Jesus Christ set high expectations for His disciples. However, He also provided them power to do what He asked of them. The same still applies for us today!
[Frank Dunkle] You know, a lot of things this summer didn't go the way we expected. That might be one of the biggest understatements I've had. But I got to do one of the camps I was planning. You know, all the teen camps were canceled, and the pre-teen camps because we just had to do it for safety. But United Youth Camps include what we call Challenger programs that are designed for young adults, and I've been privileged the last couple of years to be able to lead the one called the Boundary Waters Adventure. It's a privilege. It's a lot of fun. It occurs up in northern Minnesota in the lakes that are right there on the border with Canada. They're maintained, very pristine.
And a feature of the Challenger programs though is that we send the participants a book in advance. So it's a common reading that's designed to get us excited, to give us inspiration, but also to provide material for discussions that we have as a group when we're out there in the wilderness. And I say that because I want to introduce you to the book we chose this year. Actually, Aaron Booth who is on the staff suggested it. It's one by a retired admiral of the U.S. Navy, William McRaven, and the title is Make Your Bed. I should give the rest of the title, because "Make Your Bed" could sound like something your mom tells you. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World.
You might be familiar with the basic idea. It forms the basis of his first chapter. And the idea is small things that make you discipline your life can affect your whole life. I've heard people give speeches based on that and seen writing, and that's not my point for today. I just wanted to bring that in because I want to focus on a lesson he makes in a later chapter that I think is a lesson that Jesus Christ intended for His disciples. And so please bear with me. I'll talk a little bit about the book, but I am moving to what Jesus Christ tells us as His disciples. And also it's good if I don't talk about the making your bed thing because if I did, my wife would attest that it's a little hypocritical. I do have certain morning routines that I'm very disciplined about, but making my bed is not one of them.
In the course of his book, Admiral McRaven tells many stories that he encountered training to become a U.S. Navy SEAL. Now if you're not familiar, the Navy SEALs are one, I think is the most elite of the Special Forces units in the American military. They train very hard. I was looking for a better adjective. But they develop their minds and bodies, and they prepare themselves, and they can do a lot of things. They scuba dive. They skydive. They can paddle boats. They can swim immense distances. So they go through very difficult training to do so. And in the course of this book, he draws lessons out of that that he says apply to life.
And in chapter six, the title of this chapter was Dare Greatly… You Must Dare Greatly. The subtitle… I shouldn't show it because you can't read it from there, but “If you want to change the world, slide down the obstacle head first.” What does that mean? Well, that would draw you in to read the story, and I'll tell you the story. You know, they have an obstacle course as part of their training there. Obstacle courses have climbing nets and crawling in mud through barbed wire and all kinds of things. One of the obstacles that gave him the most difficulty was a 30-foot tower. Climb up the tower, and then a rope is suspended out to a distant point on the ground. So you climb the tower, and then you have to go down the rope.
So Mr. McRaven said he did well in all the obstacles, and he successfully did the rope, but he used what was called an opossum technique. You get a hold of the rope, and then you swing your legs up, and you inch your way down. It's safe. It's effective. It's not very fast. He said, you know, time after time, that ruined his score. One of his instructors told him, "McRaven if you want to do better at this, you have to learn to take some risks." Okay. I don't want to promote careless risks, so I'll point out Admiral McRaven, as he's describing this in his book, he says, "I came to appreciate the motto of the British Special Forces unit called the Special Air Service." And here's where I get into my military history mode. The Special Air Services was formed during World War II. It was the original Special Forces unit, according to some. Their motto is: Who Dares Wins. Three-word motto. Who Dares Wins.
Now when I read about the Special Air Service it piqued by interest partly because when I was younger I had the opportunity to work at the church's summer camp in Scotland. It mostly served our youth in Britain and the rest of Europe. And I actually worked alongside two men who had formerly been in the Special Air Service. They weren't at that time. They joined the Church and weren't in the military. But I developed a great deal of respect for these men. They were tough. They'd been through a lot of interesting things.
