Happy Reformation Day!

Martin Luther Reformation DayToday, October 31st, is the 500th anniversary of when Catholic priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther never intended to leave the Catholic church; he desired transformation. However, the result was the Reformation and eventual birth of the Protestant Church. Christianity has never been the same.

Today, there is a renewed expectation in the body of Christ for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Passionate prayer and worship are ascending heavenward. Hunger for God’s presence is positioning the Church for renewal, revival and societal awakening. Many anticipate another awakening; some believe we are in the initial stages of another reformation period. One thing is certain: the Church is arising to its apostolic mandate to impact the nations with the Gospel of the Kingdom. The love and power of Jesus are manifesting through a glorious Church who knows her position in Christ!

Corporate awakening begins with personal awakening. When the Bride returns to her first love with a resolve to follow Him at all cost, revival and awakening are at the door. Throughout Church history, we read of similar seasons and subsequent result of God’s Spirit and power breaking in anew in the Church and society.

When society despairs and loses hope, the Church has the opportunity to present the resurrection life of Christ and gospel of the kingdom to the world. Hopelessness is the environment for miracles. Rejection of Jesus and the gospel gives the Church an occasion to advance God’s kingdom. When we look at our world, it may seem hopeless for another awakening—not with God! As the Church follows Jesus in His mission, apostolic love and power are being realized—lives are changed, God is glorified, and His kingdom is advancing. Happy Reformation Day!

An Apostolic Commission - Bob Sawvelle

Unbelief Stops the Miracles!

As we discussed last week, because of the unbelief of the people of Nazareth, Jesus was unable to do any miracles in His childhood hometown. Think of it, the Son of God was stopped by their unbelief! Just after Nazareth’s rejection of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 6:1-6), He answers their unbelief by commissioning and sending out the twelve with apostolic authority and power (Mark 6:7-13).

Mark gives us a principle to overcoming unbelief—multiply apostolic, kingdom ministry! Jesus sends out the twelve to do the same “mighty works” He did—preach repent, heal, and deliver! This principle is still true today—when unbelief and hopelessness abounds, expect God to multiply apostolic ministry to advance the kingdom!

Matthew gives a comprehensive commissioning of the twelve: “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.… And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matt 10:1, 7–8)

Go! A Sense of Urgency!

There was a sense of urgency with the commissioning of the twelve. Jesus knew that the gospel message of the kingdom had to be “quickly” spread throughout Israel. The rejection of Jesus and the message of the kingdom placed an urgency on His mission.

Mark 6:8-11 Details the “Marching Orders” for the Twelve

He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.

Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

Vs. 8-9 Describes material concerns. The twelve are to take no bread, bag, or money. The staff was what we would call a walking stick. This austere form of travel is an image of the urgency of the mission Jesus is sending them on.

Vs. 10-11 Describes mission behavior. These twelve apostles, are to stay in the first home they enter, they are not to move from house to house, seeking better accommodations. They are to travel light, stay humble, and blend into culture. A call to mission for the twelve!

If they are not welcome, they were to shake off the dust off their feet. This was a symbolic action, normally performed by a Jew who had been in Gentile territory—foreign dust was not to contaminate Jewish soil. This action was sending a message to those who rejected the Kingdom message that they were no longer regarded as part of the Jewish nation.

Think about it, Nazareth had just rejected Jesus and His message, “the kingdom is at hand!” Jesus is telling these disciples, “Go quickly, there is no time to waste!

Religion would attempt to make a model of this form of ministry. Take a “vow of poverty” some would say. While humility is required of God’s people, the task is to hear what Jesus is saying and “obey” His directive for us now! Simply trying to repeat this model may miss the directive Jesus is giving you, or the Church, at this time.

That said, there is an urgency. Every day, people die without accepting the saving grace of Jesus. Every day, Satan attacks marriages, families, lives—there is a sense of urgency, but live from the peace of Christ!

Go, Two by Two!

In Mark 6:7, Jesus called the twelve to Himself, and “began to send them out two by two.” The message for us today is simple: unity is essential in life and ministry.

By the way, there is tremendous power in the prayer of agreement. Matt. 18:19-20: 

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Jesus dwells in the midst of our unity—His power is released in a greater dimension through unity! Have you ever read, “1 can chase 1000, but 2 can chase 10,000!” God’s math is exponential! Our unity allows God to force multiply!

