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THE GREAT COMMISSION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, October 3, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:18-20).


Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

    Our Lord's commission to His disciples as recorded by Matthew is a source of controversy. One extreme group feels that the Great Commission contains the only command for the church. That is it, and they hang on to it. The other extreme group feels that it has no meaning for our day and that it should be excluded from the church program. It seems to me that both of these groups are in error.
    We have endeavored to show that Matthew has direct application for us, and certainly the Great Commission has an application for us in our day…We are to be His witnesses (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 153).

When the eleven Disciples saw Jesus on that mountain in Galilee, they worshipped Him. But others doubted. They were probably followers of Christ who were among the "five hundred brethren" spoken of in I Corinthians 15:6. Some of them doubted at first, just as the eleven Disciples did when Christ first appeared to them after His resurrection.

Then Jesus came and spoke to them all. He said,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
       (Matthew 28:18).

And then Christ gave the Great Commission:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Dr. John R. Rice said,

These words, which Jesus commanded in verses 19 and 20, are among the most far-reaching in the Bible. Every Christian, every preacher, every church should follow this plan, getting people saved, getting them baptized, teaching them to get people saved and baptized and sent to win souls. God's plan can never be improved upon (Dr. John R. Rice, The Gospel According  to  Matthew,  Sword  of  the  Lord,  1980  reprint,  page 502).

But before Christ gave the Great Commission, He gave them a wonderful word of encouragement, when He said,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

When we seek to obey the Great Commission by going to evangelism, we may think, "No one will listen. No one will be converted. No one will come to Christ." I know that the Devil whispers those thoughts in our ears. But the Devil's words are a lie. We know it because Christ said,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

Because all power is given to Christ, we can be sure that our evangelism will be successful. I do not mean that everyone will believe,

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

But we can be certain that the "few" who are chosen, will be saved. And we can be certain that the power and authority of Jesus Christ will draw them in to the church, and in to Christ, for He said,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

When I read about the history of Christianity in the first four centuries, as it spread rapidly throughout the world, I see the marvelous proof of Jesus' words,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

When I read about the First, Second, and Third Great Awakenings, when hundreds of thousands of people poured into the churches and were saved, I see the marvelous proof of Jesus' words,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

And when I read about the supernatural movements of revival today in Southeast Asia and China, I see the marvelous proof of Jesus' words,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

And so, when you go out to evangelism, and then - at last - see a soul come in, get saved, and become a living member of our church - that, too, is marvelous proof of Christ's testimony,

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
      (Matthew 28:18).

The power to convert lost souls comes from Christ. And it is He who gives power to your witnessing, to our preaching, and to our prayers. Since all power belongs to Him, there can be no failure when we obey the Great Commission!

Now, coming to the Commission itself, we see its main points. Dr. Rice said,

Notice the three parts of the Great Commission. First, we are to make disciples. The word "teach" in verse 19 is literally "to make disciples," to get people saved. Second, new converts are to be baptized. Third, new converts are to be taught to observe all the commands which Christ had given the Apostles (v. 20). So every convert has this same Great Commission (Dr. John R. Rice, ibid.).

I. First, Christ told us to go and make disciples.

Notice verse nineteen.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…" (Matthew 28:19a).

The center margin of the Scofield Study Bible gives the translation of "teach" as literally being "disciple." Dr. Rice correctly said that it is literally "make disciples." This excludes superficial "soul winning" on the face of it. We are not told here to do any sort of superficial soul winning. No, we are told to "teach all nations," "make disciples of all nations." People must understand the gospel and come to Jesus Christ. This must be a real experience, which gives a new direction in life. The Finney-style of superficial "decisionism" does not make disciples, does not "teach" people to be disciples, does not often produce true conversions. We must care enough for people's souls to take time with each person, carefully "discipling" each one into real salvation.

But then Christ said, "teach all nations." The gospel was originally given to Jewish believers in the Middle East. They took the gospel to Africa, Asia and Europe within seventy-five years, because they obeyed the Great Commission. The gospel of Christ is not just for white people. Christ came to save people from "all nations." In the Gospel of Mark, we read some other words Christ gave in the Great Commission,

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

That makes it mighty plain! We are to go to every ethnic and racial group with the gospel of Christ!

II. Second, Christ told us to baptize these new converts.

Look at verse 19 again. Let us stand and read it aloud.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19).

You may be seated.

After a person is converted, he should be baptized and join the local church. This is quite clear in the Bible. It says,

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized…And the Lord added to the church [the local church at Jerusalem] daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:41, 47).

Don't let anyone tell you any different. Baptism is connected to both conversion and local church membership. First, you are converted. Second, you are baptized. Third, you become a member of the local church. That is the teaching of the New Testament.

Dr. John R. Rice said,

Do not listen to anybody who would tell you that since Christ gave this Commission there has been a change in His plans, either in the plan of salvation, the duty of new converts to be baptized, the mode of baptism, or the soul-winning duty of Christians (ibid.).

And notice that converts are to be baptized "in the name" of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The "name" is singular. Dr. Rice correctly said,

That is an indication that the three are one. Here the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught (ibid.).

III. Third, Christ told us to teach His commandments
to those who are baptized.

Please stand and read verse twenty.

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:20).

You may be seated.

When people are converted and baptized, we should teach them to observe Christ's commands in all things. A person does not need to know everything before conversion and baptism. But they do need to know Jesus Christ personally.

After conversion and baptism, they should be taught further. The great truths of the New Testament are simple enough for any new convert to learn: conversion, baptism, church membership, tithing, prayer, soul-winning, stedfastness - these are the main things taught in the New Testament. They are the essentials of Christianity.

By the way, who is supposed to do all this discipling, baptizing, and teaching? I think the answer is quite simple. The eleven Disciples, and all the other disciples were the ones Christ originally spoke to. They made up the local church in the city of Jerusalem. So, the Great Commission is full of local church truth. We in the church are to go after people and get them converted. We in the church are to baptize them. We in the church are to teach them obedience to Christ.

These are the very things our local church emphasizes. And when we go out to evangelism, we are obeying our Lord's command,

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…" (Matthew 28:19).

Christ ended the Great Commission by saying we should do these things, "Even unto the end of the world [age]." This shows that the Great Commission is to be in full effect right to the end of this age. We should obey it now.


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 28:16-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling" (by Daniel March, 1816-1909).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE GREAT COMMISSION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:18-20).

(Matthew 22:14)

I.   Christ told us to go and make disciples, Matthew 28:19a;
Mark 16:15

II.  Christ told us to baptize these new converts, Matthew 28:19b;
Acts 2:41, 47.

III. Christ told us to teach His commandments to those who are
baptized, Matthew 28:20.

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