We become set in our ways and comfortable in our lives. Therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult to depart from our comfort zones, but to be a participant in the Great Commission we must leave our comfort zones and usual way of doing things. This past week I was taken far from my comfort zone and usual way of doing things. I spent the week assisting with the teaching of disciples, at a week-long seminar, in a foreign country that I never imagined visiting. This morning I write to you from that country under a shade tree while waiting to depart to the airport and head back home. The seminar concluded yesterday evening and the students were all dismissed to their churches. The details of the trip are not important for this writing, but the fact that I spent the last week far from my comfort zone and usual way of doing things in obedience to the Great Commissions is important. The words of Christ in Matthew 28:16-20 are known by the disciples of Jesus Christ as the Great Commission and I would like to talk this morning about the four “all’s” given by our Lord and Savior in the Commissioning of his church for the work of the kingdom of God.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Mt 28:18b)
As the Divine second person of the Trinity, the Son has always had authority as the firstborn of all creation; however, following his death, burial and resurrection the Son has new authority as the first to rise from the dead. As a result of his death, burial and resurrection Jesus has the authority to give eternal life to all whom the Father gives him. As the head of a new creation Jesus gives his marching orders to the church. (Mt 29:19-20)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19)
“All nations” does not mean that every human would become a disciple, but it does mean that as the head of the new creation our Lord Jesus Christ intends for people from every nation, every tribe, every people, and every tongue on the earth to hear the gospel and become disciples of his Word. There will be persons from every nation, every tribe, every people and every tongue in the kingdom of God which is already inaugurated and yet to come in consummation.
The new disciples are to be baptized by the mature disciples. When a new believer is baptized he/she is identifying themselves with Trinitarian Theology; God is one divine being subsisting eternally in three distinct persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) all of whom are equally God in essence. By receiving believer’s baptism, he/she is acknowledging that God is their Father, that Jesus Christ is his/her Lord and Savior, and that the Holy Spirit is the One who indwells him/her, regenerating them to believe and observe all that Christ commanded.
“Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Mt 2:20a)
Some believe that the great commission is evangelism; if they point out to an unbeliever that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:23) that the wages of sin is death, (Rom 6:23a) that Christ died for our sins and was buried and was raised on the third day; (1 Cor 15:3-4) then if the person they preached the gospel to repents and believes then they think that they have fulfilled the great commission. The Great Commission includes evangelism; however, the Great Commission is far more than evangelism. The Great Commission is the purpose for which the church exists. It is not enough to just make converts, we are to make disciples. Disciples need to be taught to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ as found throughout the Bible (not just the New Testament), but the disciples should be taught to understand all of the Scripture in light of the New Testament. The disciple should become like his/her teacher and this is accomplished through a systematic teaching of and submission to all of the Word of God.
“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b)
This is the promise of our Lord before he ascended to the righthand of the Father and is a promise for the missionary to hold on too. As we are going in obedience to the Great Commission Christ promises to be with us always and he will be with us all the way to the end of the age. That means when we depart from our comfort zones and usual way of doing things, going to a foreign land that we never imagined going to, to do the work of the Great Commission: making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, and teaching them to observe all of our Lord’s commandments; we do not go alone or unaided because he is with us all the way to the end. In all of our service and all of our travels the Lord Jesus Christ is with us always.