THE GREAT COMMISSION

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: MATTHEW 28:16-20




INTRODUCTION:


  1. A young preacher asked the Duke of Wellington if he considered it useless to attempt to evangelize India.  The “Iron Duke” sternly replied, “Sir, what are your marching orders?”
  2. The young minister asked the Duke what he meant by that question, and the Duke of Wellington said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19).  Sir, these are your marching orders!
  3. And these are our marching orders also.
  4. I would like for us to look closely at the Great Commission this morning.  Let us look at:
  • Its Purpose: the evangelization of “the world.”  “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16).
  • Its Result: establishing churches.  Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
  • Its Scope: every Christian witnessing to “every creature.”  The Great Commission is not just for missionaries or pastors or evangelists, etc.  “He that winneth souls is wise” (Pro. 11:30).
  • Its Method: house by house, street by street, town by town, country by country, etc. (Cf. Acts 2:46; 5:42; 20:20).
  • Its Power: it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can win souls, and send out missionaries, and establish churches, and fulfill the Great Commission (cf. Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8).
  1. Beloved, in this dispensation of grace, God is gathering a people for his name – from all over the world.  And He has given us precise instructions on how this is to be accomplished.
  2. Let us be faithful in obeying His instructions!  Let me remind you that God would never tell us to do something that we could not do.
  3. Personally I am tired of all the excuses Christians put forth for not obeying our Lord’s command.  Let’s take the Great Commission seriously (Matt. 28:16-20).
  4. The Great Commission is also found in Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-23; and Acts 1:8.

 

I. WHAT IS THE GREAT COMMISSION?

  1. The great Baptist preacher, W. Graham Scroggie, said of the Great Commission:
  • How comprehensive – “all nations” (Matt. 28:19),
  • How commanding – “all power (authority)” (28:18),
  • How exacting – “all things” (28:20),
  • How satisfying – “alway” (28:20).
  1. There are three key words in the Great Commission: “Go…teach…baptize” (28:19).
  2. First, we have to GO.  Someone has wisely said, “Do not take the GO out of the GOSPEL!”  But many churches are doing just that.
  3. An old church had a battered old sign out front that read, “JESUS ONLY.”  A strong wind came along and blew off the first three letters.  Now it reads, “US ONLY.”
  4. I was taught: “Evangelistic unction makes orthodoxy function.  A church that does not evangelize will eventually fossilize.”
  5. We all have to get up and GO.  If you are not winning souls, then Brother, get going!  Sister, get going!
  6. Consider this:
  • Cults work hard going door to door converting people with their false gospel. (We saw some yesterday.)
  • Salesmen work hard going door to door trying to make money.
  • Politicians, and people working for these politicians, work hard going door to door trying to persuade people to vote for their candidate.
  • In 1888 Grover Cleveland was the president of the USA.  He was a Democrat.  His Republican opponent in the election that year was Benjamin Harrison.
  • The election that year focused on the swing state of New York.  Back then most of the state was Republican, but NYC was heavily Democrat. The two political parties took the city, divided it, and subdivided it until they broke it down into blocks.
  • They put a man over every section and every subdivision, and they placed the leading businessmen of the city in those places.
  • Billy Sunday, the famous evangelist said that these men met every day, and it was drilled into them: “You are not responsible for who gets elected, either Harrison or Cleveland. You are not responsible who carries this state, or this city. But you are responsible to know every man in your block and to know how he votes, and if he does vote.”
  • They worked hard going house to house talking to the voters, and when the votes were counted, Benjamin Harrison carried NYC, and New York State, and was elected the 23rd president of the USA.
  • Worldly people will work long hours, day after day for a politician, yet most Christians never make any effort to win souls.
  • They never make any effort to keep people out of hell.
  1. What is more important?
  2. Now, concerning the need for foreign missions, obviously we all cannot go.  But we all can help.  Most of you have probably heard of the famous missionary to Africa, David Livingstone.  A Mrs. McRobert of Scotland saved twelve pounds and gave the money to Dr. Livingstone.  She said, “I cannot go to Africa with you but I want to help in some way.  Please take this money and hire a native African man to assist you.”  Mrs. McRobert wanted to lighten the load of the great missionary.
  3. Livingstone used her generous gift to hire a man named Mebalwe. One day a lion attacked Dr. Livingstone and started chewing on his shoulder and crushing his shoulder bone.  It looked like the lion was just about ready to kill Livingstone when Mebalwe came to the rescue and saved his life.  David Livingstone was then able to keep on preaching for another thirty years.
  4. A.T. Pierson said: “That twelve pounds made Mrs. McRobert joint owner in those thirty years, with all their glorious fruit.”
  5. So perhaps you yourself cannot go to the foreign mission field but you can help someone else who is able and willing to go.
  6. Billions of people are lost and on their way to hell and some Christians will not even contribute a few dollars a week to support some missionaries who can carry the Gospel to them.
  7. We need to get our priorities right!  Where is our burden for the lost?  What is our vision?
  8. Next, we see “teach.”  We must disciple those that are saved.  We must teach the Bible. Some churches are derelict in their duties.  Souls are not being saved and Christians are not being properly taught.
  9. That is why so many weak church members are listening to all this unscriptural nonsense on the television and radio.
  10. The third key word here is “baptize” (Matt. 28:19).  I can give many reasons why baptism is vitally important:
  1. Our Lord Himself was baptized (Matt. 3:13-17).
  2. Baptism is part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).
  3. In the book of Acts, over and over we see new converts being baptized (2:41; 8:36-39; 9:18; 16:15, 30-33, etc.).
  4. In baptism, we identify with our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5).
  5. Therefore, baptism is an important step of obedience. It is a testimony to the world that we are saved. The unregenerate do not take conversion all that seriously (because they cannot understand the new birth).  But they seem to grasp the importance of baptism.

