I’ve briefly just got into a new book by Bill Johnson, “The Way of Life” and an excerpt of the book that I received before it was released had me chewing on The Great Commission that we as Believers in Jesus Christ was given by Him to do. It’s prompted me to put my thoughts into my sermon tonight.
I’ve taken some passages out Bill Johnson’s writing because it prompts thoughts about our life in Christ; particularly concerning what Christ has called us to do for Kingdom expansion in reference to our commission we’ve received.
We are Christ’s Ambassadors as the Apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:20, and we have been commissioned by Jesus to fulfill the will of the Father.
In the Word of God there are many different commissioning’s, but we have in the New Testament where Jesus is specific calling His Church to bring restoration through Kingdom life from Kingdom principles.
First we can ask, what is a commission? It is a charge or mandate given to a person or people by someone in authority to carry out a task in the same authority.
And the best place we can look is in the Word, and we see this referenced in Acts 26:12 where Luke states that Saul had, "authority and commission from the chief priests", and that was to grab these new “Christians.” The Jewish High Court Leaders and Councilmen, the Sanhedrin gave Saul (later named Paul) the charge and the authority to bring Christians at Damascus bound to Jerusalem, in order for them to be punished. So Saul had authority by commission to seize Christians as given him by the Jewish Leadership. Saul went out in their name with their authority to accomplish their will.
Let’s look at the one of the first commissions in the Bible.
Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it”
This was God commissioning newly created man. He was commissioning man to grow and increase, and take authority over the earth. In the Greek the representation is, gather yourselves together and tread down and bring it into bondage, bringing force to the earth.
A bit stronger wording in the Greek, but we see that God is saying, cover the earth with yourselves and bring it under your dominion, and rule over it.
It is interesting when Jesus gave us His “Great Commission”, He is basically speaking the same thing. Just as God gave us the earth to subdue it, we have been given power to do the same, but in the Spirit. God told Adam to subdue the earth, in a physical manner, and Jesus told us to subdue the earth in the Spiritual. And we do that in prayer.
Through the leading and power of the Spirit we accomplish our commission. By our words in prayer given to us by the Holy Spirit we speak dominion power into situations in Jesus name. We also in the Spirit, lead people to Jesus Christ in the many different ways Jesus displayed the Kingdom for us as represented in the Gospels.
I’ve said this many times, God is a Spirit, and we access Him in the Spirit through prayer. Now it is interesting that in Romans 8:16, it says “the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” The piece that stands out is “the Spirit of God bears witness with ours.” There is the connection. Now there are other verses about that connection, but this one bore witness to me, that when we pray, and pray in the Spirit, because of that connection, there is an interaction. When we begin to pray, that interaction is going on if we realize it or not, it is not just one-way. We may think that, because I know at times we think that God is not there and does not hear us, but that is not the case. The Spirit within us, is active 24/7. So if we pray or not, He is aware and ready to direct us if we allow Him to.
The Spirit is there to not only to be our Helper, but to also direct our prayers. Why do some of us wake up at 2AM in the morning to pray for someone? Its so the will of God is manifest in and through our prayers for an action to take place. When we intercede, we are opening up doors for God to inject Himself through our prayers to cause change in what we are directed to pray for.
It is the same specifically concerning the great commission. We are operating in the Spirit to accomplish the will of God through Jesus Christ. In the authority of Jesus, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that bears witness to our spirit, we fulfill our commission.
Here is the Great Commission as we call it from Jesus spread out over three of the Gospels.
In Matthew 28:17 Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, (yes, His Spirit is in us and a 24/7 interaction is happening if we are awake to it) to the end of the age.”
In addition, Jesus said in Mark 16:15-18, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will never harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”
The latter verses deal with believers having authority and bringing the dominion of the Kingdom of God into dark situations lead by that Holy Spirit interaction.
And in John 20:21-23 He said, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
To fulfill this commission, we must align our hearts with Jesus, as His heart is aligned with the Father to fulfill the will of the Father. An aligned heart in the Spirit is the key to open doors to fulfill the Father’s heart for His creation. To accomplish that, we as Followers of Jesus Christ must cooperate with Spirit of God within us to do so.
