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Intro: The very day Jesus Christ rose from the dead in eternal victory, He began the process of preparing His disciples for His departure. Jesus knew that He would be ascending back into Heaven, and He did, 40 days after He rose from the dead. Jesus knew that when He left, His followers would be tasked with the mission of continuing His work in the world. They would be given the task of carrying the message of salvation to the ends of the earth.
If they were going to carry out that mission, they needed an understanding of exactly what that mission would require. They needed to know that there would be successes, and they needed to know that there would also be failures. They needed to know that some people would believe their message, while others would reject the same message. They needed words of comfort, words of hope and words of instruction. That is exactly what they heard from Jesus that day.
Today, I want to focus in our Lord’s Parting Words to His disciples. In these words I see three clear statements from the Lord. In His Parting Words, Jesus speaks about The Requirement For The Saints. He speaks of The Responsibility Of The Sinner. He also speaks of The Recognition Of His Servants. I want to share these statements with you today as I preach about Parting Words.
I. v. 15 THE REQUIREMENT
FOR THE SAINTS
A. Our Message The disciples are told to preach the Gospel.” They are to go into the world bearing the “good news of salvation to all who will hear it. The word Gospel means good news, and that is exactly what the Gospel is. The disciples were given a message of good news for all people.
What is the message they were to preach? It is clearly articulated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:3-4, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The Gospel is comprised of three essential components. Let me share them with you right now.
1. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures... The good news is this: Jesus died for the sins of all those who will believe on Him by faith. When Jesus went to the cross and suffered the agony, the shame and the separation from God, He did not do it for Himself. He did it for all those who would believe on Him for salvation, 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18. To be saved, you must believe that!
2. That He was buried... The good news is this: After Jesus died, His body was placed in a grave. His soul, however, went to Hades, Eph. 4:8-10; 1 Pet. 3:18-20. Jesus walked into that place beneath the earth where the souls of the departed were being held. In that place, there was a portion called “Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom. Here is where all the ancient saints of God waited for redemption to be accomplished. There was, and still is, another portion of that place called Hell. Here is where all the souls of the lost are deposited. Every lost sinner from Cain to the last one to die today is there.
Jesus walked into that place and proclaimed the good news that He had died for sin and sinners. He told David, Moses, Abraham and the rest that redemptions plan had been completed. He then led them out of that place and home to Heaven. He told the lost souls in that place that their unbelief had been confirmed and that they were doomed to spend their eternity in Hell. I believe He also proclaimed the fact that He had forever delivered His people from the bondage of sin, Satan and Hell. One significant component of salvation is the truth that Jesus sets free every soul He saves!
3. That he rose again the third day according to the scriptures The good news is this: Jesus Christ arose from the grave in victory and power. When Jesus died on the cross, He gave His life for His people. When He died, He cried, “It is finished! In that great moment, Jesus was declaring that the plan of salvation had been completed and that God was satisfied. When Jesus rose from the dead three days later, God the Father said Amen! If Jesus had been an ordinary men, He would not have come out of that grave. Jesus was no ordinary man! He was God in the flesh. When He died, an innocent man was claimed by death. Because He had no sin, death was unable to hold Him. It had no claims upon Him, Rom. 6:23. Thus, Jesus was able to walk out of the tomb in victory and power, promising eternal life to all who would believe on His name.
That is the message we have been given to preach. It is the good news that Jesus Christ loved the world so much that He gave His life to redeem sinners, John 3:16. It is the good news that He has forever defeated the devil and His power, 1 John 3:8. It is the good news that He rose from the dead to give salvation to all who would believe in Him, Heb. 7:25.
If you have believed that message, I challenge you to share it with others. If you have not believed that message, I challenge you look to Jesus by faith today and be saved!
B. Our Mission Field The disciples were to take the good news into all the world. No place was off limits. No people group was left out. It did not matter how wicked the people were, where they lived, or what they looked like, they were to be given this message. Our mission field is still everywhere that there are people. The phrase every creature refers to every individual who bears the image of God. Every human being, regardless of their sinfulness, the color of their skin, or their religious background, is a candidate for the good news.
Whether we tell the “good news across the ocean or across the street, we are to tell it. When we open our mouths and tell it to others, or when we send our dollars to missionaries so they can tell where they are, we are engaged in missions.
C. Our Method The Lords command is Go ye...and preach. The phrase go ye is a command. It is not a suggestion for optional ministry. It is a call to action! We are not to debate whether or not we will share the Gospel, we are just to go and share it.
That phrase is interesting because it is written in a tense that suggests this reading: “As you go... In other words, as we move through this live, we are to be in the business of telling the good news to others.
We are to tell it with our lips. That is clear from the word “preach, which means to act as a kings herald. We are to take the message of our King to this world with authority and assurance. We are to tell them what we know about Him. We are to tell the message with the assurance that He will empower us to tell this world what He has done for us, Acts 1:8. The Gospel is a message designed to be communicated orally. God has chosen preaching as the method of giving His message to a lost world, Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21.
