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The Great Commission and You

Before the Lord ascended to heaven, He gave His apostles the Great Commission. In Matthew's record, Christ's words are given as follows:

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

This commission is a brief but full mission statement for the apostles. It gives the basis of the mission, which is the all-encompassing authority of Christ. It also gives the goal of the mission, which is to make disciples of all nations. Furthermore, it gives the methods of the mission, which are baptizing in the name of God and teaching the commandments of Christ. Finally, it gives assurance to the mission, for Jesus declared that He would always be with the apostles.

As we consider the Great Commission, we realize that this was not strictly a mission for the apostles. The disciples who would be converted by the apostles were to be taught all that Jesus had commanded to the apostles. This certainly includes the commandments contained within the Great Commission itself, so this mission from Jesus is passed down from generation to generation of His disciples. This is precisely the message Paul indicated to Timothy in 2Timothy 2:2 when he wrote, "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Therefore, many generations later, we are the modern disciples of Christ who now carry the responsibility of the Great Commission, and we will pass it on to the next generation.

As modern missionaries of Christ, we know what we must do: make disciples. We also know how to do this, which is by teaching the word of Christ and baptizing persons in the name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The question is, whom shall we make into disciples of Christ? Jesus sent the apostles to "all nations," which indicated that their mission was not merely to go to the Jews but also to the Gentile peoples. For us, this means that the whole world is open as a mission field.

This is a daunting task, for how can we make disciples of all nations? Obviously, this is a collective effort to be made by all Christians. No single Christian can reach the whole world, but all Christians together can go to all the nations. To succeed in this mission, each Christian must do his part within his sphere of influence. If all Christians will do this, then the mission will be carried out successfully.

Now for you, dear Christian, how will you do your part? When you think of the Great Commission as we call it, you may think of grand efforts and missionary journeys to foreign lands. However, you can carry out your part of the Great Commission by simply reaching out to those whom you already contact and influence. Let it begin with your own family, including your children and your spouse (1Cor. 7:10-16; Eph. 6:4; 2Tim. 1:5; 3:14-15; Tit. 2:4-5; 1Pet. 3:1-7). Beyond these, speak about the Lord to your friends, neighbors, co-workers and other people you encounter. In this way, you can "go and make disciples" without really going anywhere.

When you are considering whom to teach the gospel, don't exclude anyone. If you disqualify a person from hearing the gospel because he has too many problems, he doesn't look right, his hair is too long, he is divorced, he has addictions, etc., then you need to reevaluate your approach. Jesus said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). When you take on the Lord's Great Commission, you must also communicate the Lord's Great Invitation, which He gave in Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

If you are looking for the perfect candidate for a making a disciple and expecting a "just-add-water" instant-Christian, then you will never convert anyone. In the first century, those who appeared to be the most likely candidates for becoming Christ's disciples were probably the Pharisees, but Jesus said their hearts were far away from God (Matt. 15:7-9). Perhaps the chief priests and elders seemed most suited to be disciples of God's Son, but Jesus said that the tax-gatherers and harlots would get into the kingdom before they would (Matt. 21:31). Likewise, if you are looking for disciples only among persons who have the appearance of religion already, then you will probably have little success. Turn your eyes to the "desert of sorrow and sin," and there you will find the greatest potential for making disciples.

Faithful Christians, the Great Commission is yours and mine. The Lord has entrusted it to our hands, and it is a stewardship for which we must give an account. How shall we answer?

Stacey E. Durham



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