Jesus' Great Commission and Your Place In It
- Summary: The Great Commission is not just the work of evangelists and missionaries. Every Christian can have a meaningful role in the Lord's plan for world evangelism. Come and see how you can be a meaningful participant.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Mark 16:15-16, 20 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…  Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
- • These verses tell us of the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His Church. He challenged His church ("go ye into all the world" [KJV]) and encouraged His followers to go forth and bring lost people into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and help them become mature disciples.
- • It has been said that only one in twenty (yes, only 5% of) North American Christians will ever win a soul to the Lord in their lifetimes. (That statistic probably does not include their own children)
- • I think that too many Christians just throw up their hands in discouragement, because they do not see themselves as effective at “witnessing.”
- • But there are many ways to be a fruitful participant in Christ's Great Commission. I guarantee that you personally can become successfully involved in one or more of these.
- • Mark’s account of the Great Commission speaks of preaching the Gospel and leading lost people to salvation. Matthew’s account has a different focus — primarily teaching people the things of God in such a way that they become mature, obedient disciples of the Lord. So the Great Commission covers an entire spectrum of ministries — from the initial reaching of people with the Good News all the way to seeing believers become mature disciples. And I assure you that there is a need for you and your spiritual gifts somewhere in that broad, God-designed Commission.
Psalm 68:11, NKJV The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it.
- • Men, women, boys, and girls — all of us can be proclaimers of “the word” about God and His Son, the Savior Jesus Christ. This does not require a pulpit. A casual conversation will do. Or a get-together over a cup of coffee. Or encouraging a hurting friend with some of God’s uplifting Bible promises. There is an almost infinite variety of ways and opportunities simply to share “a word” about God’s goodness.
- • Before I ever entered ordained ministry some 40 years ago, I was able to influence several coworkers towards accepting Jesus as their Savior. How? I simply tried my best to live a godly life before them and to share about the Lord in a non-confrontational manner, as opportunities came up naturally in the course of the workday. This did not require a religious title or special training. It was just a matter of being available to “proclaim … the word” as occasions arose.
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
- • One of the positive results of living a hope-filled, godly life before other people is that your example may lead some of them to inquire about what makes you live like that. As Peter says, make Jesus central in your life. Be hopeful, not pessimistic. And be ready for others to notice and perhaps to ask you “what’s up” with you.
- • What the apostle Peter is showing us here is that we don’t always have to open the conversation. Sometimes, yes. But if your demeanor before others is consistently hopeful, upright, and appealing, some of those around you will begin to ask leading questions — for example, about “the hope that you have.” Then just give simple, positive, biblical reasons for your hope and joy. This can be a powerful influence in leading people to Jesus Christ as their Savior. Over 40 years ago a young Christian woman had this type of influence on me. Her cheerful outlook and her unashamed (but not pushy) faith won me over. I began to seek the Lord and soon received Him as my Savior in 1969.
- • I was an air traffic controller in Alaska in the early 1970s. I always tried to set a positive, godly example at work. Then on one night shift a fellow controller came up to me and asked what was a good Bible to read. We began a conversation that led, within the next few days, to him accepting Jesus as His personal Savior. I had not previously gone out of my way to present the Gospel to him. But he had seen something in how I lived and worked that led him to ask a question that easily allowed us to progress into a discussion of how he could be saved and become a son of God.
Mark 5:18-20 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
vs. 19 Good News Translation: “Go back home to your family and tell them” … King James Version: “Go home to thy friends, and tell them” … Amplified: “Go home to your own [family and relatives and friends] and bring back word to them…”
- • Every single one of us can get involved in Jesus' Great Commission this way. Simply look for opportunities to tell your family and friends about “how much the Lord has done for you and … had mercy on you.” There is great power in your personal testimony shared with someone who already knows and trusts you.
- • You can tell about a healing you might have received, or an answered prayer, or other similar blessings from God to you. These can have a very powerful impact on the hearers.
- • It is a proven fact that your best fields for sharing about Jesus are your family and friends. Some have called this “network evangelism,” and it is by far the most successful approach to evangelizing for most of us Christians who want to win souls to Jesus but are not sure how.
Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth…  You are the light of the world…”
- • Jesus calls us to be “salt and light” in the world. Salt adds flavor and preserves from corruption. Light dispels darkness. Your honorable lifestyle, coupled with your gracious words about the Lord, can influence the people around you for good.
- • It may or may not be you personally who leads them in prayer to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. But every positive salt-and-light influence on someone is part of the total process that may lead them to accept the Lord’s salvation.
Acts 28:7-9 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
- • This is a very effective way to get involved in the Great Commission. Pray for people! If someone you know is sick, ask if you can pray for them and ask the Lord to touch them. In my 45 years as a born-again believer, I cannot recall a single time when someone in need refused my offer to pray for them. People tend to be more receptive to spiritual things when they are in great need.
Proverbs 15:23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!
KJV: A word spoken in due season, how good is it!
- • Sometimes just a brief, kind word can change someone’s life. Be alert for opportunities to encourage a friend, to compliment someone sincerely, to share comfort with a hurting coworker, and the like. Words have great power. Ask the Lord each day to give you a chance to have a positive “touch” in someone’s life. Much fruit can come of this.
John 12:20-21 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”
- • In living out each day, you may come across people whose hearts have become open to the Lord. Among all those whom you see today, there will be some whose hearts are saying, “I would like to see Jesus.”
- • Invite lots of people to church. A Spirit-filled church service can have a dynamic influence upon a person seeking to meet the Lord. Let the worship, the gifts of the Spirit, and the preached word of God have their effect upon the heart of the seeker whom you have brought to church. You can be a soul winner simply by inviting people to a Spirit-filled church.
Romans 10:1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
- • Here is one final way that each of us can be effective “Great Commissioners,” as a friend of mine calls Christians. And that is to pray for souls to be saved. Jesus did (John 17:20). The apostle Paul did (Romans 10:1). So can you! Target your unsaved relatives and friends by name, and bring them in prayer before the Lord, as did Paul — “Heavenly Father, my heart’s desire and prayer to you for _____ and _____ is that you will lead them to salvation through your Son Jesus.”
- • Prayer for souls — that is right at the heart of Jesus' Great Commission, and each interceding believer can be a participant in the Lord’s worldwide harvest of souls.
So by getting involved in one or more of these things, you too can be an active contributor to the winning of souls, to the growth and maturing of other believers, to the extension of the kingdom of God, and to the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission.
You can proclaim the word … or be always ready to answer the curious … or tell family and friends what the Lord has done for you … or be a witness as salt and light … or pray for sick people … or speak a timely word to encourage someone … or invite lots of friends and family to church or Bible study … or pray, pray, pray for souls. In any or all of these ways and more, you can be an effective “Great Commissioner” in the Lord’s work.
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©2014, James H. Feeney.
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by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.