One thing I knew about them and I think reflected all the Special Air Service is they were trained to not take foolish risks. They never took needless risks. So when they would say Who Dares Wins, they would always dare, you could say, with care. I didn't plan that ahead of time. It came out. But these men trained to develop their abilities, and to know what they were capable of, and then push their minds and bodies to the utmost limits of those capabilities. Admiral McRaven describes how, as he was then Cadet McRaven, he finally nerved himself to climb on the rope and slide down headfirst at breakneck speed, but he didn't break his neck. He did very well in the obstacle course, and of course, he graduated. He describes how some of those lessons he learned applied later. He was the commander of all the Special Forces units in Iraq during Operation Desert Shield. He said time and again they'd have to make these crucial decisions, and sometimes they would dare. He describes some of those.
You might be wondering, again, what's this got to do with us? My first scripture I'd like to turn to is in Daniel 11. Daniel 11, beginning in verse 32. Now we're breaking into a long chapter, as you might know, the longest continuous chapter in the Bible. So I don't want to describe all of that, but it seems to be describing the persecution that occurred under Antiochus Epiphanes, and that led to the Maccabean revolt. But breaking in, it says, "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt," that was Antiochus, "with flattery. But the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits. And those are the people who understand shall instruct many for many days." I want to leave off there.
I was interested. I've always liked this phrase. "Those who know their God will be strong and do great exploits." I'd like to do some exploits. I think that sounds pretty exciting. I thought I'd see more faces of people joining in. Don't you want to do exploits? What are exploits? Sound almost like it could be a snack food, but it's not. But maybe you and I do have some exploits in our future. If, as the SAS motto says, who dares wins if God has something in our future, should we be prepared to dare greatly? And I think so, within, as I said, within limits, understanding.
But I'm saying this because we have been called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We have a calling from God the Father. That calling has a purpose. When I was younger in the Church, I heard Herbert W. Armstrong many times say, "You weren't called just for your own salvation." That was something that was understood in the Church. He said, "You're called now for a different purpose." If we were called just so we could be saved, God could bring us up in the resurrection and do it then. We have it a little harder now.
Mr. Armstrong taught, and I believe he was correct, the reason we're called now is we have a work to do. We have the job to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world. We're called now to be a light, a witness of God's way. We're called now so we can prepare to teach and lead in the world that will come beyond today. I wanted to work that in. We used to say the world tomorrow. It's the Kingdom of God on earth. We're called to be ready when that time comes to help Jesus Christ change the world.
As Admiral McRaven said, if we develop little habits now to change our lives, we can use those also to change the world. During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ called disciples for those purposes. They had to change their lives then so that they could go out and begin to change the world. I think we can learn a lot from those men. They were a group of young men called together for a purpose. So I like to consider a little bit about who they were and what the feeling was with them. It's easy to get this image of these grey-bearded, wise old men sitting around with Jesus. But was that it? No.
Their Master was only 30 when He called them. Sometimes I'm amazed at that, you know, because of course He had existed for eternity before that, and He's at the right hand of God now, but physically He was 30. When we have a minister in their 30s today we think, "Oh, he's one of those young guys." As a matter of fact, I can attest, if you're a minister in your 50s, you're one of the young guys, which I don't mind so much. I like being a younger guy.
But yeah, these men were probably, they might have been in early 20s, could have been in their teens. Let's review in Scripture some of what they were like, what it was like for them being in a group. Let's turn to Mark 1. Mark 1, we begin in verse 16. I want to read some scriptures to kind of give us just a feel for what it was like, because if I'm saying they were willing to dare greatly, how did they go about that? What was the attitude?
Mark 1:16 Mark 1:16Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
American King James Version×, speaking Jesus Christ, it says, "As He walked by the Sea Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I'll make you become fishers of men.’ And they immediately left their nets and followed Him." They probably were quite excited. Verse 19 says, "When He'd gone a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother. They were also in the boat mending their nets. Immediately He called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, they went with Him."
Let's move ahead to chapter 3. We're setting the stage. I'm going to read a couple scriptures. Start in verse 7. "Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea. And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him from Judea." There's a multitude, but if we look in verse 13 we'll see. “When He went up to the mountain He called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him." There's a multitude. There's a small number.
