The Great Commission
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
- Matthew 28:16-20
These were the last words Jesus spoke on this earth before his ascension. They were his last instructions to his disciples; the last words he would ever speak in bodily form until his return at the end of the age.
His instructions for the men he had spent three years teaching righteousness to, were that they were to continue the teaching by passing it on to all nations. The purpose was to ensure that everyone on earth heard the good news of the Gospel, and that all flesh would become his disciples, becoming baptized, and trained in righteousness so that they would be able to obey his commandments.
The words Jesus used here are very interesting. He said to "(teach) them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Did he say to "teach them to obey some of the things I have commanded you"?
Did he say to "teach them to obey most of the things I have commanded you"?
No, he said to "teach them to obey everything I have commanded you."
There is an interesting idea that some people hold to, and that is, that there are some things that Jesus required of his disciples, but that he does not require of us. There are some things, they believe, that were for them, then, but are not for us, today.
This scripture indicates otherwise. Anything and everything that Jesus commanded the disciples to do, are things that the disciples were told to make sure that they taught everyone else to obey (all nations, in fact).
What are some things that Jesus commanded his disciples to do? One thing he taught them was to turn the other cheek. Another was to prefer others above themselves. Another was to treat others in the same manner that they would want to be treated in. Another was to love the Lord with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength. And another was to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them.
All of these things which the Lord commanded his disciples to do, are things that we also are commanded to obey. That means we are all commanded to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them.
Here is the scripture again - Matthew 28:19,20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Jesus said that every nation was to obey everything that he had commanded his disciples to do. And did Jesus not just give his disciples a command? He commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. Since he commanded his disciples to go, baptizing and teaching all nations, then all of us are required to obey the same command. All the nations are to obey everything that Jesus told his disciples to obey. The disciples are to teach these nations to obey all of the things that they were commanded to do by Jesus. One such thing that the disciples were commanded to do by Jesus was to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them. We are all expected by God to obey the commandment he gave in Matthew 28:19,20.
This is our primary function as Christians. Our main purpose in life is to share with others the good news of Christ.
2nd Corinthians 5:19,20 - …he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Jesus has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. That means we are his ambassadors. We explain to others the reconciliation message as if God Himself were speaking to them through us, and not we ourselves, in the same manner as Jesus, when he said in John 12:49, 50 - "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.""
We are to plead with the lost on the behalf of Christ, and beg them to be reconciled to God.
This is scripture, and it is our primary function.
This is the Truth that I want to reveal to you in this Bible Study.
There are people who believe that they are not required to "go and make disciples of all nations". They believe that this is fine for some people, like missionaries and evangelists, but that it is not something the Lord has commanded them to do.
First of all, we have already seen in Matthew 28:19 that we are responsible for obeying every command that Jesus gave his disciples, and one command he gave his disciples was to go and be witnesses of him to all nations.
Secondly, we have already seen that "we are therefore Christ's ambassadors". The message of reconciliation was entrusted to us. If we do not pass it on to the nations, who will, the heathen? Will God reveal it to the nations through divine revelation in dreams and visions and angelic visitations? No, He has chosen to reveal His Gospel through us, His Church.
Ephesians 3:10,11 - His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The scripture does not say that God's intent was to make His wisdom and eternal purpose known through His Apostles. It does not say that God's intent was to reveal His Gospel through His Evangelists.
It says his intention was to reveal His Word through His Church. That includes all of us. 1st Corinthians 12:27,28 - Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
This scripture says that in the Church there are many different kinds of people. There are apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle-workers, healers, helpers, administrators, and tongue-talkers. God's intent was that now, His Will would be made known through His Church, which includes all of these kinds of people. All are Ambassadors. All have been entrusted with carrying the Gospel to all nations. We may have different specialties, different methods of going about that command which we call the Great Commission, but it is the primary function of all of us.
One proof that we have that the Bible is inspired of God, that it is His Word, is that it is not simply one book. It is a compilation of 66 books, with 40 different independent authors representing 20 occupations, living in 10 countries during a 1,500 year span, working in three languages, with a cast of 2,930 characters in 1,551 places.
Now imagine 40 different people in 10 different countries, coming from 20 different backgrounds, writing in 3 different languages over 1,500 years, all writing about something as complex and controversial as the nature of God. You would expect to see many different opinions, and many contradictions.
However, the Bible agrees with itself from cover to cover. How did they do that? Divine inspiration.
2nd Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Since God never changes, His Word will always reflect His unchanging nature. His principles are the same no matter what the situation or century. What He said to one man four thousand years ago will agree with what he says to someone today.
