The Lord’s Men

We have been looking at Matthew 10:1-2 the past several weeks where Jesus called His disciples and then sent them out as Apostles. We have also seen that in all four list of the disciples in the Bible that they are in groups of 4. (Matthew 10:2-5, Mark 3:14-19, Luke 6:13-16 and Acts 1:13) These groups have diminishing intimacy with Jesus with group 1 Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John being the closet to Jesus. Group 2, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew not as intimate. Group 3, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot being the least intimate. We have also seen that Simon Peter is always listed first because he was the foremost disciple and Judas Iscariot is last as he is the one who betrayed Jesus. Though the order of each list may vary the groups are always the same in Leadership. Simon Peter in Group one, Philip in group two, and James the son of Alphaeus in group four. The question has been in our study what kind of men did Jesus chose to be the ones to turn the world upside down with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ?

We have realized that these men were not the most qualified men to be found. They were common folk, they were not educated men, (Acts 4:13) and they did not have great talents. These men were willing to drop everything in their lives and follow Jesus, these men were willing to be completely committed to the task that Jesus gave them, and these men were willing to sacrifice everything for the purpose of their call, even death.

Jesus we know had many people following Him throughout Galilee, over a hundred who were with Him constantly. How did He know to pick the right twelve to accomplish the mission that He sent them on? In looking at the answer to that question we see the perfect plan for making disciples. If I had to find the right men to for such a task, I would take references, look at personal qualifications, give an aptitude test, maybe even run a credit check and look at the score. Twelve special men that would present a radical belief in a new perspective towards religion. A belief founded on love, a belief built on faith and not works, to build an everlasting Kingdom ruled on love for one another and not force upon each other. How would I find the right men? In answering that question we see the way that Jesus went about everything He did, through prayer to His Heavenly Father.

In Luke 6:12 we see this verse, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” It was after this night spent in prayer that Jesus chose the twelve men to become His Apostles. Granted one would betray Him, but this betrayal fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy concerning His death on the cross. Then Jesus called them as disciples and gave them power to cast out demons and to heal the sick. He called them as disciples and then trained them as Apostles. Matthew 10:1 Jesus sent them out on an intern trial so they could see firsthand the work in the great harvest field of the world. I am sure after this experience the three years of training that followed had a more profound effect upon them. Then graduation day came on The Day of Pentecost and they went out into the world as Apostles. This is the perfect plan of Jesus that we can learn form as well in our efforts to accomplish our calling as well. It is a simple four step plan that we all can follow successfully. Prayer, call, train and send.

The Church is in need of evangelist today. This is the calling of every follower of Jesus Christ. There is a part for each member of the body of Christ to play in evangelism. The evangelist does not work his profession on his own power, it is Christ living through Him in the Spirit of Truth. (John 16:13) Neither does the Evangelist stand on the stage of the world on his own accord, every soldier needs those who support him behind the stage. There is a part that we all can play, as we all have our own gifts of time, talent and treasure that has been given to us by the Lord. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) More than that, greater than the evangelist on the world stage, is the effective personal ministry of the individual who is eye to eye and heart to heart with a lost soul. It is there that one can personally express their love and concern for the destiny of one’s place in eternity. Christ lives within us! Do we believe in God? If He lives within us then we have the power of God to accomplish all things according to His will. (Philippians 4:13) We have the privilege of knowing the truth and the responsibility to share that truth to the lost in this world. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Corinthians 14:2) His will shall be done.

We are commanded to “Go and preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:7) How do we find who needs to hear God’s message of salvation? How many in your family need to know, how many of your friends need to know? Do you love them? Then don’t let them miss the opportunity to hear the truth. God knows who needs to hear His gospel, God prepares their hearts to receive the gospel, and God needs us to be His messengers of the gospel. There are people that know their need and God places them in our path. These are people of circumstance that happen to be brought to us. There are three things, I am sure, that we will be held accountable for and that is our time, talent and treasure. Someday we will have to explain how we used those gifts from God. If God brings someone into my path whom He has prepared to receive the gospel, then I do not want to stand before Him knowing that I let one of His children slip away. (Revelation 14:13)

There are people in this world that come into our lives and we know their need but they reject all our effort to share with them the truth of the gospel. There was a man that I once worked with who was a mild mannered type. He always kept his cool under many stressful situations. But if I ever mentioned the name of Jesus to him he would go into a fit of anger. All I could do was pray that the Lord would open his heart to hear the gospel. I prayed for him often even after we had parted paths in life. Several years later I went to Church in Plant City, Florida and asked where the men’s class was for Sunday school. I was directed and went and sat down in the class and waited for it to begin. As the men of the class flowed in to my surprise my old friend was in the group. To further my astonishment when the class began he was the teacher. Not always do we see the result of our efforts we make on behalf of people but we can rest assured that our God is faithful and He answers prayers. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) One of the greatest things we can do for a lost one is to get on our knees and pray for them. We may never know the result until we reach our heavenly home, but God does and the blessing of knowing we did our part is priceless.

It is never us that saves a soul that is a judgment and a responsibility not for us to hold. We are Christ’s ambassadors, representative of His Kingdom, and all we can do is speak on His behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:20) We are sowers of the good seed. Some plant, some water and some harvest, but God causes the growth. “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) We don’t know the value a person is to the Kingdom but God does. We don’t know the eternal effect one soul can make on untold lives throughout time. Little did Andrew know the day that he went to tell his brother Simon Peter about Jesus? But Peter went on to be the foremost in the beginning of the early Church. Look at the blessing that Peter has made upon our lives. Little did Stephen know as he was being stoned to death that his witness for Christ would have a lasting effect on Saul of Tarsus? Saul who later became the Apostle Paul and was the greatest missionary that has ever lived. Andrew shared with his brother the news of Jesus and Stephen’s death for his testimony of faith in Jesus influenced Paul. Perhaps a terrible price to pay but the result has saved millions and millions of lives from eternal destruction.

What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus? He is only calling us home to be in a right relationship with His Father in heaven. We must be willing to get out of the boat and walk across the raging sea of life with our eyes fixed upon Him. To accept His Word as truth and trust Him as we walk in faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) We must, as we travel along the dusty King’s highway, be willing to share the message of what it means to have Christ in our life. We are to go and preach that the Kingdom of God is at hand. (Matthew 10:7) We must answer His call. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

I share an excerpt from a sermon that my Father, Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick preached in Hinton West Virginia one Sunday morn. I have shared it with you earlier in this series but it is well worth repeating. I do not know who the author was but if my father read it, it is worthy to hear. One writer paints a picture of a supposed scene that took place in heaven upon Christ’s return. The Master and Gabriel went for a quick walk. The angel with eyes made tender by sympathy touched the nail prints and the scars made by the thorns and said, “The agony must have been terrible.” Jesus nodded assent and said, “I was glad thus to suffer to save the people.” Then Gabriel asked, “How is the world to know about this ‘so great salvation’? Jesus replied, “Andrew will tell Peter, Philip will tell Nathaniel, and they will tell others. Each individual will pass the news to another.” “But what if that fails,” Gabriel inquired. The Master answered sadly, “Then I will have died in vain for I have no other plan.”

I close with this question that each of us must answer before we depart this world. Will we perform our part in the plan of the Master?

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 15 2014

Durant Bible College

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