Dr. Tony Evans: We begin to see the visible, verbal followings of Christ infiltrate the culture, and that just infiltrates the church. And we will see what the authority of Christ can do until He decides to come in managing the conflict, even though we won’t eradicate it until He comes.
John Fuller: Well, that’s wisdom from Dr. Tony Evans and he’ll share more today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, Tony is a dear friend, and he visited our campus recently and gave an incredible presentation to our staff that we’re going to share with you today. And let me tell you, this message will inspire you, uh, hopefully your walk with Jesus will be improved. It’s based on a new book Tony has published with Focus on the Family called Kingdom Focus: Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity. And I’d strongly encourage you to get a copy. Tony does an excellent job of explaining our responsibility to be salt and light in our current culture.
John: You can discover more about Kingdom Focus by Dr. Tony Evans when you call 800-A-FAMILY or visit focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let me mention Tony is the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, and he’s the president of the Urban Alternative Teaching Ministry, and is a former chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys. He now is Dr. Tony Evans on today’s Focus on the Family.
Tony: I’ve spent a lot of time around the NFL. I was chaplain for the Cowboys for five years, and my son played in the NFL for a number of years. And so football is my favorite sport, and whenever you have a football game you have three teams. Three teams are always on the field.
First of all, there are two teams in conflict, the home team and the visiting team. And that means you have a three-hour clash. For three hours these teams are not going to get along because they’re headed in two different directions.
They have different goals that they’re going to. And there’s no negotiation that’s going to make them cooperate with each other because that’s not the nature of the gridiron. But in the midst of this conflict there’s a third team.
These are seven officials. These seven officials are on the field but they’re not of the field. They’re in the middle of a conflict but they’re not part of the conflict. You see, they belong to 345 Park Avenue in New York where the NFL offices are.
The NFL office dispenses these officials to each of the NFL games, and they are the referees to being order to a conflicting situation. These officials are very distinguishable. Black and white jerseys. They are uniquely present and you know who they are. They’re not camouflaged, they are obvious.
Each of these officials are handed a book. This book gives the governing guidelines by which all decisions are to be made on the field of play. Their personal opinions must be subject to that book. Their preferences between the two teams is irrelevant. Their decisions have to be based on that book.
Now they know sometimes they’re going to be booed. They know sometimes they’re going to be cheered. But they also know they’re not there for a popularity contest. They’re there to make judgements on the field in the middle of a conflict based on the book that they’re received from 345 Park Avenue, the abiding entity for their existence. They’re representatives from a kingdom up north to a “cada” house down south.
When Jesus Christ arose from the dead, he called a meeting. Three groups were invited to this meeting. According to Matthew, chapter 28, verse 16 it says, “The 11 disciples were invited to meet Jesus on the mountain that He had designated.” This is the only meeting he ever called that was scheduled prior to his ascension during the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension to glory.
There’s a second group that met with him that day. According to First Corinthians 15, it says, “500 brethren met at one time to meet with Him.” So in order for 500 to meet with him at one time, that means it was a scheduled meeting. So the 11 met. The 500 met. The 11 are part of the 500. That will net us 489.
There’s a third group that meets. Because according to Matthew, chapter 28, verse, 20: “Lo, I will be with you even until the end of the age.” Well, the age is not ended yet. So you and I are at the meeting. So why don’t we all mosey on up to the meeting where the risen Christ has invited us, to find out what the meeting is all about and why the meeting matters?
We’re told in verse 17 that when they gathered at the mountain they began with worship. They worshiped him. We’re also told that some doubted. They doubted, but they were still there. They had question marks. Things seemed confusing to them, but they still showed up for the service.
They sang their songs. They prayed their prayers, and they worshiped him. Then it became time for the sermon. Verse 18 tells us in Matthew 28, that Jesus comes to the podium, and he says, “All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on earth.”
Translation: “I’m in charge now. I’m not only in charge in the ‘sweet by and by’, Heaven. I’m also in charge in the ‘nasty here-and-now,’ earth. I’m in charge now.”
The word He used for authority in an interesting word. The main word for authority used in the New Testament is ‘dunamis’, where we get our word “dynamite” from. But that’s not the word he used. He used the Greek word “egoocia” (ἐξουσία) and “egoocia” means ‘authority in legitimate hands.’ It’s the difference between a policeman having a gun and a criminal having a gun. The policeman has the badge. It has to do with the right to exercise power. He says “all authority has been given unto Me.”
