enabled by Christ’s power.
Christ’s Power – v. 18
“Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” “All power” meaning “authority” and the freedom and right to speak and act. Jesus Christ’s sovereign authority is absolute and universal! During his earthly ministry Jesus demonstrated his authority (his power) over disease, over demons, over sin, over death and the grave. Christ had the authority to lay down his life as the sacrifice for sin, and he had the authority to take it up again (John 10:17-18). Christ is in control! He’s the One who founded the church; authorized the church, and empowered the church to carry out and accomplish the main mission.
Let’s think about the context of Christ’s commissioning this first congregation. Remember that Jesus was talking to that first church, and the leaders of that church, the apostles, had been scared out of their wits. On Mt. Olivet they all forsook Him and fled. Now they understand that Christ has been raised again from the dead, but He tells them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature! How?! They were like little rain drops in an ocean of humanity. They must have wondered how in the world they could accomplish this mission. Here’s how: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” It is by Christ’s authority and through his power that his church is to carry out this main mission. This was not an assignment for eleven individuals, but a commission for the church.
All the resources of Christ are at our disposal to accomplish this mission. What an encouragement that is! Through Christ we don’t lack any spiritual resource.
We have Christ’s power and we also have Christ’s plan.Christ’s Plan – v. 19-20a
In Matthew 28: 19-20a the Lord provides us with a four-part plan in accomplishing the main mission. The plan is macro by design rather than micro;each church must work out the details of how to implement the plan.
#1 – Going
“Go” – this church is not to wait for the world to come to it. The church is to “go” to the world. The translation of this verb is interesting because it carries the idea of “having gone”. In other words, we could read the verse like this: “Therefore, having gone…”
You see, “going” is not so much a command as an assumption; the Lord assumes that His church will carry out His mission. It’s just part of the package. Christ never entertained the idea of a non-evangelizing church.
#2 – Winning
“…And teach all nations…” part two of Christ’s plan is winning souls; we go to win souls. “Teach” is the Greek word “mathēteuō” which means “make disciples”. What does it mean to make a disciple? It means leading someone to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and teaching that young believer to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master. This is a command from the Lord to his church. It is not a suggestion for us to consider; it is a command for us to follow.
For me to say that we are to “win” souls does not imply that we bring about the salvation of a soul. Salvation is a miracle and it is all accomplished by the mighty, merciful grace of Christ. God has seen fit, however, to use us as gospel instruments. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. The Lord will use the faithful proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel to redeem souls.
#3 – Baptizing
“…Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Those we lead to Christ we need to connect to the local church. That new convert needs to be scripturally baptized; not to be saved, but because he is saved! Baptism is one of the initial acts of obedience that should follow a confession of faith in Christ. Believer’s baptism administered under the authority of the local church is the repeated pattern found in the NT. Baptism illustrates the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, and it identifies the believer with a local church.
#4 – Teaching
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Your church is not finished once someone is saved and baptized. That new convert needs to be instructed “in the way”. The church’s mission to evangelize carries with it the mission to teach. Remember, a convert is by definition a disciple, a pupil, a learner – “make disciples”. Biblical doctrine is not only a matter of what you believe; it is a matter of how you behave. The information is for application!
Newborn babies, however, cannot feed themselves, and neither can newborn Christians. Therefore they need to be instructed, and that means they need to be at church, but they also need a personal relationship with an older Christian who can demonstrate to them the practical aspects of the doctrines they are learning.
The church accomplishes its main mission through Christ’s power according to Christ’s plan, all the while securely resting in Christ’s promise.
Christ’s Promise – v. 20b
“…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” In other words, if you obey the “go” then you may claim his “lo”. That is an awesome promise! We are promised that when we are going, winning, baptizing, and teaching, then Christ is with us always; enabling us to do the work and protecting us for the work.
Those who are lost do not seek after God, but the Lord does seek to save the lost. That task of seeking belongs to Christ’s followers; which is to say His churches. God’s passion is to seek and to save the lost. The Commission teaches us that, as does the parables of Luke 15. There is no doubt that the Creator desires to find and be reconciled to lost sinners, and that He rejoices when the lost are found!
We who have been found by Christ must never forget our former desperation, lostness, purposelessness, and hopelessness before the Savior found us (Ephesians 2:11-12). May we like Paul be always ready to preach the gospel and not be ashamed of it, for it is the power of God unto salvation unto everyone who will believe.