Dear SANLO Family,
Happy New Year!!! We are truly blessed by our Lord to enter into a new year and to seek the glory of our King. We are grateful for the wonderful legacy of the faithful ministry given to us by Rev. Rod and Koko Yee. Pam and I are deeply humbled to follow in their footsteps with the appointment of the elders to become our next lead pastor. I appreciate all your love and support that you have given me personally and my family over the past 10 years. You too are part of this honor and calling to serve our Savior. We look forward to an exciting new journey to make disciples for many years to come.
This past Sunday, we began our new year taking from Jesus’ vision for the church in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20. There is no better foundational Scripture for the church’s vision than Jesus’ famous words to His disciples, where we gain four essential principles for our church today and in the future.
1st Principle: A gospel vision must be centered on the worship of God. Our vision should always be set upon our Savior and Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Everything we do must be about worshipping Him. If we want a vision for the church, then we must first have a vision of Christ.
Matthew 28:16-18 says, 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
The eleven disciples are instructed to meet Jesus, and their first response is only worship. It has all come down to this: worship. The disciples’ natural response is to realize that Jesus truly is the King, their long-awaited Messiah, and He is worthy of praise.
Their worship is assured in Jesus’ self-declaration of His authority over all heaven and earth. It is His exclusive authority that grabs their attention and should grab ours. Yet, many times, we fall short, but we are compelled by our Master to worship Him daily, on Sundays, and in everything we do. All we do is worship, because Christ is forever worthy of it. So, take a moment to think and to pray how you might grow to worship Jesus this coming year (read the Psalms, come on Sundays, listen to praise music at home, and come help us remodel the sanctuary in the coming year).
2nd Principle: A gospel vision must be committed to grow the community of Christ. We must continue to understand we can’t live or exist alone, we need each other. The beauty of SANLO is we are like a family to one another, so we must continue in that wonderful legacy.
Matthew 28:19 says, 19 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,
Many people tend to get this part of Jesus’ vision wrong. They put the emphasis on GO more than anything else. However, when you look into the Greek, the main thrust of the verse is to make disciples. We must continue to make disciples that make disciples in the community of Christ. This is Jesus’ pattern for ministry and the church, and we must continue this same pattern as we have done for the past 90 years.
Jesus outlines make disciples with three participles, which are part of the discipleship vision and process: go, baptize, and teach. First, Jesus places emphasis on baptizing people. Baptism does NOT save a person, but it is a personal acknowledgment of Jesus to declare Christ as Savior and Lord before the community of faith. It symbolizes our union and new identity with the Messiah as well as with the church.
It is interesting that the Trinity is mentioned here. The Trinitarian community of God is an example of community existing 3 in 1. The application to that is if God never did anything outside of community, then why do we think we should. We ought to take from His example and always live in the community of Christ. Take a moment to think and to pray how you might grow in the community of SANLO this coming year (get baptized, join a small group, serve the church, or give to GROW SANLO).
3rd Principle: A gospel vision must be empowered by the Word of God. It is through the Word of God and by the Holy Spirt that God strengthens us, empowers us, and moves us toward His purposes. We must see that the Word is inerrant, without error, and thus, it is sufficient in every way to equip every believer. There are no alternative power sources than the all sufficiency of Scripture.
Matthew 28:20 says, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Jesus moves from an entry point in the church with worship and baptism to the importance of teaching. A disciple of Christ must be someone who continues to learn from the Scriptures. A person can’t grow without food and nutrients, it is simply impossible. So, it is true for every follower Christ, we must feast daily on His Word.
The big distinction Jesus makes here is obedience, to observe all that I have commanded you. The hallmark of Jesus’ followers is obedience, not knowledge. But it is knowing the Word, so that they can living it out and glorify God through our adherence to the Word. The more we know the more we will grow in love with Christ and the more we will obey Him. J.C Ryle said it well - “It takes the whole Bible to make a whole Christian.”
Jesus commands us to live, to learn, and to walk in His Word. We learn to love the Word, because we love our Lord. So, commit yourself to loving Jesus by loving the Word. Take a moment to think and to pray how you might grow deeper in His Word this coming year (meditate on the word daily, read it to your kids, read through the bible, or attend a Sunday school class).
4th Principle: A gospel vision lives secure in the presence of the Savior. We are eternally held together in the hands of Christ. The beauty of the gospel is that He has already forgiven us now and for an eternity even when we fall so we are secure in the presence of Christ.
Matthew 28:20b says, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus used similar words to start His ministry with the name Immanuel, God with us. That same powerful presence of God is given to His disciples and now us. Thus, we are receivers of His glorious and all satisfying presence in the Holy Spirit.
In the New Year, you might try to make a New Years’ resolution for yourself, I pray that you do. And then you might break it in a month, even a couple weeks, or a few days. Just go to the gym and you’ll see this play out for many people. I know I will at some point, too.
We’re fallen people, but the beauty of the gospel is Jesus will still love you. The good news of the gospel isn’t that we work for a relationship with God, but we GET to be in a relationship with God. There is a huge difference, because the first one says we have to strive for God and the truth says, we can rest in the security and love of God. This is what a gospel vision looks like of our good and gracious God.
Out of His grace, we can begin this New Year and new chapter in our church, to resolve to grow in our faith whether in worship, in community, or in the Word knowing full well you are always in the precious hands of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Once again, I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve you all in this new chapter of our church. I am really excited to see what God will do through all of us as we seek His gospel vision and grow to love Jesus and the world around us every day.
to His Glory,
Pastor Eric Yata