Knowing this, I will continue this study by endeavoring to show that our main purpose is to function as Ambassadors of Christ, by using scripture from many different parts of the Bible, for it agrees with itself on this purpose.
Romans 16:25 - 27 - Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him- 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
This scripture says that there has existed for many long ages, a mystery. This mystery has been with us for millennia, it is not a recent thing. It has confounded the inhabitants of the earth for a very long time, but has now been revealed! How has it been revealed? By prophetic writings, and by the command of eternal God.
Why has this long dark mystery now been revealed to us? "So that all nations might believe and obey him".
The scripture says that the Gospel and proclamation of Jesus Christ, this mystery of Godliness has been revealed for the purpose of causing all nations to believe and obey God.
We, the Church, are the ones entrusted with this Gospel, with this proclamation of Jesus Christ. Why? For the purpose of proclaiming Him unto all the nations.
Apostles are entrusted with this message. Evangelists are entrusted with this message. Preachers, teachers, deacons, elders, overseers, prophets, pastors, encouragers, healers, discerners, miracle-workers, administrators, helpers, and missionaries are all entrusted with this message. The Church has been entrusted with this message.
Our spiritual gifts have been given us to help us fulfill this primary purpose of acting as Ambassadors of Christ to the world.
Matthew 24:14 - 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.
Jesus gave as a requirement of his return, this statement, that the Gospel would be preached to all nations. Jesus will not return until his Gospel has been preached in the whole world! Those of us who are Christians, who are waiting and watching for the return of Jesus Christ, can not just sit back and watch for him. He will not return until the Gospel has been preached to the entire world.
We say that we desire for the Lord to come, and to come quickly. Well, we can affect his coming, by getting out there and preaching his message to all the earth. If we sit back and do not obey his commandment to go and make disciples of all nations, he will never return! The Church must go! And by going, we hasten his return!
Jesus has placed so much importance on his Gospel, that he will not return until the entire world has had a chance to hear it. We, the Church, are the ones entrusted with disseminating that message. We must go!
Mark 13:9,10 - You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Jesus warned us that we would be persecuted. But the reason for the persecutions and the imprisonments, and the reason for being brought before authorities, is so that we might have an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of Christ!
Because of Jesus, because of his Gospel, we will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. Why? That we might be witnesses to those who accuse us, and so that the Gospel can be preached to all nations.
Are you beginning to see a pattern? The Bible tells us again and again, that the reason for our very existence is so that we can be about our jobs as Ambassadors. Otherwise, why not just hire an assassin to shoot new converts the second they receive the Holy Spirit? Why doesn't God just take us out of this vile, evil world the moment He comes to live in our hearts?
The answer is, because He has a reason for us to remain on this earth. He has a plan, and we are part of that plan. That plan is to deliver the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all flesh, for the Lord is not willing that even one person be lost. (2nd Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.)
We are an integral part of the Lord's plan. We are His Ambassadors. We are the method He has chosen to spread His Word throughout the world.
Luke 24:45 - 47 - Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Jesus in this passage opened their minds so that they could understand the scriptures. This shows us that it is possible to read scripture and yet not understand it. Here, Jesus fully opened their understanding. And what was it that they finally understood, that they had not understood before, even though they had read the scriptures?
They understood that Christ would rise from the dead, and repentance and forgiveness of sins was going to be preached to all nations!
It wasn't just that Christ would rise from the dead! Look at the scripture! In the same sentence that says Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, it says that the Gospel would be preached to all nations! This was part of the Truth that was revealed to them. The Jews were not to just keep this salvation and this Gospel message to themselves. They were no longer the exclusive Children of God. God's order was to preach it to all nations!
The Bible gives us many examples to pattern our lives after: Jesus, Paul, Peter, and Philip are only a few. In the Church we have many different types of people, some are teachers, some are apostles, some are evangelists, and so on, as the scriptures have said.
Jesus was called a Teacher (Matthew 19:16 - Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"), Paul and Peter were called Apostles, (Romans 1:1 - Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-; 1st Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,) and Philip was an Evangelist (Acts 21:8 - Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.).
These men that the Bible holds up to us as examples, were all busy preaching the Gospel to the world, even though some were apostles, some were evangelists, and some were teachers. One thing that they all had in common was that they all went into the world and preached righteousness.
Not only are we to mirror their actions, the people of their day followed their examples, as well.
1st Thessalonians 1:4-8 - For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia-your faith in God has become known everywhere.
