The Great Commission of Jesus Christ, Mark 16:15-18
We as a body are called Grace Bible Church.
We are not a building, we are not a place, we are a people.
We are composed of likeminded souls who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and have decided to follow him as we live this life.
Jesus Christ has given to those who follow Him directions as to what to do during the short time we are given to live on the Earth.
In our passage for today in the Gospel of Mark it is clear what those directions are, for Jesus gave to his disciples these commands:
Mark 16:15-18, And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
This and other passages relating to the commands of Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, are some of the most significant passages in God’s Word.
In Mark and in Matthew this special calling from Jesus Christ to
all His followers to take, in His absence, specific action while on this earth
is the last recorded personal instruction given by Jesus to His disciples.
Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying , All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teachb 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.
Here in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus declared his authority to give these directions to those who believe on him.
There is no limitation on His power to direct those whom he has brought about as new creations, those who have been born of the Spirit of God.
Jesus Christ is the creator of the new man and as such he uses his power to bring additional new creations into being.
And these orders transcend the time of the disciples to whom this was spoken and reach to every disciple of Christ to include our time and the time to come until Christ returns to set up His Kingdom.
This commission to teach all nations will then cease for all the world will know of Christ.
Paul, whom we believe is the writer of Hebrews, wrote of this in chapter 8, verse 11, And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
So on God’s calendar this time of preaching the Good News to sinners is limited and verifies the scripture that says “to everything there is a season” and that includes the preaching of the Gospel.
We have been in this period for almost two thousand years and by the look of the corruption and unbelief that is rapidly spreading on the earth it appears that the time of harvest is near.
Is this the time to Look up for our redemption draws near?
It may be but we are still in the age of God’s grace, and this is still the age whereby God’s disciples are sent ones for we are to occupy till He comes.
Other scriptures where Christ speaks of this are in:
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer,
and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among
all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
John 20:21, Then
said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even
so send I you.
And Christ’s departing words in Acts 1:7-8, And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Now it is clear that the followers of Christ are to be sent ones, not sedentary ones, not idle ones, but sent ones.
Each one who believes on Christ has a commission to do what Christ wants them to do.
There are 21 names listed in our Missionary Prayer Book who this body of believers have committed to financially and prayerfully support as they answer God’s sending call.
But these are not the only ones to pray for, for all of us are to be missionaries wherever we find ourselves.
Now it may be that God will send you to China or Africa or Russia but he may also send you across the street.
For God’s children are to be sent ones.
When I was a young man it was normal for men to be drafted into the military service of our country.
That of course meant that you had no choice but to comply with your country’s summons.
It was not a request, it was a command.
Personal desires had to be forsaken for the good of the United States of America.
Having come from a seafaring people I choose to join the Navy rather than to wait for a draft notice to be inducted into the Army.
Having completed my college years I was eligible for becoming an officer in the Navy and I took advantage of that opportunity.
So lifting my right hand and saying, I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
I then, as a 22 year old young man left all that I knew, including my wife to be, and placed myself under the authority of others who were committed to preparing me for service and accomplished the necessary training at Newport Rhode Island where I was commissioned as an Officer in the U. S. Navy.
I felt this was my “Great Commission” for Officer Candidate School was a grueling experience both physically and mentally.
But I now was ready to accomplish that which my commission gave me the right and power to accomplish.
Here it is in its aged form, 52 years old, yellow, wrinkled, and a bit tarnished but still faithful to its purpose, that of communicating to me my President’s commands.
The President of the United States of America
To all who shall see these presents, greeting:
Know Ye that, reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of Ludwig H. Opager Jr., I do appoint him an Ensign in the Civil Engineer Corps in the United States Navy to rank as such from the Fourteen day of July, nineteen hundred and Sixty-One. This Officer will therefore carefully and diligently discharge the duties of the office to which appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.
And I do strictly charge and require those Officers and other personnel of lesser rank to render such obedience as is due an officer of this grade and position. And this Officer is to observe and follow such orders and directives, from time to time, as may be given by me, or the future President of the United States of America, or other Superior Officers acting in accordance with the laws of the United States of America.
This commission is to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States of America for the time being, under the provisions of those Public Laws relating to Officers of the Armed Forces of the United States of America and the component thereof in which this appointment is made.
Done at the City of Washington, this Sixteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and Sixty-Three and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and Eighty Eighth.
By the President:
A. O’Mally Fred Korth
For the Chief of Naval Personnel Secretary of the Navy
Effective: Date Accepted
So as a young man these were my marching orders.
I had committed myself to the United States of America to do what my country wished me to do and I knew that included the laying down of my life if that was necessary to do.