 

II. TO WHOM DID JESUS GIVE THE GREAT COMMISSION?

  1. If you know your Bible, you know the answer – to the local church.  This is why we are gathered here today.
  2. The great evangelist John R. Rice said, “Soul winning is the main thing with God. If it isn’t first with the preacher, the preacher isn’t right. If soul winning isn’t the first thing with the church, the church isn’t right. If soul winning isn’t first for a Sunday school teacher, he or she is not a good Sunday school teacher.”
  3. It is the will of God for you to be saved.  And then after you are saved you should be baptized Scripturally in a good local church and should be joined to that local church.
  4. The Great Commission was given to the local church.
  5. It is clear that the church (in embryonic form) was established before the day of Pentecost because the Bible says that converts were “added to the church” on Pentecost (Acts 2:41, 47).
  6. There are two church ordinances, and both were established by our Lord, and both were given by our Lord to the local church.  If you have an organized congregation, preaching the Gospel, winning souls, and observing the ordinances, you have a local NT church.
  7. And it was to this local church that our Lord gave the Great Commission.  Any program that bypasses the local church has no Scriptural basis and must be avoided.
  8. Spurgeon said, “It is asserted by some that the superstitions of the heathen are too strong to be battered down by our teachings, and that the strongholds of Satan are utterly impregnable against our attacks.  Shall it be so?  Shall we be content foolishly to sit still?  Nay, rather let us work out the problem, let us prove the promises of God to be true; let us prove the words of Jesus to be words of soberness; let us show the efficacy of His blood and the invincibility of His Spirit, by going in the spirit of faith, teaching all nations, and winning them to the obedience of Christ our Lord.”

 