On a football field the players are younger, stronger, and faster. The refs are older, slower and fatter.
Tony: The players can knock you down. The refs can put you out because they have authority. They have a yellow flag and a whistle, and that has granted them “egoocia.” Even though they’re outnumbered.
Jesus says, “all authority has been given to Me.” Up there and down here, because he is the link between the two. Fully God, fully man, the hypostatic union, two natures in one person unmixed forever.
He stands before the crowd then and the crowd now, and he utters an imperative. He says, I want you to make disciples. I want you to create an officiating crew in the chaos of the culture. And I want it to have national implications. Make disciples of the nations. I want you to infiltrate the societies of mankind, and I want this group of officials to be known as disciples.
Visible, verbal followers of Christ, who take the framing from heaven and introduces it to the chaos of culture. Who download from eternity and introduce it in time. Who are not so heavenly-minded that they’re no earthly good, but they’re not so earthly-minded that they’re no heavenly good, because like their Master they marry the two. He calls them disciples.
When people order tapes, CDs, from our national ministry, the way that works is I will preach a message on Sunday morning at the church. It is recorded. When it is recorded, then it is taken over, the master, to our national office, the Urban Alternative, where it’s placed on a master duplicator. Plugged into the master duplicator are slave units. The slave units run off 16 copies at a time. So hundreds are sent out to people who have ordered the message across the nation and various parts of the world, and they get a copy of the master.
Now, they don’t get the master because there’s only one master. But the copy of the master is so much like the master you can confuse it for the master because it’s a replication of the master. There’s only one master, but we’re supposed to be replicators of the master so that when people see the copies it looks so much like the master.
The disciple is the man, the woman, the Christian who has decided to not be a secret agent Christian or a spiritual CIA representative. They are CIA, Christians In Action. They represent heaven in history, and they do it on a broad scale for they affect and infect not only individuals but the environment in which they live, the nations.
To pull that off he says three participles, you must go, baptize, and teach. In Greek construct whenever you have an imperative and you have participles, the participles are the methodology for implementing the imperative. The imperative is make disciples. The three participles, going, baptizing, teaching.
First of all, He says, “go.” You can study “go” in Hebrew, Greek, eukaryotic, Aramaic, and go means go. It means don’t stay. It is a statement about our public witness. “You’ve gathered up here on the mountain with Me, but now it’s time to go. It’s time to leave the convenience of my physical presence and disperse, so that now my presence is being felt everywhere because my people are scattered everywhere.”
He says, “I want you to go.” A meeting like this is like a huddle in a football game. 100,000 people don’t pay $100 a ticket to watch 11 men bend over in a huddle. They want to see what difference the huddle makes. They want to know, having huddled can you now score? They want to know what you’re going to do about 11 other men on the other side of the ball when you go public with your private conversation.
The challenge today is to have a generation of Christians who are public about their allegiance to Jesus Christ. A lawyer who’s not just a lawyer, but God’s representative in the Bar Association so the Bar Association gets to see what God looks like when God tries a case. A doctor who’s not just a doctor but who’s God’s representative in the medical field so the medical field sees what God looks like when God helps the hurting. A teacher who’s not just a teacher, but God’s representative in the classroom so the classroom sees what happens when God teaches truth.
What we call them are Kingdom Representatives, people who reflect heaven’s values in history and don’t get co-opted by the culture because they go.
John: We’re featuring Dr. Tony Evan today on Focus on the Family. You can find more of his great insight in the book Kingdom Focus: Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity. We’ll send that to you when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry today, and we’ll include a free audio download of his entire presentation. Donate and request those resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Let’s return now to more from Dr. Tony Evans.
Tony: He says, “Baptize them.” The Greek word baptism was very interesting in New Testament days. It was used of a dye maker. The dye makes, if a mother wanted to make her daughter a purple dress, the dye maker would make purple dye, take the cloth that she brought in, dip it in the purple dye, take off the extraneous coloring, hang it up, let it dry, give it back to the mother because now it was colored purple. So she could make her daughter a purple dress.
