Becoming a Great Commission Christian

Becoming a Great Commission Christian

Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:6-11, John 14:1-6

Think about what’s happening around the world today. Think about what’s happening in our country today or even in your own neighborhoods. All over the world, people are hurting, afraid, lonely, overwhelmed, and often trying to escape it. They have no hope and are often looking in the wrong direction to even find hope. But you and I know where to find real, lasting hope. We know that whatever we face, we don’t do it alone and there is always hope.

We’re looking at some of the accounts of Jesus after His death and resurrection and how He appeared to over 500 people in at least 10 different times during the 40 days He was on earth until He ascended to Heaven. These accounts go on to show and prove that Jesus rose and actually is alive.

The account we’re going to look at today is when Jesus gives the Great Commission just before He ascends to Heaven. These are His last words on earth, and they recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who continues his account in the book of Acts. Matthew’s account is often the most cited, so let’s start with his.

Matthew 28:18-20
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

They were still uncertain, scared of what all this meant. What was their role in all of this? So Jesus tells them.

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

When both of my grandfathers were about to pass, they each gave me clear instructions. One was about how to care for my grandmother, who needed 24-hour care, what to do with his finances and where his records were. The other, who was a pastor, was all about sharing his wisdom with me as I continue to live out the call of ministry. It was His last chance to pour into me.

In this scripture, Jesus is giving His farewell instructions. Jesus had already died on the cross, been resurrected from the dead, was back on earth for 40 days, and was about to ascended to Heaven. These instructions were His last words on earth, meaning that they were therefore very important words, and we should heed them carefully.
We call them The Great Commission. Great because of the importance of the message and commission because it represents marching orders for Christians down through all the ages.

We are commissioned to go and to share the gospel. We will then see the work of the Holy Spirit as people become disciples. We are to baptize and teach these disciples. We are called to be Jesus witnesses as Luke says.

Acts 1:6-8
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

Many people believed Jesus was going to bring a literal kingdom on earth. But the kingdom Jesus spoke of was a spiritual Kingdom established in the hearts and lives of believers. By looking at Jesus’ response to this, it appears that by this time, the disciples did understand Jesus’ Kingdom, they just wanted to know when it would happen. When was He going to return and bring peace and justice to the world? We’d all like to know that. But in Jesus’ response, He tells us that along with focusing on when Christ will return, believers should also concentrate on witnessing to a dying world while we can.

7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There is no hesitancy in Jesus’ words. They do not lack clarity. We WILL be His witnesses. As Christians, we are not really given the option.

POINT #1 – We are called to be Jesus witnesses, and He has made it very clear why.

At the Last Supper, Jesus had gathered His disciples one last time before He went to the cross. He wanted to make sure they understood what was about to happen. He told them He was leaving soon, but they obviously did not understand that He was going to heaven. He not only wanted them to know where He was going, but He also wanted them to understand how they and others could join Him there. So He began by telling them not to worry about their eternal home.
John 14:1-6
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”

Jesus was referring to heaven, where He would be waiting for them, be preparing a place for them, and how He would return for them.
3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

This was a lot to take in. So at least one disciple honestly pleaded for clarity.

5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Was Thomas speaking for himself or had he heard similar questions from the other disciples, and he just happened to be the guy with enough guts to ask the question? Either way, Jesus responds with powerful clarity.

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Though you may be familiar with that verse, let those words sink. There is no confusion, no reservation. Jesus speaks very clearly and decisively. He is the ONLY way to salvation. He is the ONLY way to heaven. No one goes to heaven except through faith in Jesus. That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ, to come and save us.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is about truth, and the truth of the gospel is meant to be shared. The way of salvation through Christ is meant to be on the lips of believers. We believers have been chosen and mandated to tell others about this truth. We are to be His witnesses. And why would you not want to be? Seriously, we have the best news ever!!!

I know Satan will do everything within his great, but limited power to keep the truth of the gospel from spreading. But Jesus said of the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

Simply stated, the father of lies does not want us sharing the truth. And we often see Satan winning these battles in our churches. He has given us a multitude of lies to keep us silent.

“I don’t have time. I don’t want to offend people. I might get rejected. Evangelism is not my spiritual gift. That’s what we pay the pastor to do. I don’t need to talk about Jesus; I’ll just show my love to others.”

Please don’t say you can’t evangelize, share the Good News. “I can’t” implies that you have neither the opportunity nor the ability to be a witness. And that is just so far from the truth!

Because when Jesus gave the Great Commission, He said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Meaning not only does He have the authority to give the command, but also when we witness, we don’t depend on our own knowledge or authority. We have been given the authority of the King of kings to do so!

Jesus also said, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When we witness on His behalf, we’re not alone. Jesus is right there with us as both our authority and our power. So “can’t” is simply not part of the question. Won’t – maybe. Can’t – never!

