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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC)                                                           Sermon # 1203

March 22, 2015                                                                                              Selected Readings

Dr. Ed Pettus


“The Great Mandates”


            We had a great weekend sharing with Ken Priddy his teachings on church revitalization and his sermon last Sunday in Luke, sharing the mission of Christ to seek and save the lost.  One of the things that has been impressed upon me in the time I have spent with people long in the EPC is a heart for the lost.  It is perhaps something that has gone missing in many mainline denominations and many churches that has dropped back into a maintenance mode or even survival mode of operation.  Our tendency is to move all our efforts to an inward focus and we forget that Jesus came focused upon those who were lost.  He focused not on the righteous, but sinners.  That does not mean we ignore the needs of the righteous, but what has happened is that our focus on ourselves has distracted completely from any focus on those who do not know Jesus Christ.  We forget the mission of Christ and thus our own mission as a people of Christ. 

            Today I want to focus on six passages, passages that Dr. Priddy calls the Great Mandates.  These are not all the mandates or commands of the Bible, but they are greatly significant in that they tell us the main goal of Jesus as well as the mandates that Jesus gives us to help us participate in Jesus’ mission on the earth.  You can see those passages listed in your insert this morning.  Let’s look briefly at each one and then see how they might interact with one another. 


The Great Promise - Matthew 16:13-18 I will build my church.

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 


            Jesus is the One who builds the church!  That does not mean, of course, that we have no part in it, but what it does mean is that it is not all up to us.  Jesus did not say, “Go and build my church.”  “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”  Jesus promised to build the church himself and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  We might worry about the future of the church and in particular PPC, but nothing will overcome the work of Christ.  That is his promise, to build and to sustain his church. 



The Great Mission - Luke 19:10 Seek and save the lost

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


            Dr. Priddy presented this text to us last Sunday and demonstrated that Jesus’ mission was for and is for the lost, to seek and to save.  Once again, it is His mission and he invites us to come along and join his mission.  Pray for a heart for the lost that we might have a part in Jesus’ mission to bring home his people. 


The Great Commandment - Matthew 22:34-40  Love God and neighbor

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


            The first two passages above tell us about Jesus’ mission in the world and now we look at two mandates on how we join Jesus in that mission.  The first is this Great Commandment.  Love God and love your neighbor.  We know this command well.  We seek to love God and neighbor because God so loves us. 



The Great Commission - Matthew 28:18-20  GO!

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


            Another way we are involved in Jesus’ mission is to respond to the Great Commission.  Go – that is, as you are going.  As you are living your life, as you are going about you daily affairs, go and make disciples.  One of the things that I think Ken helped us with most is in how we go about sharing the gospel with people.  So often we get the impression that the only way to bring people to Jesus Christ is to go our two by two and knock on doors – what I call “cold” contacts.  But Ken spoke of the various groups of which we are a part, family, friends, acquaintances, affinity groups, work, and so forth.  If we simply begin with those groups and list the names of those people, this is our mission field.  This is the harvest.  Be available to the people already in our lives so that when something happens, we can be the people they come to for hope and we can be the people who offer the good news of Jesus. 

            My understanding of this concept stems from Paul in 1 Thess. 2:8 when he talks about people who have become dear to us and we share both our lives and the gospel with them.  “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”  Evangelism does not have to be a frightening proposition, but in time it becomes as natural as sharing our lives with those who are in contact with our life. 

            We make disciples, we baptize them, and we teach them to obey all that Jesus said.  It is not just about knowing what Jesus said, but about doing what Jesus said. 


What I want you to see is that Jesus has this mission to build his church and that mission includes building the church by bringing in the lost souls that are written in the book of life.  Jesus invites us to join him by loving God and neighbor and by making disciples.  When all this is working as a finely oiled machine we come to the last two mandates at the bottom of your outline. 



The Great Witness - Acts 1:8  Receive power and be my witnesses

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 


            Jesus empowers us to give witness to the good news.  It is not by our own power that we share the gospel with the people in our lives when opportunity presents itself.  It is not by our own ability or wisdom or courage that we speak of the light of the world in the darkness of people’s lives.  Jesus has given us all we need, no matter how weak we might think our testimony may be, Jesus gives it power for the one who hears it.  It is not up to us to save anyone, only to be a witness.  We witness all the time to lots of things, weather, movies, games, food – when was the last time you told someone about a movie you liked or a restaurant you enjoyed?  Now, when was the last time you mentioned Jesus in a conversation?  Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit so that our discussions about Jesus Christ are numerous and powerful, not because we have the ability but because He has the authority and power. 



The Great Multiplication - Matthew 24:14  Proclaimed throughout the world

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.


            In the end, the whole world will hear the gospel!  When that happens – the end!  Jesus calls us to be a part of sharing this gospel, not just to the ends of the earth in faraway lands, but right here in Princeton, West Virginia.  The whole world cannot hear if we fail to proclaim the gospel right here.


I have given you an outline that couples these six passages into three pairs. On the upper left are The Great Promise and The Great Mission.  What might we glean from those two mandates?  In my observation they summarize Jesus’ mission.  Jesus will build His Church and Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. 


We connect with Jesus’ mission in the world by doing what he has commanded, and when we do what he commanded, we are compelled to give witness to those around us and in the end that means the entire world!! 


I want to encourage us to consider what we see in Jesus’ words.  He has a mission.  It is His mission to complete, in building the church and in seeking and saving the lost.  That mission is accomplished partly through his church when we love God and neighbor and make disciples.  Doing what Jesus says will lead us to naturally become witnesses and spread the gospel to the entire world beginning right where we are.  If we really want to see our church revitalized, we will need to pray that Jesus does indeed breathe life into our hearts for these mandates.  Jesus will do it!  Amen.




“The Great Mandates” 

March 22, 2015


The Great Promise – Matt. 16:13-18                                                                                        The Great Commandment – Matt. 22:34-40

The Great Mission – Luke 19:10                                                                                              The Great Commission – Matt. 28:18-20




The Great Witness – Acts 1:8

The Great Multiplication – Matt. 24:14