Most of us are familiar with the wording and message Jesus left for His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20. We read it, hear sermons about it, and pray for it. Some even memorize it. Yet fewer actually attempt to engage in it.
Despite all of the speeches and hype revolving around the Great Commission, I believe we still have not fully grasped the power and intent of this Great Commission – in large part because of our failure to consistently participate in Great Commission work. If we truly understood the weight of the Great Commission, the glory and power behind it, we would be more like Paul, who could not be swayed from Great Commission work, despite shipwreck, beatings, and imprisonment.
If busyness, nervousness, and laziness constantly keep us from Great Commission work, then we have yet to scratch the surface of understanding this glorious Gospel. Because a heart saturated by that glory cannot help but be moved to action.
Look at these five major Great Commission passages. Do you believe them? These passages explain the glory and sufficiency of the Gospel we’ve been tasked to spread. When taken to heart, no obstacle can discourage us from reaching the world for Christ.
The Authority: “all power” & The Objective: “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The all-encompassing authority of Christ is directing us toward one major imperative: make disciples! Every relationship is aimed toward this goal. And Christ is the One enabling us to make and mature these believers.
The Breadth: “every creature” (Mark 16:15)
There is no one to be excluded, regardless of color or culture. And there is nowhere to be avoided. This Gospel is for all people in all places.
The Content: “repentance and remission of sins” (Luke 24:46-48)
Essentially, Christ’s blood shed on the Cross is the content we share with the world. With the love of God and power of the Scriptures, we persuade others to repent and believe so that they can be reconciled with God.
The Result: “fruit that remains” (John 15:16)
There is no other way to measure the success of this mission. Where Christ is working, fruit is remaining. Where the Gospel is preached, people are changed, and God’s glory becomes evident in their lives.
The Progression: “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)
How do we reach the world? One person at a time. We start at home and progress to the corners of the earth until everyone has encountered the glory of the Gospel.
Are we sufficient for this task?
Definitely not. But on the other hand, yes. We understand that we are insufficient on our own, but the disciples have evidenced what Christ can do through just a few to change the world.
So what should we do?
We need to cultivate relationships that are centered on the Gospel, display lives that have been transformed by the Gospel, and establish priorities set by this Great Commission. And the easiest way to do this is to simply be excited about it.
Get excited about the Gospel.
Even the most shy among us talk about what is important to us. We are not hesitant to talk about our family or our jobs. We are not shy to talk about our vacation plans or our hobbies. We certainly have no problem sharing our ideas about who should or shouldn’t be president. Most of us are not hesitant to share our strong opinions with others. We especially don’t have a problem sharing what excites us with others.
I have been approached by people who want to sell me any number of things – network marketing is alive and well. But do you get excited enough about the good news of Jesus Christ to share it with others?
Here is Carson’s observation:
“What we must ask one another is this: What is it in the Christian faith that excites you? What consumes your time? What turns you on? Today there are endless subgroups of confessing Christians who invest enormous quantities of time and energy in one issue or another: abortion, pornography, home schooling, women’s ordination (for or against), economic justice, a certain style of worship, the defense of a particular Bible version, and much more. The list varies from country to country, but not few countries have a full agenda of urgent, peripheral demands. Not for a moment am I suggesting we should not thin about such matters or throw our weight behind some of them. But when such matters devour most of our time and passion, each of us must ask: In what fashion am I confessing the centrality of the gospel? . . . [Without question there were Christians who transformed society in their day] . . . but virtually without exception these men and women put the gospel first. They were gospel people. They reveled in it, preached it, cherished Bible reading and exposition that was Christ-centered and gospel centered, and from that base moved out into the broader social agendas. In short, they put the gospel first, not least in their own aspirations. Not to see this priority means we are not more than a generation away from denying the gospel” (Basics for Believers, 26-27).
Don’t let the Gospel end with you. The Great Commission is your opportunity to embrace the glory of the Gospel and extend it to others.