The following post is an adaptation of a four-part sermon series by Kurt Nelson, East-West’s President and CEO, that was inspired by Marvin Newell’s book, Commissioned.
You’re likely familiar the conclusion of Matthew’s gospel account. It’s here that we—the global Church—are given the command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). But did you know that this familiar passage is just one of five charges Jesus gave His disciples between His resurrection and His ascension?
Each of these charges have tremendous implications on our pursuit of the mission of Jesus today. In them, we discover the model, magnitude, method, message, and means by which we are called to fulfill our Great Commission task.
Model of the Great Commission
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” -John 20:21
In this passage, Jesus doesn’t waste time getting down to business. He first reminds us of His gift to all believers—peace! At the point of salvation, we are made at peace with God. Then Jesus gets to the model of our mission. Scripture repeatedly reveals that God is on mission to restore our relationship with Him. He is a missionary God. As such, the Father sent the Son, the Son sent His disciples, His disciples sent the Church—including you and me—to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
Magnitude of the Great Commission
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” -Mark 16:15
In this passage, “all” means all. We are commissioned to reach every person in every place. No believer is exempt. God’s eternal plan and design is that all who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord play a part in His great mission to save the lost from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation on earth. As East-West’s Founder, John Maisel says, “God calls us each to play our bit part. You play your bit part, I play my bit part, and God plays His great big part.”
Method of the Great Commission
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and what’s astounding about this passage is that He delegates His God-given authority to His disciples. Once Jesus makes it clear that His authority is transferred to His disciples, He prescribes the “how” behind making disciples, which is…
- By going to the ends of the earth—to every place and every person
- By baptizing them in the Name of the one, true God
- By teaching obedience to all that Jesus commanded
Best yet, Jesus gives the Eleven—and us—the glorious promise that His Presence would forever and everywhere go with us in this global assignment.
Message of the Great Commission
“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” -Luke 24:46-49
Simply put, the God of the Bible is willing to freely rescue all who have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, as their one and only Rescuer. Prior to Christ, we are spiritually dead and unable to save ourselves. We have to be rescued and resuscitated through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our first response to this message is to believe in our great Rescuer—Jesus Christ. We then respond with gratitude and obedience. This is the message of the Great Commission: We are rescued in order to rescue.
Means of the Great Commission
“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.’” -Acts 1:8
Here Dr. Luke reveals that the Holy Spirit is the means of divinely empowered global witness! You and I are humble, broken, frail, fallible followers of Jesus who are empowered by the Spirit of the Living God to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. To do so, we must be awakened to the Person, priority, presence, power, and purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
As Corrie ten Boom said, “Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”
The Holy Spirit is the means by which you and I are able to be faithful to the model, magnitude, method, and message of the Great Commission!
A Powerful Promise
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus tells us that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” What a powerful promise from Jesus that His Great Commission will be gloriously fulfilled! Glory to God in the highest!