18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (King James Bible)
Here are the last words that Jesus spoke to his disciples. It is a statement about his supremacy over all. The last command to the newly created church to spread the word he taught them, baptizing along the way. His comforting assurance that he will be with them, and those that come after them, until the end of the world. And we all say, "Amen - so be it according to your word O Lord."
The great commission is not a command for each individual of the church to go and spread the good news as a part time evangelist. Nor is it every individual's task to seek out targets of opportunity to teach/preach the gospel to one person or a group of people.
As an individual Christian, you are to be ready to give an account for the hope that others see in you when asked by an individual or a group of people. (1 Peter 3:15 ...and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you... KJV) When someone sees something at work in you that is different from what can be usually observed in others, you will be asked. The answer to give them, when asked, is not a mini gospel but a personal testimony of the life circumstance they see you in. It is important for non-believers, and some in the church, to see hope in you in order to thirst for it themselves. This is not teaching, nor is it preaching, it is sharing your life experience.
The great commission is a command given to the church, as a body, to fulfill. There is given to the church what is known as the five fold ministry: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher. God has also given to other people differing gifts/ministries so that the church and the public can be blessed. Your part of the great commission is to use the gift/ministry that God has given you to bless the church and others. The church body, like the human body, is described as having various parts that are essential to a balanced and wholesome life. The church body is cared for as you minister to others in your gift/ministry calling. When you neglect your gift/ministry people will suffer the consequences. Only when each member of the church does the work of their own gift/ministry is the church ready and able to meet the needs of others and is equipped to teach/preach the gospel with power and love.
The great commission can go forward if there are gaps in the five fold ministry. The other gifts/ministries can be missing and the great commission can still proceed. The church, like Israel, must understand that when God needs something to happen He will make it happen. No matter how badly the church conducts the great commission God will add people to His church. He will create moments of grace and add them one at a time or in a season of revival bring in large numbers. That does not change the fact that the church as a body needs to carry out the great commission. It is a corporate duty where each member works their own gift/ministry to enable the church to do its appointed task: to preach the good news to every nation and baptize those individuals who believe the truth.
Webite administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada