Study 12 Objective: What is the Great Commission, and how is it relevant to the life of the believer and of churches?
To limit, however, our model of Christianity to just coming and following is to pattern our spirituality along Old Testament lines. Jesus explains more. Those who have come to Him and who are following Him are also sent into the world, as we read in John 17:18. God is the missionary God. In response to being sent, as they go they are to make disciples, baptise and teach the commands of Christ (again Matthew 28: 18-20). Christianity is not a static calling, it is dynamic and active. With Christ we come, follow, are sent and go to continue His
What models of mission are practiced in your local congregation?
Mark explains that Jesus came, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (1:14). This kingdom is not exclusive. Jesus told His disciples that “the kingdom of God…is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden: and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches” (Luke 13: 18-19). The idea is that the tree is big enough for all the birds, not just one particular species.
Church is not exclusive, as the assembly was in Israel. It is inclusive, and the gospel message is not just for us. We are to be His witnesses as far as “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “God sent forth His Son” for us that we, through redemption, may be adopted as His children (Galatians 4:4).
The redemptive mercy of God through Christ is not for us alone, “but for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). We who are God’s children are sent into the world as witnesses of His grace. Mission is God saying “yes” to
humanity, “yes, I am here, and yes, I will save you”.
This being sent into the world is not simply a task that is to be completed. It is a relationship with Jesus, who sends us to share with
others “the goodness of God that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4). It is
Christ’s compassionate agape love within us that motivates us to spread the love of God to others. “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Mission begins at home.
Everything we do is related to the act of God in sending “forth the Spirit of the Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6). We are sent as Christ to our spouses, our families, our parents, our friends, neighbours, workmates,
and those we meet in the street, anyone everywhere.
The early church saw its purpose as participation in the great commission. Paul viewed those without “the message of the cross” as being in the process of “perishing” unless the gospel was preached to them (1 Corinthians 1:18). Irrespective of whether or not people respond to the gospel, believers are to be the “fragrance of Christ” wherever they go (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Paul is so concerned that people hear the gospel that he comes to regard spreading it as a responsibility. He says “necessity is laid upon me: yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). He suggests he is under an obligation to “Greeks and barbarians, both to wise and to unwise…to preach the gospel” (Romans
Paul also desires to do the work of Christ out of a sense of hope-filled gratitude “because the love of God has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (5:5).
For him it is a privilege of grace to be an apostle,
meaning “one sent”, as we all are, to do Christ’s work (1:15). “Christianity is
missionary by its very nature, or it denies its very raison d’être”, meaning the reason why it exists (Bosch 1991, 2000: 9).
Like many of today’s societies, the world at the time of Acts was hostile to the gospel. “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23).