The word used in the Greek, which most translations have noted as “observe”, actually means “to obey, to guard, to keep, to undergo something”. That changes the whole context of this passage, doesn’t it? The Message translates this verse as follows: “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
As I read this passage this morning, my spirit seemed to be leaping for joy within me. I know it sounds strange, but whenever I read the Scriptures, the truth just resonates throughout my whole body and I am so filled with the Spirit that I cannot help but rejoice, praise and worship the Almighty God, Creator of all things.
I want to encourage you today. Whether you are a new believer or have been walking with the Lord for many years, this verse should give you hope and strength. If you are reading this website, you are either searching for God (or His answer to your need) or you are a bride of the Bridegroom who is seeking fellowship with other brides who are so in love with the Lord that they hunger to be His presence.
Do you, dear one, long to be in HIs presence? Are the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart acceptable (pleasing) in His sight? Do you love to praise and worship the One who gave it all?
Or, are you tired? Have you been in a place where you feel like you can’t do anything right? Are you searching and not sure what you are searching for? Maybe you go to church and it seems to be no different from the rest of the world? Or maybe it is one that seems very legalistic and you feel judged. DON’T GIVE UP!
I too look around and see the broken body of Christ and my heart aches. But it is not hopeless. Look at the above verse again. Jesus had just told His disciples to go out into all the world, the church today refers to this passage as the Great Commission. But you don’t have to go to a foreign country, just look around you. God calls you just where you are. You say you aren’t qualified? God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called! How are you trained? By the Holy Spirit, stirring up in you a hunger and thirst for righteousness that did not come from your flesh. You begin to fall in love with the Word and it begins changing your thoughts, your words, your actions. You begin to see the world through the eyes of Christ. Your selfish desires begin to fade and you have the desires of God’s heart.
When we are reborn, there is a transformation in mind, soul, and spirit. In writing to the church of Thessalonica, Paul is commending the believers and tells them, “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,” (1 Thessalonians 1:9) (emphasis mine) Did not Jesus tell us in each of His teachings to “obey” the Word He had spoken? Why? Was He trying to control us and make us robots? NEVER! He was teaching us how to live by the Spirit of God! The Holy Spirit came to live in us and we now have the Living God inside of us to guide us and direct us! Need proof?
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
What do we do with these teachings the Holy Spirit will remind us of? We teach others to live their lives according to this manner. And there’s the problem. We can’t teach others what we aren’t willing to do. That’s why our churches are broken, why those who want to know Christ are not being fed the pure Word. There has been such an emphasis on “go” but they didn’t “go” with the word of God; they went with their own agenda, with their own interpretation; they went without the blessing of God.
Jesus gave His authority to the redeemed to teach them exactly what He taught in the Scriptures. These aren’t good suggestions, He gave us the keys to the victorious life by following His teaching. Our job? To be in total agreement with Him and walk in His instructions and teach others to be of the same mindset.
As I thought about the wording in the text, I felt the Holy Spirit pointing out that Jesus didn’t tell us “to do” this, but rather to obey Him (even observe the way He lived His life). Is there a difference? I think so. In the Torah the Israelites did not have a personal relationship with God and instead followed laws, did the works, they were told to do. When Jesus came to earth, He came to fulfill that law, not do away with it, but the difference is that we have a personal relationship with the Lord and are transformed to become like Him, WHEREBY WE ARE EMPOWERED TO KEEP HIS LAWS BY THE INDWELLING SPIRIT OF GOD (1050 IN THE N.T.). I John 2:4 makes it clear, The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he reminded them that they had exhorted, encouraged and implored each one to be obedient to and teach others the gospel, just as they were taught, “so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12) He continues in the next verse: “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) (emphasis mine)
Perform its work in you who believe...this transformation/regeneration is for the witness of the gospel, as well as for we who believe. Look at the next step in this walk of faith, “so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
Can you envision standing before the Lord Jesus Christ and hearing Him say “Well done good and faithful servant”? That is what we will hear when we are obedient to the pure Word of God, not because we have to, but because we allowed the work of the Holy Spirit to progressively teach, train, discipline and lead us into all truth.
As I typed the above, I was given a picture of what our walk would look like if we submitted to the authority of Christ: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?,,,” (Song of Solomon 8:5) His left hand will be under our head (authority) and His right hand will embrace us (love, protection, shield). (Song of Solomon 8:3) The Bridegroom will have put His seal over our heart, for His love is so strong that nothing can destroy it, let His word give us a full description:
“Put me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the LORD.” (Song of Solomon 8:6)
Dear Lord, O how my heart longs for the completion of the regeneration of my soul, how I hate the sin that sets a trap. But because of Your great love You prepared the way for my salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ! Lord, just like the bride in the Song of Solomon, we must walk with You and allow Your discipline to teach us how to walk in agreement with You. We need to be taught and learn how our pride and self-will is destroying us and leads us in the path of destruction. But You love us and stand at the door and knock each time we blow it. It is up to us to respond and open that door and invite You in and to repent and be made well. Thank You for Your Word which is not a mystery to those who are Yours! Amen.