1st Thessalonians was written by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. They say here in verse 4, that they know God has chosen the people of Thessalonia. They have been chosen to become entrusted with the Gospel. They say that they lived among the Thessalonians for a time, and the Thessalonians became imitators of them. By imitating Paul, Silas, and Timothy, they became a model to all the believers. What was it that they did? What was it that they imitated? They preached the Gospel with not simply words, but with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction.
Preaching the Gospel in this manner, with this power, and in imitating Paul, Silas, and Timothy, what happened? The Lord's message rang out not only in Thessalonia, but in Macedonia and in Achaia. And not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but everywhere!
They were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world!
Matthew 5:14 tells us to be a light. A light to who? To the whole world! - "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
This scripture says that "in the same way" as a lamp is set on a stand and gives light to everyone in the house, we are to set our light (the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the example of right-living that the Gospel gives us) on a stand and let it shine so that it gives light to everyone in the world.
The fact is, we are to confess the Lord and be witnesses of Him to all the world. (Acts 1:8,9 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. ) The last words Jesus gave us were that we will (not might) be His witnesses to the whole earth.
Let's go back and look at the Great Commission once more.
Matthew 28:19,20 - Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
We are commanded here by Jesus Christ, to GO and make disciples… of who? Of ALL NATIONS! We are to baptize… who? ALL NATIONS, and teach… who? ALL NATIONS!
Matthew 5:13 - "You are the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:14 - "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
We are the salt of our families, we are the light of our neighborhoods…
No, the scripture says that we are the salt of the EARTH, and light of the WORLD! That includes our families and neighborhoods, but it also encompasses so much more.
The scriptures tell us to GO!
Now, having said that, does this mean that everyone of us are expected to pack up, sell our homes, and take our families to Africa?
No. The United States is part of this world that we are to reach for Christ. It is not a godly nation. There are people here who need to be reached, people who need a visit from one of Christ's Ambassadors.
We have family, friends, coworkers, and others that we come into contact with on a daily basis. With each one there is an opportunity to express the desire of Christ that they be reconciled to Him.
Some of us need to go to Africa, to the Philippines, to Mexico, and China. Others of us need to start preaching the Gospel of Christ right where we are, and plead with our own section of this world to become reconciled to Christ. It is our primary function!
Jesus himself never traveled more than 200 miles from the place that he was born. That means it is not necessary for us to travel outside of our own state, but we can be preaching the Gospel of Christ right where we are.
What did the demoniac, when cured, want to do? He wanted to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and go with him. Mark 5:18,19 - As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."
Here is a perfect example of a person not called to go to Africa. He was told by Jesus himself to remain in the town he lived in. However, Jesus left him with a command: "tell your family how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." Those of us who have not been called to go to Africa, are we telling our friends, and family how much the Lord has done for us and how He has had mercy on us?
The cured demoniac was willing to follow Jesus, and be a witness for him wherever he went, but Jesus told him not to follow him into the regions he was heading, but rather to go into his own world and let his light shine before men. And what happened as a result? Mark 5:20 - And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
The demoniac went back to his town, back to his family, and began to publish the great things Jesus had done for him. By the way, Decapolis was not just one city, it was a common name for a cluster of ten cities, sometimes referred to as the Ten Cities. This formerly demon-possessed man published the greatness of God to people in ten cities! And the result? All men marveled!
See, some people do head off to Africa, when the will of the Lord for their lives is simply to remain with their families and let them know of His goodness. Some people rush off to foreign soil in order to be about fulfilling the Great Commission, while their families and friends are neglected, and are lost.
It is the will of the Lord that some of us become foreign missionaries, but for some His will is that we would simply become local missionaries. There is plenty of work that still needs done right where we are! So don't think that simply because God has not called you to a distant nation, that He has not called you to preach His Gospel. You are Ambassadors, and the fields are ripe unto harvest.
Matthew 9:37,38 - Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
We have been sent into the Lord's harvest field, whether that field is in Africa or in your own backyard. It is not just the Pastor's job to witness. It is not just the Evangelist's job. It is not just the Apostle's job. It is the job of all of us, members of Christ's Body, His Church.
Through prayer, we can be going into other countries, and in the Spirit we can be making a difference in nations around the world; our finances can be sent into the whole world, as well. These things are good and they are necessary. They should be being done. We should be going into all the earth in prayer.
But this does not excuse us from our primary purpose. We need to be preaching the Gospel to all the world, even in our own small part of it.
Are we ashamed to be doing so? Mark 8:38 - If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Luke 12:8,9 - "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
1st Peter 3:15 - Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Ephesians 6:15 - (Stand firm then,) with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
We must not be ashamed. We must confess the Lord, we must preach His Gospel.
Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;
Matthew 24:14 - 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.
Chad J. McCoy
Dark Savant Ministries
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