A Great Commission

 

A Great Commission
Matthew 28:18-20
 
Adoniram Judson grew up in parsonages around Boston in the 1700's. He entered Brown University at age 16 and graduated valedictorian of his class. While there, he became best friends with Jacob Eames who was a deist and, in practical terms, an atheist. Ridiculing Judson's faith, he challenged him with the writings of Voltaire and the French philosophers. When Adoniram returned home, he told his parents that he, too, had become an atheist. He had broken his parents' hearts.
 
At the age of 21, Judson moved to New York City to establish himself as a playwright. But then, hearing tales from the American frontier, he saddled his horse and headed West. One evening, weary from traveling, he stopped at an inn. The proprietor said, "Forgive me, sir, but the only room left is a bit noisy. There's a young fellow next door awfully sick." Judson, too tired to care, took the room.
 
The night became a nightmare. The tramping of feet coming and going; muffled voices; painful groans; chairs scraping against the floor. Adoniram was troubled by it all, and he wondered what his friend Jacob Eames would say about fear, illness and death.
 
The next morning while checking out, he asked about the young man in the next room. The proprietor said, "I thought maybe you'd heard. He died toward morning. He went to Brown University back East. His name was Jacob Eames."
 
 
That was Judson's wake up call. Suddenly, the West lost its allure and he turned his horse toward home. Soon, he gave his life to Christ, and shortly thereafter devoted the rest of his life to winning souls. 
 
On February 6, 1812, Adoniram Judson was commissioned as America's first foreign missionary as he sailed for Burma.
 
Thomas Chalmers once said, "Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends or designs it or not."
 
Our feet may never touch the soil of a foreign land, but, nevertheless, we have been called to God's mission field at our place of employment, our homes, our school, our neighborhood, or wherever God has sovereignly and selectively placed us. It is our mission field, and we are the missionaries.
 
Someone once asked Lyman Beecher, the question, "Mr. Beecher, you know a great many things. What do you consider the greatest thing that a human being can do or be?" Without hesitation the great preacher said: "The greatest thing is not that one should be a scientist, important as that is. Nor that one should be a statesman, vastly important as that is. Nor even that one should be a theologian, immeasurably important as that is. But the greatest thing of all is for one human being to bring another human being to Christ Jesus, the Savior."
 
 
 
 
 
We have been looking at four imperatives for becoming all God desires us to be. If we are to be a great church filled with great Christians who are pursing a great cause, then it all boils down to a great commission of bringing "another human being to Christ Jesus, the Savior."
 
John MacArthur said of these verses, "It is not an exaggeration to say that, in its broadest sense, these verses are the focal point of Scripture, Old Testament, as well as New." [1]
 
These verses represent the mission of any Bible-believing, local, New Testament body of believers. Yet, it is a mission that many Christians do not understand, or are unwilling to fulfill.
 
Yet, as A. T. Robertson suggests, "The believer who desires to glorify God must share God's love for the lost world, and share in His mission to redeem the lost to Himself." [2]
 
The mission of the church is to win men, women, boys, girls, red, yellow, black or white with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, because of 3 truths projected from our text. 
 
First of all, this commission is great because it is:
 
1. The Greatest SERVICE Anyone Could Ever Hold!
 
Billy Sunday, "Let's quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ."
 
 
 
These immortal verses outline God's program for bringing the world to Jesus. It is a program that is universal in its revelation, and individual in its application. 
 
Through the printed page, I have come to develop a deep affection and appreciation for the life of William Carey, the father of modern missions. Carey was a shoemaker by trade, but he had a great longing to go to India and be a missionary. Everyone who came into his shoe shop heard about Christ, as well as, his desire, and ambition to go to the mission field.
 
One day, a friend took him aside and said, "William, all this talk about Jesus is going to ruin your business." Carey replied, "Ruin my business? My business is to extend the kingdom of God. I only cobble shoes to pay the expenses."
 
Like William Carey, our business is to extend the kingdom of God, and we have the awesome privilege of serving the kingdom when we:
 
SHOW Others to Jesus
 
Our responsibility is outlined in one short, simple; yet, strong word. We read in verse 19, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations." The phrase "Go ye" actually translates best as “as you are going”. More than a specific all to go on a specific mission on a specific date, it carries the idea of “Wherever you are going, whenever you go”. It was used as common vernacular in the New Testament, and often carried the idea "to go on one's way."
 
