You Missed The Point of the Great Commission
The Great Commission is perhaps the most important directional passages in the entirety of Scripture. Imagine what’s happening at the time of Jesus giving the Great Commission. Jesus is about to ascend into Heaven and He gives his last words to his disciples (along with Acts 1). Think about your loved ones giving you their last words, would these be important to you? Absolutely. Jesus’ last words are infinitely more important. He has a job to entrust to his followers…
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20
Let me ask you, what’s the point of the Great Commission? What is the goal? For decades now believers have misunderstood Jesus’ commission to the church. Many would say that the Great Commission is about seeing sinners saved from their sin. In an attempt to realize that goal, the church has brought in all sorts of strategies and activities such as altar calls and various forms of “decision making challenges” that we cannot find in Scripture.
Yet, they missed the point.
Salvation is not the goal of the Great Commission.
While it is incredibly important and the rest cannot follow without it, the salvation of a sinner is not the goal of the Great Commission. Salvation, or justification, is just the beginning of the Great Commission. Yet, many have stopped at salvation and left new-born Christians to sink or swim without any discipleship whatsoever. Should we really be surprised that so many young believers abandon the faith?
The goal of the Great Commission is faithful and obedient living of new disciples for the glory of Christ. As Jesus says, “…to observe all that I have commanded you.” That’s what Jesus wants the church to do. To make disciples which know the Gospel, live the Gospel, and share that Gospel. Yet, the church today seems content with evangelizing the lost through various programs and sometimes even manufacturing situations in order to manipulate emotions and cause sinners to make a decision. This leads me to the next point that is missed in the Great Commission…
Baptism is the sign of receiving the Gospel.
So many throughout history have missed this incredibly obvious choice. Baptism is the original altar call. Every time we see people get saved in Acts, baptism immediately follows, and then church membership. Just look in Acts 2, Peter preaches an awesome sermon and it’s obvious that God is doing something in the hearts of many. Yet, Peter doesn’t ask for people to close their eyes and raise their hands if they would like to make a decision, nor does he ask for them to come to the front and kneel. No, people received his words and then they were baptized.
Today there is this bizarre stigma with baptism. People tend to think that it’s some type of mystical and ultra-spiritual activity for those who are “close to God.” In actuality, baptism is for people who have just been broken by the Holy Spirit’s use of the Word and have called on the name of the Lord for salvation. Another example could be found in Acts 8, when Phillip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch. This man did not know everything about the Christian life, but he believed the Gospel and that was enough for Phillip.
The power to save people is not within the church, only in Christ.
Underneath these two misunderstandings of the Great Commission is the thought that it’s up to the church to save people. That’s why we so easily abandon Biblical methods and run to some type of man-made system or philosophy in order to fulfill the Great Commission. We forget that Jesus sandwiches this task with His power. Matthew 28:18 speaks about the authority that He possesses and then verse 20 speaks about how He will always be with us. Why does He do this? Firstly, to give the disciples confidence that Christ will never leave them, thus calming the doubts of some. He also said this to remind them that Christ is the One who saves, not them. The disciples understood that in their time, but today so often we forget this truth and rely on our own strength and wisdom to fulfill the Great Commission.
Don’t make the same mistakes. Don't miss the point of the Great Commission. We want all people, all nations, to be disciples of Christ and serve Him faithfully. Yes, the first step is salvation, but we must rely on Christ to do this work. While obedience to this first step is perhaps the hardest task, let us not forget the rest of the Great Commission. It should look like this…
THE GREAT COMMISSION = JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS -> BAPTISM -> FAITHFUL LIVING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CHURCH
All for the glory of God.