Back up to verse 10 and 11. We'll see why. No, actually. Sorry. I'm looking, and it's not saying what I wanted it to say. Well, I'll catch it later. But I did want to read this. In verse 10, "He healed many as had afflictions. They pressed about Him to touch Him. Unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down and cried out, "You're the Son of God," and He warned them not to speak." So there is all of this going on. I could imagine, what was it like to be one of these young men working with Jesus Christ? Well, He traveled around. For three and a half years they spent a lot of time in Galilee going from town to town, sometimes speaking in synagogues, sometimes out on the seashore. People came to Him to be healed.
Can you imagine? You don't want just a mob coming in, so sometimes the disciples might have been working crowd control. Or Jesus decides to feed 5,000 people dinner. Men, imagine in you called home to your wife. "Honey, I'm bringing someone home for dinner." "How many?" "Five-thousand." But Jesus, “Okay, make them sit down in groups of 50." “Let's get them organized. Here, let's break the bread. Share it. Gather up the fragments.” So they were working.
But they also had the disciples alone with Him at times. I'm sorry, I'm being frustrated that I'm not seeing the scripture that I was looking for. It's probably in Matthew. One moment. No, I don't think it is there though. Okay. Well, I'm sure I'm going to come across it. They were probably fairly excited about this. Imagine, you know, they were serving the Messiah. They were going to help change the world. Even after Christ had been crucified and then resurrected, if you read the beginning of Acts, one of the things you see them saying is, "Master, now are you going to establish the kingdom?" “It's not the time.” And of course, they had no way of knowing a couple thousand years would go by.
But what a time they had. Sometimes working very hard, working with the crowds, and then He would make time for them alone later. And I imagine them, perhaps when they're not staying in someone's home, sitting by a campfire, and hearing Jesus tell them stories and explain parables. They probably told jokes. They probably sang songs together. They were looking forward to big things. They were dreaming great dreams, daring greatly for what was ahead. They were pretty common folk. We just read four of them we know were fishermen, so they weren't the educated, advanced people. One was a political zealot who left that behind. He'd been a revolutionary trying to overthrow the government. One was a tax collector, a collaborator with the government. They left those things behind and devoted themselves to this work of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Andrew was so excited when he first found out. Let's turn to John 1 and see how he expressed it. John 1:41 John 1:41He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
American King James Version×. You know, all the different gospel accounts look at these things from different angles, and this shows… well, we'll begin in verse 40. "One of the two who heard John speak, followed Him…” so John the Baptist was there and pointed out Jesus Christ. "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother." And it says in verse 41, "He found his own brother Simon, and said, ‘We found the Messiah,’ (which is translated to Christ). And he brought him to Jesus." Imagine your brother or sister comes home. "Guess what I found out? You’ve got to check this out!”
And how did Peter react? Well we don't know exactly right then he'd become a disciple, but let's turn to Matthew 16. We'll see some of how convinced Peter became. Matthew 16 beginning in verse 13. This is a passage that we read fairly often for good reason. And this is one of those times we believe Jesus led His disciples away from the multitudes. They went up around Tyre and Sidon, and they were coming back. So they had perhaps a bit of a retreat where they could get advanced teaching without the crowds and the distractions of feeding thousands of people.
And it says in verse 13, "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi," so this is in northern Israel. They came to this place, and possibly they were in this cave where one of the headwaters of the Jordan River was. And some people say He might have sat on this big boulder even while He did it. “And He asked them, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" That's a powerful thought. He was fully convinced. "I know who you are. You're not Jeremiah or Elijah. You're the Son of God."
“Jesus answered and said, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood does not revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.’" And we know this passage. "I say to you, you're Peter. You're Petros." He might have reached down in the water and picked up a stone. And if He was sitting on that boulder he'd say, "But on this petra, on this rock, I'll build My church." And we know Jesus Christ is the foundation. "And the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." Nothing is going to stop us. That's the way they felt, and it was true.
