59. The Great Commission the New Testament Command

In Your Bible Read This Out Loud: Matthew 28:19

Memorise This Verse: Mark 16:15 ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation’.

Afterwards Talk About This:  The references that Jesus made towards the Great Commission and their implications for the church.

Something To Do Before Next Time:  Pray for a group of people who have never heard the gospel.

Written Diploma Work:  List all the scriptures where Jesus referred to the Great Commission.

Meditate Word By Word On This Verse:  Acts 1:8

Having established an Old Testament basis for the Great Commission and the relevant scriptures which looked forward to the New Testament fulfilment, this section will look at this New Testament realisation of the Old Testament promise. Primarily, the Great Commission was started in the person of Jesus when he preached first of all in Israel however, the preaching of the gospel was never meant just for Israel and the Jews but for the whole world. Ultimately, it is Jesus who issues the Great Commission to his disciples, and not only to them, but to all who follow him, the Great Commission is the master plan of God that his church should be working towards.

In Matthew 24:1-35 Jesus responds to a question about the end times and outlines some of the traumatic events that will happen before he returns again. However in the midst of his description of the end times, in verse 14 he states that something very definite must happen before he can return – namely, the whole world will hear the gospel ‘And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’. Consequently, Jesus has bound himself by his word and he cannot and will not return to the earth until his church have taken his gospel to every ethnic people group in the world. Christians will often say that, ‘Jesus could return tonight’ this simply is not true as there are many people groups in the earth today who have never heard the name of Jesus and do not have a bible. Until they are reached with the gospel, Jesus will not be able to return to the earth.

Between his resurrection and his ascension into heaven, Jesus issues his final command to his disciples these words are described in 3 of the 4 gospels and these have come to be known as the Great Commission. Certainly, Jesus would ensure that the last words he spoke whilst on the earth, to the disciples that he was leaving behind, would be about the subject closest to his heart. He issues the irrevocable, eternal commission to his disciples, (and all his subsequent disciples), to take the gospel to those who have never heard his name – as can be seen by the scriptures below. As his disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven, it would have been these last words that would be foremost in the minds of the disciples.

Matthew 28:19 ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations’
Mark 16:15 ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation’
Luke 24:47 ‘Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations’. 

As we turn from the gospels onto the Book of Acts we see how seriously the early church took it’s command to take the gospel into the whole world. In Acts 1:8 we see how the early church waited for the promised Holy Spirit in order to commence the Great Commission, and this scripture actually quotes the words of Jesus when he says, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’.

Once again, we can see in the words of Jesus the great emphasis he has placed on his disciples taking the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. The Holy Spirit has consequently been sent forth to enable the followers of Jesus to complete the Great Commission those who are walking in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25) will be those who are passionate about the Great Commission.

As you read through the Book of Acts you find that initially the disciples preached in all of Jerusalem in Acts 5:28 the Apostles are accused by the High Priest, ‘You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching’. However, as you read through Acts the disciples don’t stay in Jerusalem but go preaching into the then known world. For example, when the disciples eventually go as far as Thessalonica, the Jews who opposed them say in Acts 17:6 ‘These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here’.

Moreover, Acts 19:10 makes the incredible statement that the whole of the Province of Asia had heard the gospel! This represents a fantastic evangelistic effort that was spreading ever further in it’s outreach. The Book of Acts starts with the disciples in Jerusalem but ends with Paul preaching the gospel as far away as Rome the gospel was being taken forever onwards towards the ends of the earth.

Having referred to Paul reaching Rome with the gospel, what can we say about his views on the Great Commission? the letters that Paul wrote reveal how the Great Commission was his thirst and his great ambition. The book of Romans is Paul’s theological masterpiece and quoted below is one of the most profound verses in the whole bible that reveals Paul motivation and thinking towards preaching the gospel. Paul’s great ambition for his life and ministry was that he could take the gospel to those who had never heard the name of Jesus. (Notice how he theologically justifies this statement by quoting Isaiah 52:15 which is one of the scriptures we looked at previously regarding the Old Testament promise of the Great Commission). Every Christian surely needs a dream, a plan, a burning ambition for their Christian lives Paul, this awesome man of God made it his ambition to take the gospel to those who had never heard it.

Romans 15:20 ‘It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written, ‘Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand’.

(A further indication of Paul’s desire to take the gospel ever onwards to those who have never heard it can be found in 2 Corinthians 10:16 ‘…So that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond’). Moreover, the worldwide spread and application of the gospel is spoken of by Paul in Colossians 1:6 when he says, ‘All over the world this gospel is producing fruit and growing’. Furthermore, as we study the brilliant book of Romans we can see much further Paul’s great ambition and concern for the Great Commission as he both opens and closes the book of Romans with references to the Great Commission. The scriptures below show Paul’s belief and confidence in the eventual world wide spread and triumph of the gospel.

Romans 1:5 ‘We received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the gentiles’

Romans 16:26 ‘…But now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him’.

Finally, in the book of Revelation we can see how eventually the Great Commission will be completed and one day there will be people in heaven from every ethnic people grouping as the gospel will reach to the ends of the earth. Jesus will truly be the saviour of the world as the knowledge and gospel of his love and salvation will be preached to the whole world and there will be no people group that will not bear fruit for the gospel. There must be no argument therefore that any people group is to hard to reach and too resistant to the gospel the gospel will win converts to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Revelation 5:9 ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open it’s seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’

Revelation 7:9 ‘After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb’.

This should encourage us in our giving that we are investing our money in God’s master plan and heart’s desire to reach the world with the gospel – there is simply no better place to invest your money. We are not investing our money into a church that will be a weak and pitiful remnant that will have to be rescued from the clutches of the anti-Christ by Jesus when he returns. Our money is being invested in the world wide eternal Kingdom of God that will one day rule the world this is why giving to reach the last people groups who have never heard the gospel is so important. Through our giving we can ourselves can touch people from every language, tribe and tongue who will one day stand before the throne of King Jesus.

A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations

Pray for Kuwait

1,971,634 people, 87% Muslim

Large influx of foreign workers can take the gospel to the people.

This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.

The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.


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