The Sending – Part 2
This is the second part of a three part series of posts. If you have not already read the first part, you may do so by clicking here.
In the Name (cont’d)
Jesus not only had the audacity to claim that he was sent by the Father, he also claimed to have come in the name of the Father. This is so much more intense! But we must realize that the sending, if it is a spiritual reality, will always be “in the name”. So, in order to understand sending, we must also understand “in the name”.
“In the name” is NOT some kind of mantra that we are tack onto the end of a prayer.
“In the name” is NOT a magic formula that we use to get special attention from God so we can be assured that our prayers are answered.
“In the name” is NOT some kind of religious slogan that we can use to find favor with God.
In the Name is something extremely powerful for God to fulfill His eternal purpose!
In the first century when someone claimed to be coming “in the name” of someone else it had some depth to it. But when the Son came claiming to have been sent by the Father in HIS name it meant so much more. Here is a quick and simple formula to remember what it means:
The Name = The Person
That is quite literal. The name is the same as the person. Coming in the name of someone is the same thing as the sender actually coming himself. The “sendee” or the one sent is the SAME as the one sending. THEY ARE ONE! The one sent carries the same authority, character, and life as the one sending him. But this only applies inasmuch as the Sendee and the Sender share the same mind and life. Note: I realize that there is no such word as “sendee” but this made-up word here seems to apply very nicely! :-)
Notice with me that there are many things that happen “in the name” besides being sent in the name.
* You can receive a prophet in the name of a prophet (or righteous man).
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Mat 10:41)
* You can baptize in the name.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Mat 28:19)
* You can believe into the name.
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Joh 3:18)
* You can speak or teach in the name.
“And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” (Act 4:18)
* You can pray in the name.
“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
It’s very obvious from these verses that “in the name” is something much more than a phrase we tack onto the end of a prayer! In the name means in the Person, in Christ, in the Spirit. So much so that if you pray in the name it is actually Christ Himself who is originating, initiating, and executing that prayer.
So, this means that when someone is sent by God he is actually coming as totally representing and expressing God. It’s really the same as God coming Himself! The Son was sent in the name of the Father. And we know that everything the Son said and everything the Son did came from the Father Himself. (see John 5:19,20; John 6:57; John 14:10; John 15:5)
In the name means by and in and one with another life that is dwelling within you!
The Sending is Corporate
One thing that we must realize here is that Jesus Christ was not only sent by the Father but he was also sent by the Holy Spirit.
“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED”
It’s important for us to see that the Lord Jesus was sent out by a community, that is, the community of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit). He was not only sent out by that community but he was also sent out with that community! The Father and the Spirit were always with him and always guiding and empowering him. He told Phillip that if he had seen him then he had seen the Father (John 14:8-10). The divine community (the Three-in-One) really are one! And They (as a community) sent the Son to the earth to fulfill God’s eternal purpose.
Sending – Level Two
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
Now we can see the second tier or level of sending. Not only was Jesus Christ sent by the Godhead but he also sent others. He sent the twelve.
“And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.” (Luk 9:2)
He also sent out seventy others.
“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luk 10:1-2)
You may be thinking that the sending is the end product. No so! Actually, in some sense, it is but the beginning. However, there is much that is before the beginning!
The Calling and the Preparation
Before the sending there is the calling and the preparation. You could say that it’s a three step process. This is first seen in the life of our Lord, since He is the “Prototype” for all who would come after him. First, God calls.
When was Jesus Christ called by God? The answer is simple: before time and creation! He was called in eternity past from within the Triune God. After (which is a word that doesn’t really apply when you are speaking from within the eternals!) the Godhead conceived His eternal plan and purpose then He called the eternal Son to fulfill that purpose by being incarnated as human flesh (Eph. 3:11,12). This calling is obviously very important for without it there will be no preparation and no sending forth.
People have asked me, “how do I know that I am called?”. Actually, there are two aspects of this “calling” that we are talking about. In the basic sense, all believers are called.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mat 22:14)
“… to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 1:7)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)
“but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Co 1:24)
There are many other references to our calling as believers. If you are in Christ then you are both called and chosen by him! This is the general aspect of the calling that applies to all true believers in Christ. But there is also a more specific calling that has to do with the work of God. We will look into that in the third part of this series. If you are called to his work then it will not leave you no matter what. One of the ways to know you are called to the work is that it will not go away. You may try to make it go away, but it will not leave you for the duration of your life.
That applies to both the general and the specific calling.
The problem here is that many people (and organizations) try to skip this all important step. I don’t know how many times I have heard churches, missionary boards, etc. tell young people that since they feel called to the Lord’s work they need to get out there right now! The need is great! The world is going to hell in a hand basket! You need to get out there! The problem is these people probably don’t even know the Lord very well and almost definitely don’t have any experience in authentic biblical community life. So why are we sending them? To see our conversions lists go up? To get more money for our annual budgets? Of course, none of this has even entered the mind of God as seen throughout the scriptures!
Actually, God takes his time (years!) preparing individuals for his work. What about Moses? Forty years on the backside of the desert. What about David? Being chased and persecuted for years by an maniac king. What about Paul? About 10-14 years of true body life in the Lord’s house before he was sent out by the church in Antioch with Barnabas.
What about Jesus Christ? How about an eternity living inside of the Godhead learning to lay down his life and receive his only life from the Father in the Spirit!
Why is preparation so important? It’s because during that time God is working on the individual’s character to make them safe for God’s people! A person may have many gifts but it is their character that will make or break them in the Lord’s work. And that character of Christ is only worked into an individual as they learn to know him intimately, turning from the soul-life and the self to behold the living Christ inside of them! This takes some years. This takes the work and way of the cross in the life of the believer.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
According to the contextual story of the New Testament, the environment to receive this training and preparation is the local body of believers. There is no exception to this! All of those who were sent out were first prepared by living in an authentic community of saints first.
Stay tuned for the next part of The Sending to be released soon!