The Great Commandment is found in Matthew 22:36-40. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” The Lord is telling us that all of our purpose is wrapped up in loving God and loving people. All that’s in the Scriptures can be wrapped up into those two statements, those two commands that are so much related to one another.
The Great Commission, in Matthew 28:18-20 says, And Jesus came and said to them, “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.”
These two Scriptures should form the basis of everything we do here at Terrace Palms. There are four things we can draw out of these two passages that help sum up what our purpose is.
When it says love God with all your heart, that’s speaking to worship. We exist to worship the living God. John 4:23-24 says, A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. Worship is not limited to our singing times or even the Sunday morning services. We worship God with our lives, all the time, everyday. A.W. Tozier said, “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” Also, notice in that passage of John that there is no mention of style of music. It says worship has to do with spirit and truth. That means it’s based on the Word of God and it is led by the Spirit of God calling forth from our hearts worship unto Him.
Notice there is nothing about style mentioned. This can be a real hot potato in churches. One thing we don’t believe in is having a target audience. We are a church family. We have people from their nineties all the way down to newborns and every one of us are an important part of this church as anyone else. We all come from different places, experiences, and generations. Of course our tastes in music are going to be different, but what we need to do is love each other like family and learn to appreciate the various styles of worship and yield to one another’s tastes. So we’ll sing hymns. Sometimes they’ll be just with the piano and sometimes they’ll be more contemporary arrangements of hymns. And we’ll have more contemporary music. Worship needs to be seen as something we do unto the Lord is spirit and truth and not trying to get our own personal needs and tastes met in that regard.
At Terrace Palms, our prayer is that, if an unbeliever or alien came into our worship service, with no clue about who the God we love is or what the Bible says, and they peaked through the window and watched us worship and listened to what was said, they would get an accurate idea of the glory, the honor, the power, and the majesty of the God we profess to know. That a question we always need to ask ourselves when we come on Sunday mornings. Is our worship and our contribution to this corporate worship representing accurately who our God is?
Psalm 16:11 says, You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. When we’re in the presence of the Lord, we’re experiencing the pleasure that’s supposed to be there when we’re in fellowship with Him. Psalm 122:1 says, I was glad when they said, “Let us go into the house of the Lord!”
And that’s the attitude all of us need to have when we come to corporate worship here at Terrace Palms. That we’re glad, we’re excited, and we can’t wait to get there. Gordon Doll was quoted as saying, “Most middle class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship.” May we not be in that group. May we never play at our worship, but take it very seriously. Our worship is best displayed through a life that is full of joy and that joy is existent in our lives because we see and understand God, in spirit and in truth. Joy is at the very heart of our worship.
Love your neighbor as yourself speaks to ministry. The way we demonstrate God’s love is through our ministry. John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” In 1 John 3:16-17, This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth. That’s convicting, isn’t it? In Luke 6:35-36, it says, “Love your enemies. Do good to them.” This takes it beyond our brothers and sisters in the church. This emphasizes that our love needs to extend to even our enemies. “And lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
So we are called to do ministry from a merciful heart. We are called to see people who are in need and to give. We are called to see people that have needs, not just spiritually, but materially too. We can have great head knowledge of the Scriptures. We can have all our theology fine-tuned. But if we don’t lay down our lives for our fellow Christians and those outside the church, we don’t really understand the Bible at all according to what we just read here.
So let me share this with you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those members of Terrace Palms Community Church would always be willing to get their hands dirty in serving? May we be active and creative in showing mercy to those in need. May we be willing to take a serious look at how we use our resources, the resources God has placed in our hands, and make necessary adjustments so that we can better demonstrate a godly selflessness, rather than the fleshly selfishness that we always tend to struggle with. I know I struggle!
To go, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is evangelism. We exist to share the gospel. In Romans 10:13-15 Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
You have beautiful feet if they carry around a person who lives and speaks the Gospel. Are your feet beautiful? Are you going around as a vital part of your purpose on this planet to make Christ known? Why has the Lord left us here and not taken us on to heaven? There are probably a number of reasons but certainly at the heart and one of the greatest reasons He has left us here is that we should be His witnesses on this earth. We must take this seriously. There are only two things that we can’t do when we get to heaven that we can do here on earth. And those two things are sin and share the good news of Jesus. And which one do you think we should be about? Obviously not sin! We should be about sharing our faith.
Luke 14:23 says, “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and the country and compel them to come in so that my house will be full.” The Lord has left us here because He has called us to join with Him in the harvest, that His house may be full; that all the elective, all those that He has chosen since before the foundation of the world may be brought in, just as the parables that Christ told taught us; the great harvest, the net full of fish. In fact, Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men.” In Acts, the Lord says, “You will be my witnesses.”
So to fulfill our purposes as a church, we must all be praying for the lost and looking for the opportunities the Spirit of God sets before us. We all have different gifts in relation to what form our evangelism might take. But make no mistake, it is a great privilege that Christ has given us when He calls us to be fishers of men. And we must never have the attitude that we’re happy with our little church family as it is. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” We can’t ever become passive or content with the way things are. We should long for the church to grow and in the proper way, with the fish that Christ gives to us, the sheep that He brings in. And this must certainly never be for our glory or our boasting, but for God’s glory and His purposes. And we must be faithful and leave the results to Him.
Matthew 24:14 says this. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come. I see two things here. First of all, this is why we give ourselves earnestly to world missions. He says here that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. From the beginning and foundation of Terrace Palms, missions has been extremely important to us. 20% of our annual income goes to missions; not only world missions overseas, but right here in Tampa and the United States as well. We are supposed to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world with His precious message.
And secondly in this verse it tells us that this is how we prepare for Christ’s return. Then the end will come, when we have carried this gospel of the kingdom to every tribe, tongue, and nation. Then the end will come. Do you want the Lord to come to this earth again? Share your faith!
Terrace Palms exists to educate God’s people. To teach them to obey everything I have commanded you is discipleship.
Hebrews 6:1 says, Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. God permitting, we will do so! That’s what we need to have as our heart for a church. God permitting, we will do so. We will leave the elementary teachings. We won’t remain babes, just drinking pablum, but we will feed on the Word of God faithfully and grow and go on into maturity.
2 Peter 3:18 says, But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God’s intention for you and I is that we grow. If you’re going to be a member of Terrace Palms, you must commit yourself to spiritual growth, to be a learner. And not only a learner, but a doer. That’s also included in discipleship. James 1:22 says, Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. We’ve got to put shoe leather on what we learn and go out and live this life to the glory of God.
Ephesians 4:11 says, It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Become mature. Prepare God’s people for works of service, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Are you convinced from these passages that God wants you to grow? To commit yourself to membership is committing yourself to the purpose of this church, which is discipleship, that you are a learner. I believe that every one of us should be simultaneously being discipled, learning from those who have greater knowledge than we do, as well as being disciplers, taking others under our tutiledge; being concerned about sharing what God has taught us with those that may not have the understanding that God has brought us to. If we’re all about that, we’ll all be growing.
So we should all be learning and teaching throughout our Christian life as a part of the church. And the better we know His Word, the better we know Him, and the better we know Him, the more we will glorify Him. And that is our ultimate goal; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.