Scripture for the Great Commission

A few years ago, I handed out a survey to individuals in our local church, and one of the focal areas was evangelism.  The very last question in the survey asked, “How familiar are you with the great commission (with a rating of 1 being “what is the great commission” and 10 being “very familiar”).  The average was very high, but I do remember one person marking the lowest option.  I would be interested in doing the survey again to see if there have been any changes.  However, that one result serves to remind church leaders, that not everybody understands the individual and community of believers responsibility to share the Gospel.  The following five passage reflect a Biblical foundation for sharing the “good news of Jesus,” and all that phrase contains.

Matthew 28:18-20

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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This passage is the primary text many calls the Great Commission.  It is indeed a robust group of verses at the end of Matthew’s Gospel account.  Because Jesus has all power in heaven and on the earth, we are given three commands and a word encouragement.  We are told first to “go.”  We are to be actively participating in the spread of the Gospel.  Second, we are to teach all nations (people groups).  What are we teaching?  Verse 20 tells us the scope of our message “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”  Finally, we are to baptize in the full name of God, “The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  In summary, we are to make disciples.  We are encouraged by Jesus’ continual presence in this ministry.

Mark 16:15

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Again, we have the command to go, but this time the scope of our travelers is “the world” and “every creature.”  The Gospel, as we said is the good news of Jesus and everything that phrase contains.  The Gospel is much more than belief in Jesus, and you get to go to heaven.  It is whole-life transformation and kingdom-on-earth-as -it-is-in-heaven.  This seems to be connected to the every creature idea.  While we understand that humans are the ones called to repentance, the good news of redemption, future restoration, and relief is for all creation.  For a further understanding of all of creation and redemption, you can look at Romans 8:18-23:  “18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Luke 24:46-49

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved 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.

In Luke’s first volume (2nd volume is the Book of Acts), we have some substantiation for why we serve in the Great Commission.  We seek to share the Gospel because Jesus Christ came seeking out our salvation.  We serve Christ because He did everything for us and calls us to carry the message of repentance.  Luke also hints at the continuing presence of Jesus by empowering us to carry out our Gospel task.

John 20:21

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

John gives a simple commissioning statement.  However, it resonates with Lukes text.  Since Jesus came to us, we are to go now to others.  As Jesus was sent into the world, we are sent into the world.  Believers are to continue the ministry of Christ.

Acts 1:28

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.

This final passage, notes that by sharing the gospel, we are not just witnesses of God to other people, we are witness to God.  We are testifying before God that He is worthy of our service.  Also, we see that God will be truly and fully be with us through the Holy Spirit.  We are not doing the Great Commission by ourselves.  God is working through His Church to go to the uttermost part of the earth.