God gives you everything you need to be a witness for Christ. You don’t need all the right and fancy words. You just need to ignore the lies and be obedient. As you share the gospel, rely on Jesus to empower you. Ask Him in that very moment to give you the words, and you can bet He will answer that prayer every single time!

POINT #2 – Three Major Steps To Becoming A Witness: Build Relationships, Share Your Story, and Invite

Here are some practical steps we can follow to get people to listen. First, we must develop relationships. Those relationships might be very brief, such as during an airplane ride or while getting a haircut, or they may be long standing such as with a friend or coworker. But we must begin by connecting with various people we encounter in our daily lives.

Even with brief encounters, there is often the potential for a new and longer relationship. Choose to have the same stylist cut your hair every time. Find a service person you call on regularly.

Second, your relationship with an unbeliever must at some point, evolve into a gospel conversation. Pray that you have the opportunity to share how you became a Christian.

Again, I believe if we ask for those opportunities, God will surely provide them along with every word we are to say. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His timing for us to speak, and then be obedient and do it. We must believe courageously that the Spirit will give us the right words at the right time. My prayer for all of us is that we will be unable to stop speaking about Jesus to others.

Another thing we can do is the simple act of inviting. Church Answers conducted a research project about people who were not active in church, and most were not calling themselves Christians. They found that nearly three out of four unchurched people said they would attend a worship service if they were just simply invited. Three out of four unchurched people said they would go to church if they were simply invited.

That means that a simple act of inviting could make an eternal difference. The person you ask could be just waiting for someone to take the initiative. So be that individual who doesn’t hesitate to invite someone to church.

POINT #3 – Witnessing Is Empowered By Prayer

Do you know why evangelism seems so hard to do? Number one, we rely on our own ability and power and we believe Satan’s lies. Number two, we don’t invite Jesus in. We cannot separate evangelism and prayer.

In Acts 3-4, Peter and John were arrested by the leading priests and Sadducees for teaching people in the Temple that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. After discussion of not knowing what to do with them, Peter and John were released and immediately they returned to the other believers in Jerusalem and told them that the Sadducees told them that they were to not speak of Jesus. Immediately, they all went to prayer.

The early followers of Jesus knew they must share the gospel. They knew that Jesus’ last words on earth were a command to be a witness, so they were not about to listen to any man. But they also knew the only way they could have power was to depend on the Holy Spirit through prayer.

So they prayed for courage to be witnesses in a hostile culture. And if you think our culture is hostile, it’s nothing compared to what they faced. They prayed for boldness in preaching the gospel, and as they prayed for power, Luke the author of Acts, recounts what happened at the conclusion of this prayer.

Acts 4:31
31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

They were witnesses to the life changing power of God. And because God answered their prayers, they went forth with great confidence. Look, we need to go to God in prayer and ask for the same thing the early believers did…boldness and power. We should be responding to every opportunity that comes our way to share the gospel with someone. When we do, we’ll see an abundance of fruit just like the early believers did.

God does not intend for this to be hard. And He does intend for us to keep the Good News to ourselves. So He is going to provide everything we need to do it. Even if we don’t do it well, God will honor our efforts.

We are meant to share our faith, tell others about what God has done in our lives through Jesus Christ. This is our command. This is our calling. We must be Jesus’ witnesses! God has designed us to be bearers of the truth about His son, Jesus, that He is the only way of salvation.

There are no escape clauses. No back doors. And there’s no time to waste! We need to get on this now! People every day are dying without knowing Jesus Christ. The urgency of this command is so strong.

The evil living in this world, growing by the day, is outrageous! The world is so desperate for the truth, so hungry that they are believing in anything they can. If you want to start seeing a difference in our world, then you need to follow Jesus’ command and witness the Truth to the world around you.

God has placed us as a church right where He wants us. You are here for the mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ, and God does not want His work to stop. Until Christ returns, every church is meant to continue God’s mission on earth.

Every person we lead to Jesus will spend eternity with Him. Therefore, there is really no better use of our time and our lives than to help others get to know Jesus.

We are a part of something so much bigger than us. Something so much greater than us. Christians are not consumers. We are contributors. We are the Church.

Acts 1:9-11
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

You too may long to meet Jesus face to face and be in Heaven. But until that time, God has us here for a purpose, and that purpose is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The angels asked why are you standing around, because we have to get moving!

To do nothing is disobedience.
An inactive Christian is a disobedient Christian.
A stationary church is a disobedient church.

Therefore, we need to become Great Commission Christians and a Great Commission Church. Outreach needs to be placed at the forefront of every ministry in this church and in our lives. It’s our calling, our purpose, our duty, it’s the response of a grateful heart for all that Jesus has given to you.