Now, let’s look at… possibly… the most neglected statement of The Great Commission. After Jesus issues his four crisp commands, comes the magnificent and stunning conclusion.
Let’s read the entirety of The Great Commission again… it’s been a while since we’ve heard it.
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.”
The Greatest Promise Ever Made
Jesus concludes his commission with an amazing and wonderful promise… “And surely I am with you always until the very end of the age.”
There are no words to adequately describe the implications and impact of these final words. Jesus’ promise permeates through the rest of the New Testament. For the last two millennia, The Promise has changed millions of hearts and lives and will continue to do so until the very end of time. Majestic and marvelous, The Promise secures a Christian’s future in the eternal Kingdom of God. It is a promise of comfort and a bond of sonship. It is intimate and loving. It is truly beyond earthly comprehension. Jesus promises to be with us always, until the very end of the age.
The Promise was Predicted
And, by the way, this is exactly what he said he would do, way back in John 14. This came at the time of The Last Supper, as he shares his heart with the apostles he loves. Let’s listen in….
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
Wow! What an awesome and wonderful position we are in. The God of the Universe, the Lord of Lords, King of King’s, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, The Alpha and Omega, the Light and the Life of Men, the Word Incarnate, that Carpenter of Galilee will voluntarily come to me and live in me for the purposes of his will. That’s wild! It’s blow away!
The Promise has a Predication
Now notice, in both John 14 and The Great Commission, all of this wonder is predicated on a very specific response to Jesus’ teaching and invitation. The only appropriate response to his conditional call is… obedience. John 14 compels soft hearted people to ask, “How do we do this, Lord? What should we obey?” By Matthew 28:18, he tells them! The Promise follows and, is only available to, those who obey The Great Commission.
The Promise is Awesome!
The Promise of The Great Commission is, beyond words, truly amazing in its blessings. The God of the Universe comes and makes his home in us. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus indwells us! This all happens at a point in time after our sins have been wiped away by God! The Holy Spirit will not indwell a house which has not been swept clean. It happens because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He died on the cross and rose from the grave so we can be freed from sin and death. Because of what He has done, we can live with God in Heaven for all eternity. Our response to this is not a legalistic or man made response, it is in humble obedience to all that he commands and it comes from a heart filled with deep gratitude and love for Christ. Without objection or argument, we obey all he has taught us.
Our love for Christ and our gratitude for what He has accomplished on our behalf drives us forward. It compels us to honor, respect, adore and cherish Jesus as our Lord with every fiber of our being. We lay down our lives before His throne. We fall on our knees before His majesty. We dedicate our lives to His service. We desire to know Him in deeper more intimate ways by reading His word and pursuing our relationship with Him in prayer to the Father, that we may know him better.
The Promise has an Impact
When we are so converted, we crave things spiritual and our minds become squarely set on heavenly things. Love is an action, not just an emotion. Therefore, a disciple of Jesus possesses a “go anywhere, do anything” mentality and heart. We are humble and eager to learn anything new. We are willing to change quickly when we learn we have been wrong. This of course implies we are in relationships which lovingly challenge our thinking. We have this heart because we so clearly recognize how lost and depraved we actually were without Christ. We truly understand how deceived and empty our lives were prior to discovering this “life to the full,” which is only found in Christ! A relationship with Christ results in overwhelming feelings of boundless joy, incomprehensible peace and deep contentment.
This is why we talk about Christ. We love sharing this Good News with our brothers and sisters who have experienced the same thing we have and with those who have not yet discovered it.
The Promise is Why Accountability is Vital
“I will be with you always,” is the last thing Jesus tells his disciples, and it is within this context we consider what we talked about in our last podcast, “accountability.” We have our commission. We have our marching orders. We are to take the Gospel to the world. We are to go, make disciples, baptize them and teach them to obey everything we have been taught. So, how does Jesus amazing promise to be with us always relate to accountability in our evangelistic efforts. Think this through!
When you have a group of people absolutely stoked about their relationship with God, they should be eager to do anything which “fans into flames” those feelings. If church leadership can provide just a little bit of structure and a little bit of guidance, I would be all for it. Provide me just a little bit of direction in the form of some common goals, shared with my fellow workers, and I will stay focused and busy while I toil with my team to reach those goals. The God of the universe lives in me. Don’t tell me to sit around doing nothing!
The Promise Demands a Plan
When church leadership provides no common evangelistic goals, direction and a way to measure success, members will most likely drift and wander aimlessly throughout their spiritual lives, rarely seeing the victory of bringing another soul to Christ and experiencing the shear joy of teaching another person all that they have learned. Without common goals, direction and a modicum of accountability, not only will church members drift… frankly, most will leave.
