Imagine a fishing club that has a goal to catch fish all over the world.
- The club meets week after week to talk about the need to go fishing and the best techniques and methods of fishing.
- They bring in guest speakers to encourage them to fish.
- They have all the best fishing equipment – the rod, the reel, the tackle, the waders, the boat.
- They argue and debate over the best methods, the best rod, the best reel, the best boat.
- They even sing songs about how much they love fishing, how much they love the One who made the fish, and how much their lives have been changed by fishing.
Yet there is only one problem, they never catch fish…
- They want to.
- They know they should.
- They realise that every day there are thousands/millions of fish that go uncaught.
- They are intending to fish
- But they are just having such a good time is talking, meeting, singing, and studying fishing they really don’t have time to fish.
The real issue is that fishing is quite difficult.
- It requires going out, being patient, and getting your hands dirty with grubs and bait.
- It is very time consuming.
- Sometimes you come back without anything.
- Sometimes the fish have all sorts of problems – don’t want to be caught.
- Sometimes the fish are very far away and have different cultures.
- It can been very expensive.
And so occasionally, every year or so, a few fish will be caught…
(Sure sounds a lot like our churches today!)
THE CHURCH IS MORE THAN A CLUB; IT HAS A MISSION
- In every account of the life of Christ, in all 4 gospel records and in Acts, we find that Jesus has one major concern – that His followers go and preach the gospel to the entire world.
- Notice briefly the passages that make up what we call the Great Commission
Mark’s Account of the Great Commission
Mk 16:14–20 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
- This is an appearance of Christ to the disciples on the very day of His resurrection after appearing to several people individually. (Thomas was absent). It is evening time and they are getting ready to eat.
- There Jesus appeared to them and rebukes (“upbraided”) them for their unbelief and hard-heartedness in not believing the reports of those who saw Him earlier in the day.
- v.15 Then Jesus gets straight to the point:
- “I want you to go into all the world and proclaim the good news of what I have done on the cross to every person on the planet.”
- v.16 “Those who believe the gospel and as a symbol of their faith get baptised shall be saved” but those who do not believe (notice no mention of baptism) will be damned” – this is of great importance.
- v.17-18 “There are going to be some powerful signs that follow those who believe – casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, protection from serpents and poison, sick being healed, etc” – and that is exacting what happened as we read the history of the church in Acts, we don’t see these type of things happening today in the same way, but we do see God changing lives and confirming His Word with miraculous power.
- v.19 After Jesus spoke to them (a few days later), he was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God.
- v.20 They would go forth and preach everywhere and the Lord would do exactly what He said, working with them and confirming His Word with signs following. Amen.
What we learn from this passage:
- 1) The extent of our mission – UNIVERSAL – “all the world” and “every creature”.
- 2) The message of our mission – the “the GOSPEL” of Jesus Christ
- 3) The power of missions – Christ promises to confirm His Word
John’s Account of the Great Commission
John 20:19–23 19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
- This passage records the same appearance as Mark.
- It emphasised the building of their faith in His resurrection – showing them His hands and side.
- v.21 Even though moments before they were gathered in fear with the doors shut, Jesus now says to them, “as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
- v.22 Then he breaths on them and gives them the Holy Spirit and the solemn instruction that due to their giving the gospel message some will have their sins for giving while others who reject it will not have their sins forgiven.
What we learn from this passage is that:
- 4) The people Jesus uses to carry His message are just ORDINARY people who have ordinary fears and struggles. But He will fill those ordinary people with the power and strength through the Holy Spirit do His work.
- 5) The seriousness of our mission – the task of going for Jesus is one of great seriousness – the difference between forgiveness and lack of forgiveness of sin.
- 6) The way we go – as He went, becoming one of the people as much as possible to show them God and His Son.
Matthew’s Account of the Great Commission
Matthew 28:16–20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
- Jesus has appeared to the disciples and various groups of followers after His resurrection over the course of about 40 days.
- Here Jesus comes to the eleven disciples (without Judas) in a mountain in Galilee. (Possibly as many as 500 were there according to 1 Cor 15:6).
- They come and worship Him but within their hearts there is still some doubting (wavering), probably not over His resurrection but whether this was really Jesus.
- All doubts were dispelled when He spoke.
- “I have all power and all authority in heaven and in earth” – I am in charge and this authority is the basis of my instructions to you.
- “Now I want you to go in this authority and teach (make disciples) all nations (all groups of people)”
- “I want you to baptise those who believe the message about me in the nation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
- “Then I want you to teaching them to obey all the things I have commanded you”
- “I am going to be with you in this endeavour”
What we learn from this passage is:
- 7) The authority for our mission comes from the highest level – Jesus Himself, King of kings, Lord of lords.
- 8) The scope of our mission – all NATIONS
- 9) The method of our mission is teaching and discipling and helping people grow to maturity so they can teach others.
- 10) The goal of our mission must be local CHURCH that will reproduce the teaching and church of Jesus Christ that brought them the gospel in the first place.
- 11) The blessing on our mission – Jesus will be with us always even unto the very ends (farthest extremities) of the world.
Luke’s Account of the Great Commission
Luke 24:44–49 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
- This records another appearance of Jesus to the disciples in Jerusalem, possibly the second Sunday or at some other point.
- Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus appeared to them for forty days teaching and speaking to them about the kingdom of God.
