The Great Commission
This is our mission statement.
The : Here in Matthew’s gospel, the immediate context of the Great Commission is not vastly important. The biggest context that matters is the placement of the following verses and the last command. What is the last thing Matthew leaves us with after this long gospel on the ministry of Jesus? Well, he gives us a command from Jesus himself. And I’d say that’s ample reason for us to listen.
I. Go therefore and make disciples
You may have heard before that the imperative, or the command in this verse is not go! Rather, go is a participle and the command in this verse is to “make disciples.”
First, some make the point that Go is not the command and rather, they argue that it should be read “as you are going.” You will find many commentaries that will say that, and it does sound nice. However, the problem there is that one could ignore the command to go outside of your comfort zone, and would rather just say the command is to make disciples where you go when you want to go.
Furthermore, while go is a participle, its pairing with the imperative does tend to give it an imperative force! So, yes, we are called to make disciples and to do that we must go!
This command is a compass that keeps us on point! We have to be continually reminded, and we must take seriously the command.
Also, realize this is a mission of a church, but its also the individual mission of disciples. This is a command from Jesus to you. You don’t have to wonder what He is calling you to. He is for sure calling you to make disciples.
II. Of all nations
Now the gospel has already made it to every political country in the world today. But the word here for nations is the ethnos, which really doesn’t translate to geo-political states, but rather people groups.
The Joshua Project states that there are currently over 17,000 people groups in the world today and 7,391 of those people groups are unreached. Those 7, 391 people groups represent roughly 3.4 billion souls bound for an eternity in hell unless someone reaches them!
We must go to the nations.
III. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
The reality is that baptism is the outward sign of regeneration. Thus, you make disciples by leading people to Christ with the message of salvation! And what God saves them and what name are they baptized in? Is it just any god? Is it any higher power? No, but rather they must be saved and baptized in the name of our Triune God! We share the biblical God and the biblical gospel with unbelievers.
A false gospel is the prosperity gospel. We don’t give people that. Rather, we share the good news of Jesus Christ, and we have to be clear about free grace, and simultaneously that it is not cheap grace.
“Cheap grace” is a term made famous by Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.”
We share the true gospel with people and let the Holy Spirit do His work in bringing conviction, convincing, and conversion!
IV. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Of course, making disciples doesn’t end at conversion. It’s not just evangelism, but discipleship that is important.
We teach the truths of scripture and the facts of theology as they are important. However, Jesus says that they are to “observe.” That means they not only learn the facts, but they see the facts lived out in the church. They see mature Christianity, and in seeing it, they are discipled.
Are you modeling mature Christianity? Are you actively discipling any one? Why not?
Now the command is an awesome one, but it is also kind of daunting. Thus, we praise God for verse 18 and the end of verse 20.
We are confident in our mission because we are not alone. We are in service with and for our Savior!
Conclusion: So let’s answer the basic questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Who is meant to do this. You are! If you’re a disciple of Jesus you are!
What are you to do? Make disciples!
When do you do it? Now and without ceasing until the end of the age.
Where do you do it? You go to all nations!
Why? Because it’s a command from your risen Lord.
How do you do it? Baptizing (evangelism), teaching (discipleship), and relying upon the power of the Spirit (personal faith).
So let’s be about this mission!