The Even GREATER Commission for the Church

Concerning the title, “The Even GREATER Commission for the Church” ….[1] We are all familiar with what is called the Great Commission – to preach the gospel and make disciples.  In his epistle to the Church in Ephesus, I believe Paul is explaining what could be called the “Even Greater Commission”.[2]  Paul wrote: “… the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[3]

This passage tells us that since eternity past, God has had a purpose for the Church.  It tells us that He created all things with an intention, and that intention was to create a Church which would now demonstrate His wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Many might respond to this commission with “binding and loosing”[4] and “reviling angelic majesties”[5], which all sounds quite courageous;[6] but the real power is in surrender.

The Way of the Cross

In considering how the Church is to fulfill this commission, we need to realize that all God’s eternal purposes are accomplished in Christ.  The Church, therefore, as the Body of Christ, should be in His image.  The apostle Peter points out that Jesus gave us “an example for us to follow in His steps”.[7]  Jesus set an example for us by denying His will for the sake of the Father.[8]  We need to consider how Jesus accomplished this commission.  The Scripture is very clear that it was accomplished through The Way of the Cross – self-denying obedience for God’s sake.

Jesus, in fact, commissioned us to walk the same way – The Way of the Cross.  It’s recorded a number of times in the Gospels: “Deny your self, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”[9]  The commission, which will disarm the powers of darkness, make a public spectacle of the powers of darkness, triumph over the powers of darkness – punish the disobedience of the powers of darkness – is that the Church make known – that is, demonstrate – the self-denying obedience of THE CROSS.  The Way of the Cross, as defined by Jesus Himself, is to deny your self for God’s sake.  Every act of self-denying obedience for the sake of God is a reiteration of the Cross of Christ.  When THE CROSS is reiterated in this way, a spiritual, legal and moral power is released, and the powers of darkness must bow the knee to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.[10] This may be the meaning of Paul’s enigmatic phrase: “…filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”[11]  In any case, THE CROSS is a demonstration of the self-denying love nature of God Himself.  Christ demonstrated this on His cross at Calvary.  When the Body of Christ, the Church, rises above self-preservation to a self-denying obedience in demonstration of THE CROSS, God will be finished with the powers of darkness and they will be condemned to their eternal punishment.

For us to rise up to this commission, we must free ourselves from the mold of the powers of darkness.  We must, by growing in faith, be set free of intimidation and fear regarding the security of our physical lives and finances – be set free of manipulation and seduction regarding our personal comfort and happiness.

To be free of the powers of darkness, we will need to grow in our faith – dependency on God.  But we will also need to be free of sin.  While the warfare involves the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, the specific battlefield for which we are responsible is the battlefield of our own Flesh.  The various New Age – type philosophies and religions speak in terms of “positive and negative energy”, recognizing neither God nor the powers of darkness of the Scriptures.  But, the Scriptures speak in terms of sin and righteousness.  The powers of darkness feed off the sins of human beings – we empower them with our sin.  When we act with righteousness – when we obey God, denying ourselves for His sake, like Christ, we disarm the powers of darkness, we make a public spectacle of the powers of darkness, we triumph over the powers of darkness.  I want to point out that this spiritual power is not human – it is not ours.  But our self-denying obedience releases the wisdom and power of the Cross of Christ.  The power that is exercised is something legal – it is moral power.  These words are inadequate; but, the power that is released is something of the very nature of God Himself which overcomes all evil by the purity of its goodness.

So, how we can deny our selves for God’s sake on the battlefield of the Flesh in ways that will overcome the powers of darkness?  By overcoming temptation.  By overcoming sin.  By overcoming self-centeredness.  By overcoming “the deeds of the flesh”.  All sinful deeds spring from self-centeredness, in contrast to “the righteous deeds of saints”[12] which are God-centered.  Jesus laid down His life for a Bride who will love Him more than herself.  The Lord purposed to have a Church that would demonstrate the wisdom and power of self-denying obedience in order to put to shame the powers of darkness.

There is a partial list of the “deeds of the flesh” in Paul’s epistle to the Church in Galatia. [13]  On the battlefield of the Flesh, when tempted with sins of self-indulgence – like the various types of sexual sin, drunkenness, drug abuse, partying – instead of indulging self, we can choose to deny self for the sake of God and overcome the powers of darkness.  When tempted with sins of self-exaltation – like hatred, strife, jealousy, anger, conflict, factions, and envy, we can choose to deny self for the sake of God and overcome the powers of darkness.  When tempted with sins of self-preservation – like idolatry and selfish ambition, we can choose to deny self for the sake of God and overcome the powers of darkness.

So, in response to the Lord’s “Even Greater Commission”, let us purpose to overcome these sins of self-centeredness.  Let us become that God-centered Bride who loves Jesus more than herself.  Let us become the Church that makes known THE CROSS – demonstrating the wisdom and power of self-denying obedience, putting to shame the powers of darkness.

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“The Even GREATER Commission for the Church” is an excerpt from the eBook “The Cross & The Powers of Darkness”, Pages 32-37. See the corresponding eBook and Audio Message on our website.

At Christ’s Table – ACTpublication © 2013

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

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[1] In no way do I wish to diminish “The Great Commission” to make disciples of all peoples. (Matthew 28:18-20) What I have in mind is Jesus’ statement, “… will do even GREATER works ….” (John 14:12)

[2] John 14:12

[3] Ephesians 3:9-11 (NKJV).  The tense of the Greek verb, gnorizo, is passive tense.  i.e. The subject of the sentence, “the manifold wisdom of God”, receives the action, “to make known”, (Greek) dia, “by”, of “through” (the agency of) “the Church”, “to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”.  The issues at hand are: What is ”the manifold wisdom of God”, and how is the Church to “make (it) known”?

[4] Matthew 18:15-18

[5] Jude 8-10

[6] See APPENDIX p.39

[7] 1 Peter 2:21

[8] Matthew 26:39; Matthew 16:21-23

[9] Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23

[10] Acts 5:30-31

[11] Colossians 1:24

[12] Revelation 19:8

[13] Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB & GWT)

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Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith