Summary: The 17th Sermon in our series on the Baptist Faith and Message, dealing with the Great Commission
Go Ye! (BFM #17)
Text: Matthew 28:18-20
By: Ken McKinley
In May of 1845, that would be 165 years ago this May, the Southern Baptist Convention came into existence. And it did so mainly for one reason, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations. Granted the Baptist Church existed before then, but there was no Southern Baptist Convention before then. Now as a kid growing up, I didn’t know a lot about religion, or denominations, but I associated different denominations with different things; and I mean no disrespect to any particular denomination, this is just how I saw them as an unregenerate kid, with no religious background. Methodists were always talking about loving one another, The Assemblies of God were always talking about speaking in tongues, the Presbyterians were always talking about election, the Disciples of Christ was always taking Communion, the Church of Christ was always talking about baptism, and the Baptists were always sending out missionaries. That’s how I saw them. Now I didn’t realize until many years later that it was a Presbyterian that came up with “Evangelism Explosion,” a system of evangelism that has been used to reach more people all over the world than any other system, but that’s another point entirely.
So let’s look at Article 11 and see what it has to say (Read Article 11 of BFM), so what we’re going to do is look at this idea of evangelism and making disciples through the sharing of the Gospel. Today we are going to look at it from a wide view, kind of an overview of our duty to share the Gospel, and then next Sunday we are going to be looking at how we can about our Father’s business and make evangelism a reality that we practice in our daily lives.
Now our text there in Matthew 28 is what we have traditionally called the “Great Commission.” And I would say that this is probably the primary duty of a Christian. The Great Commission is actually a COMMANDMENT. Now if you want to get technical, there are only three commands given to Christians. The first one is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second one is to love your neighbor as yourself, and the third one is to go into all the world and make disciples. It’s a pretty simple religion we have here. And that’s the first thing we need to understand about sharing the Gospel. You do not have to be a theologian, a pastor, or a trained evangelist to share the Gospel. The Bible says that what we are called to share is so simple even a child can understand it. Both my girls understood at an early age that they were sinners in desperate need of a Savior, and that Jesus Christ is that Savior. There was only one of the 12 disciples that had any kind of religious training, and that was the Apostle Paul, the rest were fishermen, tax collectors, political activists… What made the difference was that they spent time with Jesus and they spent time in the Word. Disciples make disciples. How many of you became a Christian knowing everything that you know now? I would say probably none of you. You’ve all grown in your faith and understanding since becoming a Christian. So you don’t have to be a theologian to share it, you don’t have to be a theologian to receive it. (That comes later in discipleship class – ha ha). Someone once said that “the effectiveness of a denomination can be measured by how well they share the Gospel,” if that’s the case then Christianity is in trouble in the West. In-fact we know it is, the good news is that Christianity is exploding in the “Global South” (Africa, India, China, and South America).
But here’s the thing, if you were to go to the mud and straw huts of Central Africa or the back streets of India, you’ll find people who have a limited understanding of theology, but also an authentic faith for Jesus Christ and that faith is evident in their eagerness and willingness to share the Gospel, even at the risk of their own lives. Those North Eastern African Christians understand a simple truth, “God is in control; if God has work for me, I cannot die, and that work is the sharing of the Gospel because there is no other way to gain eternal life but through Jesus Christ. And if I do die, then I go to heaven!”
In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus didn’t come into this world so that we could be comfortable. He didn’t come here so that you and I could live a life of wealth and ease. He came so seek and save that which was lost. He did the things He did in order to seek and save, and He said if we follow Him, He will make us fishers of men. In 1st Corinthians 11:1 the apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” So Paul tells us to follow his example because he’s following Jesus’ example.