 
The Risen Christ has just revealed Himself to His disciples. He has just established the fact of the Sovereign power, rule and reign that He possesses. Now, He says to them, "I am the Sovereign Lord of the universe. I have both the authority to command you to be my witnesses, as well as, the power to enable you to be my witnesses. Therefore, you have everything you need, so go you way and tell others about me."
 
The word "go" is a present participle that is literally rendered, "Having gone." The suggestion is that it is assumed that we have gone, and are going to show others to Jesus.
 
In other words, we go to show. We go out from Jesus that we might show out for Jesus, and show others to Jesus. The God who has used a burning bush, a rod, the jawbone of a donkey, an almond tree, and clay on a potter's wheel; now has chosen now to use you and me to show others to Jesus. 
 
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is God's outreach program in the world. The marching orders have been handed down, and we are to go into a lost and dying world show them to a crucified, buried, risen, ascended, and coming Savior.
 
I once read of a Chinese farmer who had cataracts removed from his eyes from a missionary doctor. Only a few days elapsed when the missionary doctor looked out his bamboo window to notice the formerly blind man holding the end of a long rope. 
 
In a single file behind him came several blind Chinese whom the farmer had told about his operation. 
They all knew the farmer had been blind, but now he could see. He told them of the doctor who had cured him; and, naturally, all of the other blind people wanted to meet the doctor who had cured the blind man. 
 
The cured man could not explain the physiology of the eye of the technique of the operation. All he could do was tell others that he had been blind, the doctor had operated on him, and now he could see. Yet, that was all that the other blind people needed to hear, so they came to meet the doctor.
 
You may not be a well-schooled theologian. You may not a well-trained orator. You may not have much scripture committed to memory. You may not even to be able to quote John 3: 16.
 
But, if you are saved, you are still qualified to be able to show others to Jesus. Why? Because there was a day when you were lost, and now you are found. There was a day when you were blind, but now you see. There was a day when you were a sinner, but now you're a saint.
 
All God has ever asked us to do is go and share what Christ has done to us, for us, with us and in us. That is all the theology you need to show others to Jesus.
 
Not only must we show others to Jesus, but we must them:
 
GROW Others in Jesus
 
First and foremost, we are to "go" and show others to Jesus. Yet, the responsibility doesn't end once they come to Christ. 
We then must, in verses 19-20, "and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
 
Twice we find the operative word, "teach," or "teaching." However, they are not one in the same. The word "teaching" refers to instruction." However, the word "teach" means, "To make disciples."
 
The emphasis of the word is on those who place their trust in Jesus Christ, and then follow Him in lives of continual learning and obedience. In other words, only Jesus can make them a disciple who commits to learning of Him, looking to Him, and living for Him.
 
A person who is not a true disciple does not belong to Jesus. Scripture knows nothing of receiving Christ as Savior, but not as Lord, as if a person could pick from a menu as it suits him. 
 
It's not a case where Jesus as Savior is the appetizer, and Jesus as Lord is the entree’. Every convert to Christ is a disciple of Christ, and no one who is not a disciple of Christ, is a convert of Christ.
 
What is a disciple? Jesus says that it is one who commits to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." It is someone who has been saved by God's grace, and then commits their live to Jesus lock, stock and barrel. They hand over the reigns of their live to the One who created them, convicted them and converted them. 
 
Once they become a disciple, they can be discipled. 
 
The church and fellow believers can then begin to help them grow in grace by deepening their understanding of the truths of God's Word.
 
That is why it is imperative that you avail yourself to every opportunity to hear the Word of God. That is why it is imperative that you attend God's house to hear His Word preached, taught, and discussed. 
 
I have had people say to me, "Pastor, I just don't think you have to go to church all the time to be a good Christian." I say to them, "Then, you must know more about it than God does, because He says that we are not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together."
 
Others have said, "Pastor, I can go down to the beach, to the lake, or to the stadium and worship God there just as good as I could in church." I say to them, "The only problem is that God never commanded you to go to the beach, the lake, or the stadium on the first day of the week. He commanded you to go to church."
 
Why? Because that is how we grow in the things of God. It doesn't end with church, but church is a great starting place to learn more about the things of God. You take what you learn at church, and then personally build on those things in your own study time. 
 
We have been called to reach them and teach them. We have been commissioned to bring them and build them. We have been commanded to show them and grow them. We get to advertise and evangelize. What greater service could anyone ever hold? 
 