It was to immerse in order to classify or identify. That word, then is again taken by Jesus Christ to refer to the new identity that believers are to have. You and I are to be Christians first. Everything else becomes a subset.
You’re not first a black Christian or a white Christian because then you make Black and white an adjective. You make Christian a noun. The job of the adjective is to modify the noun. So if you’ve got Christian in the noun position, you’ve got the color in the adjectival position, you’ve got to keep changing the noun of your Christianity to fit the adjectival description of color. The adjective must always be Christianity in the adjectival position. Color or culture must always be in the noun position because if anything changes it has to be the noun of your humanity and not the adjective of your faith.
Tony: Our identity. Our identity is not first to be Democrats or Republicans, since God doesn’t ride the backs of donkeys or elephants. Our identity, first and foremost, is to be visible, verbal followers of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “I’m identified with Christ. I’m crucified with Christ.” Galatians 2:20. “Nevertheless I live, yet not I. It’s Christ who lives in me. The life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
The greatest verse in the New Testament on identity is not some isolated verse. It is Paul quoting that to Peter who made an illegitimate racial decision and needed to be corrected. “Peter, you have forgotten who you are. You are a representative of Heaven.” He says, “You are to be identified, baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. You are to be Trinitized. You are now a representative of the Triune God.” That is your new identity. Everything else must adjust to that.
But because Christians have become platonic. They can be spiritual on Sunday and go secular on Monday because they don’t understand that when it comes to Jesus’ authority it’s all authority. There’s no such thing as secular because everything gets stamped by your new identity.
Then He says, “Teach them,” third participle. What to you teach them? Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Angelology, Anthropology, or Martyrology? No, He says, “You teach them how to live, to observe.” You teach them application not only information. Don’t just give them Bible study, small groups and sermons on Sunday. You give them implementation and application so that there’s transformation.
You teach them to observe “whatever I have commanded you.” Let’s say you have to have a major surgery, a life-and-death surgery. The doctor comes in. He says, “Let me explain what we’re going to do in the surgery tomorrow.” He goes through all the idiosyncratic elements of the surgery. You are asked by him, “Do you have any questions?” Your first question is, “Doc, how many times have you done this?”
He says, “Well, you’re going to be my first, but don’t worry. I made an A in heart class. I graduated magna cum laude. I mean, so I know the information.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I have a second question. First is how many times have you done this? Second is, “How are them people doing?” Because even if you’ve done it a lot, if they didn’t make it, you still don’t get to operate on me. Because I don’t just want to know your information and your grade level, I want to know your skillset. I want to know how you function, not just what you know.
And what we’re missing today are Christians who are kingdom functioning. Everything is to be kingdomized. Everything is to come under the jurisdiction of divine rule, which is the only thing in the Bible by the way, the glory of God through the advancement of His kingdom. Everything in the Bible is toward that one subject. His glory through the expansion of His kingdom, the jurisdiction of divine rule.
He says, “I want you to teach them, and these representatives of me we are going to call them disciples.” And then he concludes, and He says, “And lo, I will be with you always even until the end of the age.”
Now you don’t see it in English, but in the Greek text the word “I” is written twice. It’s called the “ego eimi” construction. So literally it reads, “I, even I, will be with you always.” But they didn’t write the word “I” twice. In most versions they just intensify the one “I” and say, “And lo, I,” or show ‘nough me.”
Tony: He intensifies. In the previous verse he says, “Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.” He put in the whole Trinity. But now He steps out of the Trinity and He says, “Lo, I”. Not the Father, not the Spirit. “I will be with you always even until the end of the age.” Now I know we like to say, “Well, Jesus is with you when you’re sick. Jesus is with you when you’re troubled.” Okay. All of that’s true, but that’s not what that verse is talking about.
That verse if saying if you are a disciple and if you’re making disciples, I’m hanging out with you. See, what you have to understand is Jesus doesn’t have equal relationship with all Christians. All Christians are equally saved, but not all Christians are equally intimate. Not all Christians have equal authority.
That’s why in John, chapter two, verses 23 to 25 it says, “Many believed in Him, many got saved, but He would not commit himself to them because He knew what was in them.” They weren’t all in yet. So just because you’re on your way to Heaven doesn’t mean you’re any good for Him on earth.