- v.44-45 Jesus emphasises that His coming, His life, His death, His burial, and His resurrection were the ultimate fulfilment of the Old Testament Scripture – law of Moses, prophets, and the psalms.
- v.46 He showed them that the Christ they thought would come as King to rule and reign had to first come to suffer and to rise from the dead.
- v.47 So now repentance and remissions (forgiveness of sins) should be preaching in his name “among all nations” beginning at Jerusalem.
- v.48 He says and you are witnesses of these things – you have seen what I have done, who I really am, now you need to go tell your story.
- v.49 The promise of God’s Holy Spirit is coming so wait at Jerusalem until that promise and that power comes on you.
What we learn from this passage:
- 12) The foundation of our message is rooted in all of God’s revelation to man through the Scripture (the BIBLE) – Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation.
- 13) The acceptance of the message is through repentance and faith
- 14) The witnesses of the message must be those who have personally experienced the life changing gospel of Jesus
- 15) The power to share the message is something that we do not have on our own
Acts 1:4-8 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
- v.4 Picking up where his first book leaves off, Luke repeats Christ’s instruction to stay in Jerusalem and what for the promise.
- v.5 This promise is of the Holy Ghost coming and baptising them, totally taking over their lives.
- v.6-7 It was not time for Christ to restore the kingdom of Israel.
- v.8 Their responsible was to wait and then after the Holy Ghost came on them and empowered them to go out and be witnesses to Jesus both in Jerusalem, in all Judaea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part.
- And what a power they would gain a few days later when the Spirit did come, as this band of fearful, doubtful, confused band of uneducated, poor followers of Jesus would go out and “turn the world upside down”.
What we learn from this passage:
- 16) The power to witness comes from the Holy SPIRIT
- 17) The audience to whom witness is everyone at the same time through going and sending
- 18) The purpose of our witness is to tell people about Jesus
SUMMARY OF GREAT COMMISSION PASSAGES
- So, we can see that Jesus had really one main focus during those 40 days between His resurrection and ascension – get His followers (His church) to realise their mission.
- He was leaving and now everything that He had taught and done would be to prepare them to go and carry out His mission on the earth.
- And this early church filled with the chosen Apostles would soon pass away, but the church goes on.
- There are no longer any Apostles the way the Bible describes them (eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection – Acts 2:22), but the church of Christ goes on – Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
- And the mission of the church is still the same.
- 1) Go into all the world – our city, country, our world, even those we don’t like or those very different from us
- 2) Preach the gospel to every one
- tell them the good news that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again to give them new life
- tell them that the way they receive this good news is to repent and believe
- tell them that if they don’t they will perish in their sins, but if they do believe they will be forgiven and given eternal life
- 3) Make disciples – those who believe the message should be baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost and should be taught to know and do all the commands of Jesus, becoming His followers/disciples as well
- 4) Plant churches – part of following all of Christ’s commands involves meeting together with other baptised believers, minister to one another, and seeking to carry out the mission from that new church
- 5) Repeat the process – they new believers and new church then seek to plant other churches and send out missionaries around the world until the whole world knows
GOD WANTS TO USE YOU
This great mission of God is not just something to put on the wall, to talk about in a conference, or something that only a select group of specially trained missionaries are responsible to do.
Certainly, we want to train, equip, and send out well trained and qualified missionaries to preach the gospel in places we may not be able to go to.
But there is a role and responsibility for every believer to get involved.
1. You are one of God’s priests.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
- You need to understand that in God’s church there is no hierarchy, no such thing as the “clergy” and the “laity” though we sometimes just those terms.
- Every believer in Christ has been given the Holy Spirit.
- Every believer has been chosen, made a royal priest, a holy nation, and a special (“peculiar”) people.
- Every believer has the privilege to show forth the praises of the one who called him or her out of darkness into marvellous light.
- The mission and the task is too big for any one person or for just a few; it requires everyone working together – going, praying, giving, sending.
2. You have been entrusted with a great responsibility.
2 Corinthians 5:18–21 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- v.18 God has all things. It all belongs to Him.
- He through Jesus Christ has reconciled us to himself.
- And now He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.
- v.19 “to wit” – that is God was was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (like they deserve) and has now committed (entrusted) with the word (message) of reconciliation – that men can be reconciled to God.
- v.20 So now, Paul and other believers are like ambassadors for Christ, and as they speak it is like God speaking through or by them and by us as we implore men to be reconciled to God.
- v.21 Be reconciled to God because God has made Christ sin for us who knew no sin (God himself in Jesus took our sin) so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (in Jesus not only are our sins taken away, but we are given the righteousness of God).
- You who are believers are one of the “us” in this passage.
- You have been given the ministry and the word of reconcilation.
- You have the message that tells men
- their reconciliation is possible and provided for in Christ.
- they can be right with God
- their sins have been paid for
- righteousness is available
- God is counting on you.
- God has entrusted this to you.
- God has given this ministry to you.
- You have been chosen. I have been chosen.
- He wants us to be His ambassadors.
- Will we pick up the baton?
- We will be worthy of HIs trust?
- Will we carry out His missions?
How will you get involved in the mission?
Will you realign your priorities, your time, your giving, your family, your reading, your leisure, your prayers to carry out this greatest of assignments – the GREAT COMMISSION to be a witness of Jesus Christ to all nations!
Will you believe the message? Will you hear the truths and believe so that you too can have a purpose and mission far bigger than yourself?