The Lord is my Shepherd – Psalm 23:2

 

My wife and I like to tease each other about our different perspectives on a restful vacation.  I think her motto is rush instead rest.  Abbie loves holidays involving Disney and Pigeon Forge.  Lot’s of going and doing.  For myself, look more towards camping and fishing.  I guess we each have a different perspective of rest and that’s okay.  As long as we sincerely get to recharge and refocus.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

In the first verse of the twenty-third Psalm, we learn that Jesus is our shepherd and he is all we truly need.  Now, we read in verse 2 a summary of God providing rest and sustenance.  Phillip Keller in the book, A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23, wrote that sheep will not lie down when there is fear of outside influences, friction within the flock, annoyance from flies or parasites and when they are hungry.  Those are all excellent preaching points about how unity is an endeavor (Eph. 4:3).  

The truth is that we really are like anxious sheep and for a good reason.  One out of four people deals with anxiety in some form or fashion.  Around 41% of employees report anxiety from work-related stress.  Over 50% of students from school-related stress and no wonder with recent events.  Amazingly, 43% of the USA uses prescription mood altering drugs.  For recreational drug use, 42% of users relate it to stress while over 70% of alcohol use is attributed to stress.

Our society won’t let you rest and nourish yourself.  We push, “I have not done enough,” instead of “I’m doing too much.”  We do not want to rest and we do not know how to rest.  We do not healthily handle stress.  We do not seek the provisions given by God to find peace and contentment. 

The Shepherd provides places of nourishment.

First, we are to be nourished by God’s Word.  The Word of God is like pure milk (1 Pet. 2:2), meat or solid food (Heb. 5:12-14), honey (Ps. 119:103), and more references like these.  However, two key verse that sticks out:

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Mt. 4:4

“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” – 1 Timothy 4:6

Food is essential for life.  Amen!  However, God’s Word has even greater value.  We will only find our nourishment in God’s Word.  If we are to become “whole” followers of Christ, we need a whole revelation of God, and that is the Bible.  C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”

Still, the question remains how does the Word of God lead us to rest?  I would like to borrow another illustration, this time from Charlie Brown.  My favorite comic strip of Charlie Brown is where Linus and Lucy are looking out a window at the rain.  Lucy quips that she is afraid of a global flood.  Linus, however, comes back to explaining God’s promises found in the early chapters of Genesis.  Lucy thanks Linus for taking a great load off her mind.  The final line is Linus saying, “Sound theology has a way of doing that!”  A healthy intake of God’s Word leads us to rest because it helps us see the world in God’s light and helps to develop our faith in Him.

The Shepherd provides places of rest.

Having a place of rest is a theme found all the way through the Bible.  In creation, we see God resting on the seventh day.  The Garden of Eden is described as a place of tranquility.  Israel’s promised is a place of earthly rest.  However, the Hebrew writer describes it as only temporary as an eternal rest still waits for God’s people (Heb. 4).  Jesus calls out to us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Mt. 11:38-29).  

The Lord has provided us the most significant sense of rest in Jesus Christ.  We can have rest from our sinfulness, guilt, and fruitless works.  If Jesus is not your highest desire, then search your priorities. Try and simplify your life.  Declutter so you can focus on Christ.  Only by seeking Him first and above all else will we find rest for our soul and rest from the things that cause stress.  When we seek other things first, we only hurt ourselves.  Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).  

Follow this link to the previous series post on Psalm 23:1

Statistics come from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website and Psychology Today.

The Lord is my shepherd – Psalm 23:1

The following series of blog post will explore each verse of the beloved twenty-third Psalm.  These posts are based on a set of sermons I preached through in the summer of 2017.  I pray for your soul to find encouragement, comfort, and challenge through this psalm.

Why Psalm 23?  Out of the 150 Psalms, which are short lyrical pieces for singing, Psalm 23 is well-beloved Psalm and is one of the most well known.  This psalm is attributed to David.  He wrote about the care and comfort God gives to his people.  Psalm 23 has provided a source of inspiration to people throughout time and continues today.

Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The Lord is my Shepherd – Yahweh Rohi

Shepherd language is all through Scripture.  It seems as if the shepherd metaphor is one of the Lord’s favorite descriptions of Himself.  Look at the sample of the Old and New Testament passages.

Isa. 40:11, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

Jer. 31:10, “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.”

Ez. 34:12, “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

Ez. 34:23, “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.”

John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

Heb. 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”

1 Pet. 5:4, “And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

The truth David shares essential to notice is “the Lord is my shepherd.”  The Lord is not distant and unmoved by our condition.  David noted a personal relationship with the Lord and the remainder of the psalm details the benefits of this close proximity to the Shepherd of our souls.  We are his sheep.  We are ignorant and straightforward because of the limitations of our nature.  Our nature is one that requires outside care and substance to sustain us.  The Lord is my Shepherd, and He provides the care I need.  All of us who are a part of the Lord’s flock can rejoice and be at rest because of our Shepherd.

I shall not want.

David does not mean we will receive all our desires.  It does not mean we won’t face difficulties.  The exclamation “I shall not want” means, I will not lack care from my Shepherd.  I shall not want for salvation, acceptance, or hope.  There is no other that can provide these blessings.  We will not find our salvation insufficient on the day of judgment.  God’s grace alone is sufficient for all my need in this present life (2 Cor. 12:9).  Only through our relationship with Jesus will we find peace in this world and hope for the world to come.  May we rest in this statement, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Follow this link to the next series post on Psalm 23:2

Three Reflections on the Old Testament Tabernacle

2018-02-13 14.23.11

We recently had the opportunity to co-host a course on the Old Testament Tabernacle in Ashland, Kentucky.  A long-time family friend facilitated the sessions and shared many fantastic points about the Old Testament Tabernacle.  After I few days of reflection, I want to offer three observations from this course.

 

 

The Old Testament and all that it contains is necessary for a full understanding of the New Testament and God’s present work.

This first reflection focuses on more than just the Tabernacle.  Paul wrote in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”  The Old Testament is not just a preface to the New Testament.  It is one Scripture and serves as a sturdy foundation for our faith.  Old and New Testament together provide a robust resource for the Christian.  And, much of the New Testament may not make sense without the Old Testament.

The Old Testament Tabernacle was an excellent illustration of Christ’s future work.

Hebrews 8:1-6, begins a connection that the author will further develop in chapter nine.  In 9:1-14, we are shown that the Old Testament Tabernacle is a “figure for the time then present” (vs. 9) and “patterns of things in the heavens” (vs. 23).  Furthermore, the language John uses in his Gospel also notes the comparable nature of Jesus and the Old Testament Tabernacle.  When John says “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” the translation is equivalent to saying that Christ pitched a tent and camped with us.  The deacon, Stephen, concluded his sermon to the point that God desired the Tabernacle (the tent) but was later given a stationary temple.  To which Stephen noted, “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? Saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?  Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:44-50).

We quickly become overwhelmed by any attempt to illustrate the greatness of God.

God is infinitely greater than we can ever imagine or attain.  Our attempts to talk about the Lord with any metaphorical illustration will fail to adequately describe any quality of Him.  Even with the Biblical examples, such as the Tabernacle, we will not be able to bring in to view any boundary of God’s greatness.  He is too wonderful to immense to be put into any of our boxes, concrete or abstract.

The Pastor 

Filling the office of the pastor takes a genuine calling from God.  The prophets, judges, and teachings foreshadow it in the Old Testament, and the New Testament defines it.  Church history has validated it, and culture has tested it.  Now, the office of pastor is losing its influence through misunderstandings, a lack of clear purpose, and because of those who have left it with a stained witness because of moral failure.  The fact remains, Scripture provides a definitive and robust understanding of the nature, purpose, and practice of the pastor.

Scripture shows there frequently were multiple pastors serving in a local community and assembly of believers.  The Apostle Paul “ordained them elders in every church” (Acts 14:23 KJV).  It may be that a church has need of multiple pastors for different ministries in a congregation, but the scripture lays out qualifications for those who would hold the office of pastor.  Various individuals having those criteria met find they are growing and being tested in those requirements at different times.  Nonetheless, they are signposts for what they need as a pastor and waypoints for growth.

Identifying these scriptural qualifiers of the pastor is essential.  Only then the pastor can chart their course for growth in the ministry.  This makes the building of a pastor a more important pursuit than just taking a person and putting “a stole around the neck” (Willimon, 2009, p.11).

Character, credibility, and competence are all issues that a pastor has to deal with.   The integrity and example that comes under the microscope of inspection by the believing and unbelieving communities elevate the importance of a pastor’s nature.  Scripture places the overall qualifier to a pastor as “blameless” (1 Tim. 3:1-7, cf vs. 2).  Some versions translate this as “above reproach,” and the or to be “well-thought-of.”  The scripture further qualifies this lifestyle of the pastor as faithful to their spouse (vs. 2), sober (vs. 2), gentle (vs. 3), have a good home life (vs. 4), experienced (vs. 6), along with several other traits.