Bill Johnson was right in his writings when he said “Our first commission is to pray.” Prayer is vital to our fellowship with God to know the knowledge of His will. With out prayer, there is no fellowship. Without fellowship there is no knowledge. We must have an interaction with the Father in the Spirit in His Presence to fulfill the assignments on this earth that He has put before us.
Remember Jesus’ Prayer in Matthew 6, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven?”
Our assignments to care for the poor, the widow, and the orphan which is pure religion stated James 1, and healing the sick and freeing the captives, they are all practical expressions fulfilling the will of God that fully manifest Heaven here. “Heaven being the source, and model, and inspiration to it all.”
“This task to fulfill our mission is not possible if we only discover the principles of God and follow them. We may understand the Word, but we need the infused Presence of God in those principles.” (Bill Johnson with Pastor Brad paraphrasing) As we have preached here before, the Spirit of God is the strong player whom we partner with to fulfill the Word of God.
“The commission we have been given will only move forward in the atmosphere of the glory of God from His Presence, because that Presence infuses our faith as we pray.” (Brad paraphrasing Bill Johnson)
And because of that Presence soaked faith building prayer, we move out in that faith, and seize the moments given to us and even take risks for Jesus to accomplish the moments put before us. God gives us moments to seize. We can let them go by, and we do because of fear. Yes those moments can be risks. But an obedient open heart will take risks because of faith built confidence from being in the secret place with God.
The church today is afraid of taking risks. We like comfort. But we were never mandated for comfort. We were mandated to love, give mercy, and bring restoration through violence. Not physical violence, but spiritual violence in faith that has been built up in the Presence of God.
We, even with a calm voice, can cast down all vain imaginations on this earth that do not align themselves with heaven or the Word of God. That means we must step out of our comfort zones in faith, and move into what we may seem as a battle that may get us dirty to set the captive free.
Remember, Jesus said in John 20:21, “as the Father sent Me, I send you.” His commissioning to us was with the authority given to Him by the Father in Heaven, with us receiving the same authority. It is our choice to walk in it. It’s also our choice also to believe that the prayers that we pray up to heaven for the “now” are effective.
From Bill Johnson’s Book, The Way of Life, I like what he says about our prayers. I quote:
“We cannot allow ourselves to live in theory only.
We do this whenever we embrace a routine of prayer, without expecting an impact on the here and now. It is not wrong to look for evidence that our prayers are answered. If we become accustomed to praying prayers that aren’t answered, we tend to settle for living in the realm of theory. Many resort to pretending they are being effective in their prayer assignment, looking only to eternity to measure success.
Heaven/eternity is far greater than our wildest dream. But because of that greatness, we tend to hide our unbelief there, without any expectation for breakthrough here in the present. Whenever we do this, we rob ourselves of the personal strength and joy that was intended to be our possession as the result of answers to prayer. Answered prayer is God’s design. We suffer in the long run when we expect our prayer assignment to be fulfilled in Heaven only.”
“Answered prayer is God’s design.” We must believe the prayers we pray in the now will be fulfilled now. Unfortunately we can be a church that does throw out prayers in hope for something to happen in a situation, but Jesus was emphatic that our prayers be in faith, we ask in His name, and speak it into situations that need change to be changed now. He operated that way, and He leads us to do the same.
It seems that we have moved away from the model that Jesus created for us to follow. When He displayed the Kingdom of God through signs wonders and miracles, we were to follow His way, and how he did it without wavering. What Jesus did from our reading was up front, and in your face really, but it was not some mysterious thing, as we may want to think of it. His thought I believe was watch me, and even say what I say, or tell you to say, and believe in Me and you will do the same as Me.
I believe the church has over time veered from the Jesus way, and because of their lack of faith, or even lack of belief that Jesus is the same today as yesterday; we have become a church that lacks power to do anything, or the will to do it. Add on to our prayerlessness, how do we have hope to accomplish anything that Jesus did? Jesus’ way was the perfect way to be followed. But we also must be connected in Spirit Filled prayer so our belief will be grounded and grow.
Jesus intended that we would do greater things than He. The way He established His Kingdom to be fulfilled by men, was that they would build on His example through the ages and continue in Faith.