This was my commission. I now would become a sent one.
I awaited my orders to go and serve wherever the need was.
Believe it or not the Navy thought it good to send this one who desired to be near the sea to a sea-less place called Nebraska, to a Navy ammunition depot built during WWII.
But my commission was to observe and follow such orders and directives as may be given by my President so off we went, my new wife and I to obey such orders as they were given, no questions asked.
And all those who name the name of Christ also have a “no questions asked” commission, rightly called the Great Commission for there is no greater duty then committing oneself to the service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And as we see in our lifetime many are being called to give the ultimate sacrifice in order to obey that commission.
But the words that are written on my Navy Commission are so apropos to God’s commission:
This Officer will therefore carefully and diligently discharge the duties of the office to which appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.
And ask those around here how true this is for sent ones are to know that God can use all of us in all manner of things in this important commission.
Yes, many are called to cross the world, but many more are called to cross the street.
But all are called.
The word commission as defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is:
The act of committing or sending to; the act of entrusting, as a charge or duty. Hence,
The thing committed, entrusted or delivered; letters patent, or any writing from proper authority, given to a person as his warrant for exercising certain powers, or the performance of any duty, whether civil, ecclesiastical, or military. Hence,
Charge; order; mandate; authority given.
So the Great Commission is God’s charge or order or mandate to his people with proper authority and provision to carry out every order.
Jesus Christ lived among men for 33 years and walked the roads of Israel with faithful disciples for 3 of those years learning the will of God from the Son of God.
And in those last hours before returning to his father he commanded these faithful disciples to take what they had learned and teach all nations, going to them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
And with this commission promising to be with them always even unto the end of the world.
He left with them a blueprint for a church that his followers were going to establish after he was gone.
And that church was to be composed of all who were born of the Spirit of God by believing in God’s Son.
This commission was the believer’s marching orders for the time between Jesus’ first coming and his second coming.
It describes what you and I are to be doing during this long period.
It has not been changed and is still in effect.
We are to preach and teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever Jesus Christ has commanded.
These words are important for they apply to all Christians at all times during this age of grace, in all places, and in every possible situation.
Jesus Christ speaks of all authority, he speaks of all nations, and all commands and his presence there at all times.
Since last speaking to his disciples there has never been any alteration to this instruction.
Never has any angel with corrected orders come down from heaven to change this commission and until the kingdom comes it will remain in effect.
This commission was the last word of Jesus Christ and I believe meant to impress upon our minds the doing of a continuing work for God.
Jesus Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.
He came for a short time bringing the lost into the kingdom but departed after a short time of instruction leaving those equipped to also bring in the lost.
It is a great privilege that God has given to us to be co-laborers with God in this great adventure.
This was uppermost in the mind of Christ and it ought to be uppermost in our mind.
Each and every one of us, each and every one who has been brought into the fold of Christ has been given this Great Commission.
We are disciples who are to make other disciples who are to make other disciples.
Jesus Christ spoke to the eleven disciples at the last and gave them the task of spiritual multiplication.
It is to follow the physical principle that God established in Genesis where he said “Be fruitful and multiply.”
That was physical multiplication but the Great Commission is a spiritual multiplication.
God is a husbandman and everything he does involves multiplication.
God never intended to grow crops in the barn.
He said the fields are white already to harvest.
Fields are where the crops grow.
But I am afraid the church has decided to grow the crops indoors and think that multiplication takes place in buildings.
Yes, there can be crops in the hot house but the husbandman gets his greatest harvest from the fields.
This is where the greatest multiplication takes place.
Jesus said Go! He said Go ye into all the world.
Now you may be called to go from where you are.
Or you may be called to stay where you are but while you stay you are to go to your neighbor, your loved ones, the stranger, the sick and tell them of Jesus Christ who loves them and wants them to come and populate His kingdom.
We are to be a church composed of believers who can reproduce themselves.
Many look at a healthy church by looking at its preacher, looking at the size of its budget, the quality of its music, the wonder of the architecture of its building.
But the most important health indicator is “What is the church doing to fulfill the commission that Jesus Christ left the church?”
We are to be in the battle for souls for Jesus Christ and fulfill the Great Commission by bringing others in and teaching them in order that they may be sent into the world to do the same.
My mission as teacher, your pastor’s mission as Preacher is to equip you to do the work of the ministry, the ministry of making disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nothing is as important as becoming this kind of people and this kind of church.
Bring Them In
Hark! ’tis the Shepherd’s voice I hear,
Out in the desert dark and drear,
Who’ll go and help this Shepherd kind,
Out in the desert hear their cry,