Summary: Christ commands us to disciple others. If we are not obedient, then we must consider the reason for our disobedience.
THE NEGLECTED DOCTRINE
“Jesus … said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Charles Spurgeon, the great British Baptist preacher of nineteenth century London relates the following story about the Duke of Wellington. “‘Is it of any use to send missionaries to India?’ a gentleman asked the Duke of Wellington. ‘What are your marching orders?’ said the Duke. ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” There was no need for further discussion. The Great Commander had spoken, and that was the conclusion of the matter.
Indeed, those are the marching orders issued to all Christians and binding upon each individual confessing His Name throughout the entirety of the present Dispensation. We have no business debating whether these are prudent orders or not; they are sure to be good if they come from Christ! Our duty is to do as our Commander commands us. Every word of Christ, if we would see Him do wonders in our midst, must be obeyed. Not the great precepts only, but the little ones, too, must be acknowledged and obeyed.
Spurgeon continued as he spoke of required obedience to the command of Christ, “It behoves Christians to reject that cant about non-essentials of the Christian Faith. Every command of Christ is essential to us as servants. Being saved, and being servants of Christ, every command that comes from our great Captain is essential for those who profess to be His soldiers. It matters not though His command appears to be merely ceremonial; we have no right to alter it. What would the court-martial say to any soldier, who, having received an order from an officer, should say, ‘Well, I did not consider it to be exceedingly important?’ ‘Drum him out of the regiment! Sir, there is an end to all discipline in the army when soldiers criticize their orders.’”
The great preacher was absolutely correct concerning Christ’s law. If Jesus commands it, obey it; and if it be the Lord’s law, make haste to keep the Master’s statute. Let the Word of God be paramount within the soul, all dissent being hushed. However, as I survey the scope of contemporary Christendom, I see that the Great Commission is neglected by the professed people of God; it is no longer obeyed among the churches.
It requires almost two score professing Christians to bring one person to open commitment to the Faith each year, testifying to a grievous disobedience among the people of God to the Master’s command. Perhaps the world is growing more callused toward the Faith of Christ Jesus, perhaps people are more self-centred than in years past, but we have no excuse for failure to obey. Whether anyone believes the message or whether all reject our pleas, we are commanded to disciple others, bringing them into the fellowship of the assembly of the Lord and there building them in the Faith.
THE BASIS FOR THE COMMISSION WE HAVE RECEIVED — Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” In the verses before us, the word all occurs four times. Jesus claims all authority for Himself. He sends disciples to make disciples of all nations. They are to teach those who are discipled to obey all that He commanded. Finally, He promises to be with those who follow Him al[l] ways (lit. “all the days”). That first universal statement is vital for all that will follow.
When tempted by the devil, Jesus was offered all that the evil one could offer. Matthew records the offer. “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’” [MATTHEW 4:8, 9]. The devil can offer all the kingdoms of this world; for God has permitted him reign within that temporal kingdom. However, the Son of God has received “all authority in heaven and on earth.”
The Father has given all things into the hand of the Son [JOHN 3:35], and this includes “authority over all flesh” [JOHN 17:2]. Jesus is both “Lord and Christ” through appointment by the Father [ACTS 2:36]. Nothing is outside the control of the Saviour [HEBREWS 2:8]. “Angels, authorities and powers” are subject to Him [1 PETER 3:22]. Because He has all authority, He is appointed to “execute judgement” [JOHN 5:27]. The consistent testimony of Scripture is that Jesus has all authority.