In 1886, Florida was hit by a deep freeze that killed the oranges and damaged the groves. Two brothers with a farming supply business, Sydney and Joshua Chase, used the occasion to purchase some discounted land southwest of Orlando. The brothers called it “Isleworth,” but they could not have dreamed of its worth today. It’s now one of America’s most exclusive gated communities. Isleworth includes a private golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, tennis courts, a full-service spa, swimming pools, fishing in seven lakes, and boat ramps. The residents enjoy their homes, but what if they never left? What if they forgot there was a real world outside their mansions and beyond their gates?
As Christians, it’s easy to grow comfortable inside our gated communities, but there’s a lost and desperate world outside. As someone once said, “The Gospel isn’t something we come to church to hear; it’s something we go from church to tell.”
At our church I often remind our congregation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus emphasized four things in this passage, the first being His power and authority. Notice how He parsed His words: “All authority has been given to Me, therefore you go.” The implication is clear: As we go with His message, we’ll have His power. Jesus made this even clearer in Acts 1:8, saying, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.”
This is great comfort in witnessing. In my preaching or personal conversation, I can think I’ve failed. But the Holy Spirit has a way of using some word or verse, for the power isn’t in my personality or intellect, nor in my skills of persuasion. It’s in His Spirit-anointed Word, and His Word doesn’t return void.
Having reminded us of His power, Jesus then stated His purpose for the church—to “make disciples of all the nations.” The word disciple means “a follower, learner, one who adheres to a leader and teacher.” We’re involved in disciple-making every day on a local level as people watch our lives and see Christ in us. Something as simple as writing a Bible verse in a greeting card or distributing a tract is part of fulfilling the Great Commission.
But notice those words “all nations.”
It’s a global task.
Christ wants us to reach the world, and it takes the church to accomplish this.
How do we do it? Jesus gave us three steps—going, baptizing, and teaching. Literally this passage says, “As you are going, make disciples by baptizing . . . and teaching.” The main purpose is to make disciples, but the process is by going, baptizing, and teaching.
We’re all going out into the world every day. As we do so, we baptize. That means we share Christ with others, witness their conversions, and baptize them in recognition of their decision to follow Christ Then we’re to teach, instruct, edify, and show them how to observe His commands.
Jesus ends the Great Commission by assuring us of His presence. As we draw on His power, adopt His purpose, and implement His plan, we’ll enjoy His presence: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
He tells us that as we are going out to the world, He’ll be with us always.
If God has called you to be a missionary, don’t be afraid to say, “Yes, Your Majesty!”
Commit to pray earnestly and daily for missionaries as they serve.
Discover how your church is involved in global ministries and get involved.
And as you gather week by week in the Gated Community of your own congregation, remember that it’s a blessed home, it’s a place for rest, of refreshing and rejoicing, and of growth. But the Great Commission isn’t an “inside job.” We’re called to go, and we gather inside the gates only to prepare to venture beyond them for Christ and His Kingdom.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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