The Great Commission is the first priority for the church. Each generation should have contributed to the task, but, unfortunately, many Christians have yet to understand this command.
As Jesus departed the earth, He gave His five hundred disciples in Galilee this last command. In the previous verse, He stated, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18). He could be relied on to facilitate the mission’s accomplishment by guiding and empowering them to make disciples in more than twelve thousand people groups.
They began to obey the mandate, though they had no idea how immense and difficult the task would be. Now we are to finish the task before He returns.
There is only one imperative in the Great Commission: “Urgently decide to make disciples.” The command “means not only to learn, but to become attached to the teacher and be his follower in doctrine and conduct of life” (Strong’s Greek Lexicon).
It is only used once more in the New Testament in Acts 14:21, “when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples,” which ties together “preached the gospel” with “made disciples” as their core ministry.
The model for the ministry was the life of Jesus Himself. They were to repeat for others what He had done for them. This is our problem today: very few people have been discipled by anyone, so they do not know how to do it for others.
Three participles describe the process with imperatival force: going, baptizing, and teaching. First, “going” implies that the initiative to evangelize and make disciples is our responsibility. Where there are no disciples, someone must go. No additional commands or “calls” are required.
Second, “baptizing” means to unashamedly and publicly announce to the world that those who have accepted the gospel personally belong to Jesus and are committing to become disciples.
Third, “teaching” means the commands are to be clarified and everyone made accountable to obey them. This implies that we are to be exhorting, admonishing, and encouraging one another to obey the commands left for us by inspiration of the Spirit in the word.
About two thousand people groups remain totally unreached. The primary objective is to make at least some disciples in “all ethnic people” (ethnos). Are we expected to get the gospel to every group? What will you do about this command?
“I praise You, dear Lord, that You have promised to be with us always as we step out by faith to take Your gospel to those who have not heard the message. We can go with the assurance that we can do what You have asked.”
In order to practice this command today, I am going to …
For a year’s daily devotional of these Bible studies, order a copy of the book Walking His Way at Branches Publications for your copy.