And I'll give you, here is where I personally feel He wasn't speaking just to Peter at that point but to all the disciples. "I'll give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound on heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Jesus Christ gave His church high responsibility but also high authority, and that's something that's important, and it's powerful.
We could say that these young men, you know if we even want to call them men yet. They were growing up quickly. They signed on to the ground floor of a movement. They trusted their Master to do great things, and He taught them that they were going to do great things. They dared greatly. They were looking to do great exploits. Am I reading too much into it, you know, about this whole exploits thing? Well, let's turn back a couple of chapters to Matthew 14 because I love this story and the example of what it shows. There's many lessons that can be drawn from it. As we know, this is one of the cases where Christ fed a crowd, and then He wants a little time alone.
So Matthew 14:22 Matthew 14:22And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
American King James Version×we read, "Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat, go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He'd sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray." I wonder how hard it was for Him to get a little time alone. So He did this. “When evening came, He was alone there. The boat was now in the middle of the sea,” the Sea of Galilee. It's funny. If He was up on the mountain, He probably could see it. And they were having trouble. It was in the sea “tossed by the waves, the wind was contrary.”
We don't know if this is true, but I imagine Jesus is looking at them and is like, "They're going to need help. I'd better go get them." And He walks out there, and of course, He walks across the sea. Verse 25 says, "In the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walk on the sea they were troubled." They just saw a figure out there. They said, "It's a ghost!” "Be of good cheer. It's all right. Don't be afraid." Were they willing to do exploits? Peter says, “Lord, if it's You, command me to come out on the water." “Come on.” I'm sort of paraphrasing. “So Peter comes down out of the boat, and he walks on the water to go to Jesus. And he saw the wind was boisterous, he was afraid and began to sink. And he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” He didn't say, "You got yourself into this. You get yourself out." No. "Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and caught him. ‘Why were you of little faith? Why did you doubt?’"
Peter, he did falter, but he dared to try in the first place. And when he faltered, Jesus caught him and pulled him to safety. Won't He do the same for us? I would say yes, of course, He will. He does. He's done it before. I do want to stop and point out though that Jesus didn't call the disciples for the point of doing flashy miracles. It wasn't even Christ's idea for Peter to walk on water. That's not why he called us. That's not our purpose.
I say that thinking, I remember when I was about 11 years old. I was getting more and more serious about the Church. I decided to try it because if I have faith I can go to the swimming pool in my neighborhood. Well, you can probably guess how that worked out. I tried it several times. Luckily I already knew how to swim. If you will, go with me to Matthew 10 because I want to see. Jesus Christ called His disciples. Let's read what He sent them out to do. This is a case where He's going to organize them. As a matter of fact, in verse 1 “He called His twelve disciples, He gave them power… power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, to heal all kinds of diseases.” It lists the names, but let's read in verse 5 what He told them to do.
"These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying 'Don't go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’" Now that's not my main point, but I should comment that later on, we see in the Book of Acts that there was a time to preach to the Israelites and then a time to also preach to all the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas said, "The word had to be preached to you first, but since you reject it we go to the Gentiles." So please don't take what Christ told them then as an indication we shouldn't preach to all the world now.
Let's see what he says in verse 7. "As you go, preach, saying ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’" Matthew often writes kingdom of heaven rather than kingdom of God because of his audience. He didn't want to offend the Jewish audience. But the point is, go and peach. What do you preach? The good news of the Kingdom of God. God created you for a reason and a purpose. He has a plan. He's got a way of life that works, and we need to share that with people. I would say as disciples of Christ, first and foremost, we're called to be a witness. They were then and we are now to tell people about God's way, to show it to them. We're to be a witness of the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Now I want to come back to Matthew 10, so you might keep a finger here. But if you turn to Acts 4, we can see how that turned out. Acts 4, and we'll begin in verse 13. It's one of those stories that gets me kind of excited. And I'm going to summarize to get us into it because the disciples were teaching, and they were at the temple, Peter and John, and they got arrested for it. The leaders of the Jewish community didn't like what they were doing, and they put them in jail, and then they bring them in and they're grilling them. So we see in verse 13 that as Peter and John answer it says, "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they perceived that they were uneducated, untrained men." I would say they were educated or trained in the traditional manner, but they weren't uneducated. As it becomes obvious, they realized they'd been with Jesus.
