Saturday, June 14, 2008

PASSING THE BATON


You are probably all familiar with the 400-meter relay. When you see the Olympic Games on your television sets, you can see again the 400-meter relay team, which consists of 4 people who run a distance of 100 meters each. And when they have finished their portion of the race, they PASS a BATON to the next person in their team, until all 4 people have run their stretch of 100 meters, and the race is ended. Toward the end of this article, I will remind you again of this 400-meter relay race. The Bible says that we are in a race, and it is somewhat like a relay race. Therefore, the title of this article is, "Passing the Baton". The Lord Jesus Christ also had to "Pass the Baton" to those who were following Him. But first, we have to know why Christ came in the first place.

Why Did Christ Come? (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

Why did Christ come to this earth?


He came to purchase a Kingdom for Himself. But Jesus Christ is God. He was already King of this universe before the foundation of the world.


Why did He have to buy another Kingdom?




Let's read about this in a nutshell, here in the Gospel according to 2 Timothy 1:9-10,


2 Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us (talking about Christ), and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

2 Timothy 1:10
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:


What is God saying here?


Verse 9 says, "Christ has saved us and called us,.............. not according to our works".

Why not?

What is the problem with our works?

Well, even our best works are tainted with sin, and thus we cannot offer to God any of our works. That would be an insult to Him. This does not apply only to a few wicked people cut there. This applies to the entire human race. The Bible says that we all came into the world as sinners; enslaved to Sin and Satan from the moment we were born. And therefore, we all deserve the penalty for our sins, which is eternal damnation in Hell. That is why every one of the human race needs to be saved from Hell. The Lord Jesus Christ has purchased this salvation on the cross at Golgotha. God imputed the guilt for our sins on the Lord Jesus Christ, and then God made Christ endure the equivalent of what we would have to pay for our sins. This is called "Substitution".

And for whom did He purchase this salvation?

Verse 9 says for "US". Not for everyone in the world, but only for "us".

Who is "us"?

The end of verse 9 says, "which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began".

This agrees with many parts of Scripture where God says that He has chosen a people for Himself, which are called "the elect", and God chose His elect from before the foundation of the world. God chose His elect out of the sinful mess of mankind, and so God first had to wash their sins from their soul. This is what Christ did on the cross at Golgotha. That was the only day in the history of mankind that sins were forgiven by God. God forgave there at Golgotha the specific sins of all His "elect" whom He intended to save. This is called the "Atonement" of Christ. The Lord Jesus did not pay for the sins of all those whom He left on the way to Hell; the work of Christ's suffering cannot be frustrated. If He paid for the sins of someone who is still going to Hell, then His work would be frustrated. But that is impossible. Therefore verse 9 begins with, "Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling".

It means that in our lifetime, after we came into the world as wicked sinners, God called us in a special way through His Irresistible Grace. Through the operation of the Holy Spirit, God gave us faith to believe that Christ has suffered and died for a complete remission of our sins. This is what Christ came for. This is what He came to do. It was already determined, from before the foundation of the world, whose sins Christ should pay for, and that is why verse 9 says, "according to his own purpose and grace". We will now turn our attention to Luke 9:51-56. In this portion of the chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, we read that the Lord Jesus:

He Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem (Exodus 20:4-5, Luke 9:51-56. 44. Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 1:24)

He went on His way from Galilee to Jerusalem, and He chose to travel through Samaria.

Was the Lord Jesus afraid to die?

Of course not!

Perish the thought. He was determined to go to Jerusalem to be crucified and to die for all those whom He loved. His future suffering in the flesh did not make Him afraid of the cross. This is what the people in Hollywood do not seem to understand, because they have not studied the Bible. When they produced the movie, "The Passion of the Christ", they focused on His suffering in the flesh. This movie is a contemptuous insult of God and of His holy Word, and it is an attack on the nature of the work of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, by word and by deed, if you attend this movie, you make yourself guilty of blasphemy. An abbreviated version of Exodus 20:4-5 says, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image of God, ... for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God. visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me".


God says here that those who make an image of God are those that hate Him. and God will avenge Himself on those that hate Him. When we attend this movie, we join hands with the blasphemers in Hollywood, and bring our money into the treasure chest of Satan. God forbids us to do such a thing.

Let us return now to the Lord Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. We read in Luke 9:51,

Luke 9:51
If And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

What did He look forward to?

He looked forward to paying for our sins. We read in Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God".

"The joy that was set before Him" was His joy that the time was at hand to purchase all the elect, who had been sold into the hands of Satan at the time Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. That this was indeed the reason why "He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem" can be seen if you look to the left in your Bible at Luke 9:44. We see here the readiness and the resolution of the Lord Jesus Christ to go to the cross and to purchase His Kingdom. There was a fixed time for His sufferings, and death, and Jesus knew when this time was near. However, the Lord Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, which was one of the required duties of the Jews living under the Mosaic Law. Therefore, the time for Jesus to be crucified was still about 6 months away. But so much did the Lord Jesus look forward to that day that He already was rejoicing in anticipation. Let us apply this now to ourselves.

