In 1886, Florida was hit by a deep freeze that killed the oranges and damaged the groves. Two brothers with a farming supply business, Sydney and Joshua Chase, used the occasion to purchase some discounted land southwest of Orlando. The brothers called it “Isleworth,” but they could not have dreamed of its worth today. It’s now one of America’s most exclusive gated communities where athletes and actors live today.
As Christians, it’s easy to grow comfortable inside our gated communities—our churches and places of fellowship—but there’s a lost and desperate world outside. The reason we gather inside the gates is for spiritual rest and worship, to practice our calling, and to prepare for the challenges beyond our walls. After all, the church is home base for Christians while we’re in this world, and it’s nice to be home, to fellowship, to praise and worship God, and to enjoy the blessings of “body life.” But someone once said, “The Gospel isn’t something we come to church to hear; it’s something we go from church to tell.”
That’s why I love preaching the Great Commission. At our church, as we gather to honor our Lord in worship and to prepare for another week’s ministry, I often remind our congregation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus emphasized four things in this passage, the first being His power and authority. Notice how He parsed His words: “All authority has been given to Me, therefore you go.” The implication is clear: As we go with His message, we’ll have His power. Jesus made this even clearer in Acts 1:8, saying, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.”
This is great comfort in witnessing. In my preaching or personal conversation, I can flub up, botch the job, and think I’ve failed. But the Holy Spirit has a way of using some word or verse, for the power isn’t in my personality or intellect, nor in my skills of persuasion. It’s in His Spirit-anointed Word, and His Word doesn’t return void.
Having reminded us of His power, Jesus then stated His purpose for the church—to “make disciples of all the nations.” The word “disciple” means “a follower, learner, one who adheres to a leader and teacher.” But notice those words “all nations.” It’s a global task. This is the village—the world—that Christ wants us to reach; and it takes the church to reach our village.
How do we do it? Jesus gave us three steps—going, baptizing, and teaching. Literally this passage says, “As you are going, make disciples by baptizing . . . and teaching.” The main purpose is to make disciples, but the process is by going, baptizing, and teaching. So we’re to go, win, and instruct.
Jesus ends the Great Commission by assuring us of His presence. As we draw on His power, adopt His purpose, and implement His plan, we’ll enjoy His presence: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Discover how your church is involved in global ministries and get involved. And as you gather week by week in your own congregation, remember that it’s a blessed home, it’s a place of rest, of refreshing and rejoicing, and of growth. But we don’t hole up there like a recluse who never leaves the walls of his house. We’re not hermits who sit by the fire, but servants who spread holy fire.
The Great Commission isn’t an “inside job.” We’re called to go outside the gates—to reach out to the world in need for Christ and His kingdom.