I pause there. I think I wonder if people ever look at me and would say, "He's been with Jesus."? Not that I've been up in heaven at the throne of God, but I hope all of us can say, I hope people see me and say, "He's on Jesus's side." Peter Eddington recently gave a sermon. He talked about how, you know, hopefully, people would get a lesson from God. They might even be interested in learning our way of life from the way we live. Peter and John were doing that.
Now let's drop down to verse 18. "They called them and they commanded them to not speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered and said, ‘Whether it's right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.’” Should I do what you say and not do what God says? You tell me. Verse 20. "We cannot but speak the things that we've seen and heard." We can't not do this.
I wanted to note this before going back to Matthew 10 because I want to point out that even when God does have His servants perform miracles and great wonders, that's not the great exploit that He wants us to dare to do necessarily. First and foremost is the message to preach. Now once we're doing that, some pretty cool things could happen. Matthew 10:8 Matthew 10:8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.
American King James Version×, Jesus told the disciples, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you've received, freely give."
It would take great daring to be willing to do those things, and I don't know. I've never laid hands on someone and just healed them dramatically, although I share with students I still remember one of the first times I did anoint sometime, he'd had a stiff shoulder. Afterwards, he went, "That'll do," and he walked out and went back to work. And I was just, my jaw was hanging open. I think God did that as a lesson to me, saying, "Frank, believe I can do this. When you anoint someone and ask Me to heal, I do." He doesn't always do it instantly, but He can. When God calls us to do great works, will we dare to do it?
Christ would later remind the disciples that to whom much is given, much will be required. And we've been given much, so we have a requirement. But as I said, I'm not talking about how we should go planning to work miracles. You can visit the pool and try to walk on water like I did. But, you know, as a matter of fact, it's funny. In the book of Acts, you can read the disciples doing these things. They healed people. They cast out demons. They literally raised someone from the dead. You don't read about them walking on water. I wonder if Peter's episode put them off of that one. I put that in my notes for humor, but they laughed a lot more in the morning.
But first and foremost, it's always been about the message, about the content. Now I want to continue on in Matthew because there's a bit more of Christ's instructions. Let's read in verse 24. He says, "A disciple is not about his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It's enough for his disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master." That's one of the things we need to do. Before we think about changing the world, we are called to change our lives. Being a disciple of Jesus doesn't just mean learning knowledge and information. It means becoming like Him. Imitate Him. Make His lifestyle our lifestyle. And that's what we're called to do.
Let's look at verse 26. "Therefore don't fear them. There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that won't be known." There's different ways to interpret that, but we see largely He's saying the message is going to get out there. Nothing is going to stay hidden. He says, "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops." We could say, like, at one point when the Pharisees told Jesus, "Tell these people to stop." He said, "If they would stop, the stones would cry out." If we don't preach God's message, He could raise children to Abraham out of the stones, but he wants us to do it. And He says in verse 28, "Do not fear those who kill the body but can't kill the soul. Rather fear him who's able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Now I don't want to get sidetracked on a discussion of why we know that this isn't about an immortal soul that goes to heaven or heal, but it's worth noting, Christ was telling him there's worse things than dying. Human beings can only take your physical life. We're focused on eternal life and God's Kingdom. God has the ability and the right to end life permanently. That's not His goal or His purpose.
Let's skip down to verse 38. He does tell us, "He who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." That means, you know, in that setting a condemned criminal had to carry that wooden beam with him to the place he would nail him to it and end his life. Once we take up the burden of being Christ's disciple, we're not allowed to set it down. We don't take a break. But who would want to? His way is the way. And He says, "He who finds his life will lose it." If we're worried about saving our physical lives or building a great life on earth, we could lose it. "But he who loses his life for my sake will find it." Meaning if we lose our life in the process of living God's way, you know, Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×is where Paul said that, "I live because Jesus Christ lives in me." I'm summarizing briefly, that we have God living in us, and that's true life.
