Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was consistent in sending out the disciples to minister and tell of the Messiah’s arrival. When we come to the end of Jesus’ time on earth, He gave four commissions. They applied to the believers then and apply to us now.
1. Make disciples.
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 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,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
This is the best known of the assignment from Jesus. At some point in church history, it was deemed The Great Commission. At its heart, the key phrase is to go and make disciples. For we who live in the modern West where resources are abundant and largesse is valued, it calls upon us for certain changes. We must move from highlighting religious programming to focusing on a lifestyle of disciple-making. Church programs are the paths of least resistance. I will go so far to say that programmatic growth is the last refuge of a spiritually-sterile ministry. Rather than focus on the number of items on the calendar or bodies in the building, we must obey our Lord’s priority of helping others to understand and follow Jesus.
2. Witness to the Truth
46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48)
The core work of the church is not spouting opinions or sharing our feelings. We are witnesses of these things that Christ accomplished. Jesus commissions us to speak about His suffering, death, and resurrection while calling people to repentance and faith. It is the truth that we must take from everywhere to everywhere. Throughout the commissions, we are given the assignment that all the nations are to receive the Gospel. We are encouraged to stay on the move by living as global witnesses to the entire Gospel message.
3. Live Sent
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
The sedentary lifestyle of a comfortable and campus-oriented Christianity is a distortion of the biblical portrait of the mobilized and radical church Jesus sent into the world. Our commission is to go as far, as often, and as passionately as our Lord. Jesus did not give this command in a spiritual vacuum. He gives it in the context of His own obedience to the Father. We are called and commissioned in an emulation of how the Messiah lived and died for us. We must move from being campus chaplains to kingdom missionaries that are at ease with the going nature of the church. It is our natural state.
4. Be Spirit-filled
After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The presence of the Holy Spirit is the life of a Christian is a miracle of universal proportions. It is an interruption of the natural order for this member of the Trinity to indwell one of His creations. Jesus gives to us the promise of power to carry out what is not possible in our own strength. We are directed to receive, by our submission, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is why we can walk away from merely serving as religious service attendees and live as revolutionaries for God’s mission in the world. Not left to our own strength and insight, the Spirit carries us into the mission and empowers us for the task. In Him, we have the promised power for obedience to Christ’s commissions.
The work of the church, as individual believers and collectively as congregations, is not a mystery. Jesus spoke to us in clear terms and assured help for the work. It is my prayer that our decision-making is driven by our disciple-making for our life-giving Christ who calls all to be saved.