Mat 28:18-20 “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.” These verses, along with Mark 16:15-18, are commonly referred to as The Great Commission. Commission means: The authority to act as an agent for another; a body of persons charged with performing a duty; the doing of some act. As disciples of Christ, we have been commissioned to spread the Gospel around the world. We are on a “co-mission” with Jesus. He is the captain of salvation, and we are His co-pilots (Heb 2:10, Mk 16:20). Let’s look further into this commission.
Before we talk about what we do, we must understand who Jesus is. All power (authority) has been given unto Him by The Father in heaven and in earth (Mt 28:18, Eph 1:20-23, Philp 2:9-11, 1Cor 15:27, Heb 2:8). He is the God -Man. He is Lord, God, Creator, King, Messiah, and Savior of the world. Carnal man and his worldly schemes simply make God laugh (Ps 2:1-4). Jesus is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. We must understand this truth in order to understand the great commission. Jesus is not asking us, His disciples, to do something in our own power, wisdom, and strength. He delegates His power to us. As we yield to His lordship in our lives, he works in us and through us to fulfill His plans and purposes.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are given the authority and power of Jesus to “Go into all the world.” Act 1:8 “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.” While speaking in tongues is an initial outward evidence of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is not the purpose of receiving. The purpose is to be Jesus’ witnesses in this earth. Witness means martyr. While martyr typically refers to one who dies for Jesus, it also means one who lives for Jesus. A “living martyr,” if you will (Gal 2:20). One who is dead to self and alive to God. One yielded to God, who desires only His will to be done in their life. This is the true evidence of Spirit baptism.
We are given this power through Spirit baptism to be used of Him in the building of the Lord’s Church. Jesus builds His church (Mt 16:18). Make no mistake; even though things look bad at times, the Church of Jesus Christ will prevail. We don’t build it - He builds it. He doesn’t fail at what He does. Since He builds it, it will be built! We are simply to yield to Him, to be “Living stones” in His Church (1Pt 2:5).
The Church WILL be built, and the Gospel WILL be preached unto every nation (culture, people group), then shall the end come (Mt 24:14). There is no question the Gospel will be preached unto all nations; the only question is, will you be in the game, or on the side lines? If you refuse to be a Spirit-filled living sacrifice, Jesus will pass over you and find someone who is willing. You will be used of God only to the degree you are available and usable.
As I spoke of last week, foreign missions is God’s commission. This is our aim. Foreign missions should be a priority for every Christian, because it is a priority for Jesus. You may not be called to the foreign mission field, but every one of us is called to foreign missions. You may be a goer or a sender, but you are called.
What is the cost to be involved in foreign missions - the Great Commission? Suffering. Suffering is the price that will be paid (Mt 24:9). Affliction, hatred, and even martyrdom, are promised those that take the commission seriously. Jesus said clearly that no servant is greater than his master. If the world hated Jesus, they will hate His followers. If they persecuted Him, they will persecute you (Jn 15:18-20). We must arm ourselves with this same mind (1Pt 4:1). We are not to think trials of fire in our lives are some strange thing (1Pt 4:12). There will be martyrs until the end ( 1Pt 4:19, Rev 6:9-11), and it has nothing to do with your level of faith. In Hebrews 11, we are shown that the faithful throughout history are sometimes delivered, and sometimes not. These are things we leave in God’s hands.
Should this dissuade us or depress us? God forbid. We should rejoice, be happy, and exceedingly glad, for the glory of God rests upon us! (1Pt 4:13-18, 1Pt 1:6, Lk 6:22-23, 2Cor 4:17, Act 5:40-41). God’s grace and power is present in a special way in the lives of those who suffer for Christ. Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Richard Wurmbrand’s “Tortured For Christ” to learn of this eye-opening phenomenon, along with the story of the first Christian martyr (Act 7:51-60).
What steps can we take to fulfill the Great Commission? 1. Pray (1Thess 5:17, 25; 2Thess 3:1). Pray every day. Pray with all your heart for foreign missions and missionaries. 2. Give (Philp 4:15-19). Often people quote vs. 19, and leave out the fact that Paul was talking to a church that supported him on the foreign mission field. 3. Be available (Act 9:10-17). Would you hear God’s voice if He called? When you pray for missions, He may be calling you. Will you obey the call? (Isa 6:8).
Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!