The mission of the twelve, and our mission today, is urgent. Unity is required, there is no time to disagree or divide – unite! Society is being ravaged by hopelessness and evil, only the Light of the World can bring hope.

Disciples Given Authority to Do the Same Mighty Works of Jesus

Mark 6:7 states that the twelve are given authority: “he gave them power (authority) over demons …”

Power is from exousía, Ordinary Greek: 1. This word denotes first the “ability” to perform an action. 2. It then means the “right,” “authority,” “permission” conferred by a higher court, a. the possibility granted by government.[1] They were given authority, exousía, which is the right or power, over sickness, disease, and unclean spirits.

They went as an extension of Jesus and His ministry of compassion and power to heal and liberate. Mark 6:12-13 states that the twelve went out, preached that people should repent, they cast out demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

 So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

In Mark 6:30 they return and tell Jesus what they did and taught.

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.

Oil was used as medicine in the Greco-Roman world. Anointing of oil represents the Holy Spirit’s presence to heal and became a method of prayer ministry for the sick (Jas 5:16).

This Commission was not Limited to the Twelve

In Luke 10:9 Jesus commissioned seventy others to enter the cities and “cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” Later we read, “The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’” (Luke 10:17).

The gospel of the kingdom of God should be accompanied by signs, wonders, and healing, revealing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The kingdom of God is more than a verbal proclamation; it is backed by God’s power to heal and restore. It demonstrates God’s ruling power in action.

Jesus brought the disciples into contact with the rule of God’s kingdom and gave them authority to walk in that realm, and to heal and to impart this to others as they had received: “You received without payment; give without payment” (Matt. 10:8).

The ministries of the 12 and of the 70 were extensions of the mission and authority of Jesus.

They were trained to bring about God’s kingdom and rule on earth. These original disciples were forerunners of a discipleship movement based on the authority and miraculous power that Jesus gave to them and intended to continue until His second coming. They participate in Jesus’ activity of bringing about the rule of God.

Most scholars would agree that the disciples were extensions of Jesus’ own ministry. The controversy emerges with the belief in present-day disciples operating in the same commission and mandate of Christ.

It is Biblically illegitimate to say this model of discipleship ended with the completion of the Bible and death of the original Apostles!

Earlier Gospel Commissioning Accounts are Part of the Great Commission

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 the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18–20

Once again, the word “authority” is translated from the Greek word exousía, which means the “right” or “power.”

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus was telling the His disciples, “I have been given the right, authority, and power in heaven and on earth, and I’m sending you in My name and authority.” Jesus was extending His authority and power to His disciples to make other disciples, in like manner and commission, until He returned.

What were they to do? They were to teach others everything that they had been taught. What had they been taught? They had been taught primarily how to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God through healing the sick and casting out demons.

In Jesus’ culture, a disciple was an exact copy of his teacher; so new disciples would be immersed in the life and power of the Spirit as were the original disciples. This follows the didactic patterns of rabbis of that time, in which disciples were expected to copy the rabbi’s words as well as his deeds.

In word and demonstration, Christ taught the disciples to heal the sick, cast out demons, and proclaim the message of the kingdom of God. The very gospel of the kingdom that Jesus taught and demonstrated to the disciples was one of power, which confirmed the verbal proclamation. There is no evidence that the patterns in other commissioning accounts were not to be included in the Great Commission account of Matthew 28:18–20.

We are Commissioned Too!

Mark 6:7-13 makes it clear that Jesus is the one who initiates and empowers us for mission and ministry. We don’t choose our call, God does!

Our own abilities don’t make us qualified or adequate for the assignment—we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our material possessions are tools for the advancement of the kingdom. Your focus is on your appointed mission—use what He provides and how He directs.

We should influence culture with God’s kingdom. The Church is on an apostolic mission for the King of Kings, to bring the realm of God’s rule and His nature into our world. We serve society in humility, ministering to those who receive us, and loving the unlovable. Influence is not dominion, but ministry in love and compassion.

There is an urgency!

Every generation has its challenges, every season as the urgent need for the followers of Jesus to radically pursue Him and His mission to reach those who are contrary to God’s kingdom and rule. Without Christ—they are lost! On this Reformation anniversary, decide to be part of the 21st century apostolic Church moving in apostolic power—Jesus is leading!

Bob Sawvelle

[1] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 238.


For a more in-depth look at this message, watch the video from Passion Church, “Commissioned to Heal”:

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