Until we raise up a generation of Christians who understand you’ve been called to become a visible, verbal, full-time follower not part-time saint. Until we raise up a group of people who understand that you’re part of the officiating crew, you’ve been placed in the middle of the political crisis, in the middle of a racial crisis, in the middle of a gender crisis, in the middle of the class crisis, in the middle of all of the conflicts that are raging around us. And now, “You are my representatives and I will give you my authority if I see you’re serious about me.”
So why are we not seeing Christians throwing down flags and blowing whistles and teams responding? Because the executive doesn’t trust his crew. Whether they’re going to do a Benedict Arnold on him in order to be safe and satisfied with the culture rather than the authority of the Christ.
When we begin to see the visible, verbal followers of Christ infiltrate the culture and not just infiltrate the church then we will see what the authority of Christ can do until he decides to come in managing the conflict even though we won’t eradicate it until He comes.
You know you can look good as a bowler, you know especially today. You’ve got bowling pants, bowling shirts, bowling gloves, fancy bowling bags, bowling balls. Roll it down the bowling alley. You kick you leg out. You can look absolutely impeccable as a bowler. But just in case you didn’t know it, if that ball is rolling down the gutter, you’re a good-looking failure.
Tony: Because the test of a bowler is their impact, not their look. The test of a serious disciple is what kind of impact do you have, not how Christian do you appear.
A young man, one day he got married. They were on their way to their honeymoon. To get to their hotel they had to pass down a lonely road in the country. It was foggy outside, and the truck in front of him, the 18-wheeler, was going a little slow. He wanted to pass it. So he pulls out to pass it, but he didn’t see the on-coming van. There was a head-on collision that flipped his car up into the side of the road. Both he and his new bride were knocked unconscious.
He was the first one to come to. He looked over to the passenger side and his new bride was gushing with blood. He knew that if he didn’t find help soon she would bleed out and die. But as fortune would have it, right above the accident on the hill was a sign that said “Office of Dr. Bill Jones”. How fortunate could it be that this accident happened in front of a doctor’s office?
He went around to the passenger’s side, picked up his beloved, stumbled up the hill, knocked on the door. An old man came to the door, said, “What can I do for you?” He said, “Help! She’s dying! Save her.” The man looked at him and said, “I’m so sorry, son. I stopped practicing many years ago.” To which the young man said, “Mister, you have two choices. Save her, or take down your sign. But don’t have a sign that gives me the impression that if I show up at your doorstep you have answers for my calamity because you are deceiving me.”
We have two choices. Either practice what it means to be a full-time visible, verbal follower of Christ, or at least take down your sign so you’re not fooling anybody. We have a world gushing with blood, family disintegration, redefinition of marriage, cataclysmic confusion of identity. It’s time when they show up at our door they find out we don’t just have a sign, we still practice. God bless you.
John: Hmm. Such an inspirational message from Dr. Tony Evans at a recent Focus on the Family staff gathering.
Jim: What a great reminder that it’s not enough just to know about Christianity. We need to get there and do Christianity. As Tony said, Jesus himself instructed us in what we call The Great Commission, to go out and make disciples of all nations.
And that’s right there in the New Testament, Matthew 28, starting at verse 16. I challenge you to go read that and imagine that Jesus is talking directly to you. Uh, the world keeps us very distracted with work and family responsibilities. Not to mention all the media that we consume. But we need to remember the priorities that Jesus set for us, and not neglect that commission He gave us.
John: And if you enjoyed today’s message, you found it inspiring and encouraging, you’ll definitely want to get a copy of Tony’s latest book published by Focus on the Family. It’s called Kingdom Focus: Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity. We’d be happy to send a copy to you for a donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family, and we’ll include a free audio download of today’s presentation.
Jim: And right now, John, we have some special friends of the ministry who are offering to double people’s gifts dollar for dollar so that your donation will have twice the impact. So join us in ministry as we bring the hope of Christ to families who need it. Get in touch with us today.
John: Yeah. And our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can donate online and request that book, Kingdom Focus, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time, a married couple shares their perspective on how to work through the inevitable personality differences that impact a marriage.
Kari Trent Stageberg: We’re not perfect. And I think we have to be willing to say that.
Kari: Um, Christ is perfect, we’re not. And it’s through Him and through His strength that we’re able to get through hard times, that we’re able to work through challenges, and that’s what makes it unique and different.
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