He speaks about, in verse 40, "He who receives you receives Me, he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward." I wanted to get to the reward. Let's skip down to verse 42. "Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he'll by no means lose his reward." One of the reasons I wanted to get to the end is to remind us that while there is danger sometimes, we haven't lived a dangerous life usually in this world, but following Jesus Christ can be tough. He promised persecutions. Sometimes we have to suffer. It can cost us everything.
But there is a reward. The reward is life, and it's eternal life, happy life in God's Kingdom, a fulfilling, rewarding life that goes on and on. As I said, those disciples of Jesus, those young revolutionaries I've heard them call, they went on to do what He said. They did as they were inspired. There is a lot about what they did in the book of Acts. There is a shorter summary at the end of the book of Mark.
So if you'll turn quickly to Mark 16, Mark 16 beginning in verse 15, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel.’" Again, that's first. "Preach the gospel to every creature." Now we like to interpret that better, creation because I haven't been preaching to squirrels or chipmunks lately. It means to all creation, preach the gospel. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned." There's a lot of emphasis on belief. "And signs will follow those who believe: In My name they'll cast out demons; speak with new tongues; take up serpents; if they drink deadly things, it won't hurt them; they'll lay hands on the sick, and they'll recover."
As I said, we see in the first century Christ's disciples did this. How'd it turn out? There's a briefer summary here in verses 19 and 20. "After the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they, the disciples, went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, confirming the word through accompanying signs." They went out and they shared the message. They shared the good news.
I'm inspired by what they did. I think they dared greatly. They changed their lives. They began to change the world. They'll certainly work to change the world when Christ returns. But that was them. That was a long time ago. What about us? What about now? Does this still apply to us? I mean, I haven't sat around a fire with Jesus having Him tell stories and then tell me, "Frank, go out and lay hands on people. Go preach the gospel." But the Church has long taught, I believe correctly, that that commission has gone down through the ages. Each generation should dare to preach the gospel.
In John 17:20 John 17:20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
American King James Version×, you can note it if you want. I won't turn there, but as Christ was praying to God the Father at the conclusion of His last Passover on earth, He specifically said that He was not praying just for His disciples then and there but for those who would believe through their work. And that's us. That work has gone on.
I would like to turn to the book of 2 Timothy. 2 Timothy, beginning in chapter 2, there are a couple scriptures in this book that I find very inspiring. 2 Timothy 2:2 2 Timothy 2:2And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
American King James Version×, Paul is writing to a younger minister and he says, "The things you've heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." You heard it from me. Teach others, and make sure they can teach others also. You know, we summarize that sometimes with a three-word phrase: pass it on. Each generation should do this. So I think that's come to us. I think that's why we know what we know. Men did this, men and women.
Let's go back to chapter 4, the same book, chapter 4 verse 2. Again, here's a little encouragement. "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching." Now I take these scriptures personally because, as you've heard, you know, I have the privilege, and it's a great blessing but also a responsibility to teach here at Ambassador, right here in this room, and several others here do. And it's not something that we take lightly. But Paul didn't write this for us, not us alone. All of us have an opportunity and a chance to do that. Those of you who are parents, you know more than anyone, and those of you who aren't parents yet, your time is coming. I say that having a younger child.
I think the commission that Christ gave to His Church continues. The Father called us to dare greatly. Dare to do the work that Christ gave us. Now can I be a little more specific? I wrote down that I should. I mean, should I climb up on my house and preach from the rooftops? I'd get some interesting looks from my neighbors if I did that. What's the first thing we should do to do the works of Jesus Christ? I'm arbitrarily saying that this is first, but there's an interesting answer you'll find in the Book of John in chapter 6. John 6 beginning in verse 28, this is another case where Christ had fed a multitude. Then He started telling them some things that were difficult to hear, but they wanted to test and they wanted to ask Him questions.
