Blog 023 - The Great Commission
Posted on February 13, 2021
The Great Commission
Matthew 28 v 18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” niv
During the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, church is not what it was and the changes are being met with mixed reactions. Many Christians have become unsettled and are experiencing uncertainty and anxiety regarding what the future holds for them, their families and their respective church communities. Some church leaders are taking this opportunity to examine what church has become and how it compares (or contrasts) with what it was originally intended to be like in the first century AD.
When we consider the great commission, it is not difficult to identify what the essence of Christ’s commission to the first disciples was and there are three key elements;
▪ go and make disciples of all nations
▪ baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
▪ teach them to obey everything I have commanded you
These instructions were issued under the supreme authority of Christ and are accompanied with the promise of His abiding presence. The subsequent enactment of this commission is outlined in the book of Acts - exponential church growth was the unstoppable outcome.
Before the pandemic, many evangelical churches from various denominations were bordering on being insular and as a result had become stagnant. It is in fact shocking to contemplate the possibility of church being a place where Christians meet for fellowship with little or no focus on reaching out to the lost. Many churches no longer have a gospel outreach because the elders or leaders have subscribed to a social gospel under the guise of ‘lifestyle evangelism’.
This might come as a shock to you; lifestyle evangelism is not working and there are sobering reasons why this is so. The main reason is that many of us as Christians do not have lifestyles which provoke interest from non-believers; instead we inexplicably blend in with the world and as a consequence, we are not impacting those around us with the confrontational and powerful message of the gospel.
Church growth in the early church - as outlined in the book of Acts - was characterised by people responding to the message of the gospel and getting saved through repentance from sin and exercising faith in Christ.
All too often, church growth in the Western World, is the result of disillusioned Christians moving from one church to another for one reason or another. Something needs to change.
Repentance - The forgotten message!
The message of John the Baptist was repent! The message of Jesus was repent! The message of the Apostles in the early church was repent! Today we are afraid of the word repent because it offends. There is an urgent need for the church to preach the message of repentance once again.
If we preach the message of repentance it will have the double effect of calling believers to live as we ought and will also cause unbelievers to examine their ways in the light of eternity.
COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on activities surrounding evangelism to the extent that it is not practicable to have gatherings with large numbers. Rather than be crippled by these restrictions; this provides us with a new opportunity to reach out to people in a different way.
In a former blog - Blog 002: Letter to a neighbour - I asked what would happen if every single Christian in the world made an effort to reach out to their immediate neighbours with the message of the gospel? Rather than church being insular, this approach would literally reach millions of unsaved people who might never attend church.
Could a strategy like this help us to fulfil the great commission in a way that we have not previously tried during our lives?
I have asked myself these searching questions;
How long have I lived beside my immediate neighbours?
Do they know that I am a Christian?
Do they know where they will spend ETERNITY?
Do I care if they go to heaven or hell?
Have I engaged them in conversation regarding Christianity?
Am I willing to PRAY about my role in the great commission?
How many souls have been saved through my witness?
Sobering facts that should motivate me;
The Lord Jesus is coming back soon!Heaven and hell are real destinations!
I have a responsibility to let the most obvious people groups within my sphere of influence know about ETERNITY! This starts with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. If we all made it our mission to do this, something special would happen in our generation and in our world.
I hope that whoever you are and wherever you are; you will join with me in the pursuit of how we might best participate in and fulfil the great commission. God bless you and all those precious souls who are within your sphere of influence.