Are we afraid to die?

The Bible says that when we have been saved we become more and more Christ-like. We will look at physical death like He did. Think of this when you see the two oldest members of this congregation die and be put in the grave. I do not have to mention any names, but I know that we look forward to this day. "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you" (Philippians 1:24). Then we read in Luke 9:52,

Luke 9:52
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

Luke 9:53
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Think of the rudeness of the Samaritans in this certain village and their utter depravity. They acted like the Gadarenes, who begged the Lord Jesus to leave their territory, and like the Nazarenes, who tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. These Samaritans did not wait till they saw Jesus face to face. They ordered their village watch to keep Christ out.

And why?

Verse 53 says, "Because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem". In other words, just because He was on His way to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles, they rejected Him and wanted Him to leave their territory. They resented all Jews who wanted to be obedient to God's Word. And is that not also what we see today. There are many people today who will be persecuted for desiring to know more about the Bible, or who desire to be obedient to God's Word, or who desire to learn God's Word in our church. Our enemies have never checked out what our church believes, but they are against us from the start.

Luke 9:54
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

Luke 9:55
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

James and John were indignant. They wanted to kill the Samaritans for their inhospitable response. paraphrased Jesus said to them, "You are not aware what an evil spirit and evil disposition you are of, and how much there is of pride and personal revenge covered under this pretence of zeal for your Master". Moreover, "You do not consider what a good spirit, directly contrary to this, you should be of. You have yet to learn what the spirit of Christ and of Christianity is, even though you have been learning now for 3 years. You must love your enemies and call for grace from heaven, but not fire from heaven". And so we see that James and John were known for their mistaken zeal for Christ. Earlier in verse 49 they wanted to silence those who were not part of the apostolic band. And now they wanted to put the unbelieving Samaritans to death. That is why they were called "Sons of Thunder". But Jesus calmed them down. You cannot expect anything better from heathen Samaritans. Remember that we all started out like these depraved Samaritans. And then we read in verse 56,

Luke 9:56
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save (them). And they went to another village.

Here is a principle: Christ did not come to destroy men's lives. They are already on the way to Hell. In principle they are already destroyed in their soul. Christ did not come this time to cast them body and soul into Hell. That He will do when He comes the second time. But this time Christ came to preach the Gospel to ail the unsaved in the world. And when He left to go to heaven He "Passed the Baton" to His disciples, who then "Passed the Baton" to their disciples, and so on. It is in this context that 3 candidates showed up to preach the Gospel. And it was at this time that Jesus gave them:

Three Parables (Luke 9:57-62, Matthew 8:19-22)

The first candidate made a very large promise:

Luke 9:57-58
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

This typifies the condition of poverty of the Lord Jesus and His apostolic band. But what a discouraging answer. If Jesus had been on the evangelism team of a church these days, He would have been fired on the spot. The 2nd candidate seemed to ask only for a delay of one day.

Luke 9:59-60
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

In other words, if the nearest and dearest of our human relations stand in the way, and keep us from Christ, then move on to serve Christ, and let your dear family member be cared for by someone else. The third candidate seemed to ask for a delay of only a few hours.

Luke 9:61-62
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

We see in Matthew the same account as in Luke chapter 9, but with an additional few pieces of
information. Matthew mentions only two candidates, Luke mentions three candidates.

Matthew 8:19-20
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou
goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the son or man hath not where to lay his head.

From this we know that the first candidate was a scribe. A scribe was a very learned man, who made it his business to copy the Scriptures day in and day out.

Matthew 8:21
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Matthew 8:22
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me: and let the dead bury their dead.

From this we know that the second candidate was one of Jesus' disciples. A disciple has been tagging along with Jesus for some time. These two additional pieces of information were necessary to see the bigger picture. The third candidate was probably also a disciple.

The Scribe (Luke 9:57-58)

The first candidate was a scribe, a learned man. He himself was a teacher of the Law, but he recognized that Jesus was a greater teacher than he.

But what was his weakness?

He was not ready to endure the hardship that comes with discipleship. That is why Jesus answered him this way:

Luke 9:57-58
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Even the birds of the air have nests. These are the awful creatures that are pictured in Matthew 13 as representing the devil and his angels, who peck away at the word of God that was sown in a man's heart. Likewise foxes are also unclean animals. And in Luke 13 the Lord Jesus compared the wicked king Herod to a fox. So, foxes are not much nicer than birds of the air.

The Disciple (Luke 9:59-60)

The second candidate was a disciple of Jesus. He knew what was cooking!