Secondly, I want you to notice not only the greatest service anyone could ever hold; but:
 
2. The Greatest STORY Anyone Could Ever HEAR!
 
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was saved January 6, 1850. He tells of the day, "It is not everyone who can remember the very day and hour of his deliverance; but, as Richard Knell said, 'At such a time of the day, clang went every harp in Heaven,' it was even so with me. The clock of mercy struck in Heaven the hour and moment of my emancipation, for the time had come. Between half past ten o'clock, when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o'clock when I was back home, what a change had taken place in me. I had passed from darkness into marvelous light, from death to life. It matters not to me whether the day was gloomy or bright, I had met Christ; that was enough for me."
 
Every one of us shares a different salvation experience and story. Some may have been saved at church; others may have been saved at home; and, still others may have been saved at work.
 
Regardless of our story, there is one thing they all have in common; and, that is, the day we were saved we ran head-on into the Holy Ghost who then flung us at the feet of the Nazarene, and He changed our lives forever.
 
That is our story, but it holds nothing in comparison to the greatest story that has ever been told. It is the story of the Lord Jesus Christ coming into a dark, depraved world to give His life "as a ransom for many." 
It is about His death, His burial, and His resurrection.
 
Why is the story so great? It is because it tells of Jesus and the fact that:
 
He LONGS to SEEK Sinners
 
Matthew 27 and the 1st part of Matthew 28 tell the story of Jesus. It depicts His vicarious death, as well as His victorious resurrection. It details the account that the Son of God became the Son of Man. He became the Son of Man so He could die as a man for man.
 
Yet, the epoch reason Jesus "endured the cross, despising the shame" is found in Luke 19: 10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." The word "seek" is the Greek word zeteo. The word speaks of a "strong desire, or an endeavor."
 
In other words, Jesus came to this sin-stained, sin-soaked, and sin-saturated world on a mission. His mission was that He possessed a strong desire, and He endeavored to seek out you, and to seek out me. He came because He longs to seek sinners.
 
Because of His strong desire, and endeavor to seek sinners, the pages of the New Testament are filled with Jesus' involvement in the lives of people. He was hated because He sat down to eat with sinners. He was hated because He rubbed shoulders with sinners. He was hated because He wanted something to do with those no one else wanted anything to do with.
 
 
Still today, He is on a mission, through the church, to seek sinners. Right now, if you are unsaved, He is seeking you out in this service. When you walked through these doors, Jesus sent the Holy Ghost on a mission to hunt you down, seek you out, and to bring you to the foot of the cross.
 
The reason He longs to seek sinners is because:
 
He LOVES to SAVE Sinners
 
In verse 19, Jesus makes reference to, "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This name, in Philippians 2: 9, is a "name which is above every name."
 
In Acts 4: 12, we learn that there is no "salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." What name? It is the name of Jesus!
 
Matthew 27: 42 records the ridicule of those at the Crucifixion, "He saved others; himself he cannot save." I want to shout every time that I read that verse. I'm so glad that He did not come down from the cross and save Himself, because had He saved Himself; HE COULD HAVE NEVER SAVED US!
 
Yet, He did not save Himself because He longs to seek sinners, and because He loves to save sinners. 
 
That is a story that William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or John Grisham could never tell about in one of their writings.  
 
It is a story far too great to be conspired in a human mind. It is the story of all stories. 
It is the greatest story every told. It is the greatest story anyone could ever hear.
 
However, if it is to be heard, WE MUST SHARE IT! It's too good to keep to ourselves; thus, we should want to tell it to everyone we live with, work with, go to school with, or rub shoulders with. We should look for every opportunity to tell them about One who longs to seek sinners, and loves to save sinners.
 
Yet, sadly enough, so many Christians are like the man who said to his friend, "You know what the problem is with this country? Ignorance and Indifference, wouldn't you agree?" His friend said, "I don't know, and I don't care!"
 
I read the other day where a company was designing blank bumper stickers, and it had developed into a multi-million dollar business. They created these blank bumper stickers for people who don't want to get involved.
 
I believe this with all of my heart, and I have stood by it for years. If a person claims to be a Christian, and they do not have a burning passion to see people saved; then, it is the result of one of 4 things. 1) They are not saved themselves. 2) They are saved, but they are backslidden, and don't care. 3) They are a hyper-Calvinist, or 4) They are just plain lazy!
 
Proverbs 11: 30 declares, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." Thus, it would stand to reason that a person who does not long to see people saved, live to see people saved, and love to see people saved is not wise, but a fool!
Last week, we established that our purpose as a church and as Christians was that "God in all things might be glorified through Jesus Christ." Yet, ladies and gentlemen, nothing glorifies God as much as His gracious redemption of hell-bound deserving, damned and doomed sinners.
 
The supreme way in which God chose to glorify Himself was by "reconciling the world to Himself" through the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is through our participation in that plan that we most bring glory and honor unto God.
 
It has never been God's will for any person to go to hell. He is not "willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance." (2 Peter 3: 9) Thus, those that have gone to hell, or those who will go to hell go out of the will of God.
 
He wills "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2: 4) The bottom line of the gospel is that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Tim. 1: 15)
 
If all those things are true, and we have any hopes of bringing glory to God; then, we must go beyond these 4 wells and tell the city of Ardmore that Jesus longs to seek sinners, and Jesus loves to save sinners. Would you not agree that is the greatest story anyone could ever hear?
 
Finally, the greatest service anyone could ever hold, and the greatest story anyone could ever hear, is all because of:
 
 
 
3. The Greatest SAVIOR Anyone Could Ever HAVE!
 
The story is told of a man that traveled a long way to interview a distinguished scholar. Upon his arrival, he was ushered into the study of the great scholar. When the great scholar came into the room, the visitor asked, "Doctor, I have come a long way to ask you just one question. I observe that the walls of your room are filled with books. This room is literally lined with them from ceiling to the floor. I suppose you have read them all. I know you have written many of them.
 
You have traveled the world over; you have held intimate converse with the world's wisest men, its leaders of thought, and its creator of opinion. Tell me, if you will, after the years you have spent in study, out of all the things you have learned, what is the one thing best worth knowing?"
 
The great scholar's face flushed with emotion. He placed, with gentleness, both hands over the hands of his visitor and then said, "My dear sir, out of all the things I have learned, there are only two lessons best worth knowing. The first is, I am a great sinner. The second is, Jesus is a greater Savior."
 
Someone has said, "Had our greatest need been information, God would have sent us an educator. Had our greatest need been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. Had our greatest need been money, God would have sent us an economist. Had our greatest need been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. But, our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior."
 
Spurgeon was right when he said, "We have a great need for Christ; and, a great Christ for our needs!" We have the answer every question. We have the solution to every problem. We have the stability for every uncertainty. 
 
Want the answer for crime? Drugs? Mortality? Abortion? Pornography? Divorce? Want the answer for your family, your finances and your future? The answer is Jesus, the greatest Savior anyone could ever have.
 
Our text amplifies His greatness in a couple of ways. First of all, it speaks of:
 
His IRREFUTABLE POWER
 
In verse 18, Jesus clears up any confusion, or doubt as to His power. He declares, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." 
 
It's interesting to note that before He gives the Great Commission, He establishes His divine authority to command it. The word "power" literally speaks of "authority." It refers to the right to speak and act as one pleases. 
 
In other words, because of His irrefutable power, Jesus has the right to do whatever He wants to think, say, or do. Thus, He has the right to command us to fulfill the Great Commission.
 
Before He came to the earth, Jesus was co-existent, co-eternal, and co-equal with the Father; thus, His power ruled in the Heavens. When He came to earth and walked among men His power resided in the Earth.
However, after His victorious resurrection, He declares that now His power reigns over both Heaven and Earth. Before, it was boundless; but, now it is limitless. He created it all, He consumes it all; and, He is the only One that has the right to control it all.
 
Thus, because He created us, and because He converted us, He has the absolute right to command us and control us. He has the right to command us to "go" and show others to Him and grow others in Him. He has the right to command us to go and be "ambassadors of Christ."
 
He not only has the power to create a life, but to convert a life. He not only has the power to remedy a problem, but to remove a problem. He not only has the power to save sinners, but to sanctify saints. He not only has the power to transform, but to conform us into His very image.
 
He has the power to heal you when you hurt. He has the power to help you when you're down. He has the power to hear you when you pray. There is problem He cannot solve. There is no prayer He cannot answer. There is no person He cannot save.
 
We cannot only boast of His irrefutable power, but of:
 
His IRREPLACEABLE PRESENCE
 
The plan of God has been fulfilled. Jesus, the "Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world," has finished the work He came to do. He has died, and has risen from the dead.
 
 
Now, He prepares His disciples for the work He has prepared for them to do. He has given them everything they need. He has reminded them of His irrefutable power, and then He reminds them of His irreplaceable presence.
 
