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.”
The Great Commission has been called “The Marching Orders of the
Church.” While this may seem like a strong statement for uninformed
believers, the local church’s only justification for existence is
the fulfillment of the Great Commission! Apart from this God-given divine
mandate, the local church has no reason for existence!
I. THE PRIORITY
OF THE GREAT COMMISSION: The prime importance of the Great Commission
is easily discovered once saints realize that this divine injunction is
given five times by Christ, our divine commander, in the first five books
of the N.T.: Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16;15, Luke 24:47, John 20:21 and Acts
1:8. Dr. Harold B. Sightler, the founder and longtime pastor of the Tabernacle
Baptist Church, Greenville, SC, was right when he said that every church
ought not just to support missions, every church should be a missionary
activity should be the central focus of the local church’s ministry.
According to Acts 1:8, this focus includes both the home and foreign fields:
home missions: “…and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
Jerusalem…” (your local area-your “Jerusalem”);
“and in all Judaea and all Samaria” (includes your state/country):
foreign missions: “and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
field begins at the believer’s doorstep and reaches around the globe.
Many independent Baptists churches have a sign inside the exit door that
says “You are entering the mission field.” In reality, every
saved person is a missionary and every unsaved person a mission field!
II. THE PARTS
IN THE GREAT COMMISSION: The reason why the opening paragraph may shock
some believers is that they fail to recognize that the Great Commission
includes three divine distinctives, not just one concerning evangelism.
These three God mandated injunctions include all legitimate aspects of
the local church’s activities and ministries.
Evangelism is the first part of this divine mandate: “Go ye therefore
and teach all nations.” Dr. Bob Jones Sr. was surely right when
he stated that “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy
function.” For local churches it is either evangelize or fossilize!
The local church that refuses to earnestly engage in local evangelistic
endeavors will eventually die. Evangelistic outreach and soul-winning
endeavors must always occupy a prime place in local church’s agenda.
The first step of obedience for new converts is baptism by immersion:
“…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son
and of the Holy Ghost…” The mandate for baptism is delineated
in Matt. 28:18-20. The method of baptism is described in Acts 8:35-35.
Immersion is the only method practiced in the N.T. Despite the common
Protestant practice of pouring and sprinkling, baptism apart from immersion
is not baptism. The message of baptism is depicted in Rom. 6:1-5.
The word catechize simply means to teach: “teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” A N. T. catechism is
simply a method of instructing and teaching the vital truths of Scripture.
Since the N.T is the “word of Christ” (Col. 3:16), the “all”
involves the entire N.T. commands and injunctions and includes the defense
of the faith once delivered unto the saints!” (Jude 3). The “all”
embodies instruction concerning (l) the faith-Phil. 1:27. (2) the family-Eph.
5:19-6:4 and (3) the fellowship-I John 1:3-7.
III. THE PROMISES
WITH THE GREAT COMMISSION: Each time the N. T. records the Great Commission,
it includes a corresponding promise. It is a tremendous reassurance to
know God’s commands also include God’s enablements-II Cor.
8:9, Eph. 3:20.
In a sermon
Dr. Tom Malone preached and printed in his former Baptist Vision magazine
several years ago, he noted that with each Great Commission decree, Christ
included an encouraging promise: In Matt. 28:18-20, Christ gave the assurance
of (a) His presence; in Mark 16:16, He provided the warranty of (b) His
protection; in Luke 24:47 our Lord gave the pledge of (c) His program;
in John 20:21 He conferred the guarantee of (d) His peace; and in Acts
1:8, our Saviour bestowed the surety of (e) His power. It is obvious that
believers have no excuse for omitting this great command from their spiritual
The Great Commission was uppermost in Christ’s mind before he ascended
back to heaven. It occupied the place of priority in his meetings with
his disciples. That which was uppermost in Christ’s mind should
be uppermost in the believer’s thoughts, time and talents. For the
N. T. saint and the local church, there can be no equivocation, it is
either the Great Commission or the great omission! DJ
PS: The FD
editor is available for missionary conferences, as well as a variety of
other preaching/teaching ministries.
in this issue:
Baptist History Captions
U.S. Supreme Court Justice who believed the Bible and who spoke publicly
about its powerful impact on American society