In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave His disciples the marching orders for the present church age. Many have labeled these verses as the Great Commission. Whether you use that title or not, I think that every Christian would agree that these final words of Christ are: 1) “great” [i.e., important; weighty], 2) a “commission” [i.e., a charge; order; mandate]. This is the great charge for NT churches to fulfill in this present age. 19th century missionary, J. Hudson Taylor stated the seriousness of this charge: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”
Let’s consider the words of Christ in this passage: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
This command is repeated in all four Gospels and again in the book of Acts. In each of these passages dealing with the Great Commission, we are given a fuller understanding of this great task that Christ has left with His disciples. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said: “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” In Luke 24:47, Jesus said: “…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In John 20:21, Jesus said: “…as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” In Acts 1:8, Jesus said: “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 Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Although we could spend much time unpacking these passages and showing how they inform our understanding of the Great Commission, I want to focus in one main truth: These passages teach us what the chief pursuit, the main mission, the clear purpose of every NT church is!
The chief purpose of the church is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It has been stated that the Great Commission was Christ’s last command and ought to be our first priority!
In this digital, fast-paced, busy society in which we live, it is easy for us to become side-tracked and to lose our focus on keeping the main thing [the Great Commission] the main thing [our first priority].
The elements of this Great Commission involve: 1) Preaching the Gospel [evangelism], 2) Baptizing Believers [a public profession of an inward transformation], 3) Discipling Believers in the Faith [intentional discipleship through the local church].
As a local church and as individual believers, we must regularly ask ourselves these questions: “Is the fulfilling of the Great Commission my chief pursuit in life?” “If somebody looked at my life, would it be clear to them that the Great Commission is my chief pursuit?” “Is the way I use my time, resources, words, and energy reflective of the importance of the Great Commission in my life?”
Like a vehicle being put back into alignment, we must regularly check and make sure that our lives are in alignment with God’s will! Pray today and ask God to refocus your mind and heart on the fulfilling the Great Commission! Let’s endeavor by the grace of God to keep the main thing the main thing!
~Pastor Aaron Francis