Integrity

The daily grind of managing ministry, family, personal pursuits, and all the expectations that they entail will take their toll on the pastor.  Shortcuts and temptations will always come around and present themselves as viable options.  Willimon (2009) wrote regarding collapse under the intense expectancy: “The pastoral ministry requires a wide range of sophisticated skills—public speaking, intellectual ability, relational gifts, self-knowledge, theological understanding, verbal dexterity, management acumen, sweeping floors, moving folding metal chairs, serving as a moral exemplary, and all the rest. No wonder failure is always crouching at the door” (p. 23).

The nature of the pastor though is to remain steadfast and focused even when their world has become broken and is falling apart.  The integrity of the pastor is a source of strength in keeping their family together and the church together.  If they have penetrated the community with the love of God, their integrity may even help the community hold together in times of tragedy and destruction.

Example

The pastor is a model to show the congregation and world how they should be living as believers.  This type of lifestyle places an immense amount of weight on the pastor’s shoulders.  Yet, God and not the church has given the expectations, because people can become brutal in their expectations.   Shelley (1988) shared “They expect our family to be an example. This is legitimate and not a problem except when this means there are two sets of standards: one for the pastor’s family and one for everyone else” (p. 50).  In the epistle, 1 Peter 5:2, commands the pastor to be an example before the congregation.

Purpose

The pastor can be further explored for their use.  Adding to it the formal instruction of proclamation and intentional discipleship, the pastor informally fulfills their mission by example.  To the pastor, the writer, James, may have told them to not only be more than “hearers” of the word but also to become more than “proclaimers” (James 1:22).  The proclamation of the gospel and lifestyle of the person are essential to the purpose of the pastor.

The word that Paul used to describe the office of pastor translates literally as an “overseer” (Easton, 1893).  Oversight over the souls of men demonstrates a person has a higher vantage point than those around them and that they have the purpose of organizing and protection.  This title indicates a high purpose for the pastor as God’s primary instrument of ministry in the church.  “The difference between a pastor who visits preaches, and baptizes, and any other skilled layperson who performs these same functions is in the pastor’s “officialness” (Willimon, 2009, pp. 18-19).  The purpose of the pastor is first seen as the official leader of the church, but it is more accepted and spoken of with greater respect as the example, namely in the form of the shepherd.

Ezekiel portrays the leaders of Israel as bad shepherds because they did not feed the sheep, tend to their wounds, search for the lost, or lead.  This reminds the pastor that though they may have their shepherds head and heart standing higher than the sheep that surround them, their feet are all on the same ground level.  The pastor has to smell like the sheep.  The pastor has a purpose in being with the sheep and that all comes down to leading by example.  The goal of the shepherd is to lead the flock from one point to another point in life to another.

The Word

The ministry of the Word of God is the subject of exhortation from Paul to Timothy and Titus.  Teaching and preaching are both divisions of our proclamation.  Preaching has great potential and if it is done correctly can have eternal effects.

Pastoral work is not merely making social calls; pastoral work is also preaching.  The minister does not cease to be a pastor when he goes into the pulpit; he then takes up one of the minister’s most demanding and severe tasks.  Some of the finest and most useful of all a minister’s pastoral work are done in the sermon.  In a sermon, they can warn, protect, guide, heal, rescue, and nourish as “a shepherd who is skilled in his work never fails to feed his flock.” (Jefferson, 2009)

The Body

Pastoral care is “practical concern for the spiritual lives of individuals” (Galli, 1990, p. 11).  The body of Christ needs to be nurtured by the Word of God, but there also comes time for healing the body, strengthening the body, helping the body the through difficult times.  The pastor teaches the body how to care for itself by example, but the pastor has to continually find themselves among those in the body.  This can take place in many practical ways from visitation to small groups, pastoral counseling and more.  Pastoral care seeks to help people in tangible and intangible ways.

The office of the pastor can be a tricky one to define if consideration is given only to the current culture and people’s expectations.  There must be balance and check by the Holy Scriptures for the role of pastor.  The Word of God plainly defines the office by its nature and purpose and prescribes the work of it.

References

Easton, M. G. (1893). Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Galli, M. (1990). Introduction. In Mastering Pastoral Care. Mastering Ministry (11). Portland, OR; Carol Stream, IL: Multnomah Press.

Hatfield, Mark Vol. 12: Leaders: Learning leadership from some of Christianity’s best. 1987 (H. L. Myra, Ed.). The Leadership Library (50). Carol Stream, IL; Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Books.

Jefferson, E. (2009) The Minister as Shepherd. Bibliolife & Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

Shelley, M. (1988). Vol. 16: The healthy hectic home: Raising a family in the midst of ministry. The Leadership Library (50). Carol Stream, IL; Dallas, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub.

