The Great Commission

 

Matt 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 "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,
20 "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." Amen. (NKJ)

Acts 1:7-8

7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (NKJ)

It seems like so long ago. Jesus spoke to a group of tattered and defeated disciples. The were still reeling from the dashed expectations concerning the kingdom of Jesus as their present Messiah. They still did not understand what was going on. They wanted to know if Jesus would now bring in the kingdom.

Oh how on fire they had been when they had seen Him feed the thousands but that was dashed by the arrest and supposed trial. Oh how they would have followed Him to the very gates of hell if He would only ask.

Each one had his own idea of the Messiah and what the kingdom would be like, and they were willing to fight to achieve it. But it was not a sudden and violent fight that Jesus would call them to. No it would be long and tedious nights spent in prayer. Time spent trying to convince men of truths of their Master's teaching. They would be forced to depend on God's Spirit for strength rather than the arm of flesh.

But now Jesus is ready to leave. What would His final words be to this group of frightened and dismayed disciples. Would He try to answer all their questions? Would He try to comfort their fears? Would He lay down a strategic plan for them to follow to the last detail?

No to them He give marching orders. Orders that they would not fully understand until Acts 10. Orders that they would not carry out until the hand of persecution sent them everywhere preaching the Gospel. Orders that have come down even to us today. Orders that call upon us as upon those first disciples. But how are we doing, how have we done, how will we do? The work has not been completed in these 2000 years, but why. Let us look at the great commission in light of today's world and today's needs.

  1. The Requirement
    1. To go
      1. Preach
      2. Disciple - make
      3. Baptize
      4. Keep on going
      5. As you are going
  2. The Responsibility
    1. In Jesus' day the civilized world of 250,000,000 was reached in that first generation.
    2. But Christianity become more interested in:
      1. Cathedrals than in converts
      2. Disputes than disciples
      3. In armies that alms
      4. In persecution than peace
      5. Idols than the incarnate Christ
      6. Position than prayer
      7. Political power than purity
      8. Position than prayer
    3. And after the first 700 years of Christianity, I think that God raised up the Islam people with their hatred to idols to afflict the so called Christian west for her devotion to the idols of the saints.
    4. 6,000,000 Moslems in America, more than the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church
    5. Ten times more people today have never heard the gospel than were alive in Jesus' day.
    6. Today has God raised up Osoma Ben Laudin to afflict America for her waywardness.
    7. When Jerry Fawell suggested that he was denounced by the media.
    8. Billy Graham's daughter being interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "how could God let something like this happen?" and Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives, and being the gentleman that he is, I believe that he has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand he leave us alone?
    9. But that beleaguered group of believers of that first century went.
  3. The Response
    1. The amphitheater of the first century with their gladiators and Christian offered to the lions fell into disuse.
    2. The immorality of the Roman society was recognized for the degeneracy that it was.
    3. In those first three centuries the power of the cross accomplished what the legions of Parthians could not.
    4. Without the aid of printing press, autos or air planes, radio or television, computers, e-mail or even snail mail those first disciples turned the world upside down.
    5. They ruined the worship of the pagan idols with the immorality of their sensuous temples.
    6. It was not Christianity that led to the fall of the empire but the degeneration of Christianity into an empty, spiritless, powerless formalism.
    7. Christianity finally fell into the same excesses that led to the fall of Jerusalem and Samaria.
    8. The problem has never been with the power of the gospel but in weakness of the saints to proclaim it and live in obedience to the call of it.
  4. The Results
    1. We have our great denominations of Christianity.
    2. We have a thousand smaller sects who have chosen to fight each other more than the real enemy Satan and his world.
    3. We who have the means to carry out this commission are quite satisfied with our own security.
    4. We have forgotten the condemnation that was placed on Israel and Judah of the poor and the oppressed.
      1. We do not care where it was made and at who's expense if Walmart sells it cheep.
      2. Three-fourths of the world does not even have safe drinking water, but we just go on.
      3. We hear about the persecution of believers all over the world and we just go on.
  5. The Reprimand
    1. I do not think that the "Behold I Come quickly" was written for the Moslems but for the Christian.
    2. It was to believers that John wrote And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. I Jn 2:28 (NKJ)
    3. Jesus was a carpenter but He told a lot of farming stories.
      1. In those stories the goal was always a harvest to be gathered into the barns of heaven and the chaff to be burnt with unquenchable fire.
      2. We are the laborers.
      3. We are the servants.

At Illinois Baptist College we are a part of the solution. We are a part of the labors sending forth laborer into the harvest. Jesus said that we should pray that the Lord of the harvest should send forth laborers into the harvest because it is greater than we can handle.

We thank you for doing all that you do to help that come about. In my class I have six foreign students. Students that hopefully will go back to spread the word among their own nation. Some of those nations are coming under the influence of Islam.

I once heard someone say years ago, We have two choices. We can either send missionaries to the Middle East to convert the Moslems or we can send soldiers to battle them. I am for the former. Hopefully it is not to late.

 

This message was preached by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com