But what was his weakness?

It was his great attachment to his family. So he invented this lame excuse: "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Nowhere does it say that his father has died. It was, and still is, a Jewish custom that if someone died, he or she would be buried the same day. (Remember, this happened to Lazarus and this happened to Ananias and Sapphira.) It would be highly unlikely that his father would have died just before Jesus and His disciples were ready to depart to go to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:59-60
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

So, What is the excuse that this second candidate gave?

"Lord, allow me to wait until my father has died, and then I will follow You". Paraphrased the Lord Jesus says: "It is not wrong to love your family, but I have to come first, before your family. Let the unsaved (spiritually dead) take care of your father's burial, but your priority is to follow Me. And go preach the Kingdom of God, not later, but now.

Another Man (Luke 9:61-62)

The third candidate also seemed to be a disciple of Jesus. There is no indication that he was a stranger just passing by. This third man had the most innocent looking excuse from all three, if anyone's request should have been granted, it was this man's. But Jesus looked into this man's heart, and what He saw was also not very pretty.

Luke 9:61-62
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Once you put your hand to plowing the field and sowing the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ, do not look back in regret. That is what Lot's wife did, and you know what happened to her. In short, none of these three deserved to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus.

Do we deserve to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?

NO Not at all! But the amazing thing is: One of the three qualified.

How can we see that?

Paraphrased, to all three candidates the Lord Jesus says:

Count the Cost (1 Timothy 2:12, Luke 9:59-60, 23, 14:25-27, 33)

But only to one of them the Lord Jesus said, "Follow Me".

Can you see that the words Jesus spoke to the 2nd man are different from those He spoke to the 1st man and to the 3rd man?

And why were all these three men?

Of all the disciples the Lord Jesus had, and of all the disciples His disciples had, there was not one woman to whom the Baton was passed.

Why is that so?

God laid down His rules for leadership of the church in 1 Timothy 2:12, "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence".

This is the Word of God, and God does not contradict Himself in other parts of the Bible. These were the rules for the New Testament church. Moreover God said in 1 Timothy 3 that a Deacon of a church must be the husband of one wife. God laid down the same rule for an Elder of a church: He must be the husband of one wife. The Pastor is simply a preaching Eider.

Why then are there so many churches where women are Elders, and Deacons, and even Pastors?

These churches are not faithful to the Bible. These are churches that have already drifted into apostasy, because they have abandoned the infallibility of the Word of God. They see in the Bible many contradictions and errors, and now it is up to them to straighten out God's Word, as if God was not able to do it Himself. However, the Bible is not on trial, but mankind is on trial. To the 2nd candidate the Lord Jesus said, "Follow Me".

Every person to whom the Lord Jesus said "Follow Me" became a follower of Jesus.

How could it be otherwise?

When Jesus gave a command, it was a command from God, and no one can frustrate God. His grace is irresistible. Initially we may put up all kinds of objections, like this man said, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father". But the Lord neutralized this objection also. "Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God". Here is another direct command from Jesus: "Preach the Kingdom of God", and do it now, not later. There is no mistake. This 2nd candidate was one of the elect children of God, and he was appointed to be a preacher. The other two candidates were only rebuffed, but they were not called to follow Jesus. It is even possible that they were not saved. The Scribe had probably more credentials than the other two, but he was not called, and thus he most likely never made it to the rank of "preacher".

Who is a "disciple" of Jesus?

Everyone in the family of God is a "disciple" and a "follower" of Jesus. Everyone who becomes saved is in the family of God, men, women, and children. They are all "witnesses", but only men can be appointed to be preachers and teachers of the Gospel.

What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus?

"You Must Be Born Again"!

There is no other way. Only when we have become "born from above" by God the Holy Spirit are we willing and able to bear the responsibilities of discipleship.

Luke 9:23
And he said to them all, If any (man) will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Is this a command to preachers of the Gospel only, or is this addressed to everyone who is saved. It is addressed to everyone who became saved, because we read in verse 23 literally, "He said to them all, if anyone desires to come after me". This is a command to all Christians. This is certainly not comfortable. Does anyone want to be a Christian, then count the cost. And Jesus does not make it easy for people to commit to the Christian life. We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. No natural man in his right mind is willing to do this. That is why we must be "born from above" before we are willing and able to do this.