He says, "Fellows, I am the One who rules and reigns over Heaven and earth. Thus, I want to go out, in my power, and win this world to me. But, you will not go alone because," in verse 20, " lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
 
The word "lo" is the Greek word idou, and it is an interjection frequently used in the N. T. to call attention to something of special importance. In other words, Jesus is calling special attention to His own person and presence.
 
It's like He is saying, "I command you to go, but I Myself Am going to go in you, through you, for you, and with you. I Myself, your divine, resurrected, living, eternal Savior and Lord 'am with you always, even to the end of the world."
 
In fact, did you notice the different "all's" in this passage that prove that He is irreplaceable? 
 
In verse 18, He has "all power." 
In verse 19, we are to go to "all nations." 
In verse 20, we are to teach them "all things." 
 
And, then to put the icing on the cake, He promises to be with us "alway," or all the days until the end of the world.
 
 
 
His power is irrefutable. That means we cannot go without Him. 
 
His presence is irreplaceable. We cannot go without Him, and He will not go without us. Without Him, we CAN'T; and, without us, He WON'T! He is with us so we can take Him to others. 
 
If you are a Christian, you will never be anything, or do anything without Him. If you are not a Christian, you can never become a Christian without Him. He is completely irreplaceable.
 
I think of a simple story that I heard many years ago. It tells of an awful typhoon that hit off the eastern coast of Indonesia. The storm wreaked havoc on the island. Homes were destroyed, lives were lost, and lifestyles were changed forever.
 
After the storm subsided, a little girl walked down to the beach and discovered that the storm had washed up, what seemed like, hundreds of thousands of starfish onto the shore. Her heart broke for these helpless little starfish; and, so, one by one, she began tossing the baby starfish back into the ocean.
 
An elderly man watched the little girl for several hours. Finally, he walked up to her and said, "You foolish little girl. Do you think that you are going to save all of these starfish? Do you think that what you are doing will really make a difference?" The little girl held up a starfish, looked to the man and said, "Sir, maybe not; but, to THIS ONE, it makes all the difference in the world."
 
 
 
Ladies and gentlemen, do you now understand our great commission? Do you now understand why we place such an emphasis on evangelism and missions? We may never win thousands of souls to Christ; but, if we win just one, who might very well be your husband/wife, son/daughter, friend, co-worker, school mate, or loved one; TO THEM, IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.
 
You see, if you:
Wreck a car, you can replace it.
House burns down, you can replace it.
Are forsaken by a friend, you can replace them.
Lose a job; you can replace it with another one.
Lose a body part, and b/c of technology, you can replace it.
 
BUT YOU CANNOT REPLACE JESUS!
 
He is bread when you are hungry. He is water when you are thirsty. He is comfort when you are hurting. He is provision when you're broke. He is a father to the fatherless. He is a mother to the mother-less. 
 
He is help to the helpless. He is hope to the hopeless. He is a spouse to the widow. He is a mate to the widower. He is a "friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
 
No matter how hard you try, no matter how far you go, no matter how fast you go, no matter how much you spend, and no matter how long you stay, you cannot remove Him, you cannot resist Him, you cannot refute Him, because YOU CANNOT REPLACE HIM!
 
 
To the architect, He is the Chief Cornerstone.
To the artist, He is the Altogether Lovely One.
To the astronomer, He is the Bright/Morning Star.
To the baker, He is the Living Bread.
To the banker, He is the Priceless Possession.
To the biologist, He is the Creator.
To the carpenter, He is the Master Builder.
To the diplomat, He is the Prince of Peace.
To the doctor, He is the Great Physician.
To the educator, He is the Sum of All Truth.
To the electrician, He is the Light of the World.
To the farmer, He is the Lord of the Harvest.
To the florist, He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.
To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
To the horticulturist, He is the True Vine.
To the jeweler, He is the Pearl of Great Price.
To the judge, He is the Advocate with the Father.
To the philosopher, He is the Wisdom of God.
To the plumber, He is the Living Water.
To the publisher, He is the Good Tidings of Great Joy
To the sculptor, He is the Living Stone.
To the sinner, He is the LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!
 
Church, it matters not what else we do, how well we do it, how nice it looks, or how much it costs; if we are not advertising the "unspeakable gift" of Christ to a lost and dying world, it all means nothing. Everyone in this room today is confronted with the truth of these verses. No one is exempt, or excluded from this message. If you are a Christian, you have a command to advertise Jesus. If you are not a Christian, you have a chance to accept Jesus. 
 
I'm anxious to see what you will do, because whatever you do will make all the difference in the world.
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