Monday, March 3, 2014

STANDING ORDERS (Mark Chapter 16)

Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”

The engine room of the Nuclear Submarine on which I served was a complex assembly of nuclear, electrical, and mechanical equipment.  An Engineering Officer was tasked with overseeing other officers and enlisted men in maintaining its safe and functional operation.  But the Engineering Officer was not always there in the engine room.  In his absence, he left to us “Standing Orders”—his specific commands regarding our responsibilities.  These Standing Orders, were written in a “Night Order Book” and remained in effect until they were rescinded.

Our Engineering Officer was not well liked by his crew.  One of the enlisted men decided that he would express his disapproval in an unusual way.  He took the Night Order book—a heavy duty, government-issue, green notebook—and work to fold it in half.  Back and forth, for an entire night, he folded the cover and the pages.  In the end the book was still readable, but hardly recognizable.  The Engineering Officer was none too pleased with what he found—we were all forced to stand at attention in the Engine Room until the culprit was identified.  It’s not a good idea to disdain the standing orders of an officer!

The message of Mark 16:15 has been called “the Great Commission,” and it is a fitting designation.  We have been commissioned by the One to whom “all authority…in heaven and earth” has been given (Matthew 28:18).  The Lord of the church has given standing orders to His church.  Who are we to disdain or ignore His command?  We have been commissioned to proclaim the greatest of messages, the gospel.  It is a glorious message of His glorious work bearing the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes (1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Romans 1:16).  It is a commission that speaks to the great need of sinners near and far.  We are ambassadors for Christ bearing to the lost a message of reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:19).  Through Christ God has provided a means of salvation (2 Corinthians 5:21).  It is a commission that is met with ample resources, the Lord Himself has promised to attend to us in the endeavor (Matthew 28:20).

The Apostles were the immediate recipients of the commission of our Lord.  What was their response?  The Spirit-filled Apostle Peter boldly proclaimed the truth of Christ’s death for sins and resurrection from the dead.  3000 souls were saved.  Then he healed a man and proclaimed the gospel again.  5000 responded.  The church was growing and the religious leaders of the day took notice.  They arrested Peter and John and interrogated them.  They brought them before the religious council and “called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18).  Their response? “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).  They would not be deterred from their Great Commission mandate.  They kept on preaching the gospel.  The apostles would all, except John, suffer martyrdom as a result of their obedience to the Lord’s command to declare the truth of salvation through Christ.

Every believer in Christ has the responsibility to bear witness to the truth concerning Jesus.  But it is more than a responsibility, it is a privilege.  In your relationship with Jesus God has imparted to you treasure of unfathomable riches (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 3:8).  God meant for you to share your treasure with others.  It is not just a Great Commission, it’s a privilege.

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