In Luke 14:25 the Lord Jesus repeated what He said in Luke 9:23, but now He said it in such a way that there can be no escape for whoever is looking for loopholes. He says in:

Luke 14:25
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,

Luke 14:28
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

This needs some explanation, because if we are to love our enemies, then certainly we must love our family. But Jesus says, we must be willing to quit that which was very dear to us. rather than quit our interest in Christ. But if it is necessary, for example when our family wants to draw us away into another gospel, then we must hate them like God hates them with a righteous hatred. Do not abandon them, but realize whom we are to love first in our lives. Christ must be first, and everyone else who stands in the way of our love for Christ must take a back seat. And then He says in Verse 27,

Luke 14:27
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

It is mandatory for those who want to follow Christ to take up our own cross and follow Him. We must follow the example that Christ gave us. He pleased not Himself but He pleased His Heavenly Father in the work He was doing for others. In the same way we must first deny ourselves, which means that we must deny our fleshly desires, whatever is necessary for the sake of being of service to others. Then we must pick up our cross. We must be willing to bear that which is very heavy to us. We must bear, like Christ, being despised and rejected of men for the sake of the Gospel.

How can we be despised and rejected of men if we do not bring the Gospel to them?

Therefore we see that bringing the Gospel to the world is a necessary activity that must be a second nature to the Christian. We must bring it to others, or else we cannot be saved. And verse 33 falls in the same category,

Luke 14:33
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

This does not mean that we first must become poor as a church mouse before we can be saved. but it means again that we give up everything we have for the furtherance of the Gospel and for the service to others. Christ must be number 1 in our life. If necessary ail other possessions must be abandoned for His sake. I did not write it; God wrote it. If you don't like it you will have to argue with Jesus. Therefore we must count the cost of discipleship. And we must count the cost of becoming a preacher or a teacher of the Gospel. Now we must answer the question:

Why Did We Come? (Romans 8:30, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Philippians 1:21)

If the cost is so great, and if the cross we have to bear is so heavy, why did we come to Christ in the first place?

What got into us to venture into this strange religion of suffering?

The answer is easy: Christ called us. First He predestinated us from before the foundation of the world, then He suffered and died for us on the cross, and then He called us with an irresistible calling. We read in Romans 8:30,

Romans 8:30
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

"Them He also glorified".

What a mysterious statement.

Why was this written in the past tense?

In what way have we already been glorified?

Well, would we be glorified if we would be a member of the ruling body over God's creation?

This would certainly be a great honor. Well, God says that He has already done that God made us ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven, and God has dispatched us to the heathen nations on this earth to be the ambassador of Christ's Kingdom.

What is the function of an ambassador?

For example, when our nation sends someone as our ambassador to Nigeria, then the ambassador of the US is the representative of our nation in the nation of Nigeria. Whatever the ambassador says and does in the name of the country of the US will be supported by our government in Washington. Now, that is the clout we have when we are the ambassadors for the Kingdom of Christ.

Why did we come into existence on this earth?

God created us to be one of His elect people, whom He saved and dispatched us as ambassadors of the Kingdom of Christ to the heathen in this world. That is why we were created and have been born into this world. We were destined to be His witnesses. And men: we have been created to preach the Gospel to those who have never heard it. We take up the Baton that was passed to us from those who went before.

Can we say that this brings us glory?

Absolutely yes! Even through all the suffering that is part and parcel of the Christian life, we can see the glory and we can see the smile on Jesus' face. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:

2 Corinthians 5:18
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Corinthians 5:19
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

In verse 18 we read that God "has reconciled us to Himself. And because we are now right with God, He has honored us by giving us the ministry of reconciliation."

Then in verse 19 we read that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself."

This time it is not just us but it is the whole world.

What is going on?

Did Christ purchase the world?

Yes! This is the world of the elect, because God says, "not imputing their trespasses unto them". This can only refer to the world of the elect, for whom Christ suffered and died, because for all the unsaved of mankind every sin as small as an idle word shall be given account thereof in the Day of Judgment. Those sins have certainly never been atoned for. To such a world God is sending us, where all the elect of God are waiting to hear about their salvation by Christ. In addition, all the Reprobate will also hear, but they will scoff and ridicule us. They will malign us and try to make us very small. They already have done so and will do more, thinking that they are doing it in Christ's name. That is what it means to pass the Baton and to take up the Baton and run the race.

2 Corinthians 5:20
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

You can see here the authority of the ambassador, for we read in verse 20, "as though God did beseech you by us", as though God was pleading with you through our speech.

Is God speaking through our mouth when we bring the Gospel?

That is exactly what we read here.

And why would God bestow such a great honor on us?

The answer is in verse 21,

2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

This is the Substitution. Christ with our sins in our place, and we with His righteousness in His place. When God looks at us He sees us as righteous as Christ. And so, as the Bride for His Son, the Father bestows on us the immense honor of being His ambassador. And in the life hereafter He shall lavish on us even greater honors. This is what we look forward to. Then death shall be swallowed up in victory. We can happily pass the Baton to someone else and we can say with the Apostle Paul,

Philippians 1:21
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But death is only gain if we have risen with Christ now, and are partakers of His glory.

It is the glory of living before the face of God in Jesus Christ. Living in the fellowship of His love. AMEN.

By Alfred Chompff

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