Willimon, W. H. (2009-02-01). Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry. Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Preaching in the New Testament

John the Baptist was the last Old Testament preacher (Luke 16:16), and Jesus became the first New Testament preacher.  In fact, for preaching, John Stott (1982) wrote, “The only place to begin is with Jesus himself” (p. 16).  Jesus, the quintessential person, finds Himself in the preacher’s shoes according to scripture.  In relating God’s Word to us, it was all part of God’s plan (Heb. 1:1-2).  Christ taught that His preaching was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Luke 4:16-21.  In doing so, the people were confounded but were also amazed at the authority and understanding. 

Jesus understands the purpose of God’s call to preach during His earthly ministry.  He did not back down even when those who He taught were planning his death. Thus, “Preaching in the New Testament seems to emulate the authoritative style of the Old Testament prophets” (Berkley, 1986, p. 54).  Jesus was unwavering in his message because He knew He was sent from God and the word He preached was given straight from the lips of God.  Thus one of the most significant tokens of spiritual preaching is recognized authority not in one’s ability but in the originator of the message, God, and that the messenger has been deputized to spread it. 

There is no doubt that Pentecost produced preachers.  Peter being the primary example.  Here we see that “Peter’s change from cowardice and denial to boldness and spiritual insight is another evidence that the age of the Spirit had dawned” (Utley, 2003, p. 27).  Peter’s Pentecost sermon could arguably be the epitome of spiritual preaching since undeniably the spirit was on the scene.  As Jesus shows the continuing authoritative sense of preaching from the Old Testament to the New Testament, Peter would be the advancement of it in the New Testament from Gospel to history. 

The message starting in Acts 2:14 was impromptu.  Peter did not have time to study as it was somewhat reactive to the crowd.  Therefore, we see spiritual preaching was still a message straight from God.  Secondly, Peter, the coward had a new uncanny boldness about him.  His preaching had authority.  Yet, there was a new dimension for spiritual preaching.  The atmosphere was celebratory, loud, and to some apparently obnoxious as the participants in the Spirit’s descending were accused of being drunk.  Peter’s reactionary preaching takes on a different tone than those possibly around him. 

By standing up, Peter signified the control he had over his body.  He was not intoxicated and had power over his physical capabilities.  More than the physical, Peter also could speak openly and control his speech.  It is essential to understand that Peter would have to “lift up” or “raise up” his voice in the situation that he was in.  In short, the spiritual preaching that Peter practiced was precise and controlled.  Even with a lack of preparation and experience, he maintained his composure.  He did what he needed to do in that environment.  He followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The final part of a spiritual preaching definition is that it fit the moment.  Peter’s sermon not only portrayed the truth, but he also embodied that truth.  Paul in his address at Athens has a philosophical flavor to it (Acts 17:16-34).  It too was impromptu, reactionary, but still fit the setting perfectly.  Spiritual preaching may create conviction, inspiration, hope and among other things, but it won’t create awkwardness.  It will feel like it belongs and is a timely Word. 

Stott (1982) wrote, “preaching as central and distinctive to Christianity has been recognized throughout the Church’s long and colorful history, even from the beginning” (p. 16).  Spiritual preaching focuses less on academic content and more on the author of the message, the authority, and awareness of the environment of the preacher.  As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:4 “and my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” And in 2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” Biblically speaking to us, spiritual preaching is sharing a message from God to His people with diving authority and an awareness of the people’s needs. 

References

Berkley, J. D. (Ed.). (1986). Preaching to convince.  Carol Stream, IL; Waco, TX: Christianity Today, Inc.; Word Books. 

Stott, John. (1982).  Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today.  Grand Rapids, MI. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.   

Utley, R. J. (2003). Luke the Historian: The Book of Acts.  Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International. 

 

Preaching in the Old Testament

Preaching the Word begins with God.  The first chapter of Genesis is filled with God’s creative power through His Words.  Peter Adams wrote, “The basis for any true human speaking for God is that God is a speaking God…and it is clear that the God of the Bible is a God who speaks” (Adams, 1996, p. 15).  What God has spoken was written down.  Thus the Old Testament prophets were commanded to perpetuate it.  Abraham was the original audience for the word in Genesis 12:1-3, but He would not receive the promises himself.  The Word of God would be for those that come after him.  Here we begin to see the outpouring of the revelation of God as it came to new people and the understanding of it (as far as they could).

The Old Testament is full of those that we would consider preachers.  There were three types: “the prophet who spoke a divine word from the Lord, the priest who spoke the law, and the sage who offered wise counsel” (MacArthur, 2005, p. 28).  They would reveal what the Lord had given to them for Israel, or they would unveil the meaning of it through instruction.  Many times we fail to see the preaching of the Old Testament for what it really is.