III. HOW ARE WE TO FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION?

  1. First of all, the local church has to be committed to serious soulwinning.  Every member should be actively engaged in soulwinning.
  2. Secondly, there has to be a genuine commitment to missions.  Here is where many fail. Unfortunately, many Christians do not contribute to faith promise missions.
  3. Thirdly, we must continue to baptize our new converts (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15, 16).
  4. And we must continue speaking out against false views of baptism (especially baptismal regeneration).
  5. Fourthly, we must disciple our new members and new converts.  To grow properly, new Christians need to be properly taught the Word of God.  They need to attend Sunday School. They need to come back for the Sunday night service.
  6. They need to come out for the Wednesday night Bible study and prayer time.
  7. Pastor Lee Roberson used to say, “It takes three to thrive.”  He meant Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening.
  8. Back in the days when General Douglas MacArthur was ruling Japan, Pastor WA Criswell was asked by a Japanese official to bring the gospel message to the Japanese people.
  9. An official took Dr. Criswell to a very large and spacious government compound, where he gladly preached the Gospel to the people assembled for that purpose. 
  10. The auditorium was covered with rice mats, and the people sat on the floor in the Japanese style.
  11. When he got through with the message, each Japanese person was given a card that was perforated in the middle.  There was a top to the card and a bottom to the card.  The top of the card was, “I want to accept Christ as my Savior, and I do it now.”  The bottom part of the card was, “I want to know more about Jesus.” 
  12. Everyone was given one of those double-printed cards.  And they were given time after prayer to see what the Holy Spirit would lead them to do.
  13. One of the Japanese men stood up, and holding the card in his hand, pointed to the top one (“I accept Jesus as my Savior, and I do it now”) and said, “Sensai,” (that’s their word for teacher), “If I sign this card, then what, then what?”
  14. Pastor Criswell immediately understood the problem – there was no church there, no Bibles, no Sunday School, no pastor, no teachers, no leaders, no literature, nothing for proper discipleship.
  15. “Sensai, if I sign this card, then what?”  (An important question!)
  16. Many years later, Dr. WA Criswell said, “For the years since then––and that was 1950––for the years since then, the question of that earnest Japanese man has stayed in my heart.  There is far more in the strategy of the Kingdom of God than just evangelism and preaching.  There must follow with it a tremendous program of church building, of teaching, of training.”
  17. Cf. Matthew 28:19.
  18. I faced the same predicament many years ago when I preached at a rescue mission in downtown Manhattan.  Every time I preached there, scores of men would come forward to get saved at the invitation, but I was concerned that there was no good follow-up, no good church nearby, etc.
  19. I looked around and saw inaccurate Bible translations and worldly staff members, etc.  Teaching and discipling are part of the Great Commission.

 

CONCLUSION:


  1. Len G. Broughton was a Baptist preacher.  He was born in North Carolina in 1865, and he died in 1936.
  2. He graduated from medical school and was working as a doctor when he contacted typhoid fever. During his long period of recovery God got a hold of him.  He surrendered to preach and became a Baptist pastor.
  3. He pastored several churches and built the huge Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.  While pastoring that great church, he built the Tabernacle Infirmary in 1901, which later become the Georgia Baptist Hospital, and today is known as the Atlanta Medical Center.
  4. While holding revival meetings in a certain city down south, he was amazed and disappointed at the deadness he encountered.  Dr. Broughton said to one of the deacons, “You need an undertaker in this town instead of an evangelist. You are the deadest crowd that I have ever seen. And if God or anybody else had told me that there was such a dead, indifferent membership on earth, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
  5. There was absolutely no response to the preaching, with the exception of one small boy who kept raising his hand at every invitation.
  6. Some of the deacons told Dr. Broughton they were embarrassed by the boy and wanted to chase him away, but Dr. Broughton said, “That boy is the only evidence of life I’ve seen in this city. If you think I’m going to turn the hose on him, you’ve got another guess coming.” 
  7. To make a long story short – that little boy got saved and was baptized, and then brought his grandfather to the meetings, a wicked old sinner who had not been to church for over sixty years. 
  8. The old grandfather said to Dr. Broughton, “Dr. Broughton, if you think God will reach down and take an old reprobate like me, who has cursed Him all my days, and I’ve never, never prayed – if you think the Lord will take me in the sunset of life and kiss away the stains of guilt, I’d like to come.”
  9. The grandfather was saved and baptized, but that’s not the end of the story.
  10. The little boy’s mother was dead and the boy lived with his grandfather.  The boy’s father was an ungodly tavern owner.
  11. The next day, the little boy went downtown into the saloon owned by his father, and he said, “O papa, grandpa and me have joined the church and if you’ll come up, they will take you in.”
  12. The father said, “Get out of here, my son; this is no place for you.  Go on out of here, son. This is no place for a boy.”
  13. But the boy kept at it. “Pa, come on. They will take you in.”
  14. The next Sunday that man walked down the aisle, told the story of what his little boy had done, and he said, “If you think that God can save a saloon-keeper, I’d like to be a Christian.”
  15. He got saved and joined the church, and then he said, “Come down tomorrow morning and we will break up the bottles of whiskey and champagne and beer.”
  16. They brought all the alcohol into the street and they smashed the bottles. They poured it into the sewer as the people from the church stood around singing hymns.
  17. The father then said, “I feel that my mission is to the saloon-keepers in this part of the country.”
  18. He went out and won many, many drunkards and bartenders and tavern owners to Christ.  Eventually each and every saloon in his county closed down!
  19. And it all started with that one little boy.
  20. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).


| Customized by Jun Gapuz |