WHAT IS THE GREAT COMMISSION?
Baptists have always had a significant emphasis on the Great Commission. I grew up hearing about the Great Commission. I am glad to say our pastor mentions it often. The question is, do we today know what the Great Commission is and where to find it in the Bible?
There are several places the Bible talks about the commission to take the Gospel into the world. For instance, Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” But the most complete version of the commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20.
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the HolySpirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The primary job of Christians is to make disciples. But what does that mean? I like to think about the meaning of the Great Commission using the following acronym:
F-The field of the disciple maker’s ministry is the world.
We are to make disciples of all the nations. That is a missional commission that includes next door or anywhere else in the world. In Acts 1:8 Jesus shows the disciples the progression of the expansion of the church. “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The original commission started at home and continued progressively until all the world has heard the Gospel and had a chance to respond.
A-The authority of the disciple maker’s job comes from Jesus.
In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells the disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” The Father gave to the Son all the authority of Heaven. The authority of the disciple maker does not come from the government or current cultural standards. Jesus, by virtue of His relationship with the Father and the obedience that took Him to the cross, is able to declare that what I am about to tell you is authoritative. Do not be intimidated by the world.
C-The command of the Great Commission is to make disciples.
Grammatically, there is only one command in the Great Commission—“Make disciples.” Dallas Willard says that means make more of what I made of you. So, the primary job of the Christians is to make disciples. What does that mean and how do we accomplish that feat?
T-The task of the ministry is three-fold: going, baptizing, and teaching.
The command of the Great Commission is to make disciples. That command is supported and explained by three participles. The first is going. We are all going someplace: to the store or next door. That’s casual going. Some will go to the “remotest part of the earth.” That might be for the purpose of business or pleasure. Others might go intentionally for the purpose of taking the Gospel to a certain group of people. We call that kind of going missions. Someone had said,“being as how you’re going anyway, you might as well make a disciple.”
The second participle is baptizing. The act of baptism is a public profession of faith. Baptism serves to identify the new believer with Christ. Baptism documents that the person being baptized believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the sole power of salvation. It also signifies that spiritually the new believer has been given a new life in Christ.
The final participle is teaching. Teaching is the part of the Great Commission that many people omit when they talk about the Great Commission. Notice that Jesus said, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Read the Gospels to see what Jesus taught His disciples. Maybe that’s why Paul said that his job was not complete until he was able to present every man “complete in Christ.”
S-The security of the Great Commission is the presence of Jesus.
Obviously, the ministry of the disciple maker is not easy. Making disciples has challenges and is along-term process. The world resists. Satan attacks. Some people reject the message. Some cultures resist the Gospel. Some places even pass laws against the sharing of the Gospel. Jesus does not promise that the task will be easy. He does promise, however, that He will be with us as we make disciples.
The task of fulfilling the Great Commission is not the job of a single person, but it is the job of each person. It takes each of us and all of us working together to fulfill the Great Commission.