In the Old Testament, Moses was the great minister of the Word.  His duty was to receive the revelation, relay it to the people, and to write it down.  Moses argued against God that he could not preach because of his inability (Exodus 4:10-12).  God countered that He would “teach” him what to say.  Adams (1996) marks that, “The shape of the ministry of the Word in the Bible is already apparent: God gives his words to his servant, who is to pass them on to others” (p. 38).

It is here that spiritual preaching finds the first part of its definition.  Spiritual preaching is first a message from God to others through the preacher.  This brings to mind the originality of the message from God to the minister.  It does not allow much room for a preacher to receive his message from anywhere else but God.  Spiritual preaching finds its source of inspiration from God.  He is the one that gives the message to the preacher who in turn gives it to the people.

The second major preaching event happens in a post-exilic Israel.  While not taking place in the book after his name, Ezra the priest and scribe reads all the law to the people from a wooden podium, and then he and others illuminate the people of its meaning (Neh. 8:1-8).  The people were significantly affected by what Ezra preached.  They were attentive to the giving of it and thirsty for its understanding.  The question then is what made this spiritual preaching and what influence did that have on the people?

Again, Peter Adams (1996) shared that the common element of Old Testament preaching here is “the acceptance of the written or spoken Word as coming from God” (p. 41).  In other words, the people recognized the preacher as genuinely believing what was being preached.  There was an atmosphere of authority in their preaching.  Ezra and company spoke with conviction that God had given them the message and that they were called to share it with others.  Thus in the Old Testament, we find the second part of the definition of spiritual preaching is authoritative preaching.  Spiritual preaching has demonstrative power before others when preaching.

References

Adams, Peter. (1996). Speaking God’s Words: A practical theology of preaching. Leicester, England. Inter-Varsity Press.

MacArthur, John. (2005). Preaching: How to Preach Biblically. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Publishing

 

Scripture for the Great Commission

A few years ago, I handed out a survey to individuals in our local church, and one of the focal areas was evangelism.  The very last question in the survey asked, “How familiar are you with the great commission (with a rating of 1 being “what is the great commission” and 10 being “very familiar”).  The average was very high, but I do remember one person marking the lowest option.  I would be interested in doing the survey again to see if there have been any changes.  However, that one result serves to remind church leaders, that not everybody understands the individual and community of believers responsibility to share the Gospel.  The following five passage reflect a Biblical foundation for sharing the “good news of Jesus,” and all that phrase contains.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This passage is the primary text many calls the Great Commission.  It is indeed a robust group of verses at the end of Matthew’s Gospel account.  Because Jesus has all power in heaven and on the earth, we are given three commands and a word encouragement.  We are told first to “go.”  We are to be actively participating in the spread of the Gospel.  Second, we are to teach all nations (people groups).  What are we teaching?  Verse 20 tells us the scope of our message “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”  Finally, we are to baptize in the full name of God, “The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  In summary, we are to make disciples.  We are encouraged by Jesus’ continual presence in this ministry.

Mark 16:15

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Again, we have the command to go, but this time the scope of our travelers is “the world” and “every creature.”  The Gospel, as we said is the good news of Jesus and everything that phrase contains.  The Gospel is much more than belief in Jesus, and you get to go to heaven.  It is whole-life transformation and kingdom-on-earth-as -it-is-in-heaven.  This seems to be connected to the every creature idea.  While we understand that humans are the ones called to repentance, the good news of redemption, future restoration, and relief is for all creation.  For a further understanding of all of creation and redemption, you can look at Romans 8:18-23:  “18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Luke 24:46-49

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

In Luke’s first volume (2nd volume is the Book of Acts), we have some substantiation for why we serve in the Great Commission.  We seek to share the Gospel because Jesus Christ came seeking out our salvation.  We serve Christ because He did everything for us and calls us to carry the message of repentance.  Luke also hints at the continuing presence of Jesus by empowering us to carry out our Gospel task.

John 20:21

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

John gives a simple commissioning statement.  However, it resonates with Lukes text.  Since Jesus came to us, we are to go now to others.  As Jesus was sent into the world, we are sent into the world.  Believers are to continue the ministry of Christ.

Acts 1:28

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

This final passage, notes that by sharing the gospel, we are not just witnesses of God to other people, we are witness to God.  We are testifying before God that He is worthy of our service.  Also, we see that God will be truly and fully be with us through the Holy Spirit.  We are not doing the Great Commission by ourselves.  God is working through His Church to go to the uttermost part of the earth.