In John 6:28 John 6:28Then said they to him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
American King James Version×“They said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered them and said, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’" Do you want to do the work of God? The work of God is believe Jesus Christ. Now believe is a synonym I believe, well I know it is, and I've looked into the Greek. I didn't write down the Greek word so that I can mispronounce it for you, but it's a synonym for trust, for faith. We're to have faith. We're to trust. How simple is that?
In the world today, we have a world in turmoil. There are riots. There are people wanting to change our system of government in this nation and I believe in others. There's a disease plague that's made it seems almost everything uncertain and changeable. One expert will tell you, "This is the situation, and you have to do this." And another expert will tell you almost the exact opposite. They'll say, "That expert doesn't know what he's saying." In an uncertain world, who do you believe? Who do you trust? Well, I'm not going to comment on any experts, but first and foremost you trust Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
As Peter said, when Christ said, "Who do you believe I am?" He said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Above and apart from anything else we have to believe that. That's what matters. That's an important and daring work. To believe God means believing His Word, this. And for one thing, to believe it you got to know what it says, right? That's why I commend our students that have come in. It's not an easy thing to say, "I'm going to set aside nine months and come five days a week and spend hours." I shouldn't tell you the bad things now. It's just starting. You know, there are times. We always say at the beginning of the year it's going to go by like that, except at some point in February the days will last forever. And then they'll go by like that, but we've got to study it, know it.
If we're going to preach it and share it with others, we have to. Most of us in this room have been doing that for years. I know that's why you're here. You're here because you have learned. You do believe. To risk sounding like a Journey, we have to keep on believing. We have to keep trusting Jesus Christ, and we have to trust Him. Remember one of the things that Mr. Kubik mentioned in a message he wrote yesterday. To be His disciples we have to have love for one another. That's how people will know we're His disciples.
And at a time when there have been disagreements in the Church, you know, "I'm not sure if this should be our policy. I'm not sure if we should be going here or doing that. I'm not sure that we shouldn't do this." Do we have the faith to show love to our brother? Do we have the faith to focus on the fact that we got to believe Jesus Christ and His Word and be focused on getting that message out and not be distracted by some things that are less important? So again, it's a fundamental work. The works of Christ, believe, trust.
Now I'm not going to go back to read the Scriptures I read, but obviously preaching His message is an important thing. Share the word of God. Again, preaching on the housetops. Christ also taught us that you are the light of the world, and it's not to be hidden under a bushel. We all know light is seen and not heard. By the way, Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×is that reference. I won't turn there because I'm running out of time. But “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify the Father.”
We live in a world today where Christian principles are mocked, even hated. Do we dare to let people see us live a lifestyle based on those principles? That can come out in different ways. When we were not holding services here because it was prudent to practice an extreme form of quarantine, we were meeting at home. I wanted to make sure I was presenting my best, so I got up, I put on my suit, tied my tie. Interestingly I didn't put on my church shoes. I thought that was amazing. I went two months without wearing them. I thought, are they still going to fit? That's aside.
But here we are. We get in the living room. We get on the Roku TV. Then there's a knock at the door. "Can Connor come out and play?" And they never expressed it, but I could see the kids look in. You see that look on their face. They're thinking, "What are you doing? You're wearing a dress and a skirt, a suit, and a tie? It's Saturday afternoon?" Now they didn't ask, but if they or their neighbors were to come and say, "Hey, what are you guys doing?" I'm celebrating the Sabbath. I'm joining my congregation for services. You might have had it. Have you ever had your neighbors look at you funny? Saturday morning, you're dressed up. You're carrying a briefcase. You know they're thinking, "That guy is in the CIA. Maybe he's a hitman." No. I am a Christian. I am keeping the Sabbath. I need to be ready to dare to let people see me do this and to do more, to dare to speak.
1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
American King James Version×is a very common scripture. Many of you have it memorized. I know about 19 or 20 of you who will before the year is over. "Sanctify the Lord in the your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense." The old King James said to give an answer. It means to give an explanation. If anyone asks you of the reason of the hope that is in you, and with meekness and fear, I hope God's Word is in us with meekness and fear, but how we answer should be meekly. Not, "What do you mean what is the Sabbath?" No, let me explain to you. And we need to be willing as we have an opportunity. It's not always easy. It seems like it's getting tough.
