Focusing on 3 Points from the Apostle Jesus
MATTHEW 28:18-20, (18) “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Jesus gave us the strategy for reaching and discipling the nations in the Great Commission passages. MARK 16:16-20 tells us how to “reach them” and the above verse in Matthew tells us how to “teach them.”
I want to focus on the three points Jesus gave us from this passage that need to be considered in more depth than is traditionally given to them.
1. All “authority” has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, vs.18. The Greek word for “authority” is exousia and has extensive meanings. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, it is used in this passage to mean “apostolic authority, the power of rule or government, the power of one whose will and commands must be obeyed by others, the power of judicial decision.”
Jesus is telling us first of all that for His rule to be carried out among the nations, His followers must know “the extent of the authority” they have been given.
I believe we need to revisit the teaching on the Authority of the Believer that was trumpeted during the Charismatic Renewal Movement and the Word of Faith Movement. Believers need to understand that they are in a position to “rule” on all levels of spiritual authority as uncovered by Paul in... EPHESIANS 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (11 )Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
This includes the “strong man” and all demons in the descending chain of authority in Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Jesus ruled over the demons that vexed people in their daily lives, but also with territorial spirits that captivated large segments of population (MARK 5:1-20).
I began preaching open air meetings in Kenya in 1983, some of the locations were in the worst slums around Nairobi as well as in the “bush country.” In 1987 I was to preach an open air meeting in the Eastleigh slum on Ring Road, the worst slum in the city with tens of thousands of desperate people, and plenty of demons.
I will never forget the lesson Holy Spirit taught me as I prepared to preach the first meeting on a Wednesday afternoon. I was staying in a Catholic Hostel with another pastor on my team and we began to pray about 11 am in our room. Holy Spirit said, “I’m going to help you.”
I thought, why are you telling me that since I already believe it based on ROMANS 8:26-28?
What I didn’t know was that I would get a lesson from the Master on Intercessory warfare prayer like I had never experienced. Suddenly, a powerful burst of “other tongues” roared out of me as I prayed upward into the atmosphere. Then I had the gift of discerning of spirits manifest and I saw myriads of demons all tangled together like “in a can of worms” and I felt the power of disease, insanity and all manner of malady. As I shouted in tongues at those demons, Holy Spirit directed me in a prophetic gesture to reach up with my physical hand and grab hold of those demons, pulling them down as I heard Holy Spirit in my spirit commanding, “Come down.” After nearly an hour of intense prayer warfare, Holy Spirit joy replaced the grueling prayer battle and we began to celebrate victory.
When we arrived at the crusade hundreds of people had gathered to hear the singing, I will never forget the feeling of freedom in the atmosphere for that three-day crusade, not a demon was present to stop people from getting saved. The first night 70 people were joyously saved, the next night 80 people, and the final night I have two altar calls with a total of 150 salvations.
In all, 300 people were saved and danced in front of that makeshift wooden platform and a new church was planted in that slum. The “strong man” had been bound and people were so free to answer the altar call, it was amazing! This is a lesson on “authority” that has been etched into my spirit and made me realize that without understanding and using the authority we have been given, not much will happen in our efforts to reach the lost and transform a community.
2. “teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you, vs.20a”
Here Jesus give us another key element of the strategy to reach and teach nations, “today’s disciples must be taught everything the first disciples were taught.” Are we doing that in our local churches, or are we just letting the “consumers” determine what we are teaching from week to week. Jesus taught His disciples those truths that would set people free and empower them to live victoriously while following orders to fulfill the Great Commission.
He taught them the Power of Faith, the Use of Words, the Need for Character, the Principles of the Kingdom of God, the Anointing of Holy Spirit and supernatural ministry, among others. Today’s believers must have the same diet of strong meat that those early apostles heard empowering them to be “world changers.” In order to raise up effective ministers of the Gospel (every believer is a minister), we must teach them all that Jesus taught, including the Message of the Cross and sacrificial living for the sake of others.
3. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age, vs 20b”
What did Jesus mean when He said, “I will be with you?” To understand the meaning of “with” we must understand the mean of “for” and “in” which reveals the three dimensional relationship with have with the Godhead. First, “God is FOR us” meaning all that Jesus did “for us” in the substitutionary work in His death and resurrection when He carried away all our sins and the consequences of sin.
Next we must understand the meaning of “God IN us” as the work of “regeneration” wherein we were made New Creatures in Christ possessing the Divine Nature of God and in His Image. We are now the “dwelling place of God” thru His Spirit. God is FOR us, and God is IN us, but God is also WITH us, meaning He will manifest His mighty power thru the Gifts of Holy Spirit in operation in our lives. ACTS 10:38 tells us that Jesus “went about doing good and healing… because God was WITH him.” God FOR us and IN us is an accomplished fact, but God WITH us is the result of seeking Him for the manifestation of His Power thru consecration of prayer and fasting, and the study of His Word.
If we follow the strategy Apostle Jesus gave us in these verses, we will be well able to finish the job He has delegated to us. We must know the Extent of our Authority, What Those Early Believers Were Taught, and How To Have God With Us.
© 2019 John Polis / http://www.rfiusa.org