The Word for today:
If I had to name just one, I'd say that the most important book of the Bible is Matthew. Jesus' final words in this most important book have come to be called The Great Commission:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
***I'll bet that I'm older than most of you. And in my heart of hearts, I'm the nerd of nerds. So, by age and temperament, I'm out of style. But insofar as carrying out The Great Commission, I am "with it."
Well, actually, I'm not with it. But my wife is. I was happy to be writing a monthly column for our church newsletter until Shelley said I should write a daily "blog." I'd heard the term, but wasn't quite sure what it meant. So Shellster explained it to me.
The next day (9 months ago) I posted this blog's first entry. For the first month or two, only a handful of people were reading it. As of now, about 500 persons per week open and read it.
I just googled "average church size." One in 24 churches in the USA has 500 or more people attending on a given Sunday. That means that in just 9 months, more souls "hear" the Word of God proclaimed through this one blog than those who hear the weekly sermon at a relatively big church.
Some will want to diminish that statement. They'll insist on a 'but'--
"But those numbers aren't real. That's cyberspace. That's virtual, not real."
I beg to differ. I'm real, and whatever I know about the Bible was learned via the internet, at ttb.org. Every day for five years I sat for about an hour, pencil poised in my hand; stopping, replaying, and taking notes as old Doc McGee, the greatest Bible teacher this side of Jesus Christ, taught me (and a million more like me) day after day, line upon line, precept upon precept (1)--just like this daily blog.
It wasn't virtual to me, learning about the real Jesus, as the kingdom of God stormed my soul.
Now don't tell the traditionalists, who have a vested interest in that "real" brick and mortar church on the corner; don't tell them that the Bible itself is virtual--it's the virtual Jesus. My trusty old KJV and your spiffy new NIV are just as virtual as the WWW (World Wide Web).
The Bible is a printed Word, expressing the Word made flesh. Whether the Word appears on a page or on a monitor or on an iPhone (or iPod or iPad) makes no difference to God. What makes a difference to God is whether His Kingdom is advancing.
Jesus' Great Commission to his disciples is to--
1. Go into all the world. That's the internet's specialty. Give the WWW a check.
2. Make other disciples. That would be me, and perhaps you. Give the WWW another check.
3. Baptize those new disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. The WWW can't transmit water. Leave this one unchecked.
4. Teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded us. Check.
The unchecked item is the only part of the Great Commission that the WWW can't facilitate. If you haven't been baptized, go and find a disciple--a follower of Jesus. Preferably, according to the Great Commission, it should be a person who is instrumental to your faith--a person God used as an instrument to bring you to faith in Jesus.
If that instrumental disciple is a pastor, he'd be the one. If that instrumental disciple is your next door neighbor, or a guy at work, or even your fourteen year old daughter--s/he'd be the one. Tell that disciple you would like to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then arrange to get wet.
And if ever this blog becomes instrumental to your faith and awakens a desire to publicly identify with Jesus, I am a baptizer, Pastor Joe (a regular contributor) is a baptizer, and one or both of us will gladly baptize you. You can contact us via Facebook or via the comments function of this blog. (I'm tapping this out on a keyboard in Lockport, New York, USA. If we are too far away, find a geographically closer disciple, and s/he will just as gladly dunk you!)
The virtual baptism of water is a picture of the real baptism of the Holy Spirit. The virtual Word of God--on paper or via blog--is an expression of the Word made flesh, who shed real blood so you can be a real son or daughter of God with a real immortal body in a real forever in a real place called heaven.
"All authority in heaven and on earth (and in cyberspace) has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
(1) Isaiah 28:10