We are also to tell the story with our lives. That is, we are to live in such a way that the lost people living around us will see the difference in our lives and will know that God has done something in us, Ill. Phil 1:27; Matt. 5:16.
(Note: That is the Lord’s command to His people. How are we doing as a church when it comes to carrying out The Great Commission? How are you doing as an individual when it comes to sharing your faith? The command is “Go ye. It is a command for each and every child of God to be active in the business of sharing the good news of the Gospel of salvation!)
I. The Requirement For The Saints
II. v. 16-17 THE RESPONSIBILITY
OF THE SINNER
(Ill. The saints have a responsibility to share the Gospel of grace. Sinners also have a responsibility when it comes to the Gospel. Their responsibility is three-fold.)
A. To Answer He that believeth When a sinner hears the Gospel message, that person is individually responsible to believe that message. Salvation occurs when a lost sinner hears the good news of salvation, is convicted of sin and believes the message that Jesus died for him and rose again from the dead. The sinner believes the message, looks away by faith and is instantly converted. Salvation is a work of faith in the heart of a lost sinner, who looks to Jesus by faith, and is instantly transformed by His saving grace and power.
Let me stress again today that salvation never comes from a person’s good works, good deeds, or good lifestyle. Neither does salvation come from religion or ritual. Salvation is always “By grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9.
B. To Act Believeth and is baptized This verse has been misunderstood and misapplied by many who want to add baptism to faith as the condition for salvation. I get more E-mail about this issue than any other. So many people feel that baptism is an essential component of salvation. However, the truth of the matter is far different. Let me share just a few reasons why I say that this is not teaching baptismal regeneration.
Ψ The thief on the cross was never baptized, yet he was assured of his salvation by the Lord Jesus, Luke 23:43.
Ψ The Gentiles who believed in Caesarea were baptized after they believed, Acts 10:44-48.
Ψ Jesus Himself did not baptize, John 4:1-2. This seems strange if salvation comes from baptism.
Ψ Paul told the Corinthians that he was glad that he had only baptized a few of their number, 1 Cor. 1:14-16. Surely, Paul would not have thanked God for that, if baptism were essential for salvation.
Ψ Nearly 150 passages in the New Testament teach us that salvation is through faith alone.
Ψ In the New Testament, baptism is connected closely with death and burial, Rom. 6:1-5. It is an emblem of dying to the old life of sin. Faith, on the other hand, is associated with the new birth, or new life in Christ.
If Jesus is not talking about being baptized for salvation, what is He talking about? Jesus is talking obedience to God. Those who are saved by grace will have a desire to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. They will have a desire to give a clear, public witness to their new found faith. For many, their baptism in their first opportunity to tell a crowd that they have trusted Jesus and that He has saved their soul.
The bottom line is this: Jesus is telling His men salvation results in obedience. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved to work, Eph. 2:10. Baptism is an outward work that speaks of an inward salvation. Baptism is a public testimony of the salvation that occurred by faith when the lost sinner believed on Jesus Christ. By the way, a person who refuses to follow the Lord in baptism is likely not saved.
(Note: I know that some will read these words and want to write to me to “straighten me out. Dont bother! I will not debate you and I will not answer you. I do not have time to argue.)
C. To Accept He that believeth not shall be damned The lost sinner has the opportunity to believe the Gospel and be saved. He also has the right to reject the Gospel and remain lost in sin. The sinner must understand that if he or she rejects Jesus Christ and the Gospel of grace, they must face the consequences of that decision.
If a person rejects the salvation that is offered by God through Christ Jesus, there is no other hope of salvation available to them, Heb. 2:3. Jesus Christ is the ONLY WAY to get to God, John 14:6; Acts 4:12. To reject Him is to reject forgiveness. It is to reject hope. It is to reject salvation. It is to reject God, Christ and the Holy Ghost. It is to reject holiness and embrace sin. It is to reject life and embrace death. It is to reject Heaven and embrace Hell. If you reject Jesus Christ and refuse to believe the Gospel, you will go to Hell, and you will have no one to blame but yourself, John 8:24; Matt. 7:21-23; Rev. 20:11-15.
I. The Requirement For The Saints
II. The Responsibility Of The Sinner
III. v. 17-18 THE RECOGNITION
OF HIS SERVANTS
· Jesus ends His words to His disciples by telling them that “signs would follow the true believers. The word signs refers to a token; or that which separates. This word means that God will put a difference between His people and the people who remain lost in sin. The word follow means to accompany. Tokens, marks of separation, or proofs of salvation, will accompany the lives of the redeemed.
· These verses have also been misunderstood by many who desire to have something more than simple faith in Jesus. There are many who want a token, some tangible sign, that they are saved and that God’s power rests on them.
From these two verses have arisen many heretical movements and activities. Speaking in tongues, snake handling, drinking poison, faith healing, a fascination with demons, and other heretical notions have been born because these verses have been taken out of context and misapplied.
· The actions described in these verses refer to events that took place during the early days of the church. When the Lord Jesus sent out the disciples with the Gospel of grace, He authenticated His message through amazing displays of His power. When the apostolic period ended, the need for these miracles ended and they ceased to function.
Why did they cease? I think the answer is found in 1 Cor. 13:8-11. These verses refer to “that which is perfect. You must understand that the early church did not have a complete record of Gods words to man. Before the end of the apostolic age, the New Testament had been completed and man could hold and read the very words of God. Man had a complete revelation of Gods words to humanity and no longer needed the miracles to affirm the message.
· Let me take a moment to show you what I mean. Every miracle mentioned by the Lord in these verses can be found in the book of Acts but one. Watch this:
Ψ Cast Out Demons Acts 8:7; 6:18; 19:11-16
Ψ Speak With New Tongues Acts 2:4-11; 10:46; 19:6
Ψ Take Up Serpents Acts 28:5
Ψ Drink Deadly Poisons This is the only one not mentioned in Acts. An early church father named Eusebius, said that Joseph Barsabas, who was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot, had done just this during the course of his ministries.
Ψ Lay Hands On Others For Healing Acts 3:7; 19:11; 28:8-9
In other words, this prophecy was literally fulfilled in the First Century, by the apostles. God worked the miracles through them to prove to the lost that His Word was true.
· Are there any miracles today? Is there a need for “signs following today? Should we speak in tongues, take up serpents and drink poison to prove that we have been saved? Is that how the Lord has chosen to reach the world?
God has chosen to reach the world through preaching, 1 Cor. 1:21. While God can still do miracles and send signs to confirm His message, the greatest miracle in the world today is the livers of those He has changed through the power of the new birth.
· He has saved us and set us apart. He has given us the “sign of a new life, 2 Cor. 5:17. The world saw the miracles of the Apostles in the First Century and knew that the message was from God. The world sees holiness, faith and simple obedience in the lives of the redeemed and knows that the message is from God. There is still a mark on those who are saved by grace. It is not the mark of some miraculous sign. It is the mark of a changed life! The Lord Jesus promises to authenticate those who are His. He does this by changing their lives and recreating His life within them, Gal. 2:20; Rom. 4:29; Eph. 4:13-15.
Conc: As the Lord Jesus prepared to return to Heaven, His mind was on His men. He wanted them to be prepared for the day when they would have the responsibility of sharing His message with the world. So, He gave them the Great Commission and sent them out to tell the world about Him. Our Lord’s final thoughts while He was here rested on the Gospel of grace.
The Gospel is still the single most important issue in the world today. You are impacted by the Gospel whether you understand that or not. In truth, you stand today on one side of the Gospel or the other. The following story will illustrate what I am trying to say.
Most of you know the story fo the “R.M.S. Titanic, the ship that was labeled unsinkable, that sank on April 14, 1912. Of the 2,223 people on board only 706 survived. Of the 1,523 people who ended up in the icy water, only six were rescued.
But did you know that one of those six was actually saved twice that night?
His story is an inspiring reminder that there's more to life than mere survival.
To tell this man's story, though, I have to first tell you about another man, a Scottish preacher named John Harper. Harper boarded the Titanic with his six-year-old daughter, Nana. He planned to travel to the Moody Church in Chicago, where he'd been invited to preach for three months. When the ship struck the fateful iceberg and began to sink, Harper made sure his daughter was placed into one of the lifeboats. He then began what would be the last evangelistic work of his young life.
As the freezing waters began to fill the ship, Harper was heard shouting, “Let the women, children and the unsaved into the lifeboats.” Survivors reported that Harper took off his own life jacket and gave it to another man. “Don't worry about me,” he reportedly said, “I'm not going down, I'm going up!
When the ship began to sink, more than 1,523 passengers jumped or fell into the icy waters. As they gradually drowned or froze to death, Harper was seen swimming from one passenger to another, pleading with them to accept Christ.
Only six of the 1,523 people struggling in the water were later rescued, including a man who later identified himself as Harper's last convert. This young man had climbed up on a piece of debris. Harper, who was struggling in the water near him, shouted out, “Are you saved?
No,” the man replied.
Harper then shouted the words from Scripture: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” The man did not answer, and a moment later he drifted away on the waves.
A few minutes later, the current brought the two men back together. Again Harper asked, “Are you saved?”
Once again, the answer was “No.” With his dying breath, Harper shouted, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” He then slipped under the waves for the last time.
Then and there, the man he had witnessed to decided to turn his life over to Christ. Four years later, at a Titanic survivors meeting in Ontario, Canada, this man tearfully gave his testimony recounting how John Harper had led him to the Lord.
I don't need to tell you that this dramatic story never made it into the movie. We live in a culture that seems to be more interested in fictional stories of romance, illicit sex, and priceless jewelry than in the real romance between God and His people.
Every person in this room is either like John Harper or the man he witnessed to. We are either carrying the Gospel to the world, or we are barely clinging to life needing someone to bring the Gospel to us.
If you are saved, the Lord’s Parting Words are a call for you to get busy for Him. The word is perishing and it is our duty to reach them with the Gospel. Are you doing that?
If you are lost, it is your duty to receive the Gospel? Would you like to do that today? If you will come to Him, he will save your soul!
If God has spoken to your heart on any level, you need to do what He would have you do today!