Because that Faith would lead to fresh confidence and hope through the generations to continue to grow the Kingdom of God until all the peoples on the face of the earth would have an encounter with His Father in Heaven.
We just need to get fully on track again and get back to the original plan of God that really goes back to the beginning of creation that we were given the task of subduing creation in His name.
But this leads me back to prayer. We were commissioned to pray. We know the Lord’s Prayer. We sing it here. We speak it here a lot. “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”
When you look at this part of the prayer, we as Followers of Christ are called out to bring heaven here. We are to pray it into all situations. We are co-laborers with Christ to manifest the Kingdom of God here for the glory of the Father so His will, will be accomplished by us who have been called out, and all are called.
Even when we pray “give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debt, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” That part of the prayer is also part of Kingdom living for us.
“give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debt, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Is His Kingdom coming on us, and “as we forgive our debtors” is us partnering with Him so we experience what we pray for to receive the freedom that Jesus brings us in faith. We walk in freedom.
And we do all of this in Worship to the Lord. “For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” And again I like how Bill Johnson puts it:
“This prayer, (The Lord’s Prayer) is an apostolic prayer. Apostle is a term used by both Greek and Roman armies to describe the leader of an entourage with the assignment to bring the culture of the conquering country to the one newly conquered.” Bill says, “The purpose for this is fascinating.
It was so that their ruler would feel as at home there as he did in his home country. Thus, we have, as it is in heaven.”
And if you listen to Bill Johnson at all, he uses “On earth as it is in heaven” all the time. And we get that. When we pray, we are partnering up with God to fulfill His purposes He established for us. We partner with His heart.
When we partner with His heart, through Jesus Christ, we bring the promises of the Commission that Jesus gave us to fulfill, into full order on the earth where ever we direct our prayers. And we must be aware and believe that the prayers that we are given to pray, will be answered.
God is our Father and the source of all creation, and He gives us through the Holy Spirit “direction and commands that are consistent with His divine eternal strategy and purposes.” (Bill Johnson with Brad paraphrase)
He is the One who is building though us for His intended outcome. It is not something that we can build up in ourselves. He leads, we follow, He changes circumstance, captives are set free, He is glorified, and we have the great part being involved with Him in this journey we are on together with Him.
And back to the Lord’s Prayer. it is for right now. It is not for something a far off. When Jesus prayed it was for right now as I stated earlier. The Kingdom Power prayed by us is for now, today. We should never think it is for the future or another time. That is up to God for His timing.
In this journey with the Father, we must see that the commissions we receive are to activate us to do what God intended from the beginning of creation. When Jesus said heaven on earth, that is God’s heart for us to show heaven. “God wants a heaven influence on the earth.” “We have to discover what that looks like in our lives.” (Pastor Brad paraphrase of Bill Johnson pg 19). We only discover it by an interaction with God.
Look at Joshua. His interaction with God led to the fall of Jericho’s walls. Joshua received the Word of the Lord, and he could only receive it if he spent time talking to Him. Then acted out on God’s Word. After we hear, if prompted by the Holy Spirit, we move.
Our commissioning by Jesus is to move out in His Word, His promises, from His examples to not only bring freedom to us personally, but to bring that freedom to others. Heal the sick, set the captive free, evangelize your city, evangelize your world, make disciples of every nation, and do it in confidence knowing that it is the will of the Father to do it, and having confidence that He will back up your faith as you step out in faith from His Word.
And yes, even having faith in confrontation. Our commission will cause confrontation, and because our authority in Christ that will cause confrontation. This goes back to taking risk. Darkness doesn’t want our light to come into situations to expose the truth. The truth that Jesus is real, and His Words are the truth. That will cause confrontation. And like I said earlier, in the Spirit, we cause violence, and people don’t like that word because it seems harsh, but in the Spirit realm that we do not see, the words of Jesus brings violence and in that violence people are set free. Amen!
We in our confidence in the one who has healed us and set us free from this world moves our hearts to take risks, because His Word is established in us and because of our relationship with Him.
Jesus sent us out to restore, and restore we must do. He prepared us to do it. And do it we must so people who are outside these walls will not perish without everlasting life. That is our commission and that is why we are here all for the glory of God.