to be baptized in the NAME of the Father is to be immersed in all that He has revealed to us concerning WHO HE IS! To be Baptized in the NAME of the SON is to be IMMERSED in ALL that has been revealed concerning Who He is as both the Son of Man AND the Son of God! It means that to be Baptized in the Name of the Holy Spirit is to be immersed in all that has been revealed to us concerning the person AND WORK of the Holy Spirit! Immersion in this knowledge is what it means for us to baptize someone else IN THE NAME OF… THAT is what it means for us to carry out the Great Commission as it was MEANT for us to do! But we have been laboring under the delusion for centuries that if we can get them into the baptistery, and get them dunked, BY WHATEVER MEANS, whether FEAR or FUN or GUILT! someone else can take over from there!

Truth is:  It is OUR EXAMPLE that is to DRAW them to Christ! THIS is the REAL DEAL, water is a mere symbol. It is our example we are to give them to follow AS WE FOLLOW CHRIST! Everything else is ‘do as I say, not as I DO!’ Repentance is the beginning of our Baptism!

We can honor the fallen by putting flowers on their graves this weekend and that is a fine memorial we can do it again next year. But how much more WORTHY a memorial would it be for us to LIVE each day for the IDEAL they gave their LIVES TO PROTECT! We have a responsibility to GOD and to the REST OF MANKIND for the CONSEQUENCES of OUR actions.

Whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not, America is inextricably linked to Christ by Covenant of the first Christians to its shores. We have a duty to God and the rest of Mankind BOTH as Christians AND as Americans. Such was their vision and so it SHOULD be OURS! Honoring the memory of what has come before IS Biblical.

Can we today continue to be ? or once again be ? or for the first time BECOME a WORTHY example to follow?

As we prepare for our time of invitation with every head bowed and every eye closed, let us give careful thought to what it truly MEANS to LIVE FOR CHRIST, to offer ourselves a LIVING sacrifice for HIM as well all those who gave the LAST FULL MEASURE OF DEVOTION so we could be here today. (Hymn of Invitation) Closing Prayer.

Thank you for having us back. We enjoy being with you. May God bless.

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One thought on “Memorial Day and the Great Commission

  1. I have been reading out a few of your stories and i can claim clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your website.

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