In this sermon, Pastor Neil continues his series on the essentials of our faith, reminding us in this one of the Great Commission. Here are some excerpts:
The term “Great Commission” is not actually found anywhere in the Bible. Most often, though, we use it in reference to the charge Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 28, to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing … and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (28:19-20a).
This great, global, God-ordained commission is accompanied by an equally great promise: “And surely I am with you always” (literally, ‘all the days’) “to the very end of the age”(28:20b). It is the promise of His presence with us – the presence and power of the LordJesus, to whom “all authority in heaven and on earth: belongs (28:18) – that makes it possible for us to carry out this Great Commission.
In addition to Matthew 28, the New Testament contains several other versions of the Great Commission. In Mark 16:15, for example, Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Another version is found in John 20:21, after His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to His disciples behind locked doors. He pronounced the benediction of God’s peace on them and said: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” God the Father sent God the Son ona mission into the world. This world. Our world. The mission? To accomplish our salvation through His substitutionary, sacrificial, atoning death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. And now the Son, having completed His mission, sends His followers into the world on a mission… the message of the gospel – the message of God’s amazing grace and redeeming love, the message of forgiveness and peace and healing and hope, all of which are found through faith in Jesus and His saving work for us.“As the Father has sent me (into the world), so I am sending you (into the world).”
Still another version of the Great Commission is found in Acts 1:8, in the last recorded words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended into heaven: “You will receive power,” Jesus said, “when the Holy Spirit comes on you” – as He did ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost – “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The charge Jesus gave His disciples then is the same charge He gives us today: To be His witnesses. To get the word out about His kingdom and His kingship. To tell others about Jesus and His saving love. It starts right here where we live and work – in northern Virginia and the metro D. C. area (our Jerusalem), and spreads throughout every region of the U. S. (our Judea and Samaria), and to every continent, every island, every nation and people-groupeverywhere in the world, to the ends of the earth. It really is a “Great Commission.”