~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Commissioned! (part 3), by clicking here.
It’s the most riveting thing in the world to follow God! It is a good thing to know your Christian job description – which is the Great Commission! When we embrace the tension between where we are and what the Word says – that’s where the rubber really meets the road and we are transformed by the renewing of our minds! Francis Frangipane says, “Many times, before you are able to obey the Word, you must make yourself keep it. God must work in you both to will and to work. (Phil 2:13). First God makes you willing and then He makes you able.”
When the Gift of God came to you – to take residence as the VIP guest of your heart – you received the Spirit of Witness! The Holy Spirit’s #1 priority in this era is not to bring Jesus to the earth but to bring the earth to Jesus! The Great Commission came with the Holy Spirit! Holiness is not something you are trying to “put on” as a believer. It is a process of taking wrong thinking off so that you can let something out that’s already on the inside of you – the Spirit of God! Likewise, when you received the Holy Spirit, you received the burning Spirit of Witness. You are not trying to put more Great Commission on – you are trying to let more Great Commission out! As we realize this, we are going to develop a Godly unction for all aspects of the Great Commission!
Is it possible that many times we think that “healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and casting out demons” is by God’s power but that preaching the gospel saying “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” is by our own power? (Mt. 10:7-8) Is there a greater miracle than the regeneration – the Holy Spirit carrying out our new birth? Preaching the Gospel is just as miraculous – if not more miraculous – than seeing people healed and raised from the dead. Preaching the Gospel is a miraculous, faith-based operation. It is not a will-powered mission! It is a faith-powered mission. And how do we increase in faith? We get in the Word!
“Right believing produces right living.” If you aren’t seeing the sort of living that you want yet, you aren’t doing the sort of believing that produces that sort of living – yet. No one needs to see me plant seeds in my garden in order to know what I planted. Just come back to the garden in September. The fruit tells you what the seeds were. Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE.” According to our Savior, the work of God is that we BELIEVE in Him whom God sent – that we believe in Jesus, that we believe in The Word God has sent! Do to not be confused. THIS is the work of God: that you BELIEVE Him whom God sent – that you believe the Word! That’s the work!
In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When you follow Jesus, He will make you a fisher of men. Your action verb is to FOLLOW. His action verb is to MAKE. We don’t need to be self-made Great Commission Christians. He’ll make you. You follow Him and He will make you a fisher of men.
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” You have two action verbs in this verse: RECEIVE and BE. You have the Spirit of Witness on the inside of you! You are not trying to put the Great Commission on, you are trying to let the Great Commission out – to be who you actually are: an on-fire witness for Christ!
We also see in Acts 1:8 that the power is for a purpose. The purpose is witnessing. Just as we would not want to have the purpose of the Great Commission without the power (which is exactly why Jesus told his disciples not to leave until they received the power), we also do not want to have the power without a purpose.
In Joshua 1:10-11 we read that “Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” Get ready Agathos! Peter asked the Lord, “What are you saying to the Angel of the Church of Agathos?” And he heard Him say, “Tell the people ‘Come with Me.’”
God’s going somewhere and He wants us to get ready. Remember, God works on people; His focus of influence is individual. This is why we will all stand before God individually in front of His throne. Our church will come with Him if EACH person comes with Him. Joshua sent out officers to pass through all the tests in the camp. It wasn’t a collective messaging (as though the Israelites as a whole nation was the entity that needed readied to cross the Jordan). No! The Israelites as a “nation concept” did not need readied, THE PEOPLE needed readied! It was every person, tent, box and every knapsack that needed packed and prepared. It was about every person getting every person ready to go! Come with Me!
If we follow Him, He will make us fishers of men. Our action verb is to “follow.” His action verb is to “make.” Our part is simple, but it is not easy. Peter’s life and his history of following Jesus provide an illustrative example.
In Matthew 19:27 we hear Peter plainly share with Jesus: “See, we have left all and followed You.” Following Christ always means stopping following something else. Peter chose Jesus. He could honestly tell Jesus that he had “left everything” to follow Christ. He forsook all. He left his nets. So, as far as Peter knew, he had chosen Jesus entirely – correct?
So, now let’s fast-forward to Mark 8:27-34. Here Peter shares that Jesus is the Christ and Jesus immediately shares this on the heels of Peter’s revelation: “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (v. 31) Peter said, “You are the Messiah!” Jesus (sensing in Himself I believe that Peter was going to take that revelation somewhere where he shouldn’t take it) gives them a little preemptive clarification. Now, does Peter listen to Jesus’ clarifying warning? Nope! Peter turns around and rebukes Jesus! Now listen to what Jesus says next. Again there is no break here in terms of change of scene. “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” (v. 34) There was something going on in Peter’s heart to which Jesus was saying “I know you think you want to follow Me, but you want to follow your version of Me.”
Look at John 13:38, Peter asks a revelatory question! “Lord, why can I not follow You?” If we follow Him, He will make us fishers of men, but Jesus says, “If you want to come after Me” you need to (1) deny yourself, (2) take up your cross, and (3) follow Me. You have to do a “denying” and a “taking up” before you can do a following. Eventually Peter’s shadow healed all it touched, but at this point Peter had not left this one idea about who the Messiah ought to be to him! Peter had one idea that he was holding onto so tightly that it was a lens that he viewed everything about the Messiah through. In all of our genuineness, why can’t we follow Jesus sometimes? Peter had given up everything – except this one idea – and God was so patient with Peter the entire time!
There are three hindrances that can exist in our hearts to keep us from actually following Jesus. These are blind spots. Peter was genuine, but he couldn’t follow Jesus because of a mindset. Peter had not denied his own ideas, taken up his cross, and actually followed the real Jesus.
The first hindrance is being given to the opinions of people. John 5:44 says, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” If satan can’t control you, he will seek to control you through people.
The second hindrance is riches. The Word of God is clear: “you cannot serve both God and Mammon.” Mammon is controlling a lot of believers. We want to be in the flow of realizing that God will supply for you supernaturally to create flexibility in order that you can accomplish His Great Commission.
A third hindrance is self-preservation, or as Mark 4 calls it “the desire for other things.” I have this hobby, I just bought a field. I just got married, etc. Again, this is a heart stance – not some sort of an aesthetic ideal: there is richness in the Kingdom! You have to leave something in order to follow a new thing. If you will follow Christ, I can promise you what He will do: He will make you a fisher of men! But you cannot follow two things simultaneously: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” (Mt. 6:24) We all want to serve God, so let’s remove any hindrances!