Now we are part of a media work. And as I thought about this, the church has been somewhat daring. We are part of a church that's been willing to be at the forefront of trying new methods and technology. When we started printing a mass-circulation magazine, that was less common, and then moving to radio, having this message out there on thousands of stations, then moving to television, now on the internet.
In the council meetings last week Peter Eddington reported we're again in the top 10 of religious sites. We're up there with churches that have memberships in the millions and budgets that would dwarf ours. He says we're punching above our weight partly because we've been daring. We've been willing to try advertising in ways that are unorthodox or that cost money when some people say perhaps the money should be spent here or there. I'm pleased to be part of a work that does that. I'm also pleased that there are experts upstairs that know how to make those decisions. I don't have to do that.
But, you know, we have different ways that we do get to share. We can share it with our neighbors. We have the internet. You could put something on the web that'll go around the world. We want to do it with meekness and fear. We want to do it with love of our brethren, certainly. Knowing what we know, are we willing to dare greatly? Dare to do the work of God, to believe Him?
I know I'm running out of time, but I want to emphasize one more scripture that talks about how it is we're able to do that. It's in 1 Corinthians 12. This has been a theme I find myself coming back to because I guess I'm intrigued by it, because in the business of education, my business is one of message, of words, and that's a lot of what we've been speaking of. God has a message. 1 Corinthians 12, I'll set the stage in verse 4 and then dropdown. He says, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." That's a powerful thing. Now the Holy Spirit itself is the most wonderful gift, but through God's Holy Spirit He sometimes gives us specific gifts. What kind of gift? Can I fly? Can I turn water into wine like Jesus did? Can I finally walk on the water?
Let's read starting in verse 7. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the prophet of all." Oh, well I want to fly, but how is that going to prophet all of you? So he gives us gifts that'll help others. "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,” talking a lot about words here. "To another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing… to another miracles or gifts of healing,” the same Spirit working of miracles. “To another prophecy." Prophecy. That Greek word is profuto, which we know in many times refers to inspired speaking. We're back to words again. That's not bad though. I make it sound like I'm disappointed, but this is telling us what are the gifts that we need to do God's work? "Another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another interpretations of tongues." Again, the word, the message.
So yeah, there can be healing. There can be working of miracles. Believe me, if I suddenly had the power to heal COVID-19, I'd be pretty popular. And I'd go and do it. But when Christ sent the disciples out He didn't tell them, "Go out and heal people and cast out demons." That came after He said, "Go out and preach. Teach this Word." He told them, "You are a light." And I'm telling us we are a light. We're to be an example.
Among these gifts are faith and wisdom. Can God give us faith that we don't have or we're short on it? He can. He can give me wisdom, I hope so that I can give an answer with meekness and fear and discernment. Can I discern a person's spirit? When you're reading something on Facebook post that makes you angry, pray for discernment. When I say that to you, I'm telling me. Frank, pray for discernment. Before I start to type, I don't know how many times I've started. “Frank, stop. Don't do that. Discern what my spirit is.” Sometimes my spirit gets a little riled up, and I need to calm it, and I need to seek God's guidance. And through His Spirit, He will give it.
Think about that when we have disagreements. God didn't commission us for certain things. Fast time on an obstacle course? I think obstacle courses are cool, but that's not what it's about, otherwise, my sermon would have been done 40 minutes ago or sooner. He gives us the task of sharing His message. We've got a message to share. We share it through our visible example every day, I hope. We share it with our words, not as often but when we have opportunity. We can do this if we're daring. We need to be willing to take a risk, sometimes risk embarrassment, risk being ridiculed, risk facing antagonism. We need to dare to be different and dare to be uncomfortable, but it's not without reward.
We've been called to be children of God, to have eternal life, and again, not a boring, blasé life but a happy, exhilarating, fulfilling life in the Kingdom of God. That's a goal that's worth daring to attain. If we dare greatly we can change our lives, and God will use us to change the world.