THE GREAT COMMISSION

We have now examined the Church as God's ordained instrument of future blessing to all creation and the individual Christian as a revelation from God of the person and ministry of His beloved Son, Jesus. We must now consider how these many individuals can be equipped to take their rightful place within the Body of Christ.

BEING SENT

" All power is given to me in heaven and in earth, Go therefore and teach all nations...." (Matthew 28:18-20). This is what we think of as the great commission. We are to go out, tell people about Jesus and get them "saved". Unfortunately the world is not interested in "hearing" about Jesus. It takes more than just words. We need to re-examine our understanding of the "Great Commission".

It is important to read the Bible in context. Each account of the commission is related to the other.

At the end of John's Gospel we see. "As the Father has sent me , I also send you" (John 20:21-23). In what way was Jesus "sent" ? Jesus said," My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:34). Again he said," I must work the works of him who sent me..." (John 9:4).

Jesus was sent by the Father to do the works the Father would have done if he were physically presence.

The work that Jesus came to do was to glorify the Father in the earth. As He said, "I have glorified You in the earth. I have finished the work You gave me to do (John 17:4)". As Jesus was "sent" by his Father, so we are "sent" by Jesus. Our work is the same. We are here to "Glorify Christ who sent us". Jesus said "those who believe in me will do the works that I have done and even greater works" (John 14:12). We are "sent" to do what Jesus would do if he were physically presence.

In His wisdom Jesus has diffused His authority and power throughout His Church so that instead of there being only one "Christ" in the world, there is a multitude of "little Christs" all doing the work of the original. Jesus is no longer "limited" by His earthly body but is available to many through His "Spiritual Body" the Church. There is no country on earth where His power and authority is not available, because there is no country on earth where His Church is not established.

But we must "wait" for His empowering. This empowering is vital if we are to fulfill the great commission fully. At the end of Luke's Gospel we see. "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all the nations ... but wait in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:47-49).

We are living in the "dispensation" of the Church. Jesus has commissioned us to do His work in the world. We are here to "dispense" (give out) Jesus' power and authority to those around us. We can not give to others what we have not received ourselves. We need the Holy Spirit's power.

Jesus gives us "signs" to show that we have authority to act for him. As was said before in chapter 11 signs are important in God's work. Signs are like "credentials" to prove our calling from God.

At the end of Mark's Gospel Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature ..... and these signs shall follow those who believe. In my name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up snakes, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them. They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover" (Mark 16:17-18). These signs show that we are Christ's ambassadors here in the earth, acting not under our own authority but in His Name.

Now we can "Go therefore and teach all nations...." (Matthew 28:18-20) in His name. We have the authority and power to do so.

This then is the "Great Commission".

  1. Jesus calls us to himself. The great commission is not a "general" call to the church. It is a "Personal" call to individuals to fulfill His will.
  2. Jesus anoints us and empowers us by his Spirit. Our "credentials" for ministry are "Signs and Wonders" (Mark 16:17-18).
  3. Jesus then "sends" us out into the world under instruction, to "do the will of him who sent us" (John 5:30). We do not act under our own authority, but under Christ's authority (and with His super-natural backing).

WITNESSES

The dictionary defines a witness as "a person who is present at an event or a person giving sworn testimony".

Jesus said, "Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth". (Acts 1:8)

So what does it mean to be a witness for Christ ? The Apostle John answers this fairly well by saying "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes ... and our hands have handled ... That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you" (1 John 1: 1 - 3). To witness for Jesus is to give testimony of what we ourselves have seen and heard and experienced of the Son of God. We can not bear testimony of his life on earth for we were not there. For that we rely on the testimony of others who were "present at those events". Neither can we truely give testimony to his death, for we were not there either. However, we, like Paul, can truely say that we bare witness to the risen, glorified Jesus. Our own testimony of those things which Jesus has done for us are important. Of these things we are witnesses.

DIVINE APPOINTMENTS

We know that there are appointed times for all things. "A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pull up. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to break down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh .... A time of war and a time of peace " (Eccleseastes 3:1-8).

So it is with all the things of God. He has appointed the times and the seasons for all things and nothing happens without His express permission. "For God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre appointed times and boundaries of their habitation" (Acts 17:26).

We must keep this in mind when we are sharing the Gospel with those around us. There is a time and a season for everything. At one time in a persons life they may be more receptive to the truth than at any other. At this time they will most probably accept Jesus as their Lord. At another time they may hear the same message, without effect.

This is not our concern. We are to be witnesses only. We tell people what we have seen, heard and experienced (1 John 1:1-3). We are not the ones who convert. This is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11). Therefore we should not be deterred if those to whom we speak do not respond to our message. The time may not be right. Some other Saint may have the privilege later of leading these people to Faith when the time is right.

For us to be effective in our proclamation of the Gospel we must be in the right place at the right time. To do this we must be led by the Spirit. By far the best Biblical example of this is the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian on the road down from Jerusalem (Acts 8:26-40). Philip was led by the Spirit to speak to the Ethiopian at a time when he was most receptive to the truth of Jesus. This was a "Divine Appointment".

We encounter Divine appointments from time to time. When they occur everything fits together like a well oiled machine. We must be ready for these times. As Peter wrote "Sanctify the Lord in your hearts and be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason of the hope that is within you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).

GOD'S MERCY

The reason that God has chosen to use us weak human vessels and his Holy Spirit in the way that he has is because of his great mercy. If God were to appear in person before someone, or speak directly to them His holiness would destroy them. In his mercy, he has called us out of the world, equipped and empowered us with His Holy Spirit, and "sent" us out into the world to do His will.

Without God, mankind is destined for destruction. If God were to come in person to correct this, His holiness would destroy us. So God has done the only thing possible. He has taken human vessels, equipped and empowered them with supernatural authority from His Spirit and "sent" them back into the world to do what He himself would do if he were physically present.


Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.
Last modified: 18 - Sept - 1998.
Copyright 1998, Graham Brodie.

Maintainer: Graham Brodie, Email