Rethinking the Great Commission

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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. Matthew 28:19-20

Apart from John 3:16, the “Great Commission” may very well be the best-known and most quoted verse in the Bible. Yet it contains a startling implication that we oftentimes miss when we read it, speak about it or try and obey it.

Note that the calling is to make disciples, not converts. Also note that the way to do this is to teach them “to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Some of us stop reading when we see the word “nations”.

If you are a tent evangelist up in Africa and your fiery sermons and passionate altar calls make thousands stream to the front to say the Sinner’s Prayer and “give their hearts to Jesus”, you are doing a mighty fine job. But you are not fulfilling the Great Commission.

Others stop reading when they see the word “teaching”.

If you are a Bible teacher and you devote your life to expounding the Scriptures and teaching the great doctrines of the Christian faith to people, you should be applauded. But you are not fulfilling the Great Commission.

Note again: The great Commission is about “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”, not “lead them to me” or “clarify my teachings to them”.

Jesus Christ is more intelligible than any one of his commentators. His teachings and commandments are crystal clear and extremely simple. The difficulty has never been to understand Jesus. It is to obey him.

We are to go into the world and assist people to obey commandments that are stated in the plainest language imaginable. That’s the Great Commission.


4 thoughts on “Rethinking the Great Commission

  1. Stefan September 18, 2012 / 2:32 pm

    Amen. The great commission is not only getting hundreds to be saved (even though this is very good) or speaking doctrines and good teachings to them, but spending time to disciple the nations, teaching them what the Lord has commanded us.

    This reminds me of 1 Tim. 1:4, God desires all men to be saved AND to come to the full knowledge of the truth. He doesn’t want people to only be saved, but to come to the full knowledge of the truth. And truth, reality, can be found only in Jesus and His word!

    • naturalchurch September 19, 2012 / 5:44 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Stefan. And thanks for pointing that verse out. I could not agree more. Btw, your blog is a real blessing.

  2. naturalchurch September 26, 2012 / 5:18 am

    Jon, thanks for the comment. There is a tendency in certain circles to downplay a focused effort on obedience to Christ’s teachings nowadays, as though that would contradict the reality of Christ living his life in and through us. But this verse (amongst others) tells me that humans need an objective guideline in this regard as much as they need the spontaneous and subjective promptings of a new spirit within. The two do not exclude but compliment one another. Bless you, brother.

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