Is it not strange that every successful business understands and employs accountability among its members but the church shudders at the thought of asking its team to be accountable for a far more important purpose. Our efforts impact people for an eternity. No company’s products or services can make that claim. Our evangelistic goals, organizational plans and accountability should put the greatest corporate programs to shame.
Consider Israel. They always had goals. The Lord constantly set before them the task of advancing into new territory. For them it happened through their various wars. Take these military campaigns as a foreshadowing of our battle to save souls. While we no longer conquer physical territory with swords of iron, we conquer spiritual territory with The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. And, without question…. it is a battle, the battle for souls!
The Promise Moves us Forward
Jesus magnificent promise to be with us always means that we will take on his continuing mission to keep moving forward by preaching and teaching the Gospel. A well trained mission team doesn’t reject accountability, we embrace it because it helps us do what we want to do to an even greater degree by employing Godly organization. The very fact that Jesus is in us drives us forward as a team, on the quest to spread his message.
How can we measure the effectiveness of a plan if there are no clearly defined attainable goals… no specific target and no evaluation of the activity? We must have an evangelistic plan with clearly defined and clearly stated goals and objectives. When these are communicated to the troops, they have the ability to see their victories!
Think about this carefully. Jesus promised to be with us always. What good is it if Jesus is going to be with us always… until the very end of the age… if we never do anything as a result of The Promise? What good is it to be saved if we never seek and save the lost ourselves? Did we get into Christianity for fire insurance? May it never be! What good is it for God to give us His Holy Spirit, if we are just going to go hide in our prayer closets and delight in Him, without ever sharing our incredible discovery with anyone else?
The Promise Defines a Purpose
After our conversion, God leaves us here on earth for a purpose; that purpose is to fulfill The Great Commission, to the best of our ability, taking the Good News to a lost world. For a disciple of Jesus, there is no greater calling. There is nothing more important or more exciting that helping another person understand the Biblical Plan of Salvation, as presented in The Great Commission; teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded us.
And, when you get a bunch of us together, we are happy and excited to talk about the victories God is granting us and we want to know how we might do better. We are open to being “discipled” about our evangelism. It is for the benefit our our shared mission! This is why I think there is a way accountability can work in a congregation of fired up disciples. They are ready for the challenge.
Accountability is the furthest thing from a nuisance, it becomes one of the means by which I get to share all that I am discovering and all the victories God gives as I complete my small part in God’s grand plan! It’s not an annoyance, it’s a gateway to riches!
If you think accountability is intrusive or threatening, who are you protecting? Why so defensive? Why not celebrate and talk about what the Lord is doing in your own personal ministry to the glory of the church? It’s not about you. It’s about building God’s kingdom on earth.
God loves us and has given us His Holy Spirit. This is a cause for overwhelming celebration. Hide your light? Never! Keep silent? Impossible? Stay still? Not for a moment! Hide in the shadows? No way! We are a city on a hill. Let your light shine so brightly that men see you good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven!
The Promise Promotes a Change
Now, the obvious problem which lies ahead of us is how to move a person who is not so committed to the Biblical Plan of Salvation into a state where they are committed with their whole heart, mind, strength and soul. How do we make that happen? There is a proven way, and we will begin talking about that soon.
The Great Commission – A Review
As we leave our study of The Great Commission, let’s do a quick review.
The Great Commission is presented to the Apostles at the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The purpose of the commission was designed to provide a way for Jesus’ ministry to continue after his departure. His expectation, as explained in the commission, is that all of his teachings should be passed down to each generation of new disciples and that all of the commands were to be obeyed. These four commands are Jesus only plan of salvation. The commands, in order are: Go, Make Disciples, Baptize them and teach them to obey everything.
If we have obeyed the Gospel, we should be following and teaching this exact same plan of salvation ourselves, not some other man made plan of salvation. The Great Commission presents the only authorized and legitimate plan. We also clearly see from The Great Commission and from John 14 that The Promise comes as a result of our humble obedience and is not available to anyone who has not followed Jesus instructions and commands. God will give us His Holy Spirit if we obey his teaching.
This means we do to receive the Holy Spirit at a point in time before our obedience. This fact is consistent throughout all of scripture. God never gives his Holy Spirit to someone who has not obeyed him.
As disciples, as we are in the process of implementing The Great Commission at a personal level, we will go. We will make disciples. We will baptize those disciples we make and we will teach them to do exactly the same things we are doing. Now, there is nothing complicated here. If a someone refuses to obey this teaching, they reject the plan. As we have seen so many times, a disciple makes disciples and in fact, there is no other kind of disciple.
If we want to be true disciples of Jesus, our goal is to obey Christ to the best of our ability. He provides the plan. Our job is to possess a humble, teachable heart and a faith that obeys!Enjoy!