Summary: The last teaching of Christ remains the priority of every believer and every assembly: to make disciples of Christ.
Introduction to the Reading of the Scripture
I want to preach from Matthew 28.16-20. It is a very familiar passage and is all but taken for granted during Mission Conferences. Like John 3.16 and a few others, the passage is so popular that it is liable to being dismissed by those who have heard everything you can hear about it. So, I want to introduce it by reading from Revelation 2.4, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love." The passage is Christ’s condemnation of a good church, an orthodox church, a believing church, but a church who had left the first things. Now what are they? They are the things you loved at the first—when you first believed; when you first were on fire for Christ. You loved the power of the Gospel to change lives, you loved the amazing love of God in sending His only Son to live the life you could never live and dying a substitutionary death for sinners like you; and you loved obedience to the Great Commission. That which you had seen and heard, you wanted to share with an entire world that your joy may be full.
So, then, no matter how great our churches may be, we must never abandon our first love.
With that in mind, I call your attention to Matthew 28.16-20. The last words of our Savior before He ascending into heaven are our first words, our first things as the Body of Christ and as individual believers. Thus, I draw your attention to the inerrant and infallible Word of the living God:
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matt. 28.16-20 (NASB).
Introduction to the Sermon
I heard an airline pilot say that his work is just the "same old-same old." I thought when he said that that I wouldn’t want it any other way! There are some things that are best left alone and taking off and landing without incident is one of them. Don’t get fancy, just get me there!
When we come to the Word of God is like that. There are some places in Scripture where it may seem like the "same old—sameold." But, our attitude should be "don’t get fancy, preacher, just get me there" with faithfulness to the timeless message of the Bible. We say with Charles Hodge of Princeton fame, "I glory in the fact that there is nothing new taught here!"
When we come to Matthew 28.16-20—The Great Commission of Jesus Christ—you have heard it, read it, and heard it again. The text is plain enough. While that is so, we serve a God who is always renewing, reviving, correcting, and establishing His Church through the presence and power of the Holy Sprit. I would not be surprised, then—yea ,I pray for it—that God would do something new in your life today with this familiar passage of His Word.
Well, what would God have for us tonight from Matthew 28.16-20?
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
When I was in business, as the manager of a chemical concern, my boss would come, occasionally, to visit the plant and to review my work. It was important that the plant was clean, it was important that the employees were happy, it was important that we were compliant with all the regulations governing us. But, all of that was not as important as this one thing: that we were profitable! Without that, we could be clean, happy and compliant...BUT OUT OF BUSINESS! It was imperative that as we were about our work, WE HAD TO KEEP THE MAIN THING - THE MAIN THING! And the Main Thing...was profit.
Now, it seems to me that today we as a Church are often concerned about a great deal of things: buying and selling properties, positioning ourselves in the community, creating ministries to serve our people...and all of this has its place: BUT THIS PASSAGE TEACHES US THAT WE MUST KEEP THE MAIN THING - THE MAIN THING. And what is main thing? It is the God Given Mission of the Church.
From this great passage at the conclusion of St. Matthew’s Gospel, lets consider several Truths about the Great Commission. From Christ’s last words, let us examine the truths that make up our first work as believers and as a church.