The Great Commission
by Cooper Abrams
Introduction: I recently read an article that said modern missions began in England in the 1787, with William Carey. He was a cobbler and believed God. As a saved man Carey accepted God's commandment to "to go into all the world and make disciples, first in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost part of the world (Matt. 28:19-20).
William Carey wanted to go to the Polynesian Islands, but God instead directed him to India. It was Henry Nott, that God wanted to send to these far away islands.
Henry Nott was a brick mason, who surrendered his life to Christ's will and when God burdened his heart, he followed God's call and arrived in Tahiti after a six month voyage in 1797. It would be twenty two years before he would see the first person saved.
Our modern idea of the island paradise did not exist in 1797. It was a barbarous place of worst of the vilest of sins.
It was ruled by a evil King name Pomare. He was a huge man would, with his queen, would be carried on the shoulders of his subjects everywhere he went. He did not even feed himself, being fed like a fish. This evil king was estimated to have killed 2000 people and sacrificed them to his idols.
His wife was a member of a class of people called the "are-ois". They blacken their bodies with charcoal and planted their face red. Their only occupation was dancing, wrestling, boxing, and act of buffoonery. They murdered their children as soon as they were born. Po-mares' wife Id-deah had killed three of their children.
The island was in a constant state of war. They burned their defeated enemies homes, killed all in the village. If one was to escape they would hunt him down until every one was killed. "O-ro" was the god of war and hundreds were sacrificed on his pagan altars to ensure victory in battle.
If one had been harmed he would hunt his enemy until the right moment would come and he would then kill him in a fit of revenge. He would then take stones a beat the body to a pulp. The body would then be dried to a thin sheet and a hole cut in the middle. this would be placed over the head of the victor and worn as a "ti-bu-tia" a Tihitian garment. The victims arms dangled in the front the legs behind the back.
Children were sacrifice by throwing them alive to the sharks in the sea or into the fiery craters of volcanoes. Old people and those with handicaps would be taken to the sea shore under the pretence of being given a bath. They would be thrown alive into a hole in the sand, covered with stones and sand the tramped down with their feet. The would then go away divide up the persons belonging completely unconcerned for the victims.
These were the people to God sent Henry Nott. Barbaric, heathen completely devoid of any decency, morals or compassion or love. Yet, Nott knew that Jesus Christ died for people, he paid their sin debt and needed to know the love of Christ.
Two of Knott's, fellow missionaries were murdered, several their abandoned their missions work and went into trading business. He was left alone, just he knew his calling was sure, and for 22 years he preached with not one soul saved!
Pomare's son became king and after many years, finally received Christ as his Savior. On May 19, 1819, Nott baptized Pomare II. In a short time laws were passed that forbid all the cruel murders. The islands were at peace.
I. The Great Commission.
William Carey, Henry Nott and thousands of other men just like you and I, after being born again have accepted the commandment and commission of God to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.
A. There is but one command in the commission: That is to "Teach" (V19), or make "disciples of all nations". That is the verb of action.
B. The going V19, the baptizing, and teaching of V20 are participles. A participle is a form of a verb that has the qualities of both a verb and an also an adjective. It describes the action of the verb.
C. Making disciples means to win folks to Christ! At times I think we have the mistaken idea that being a disciple of Christ Jesus is a part time affair or only for a small number of people in a congregation.
1. Often we think that the preaching and teaching is the job of pastor, SS teachers and often because of this false idea many in our churches, who are saved and born again believers, do not see themselves as a vital part of God's mission program.
2. However, the New Testament tells us that all believers are disciples and that the disciple is one who is deeply committed to Christ.
3. Once a person receives the Lord Jesus they become followers...or disciples of Christ. This is a vital part of being saved and involves God will changing our lives.
D. Thus, a follower of Christ believes God and seeks to make disciples of all nations. He does that by: (1) Going, (2) Baptizing, (3) Teaching them.
1. Some misunderstand the way the Great Commission is worded that the command is to "Go."
2. Turn To: Acts 1:1-5.
a. In verse 2, the commandments Jesus gave is Matt. 28:19-20.
b. Note something somewhat strange: "Jesus COMMANDED then not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father...coming of the Holy Spirit."
c. You see the disciples were eager to go and tell the world that the Messiah, Jesus was the Christ and He had come and paid the sin debt of the world. They could hardly contain themselves wanting to share the GOOD NEWS that the Redeemer had come. Jesus, told them they were to wait for the power of God. I see two things that stand out.
(1) They did not have to be told to GO, they had to be told to wait. It shows us the burden for souls these men had.
(2) Jesus told them to wait until they would receive the promise of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
E. Note the last part of V20. "I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."
II. THE LORD PROMISED US THAT HE WOULD GO WITH US!
A. Folks, the Command to win folks to Christ is hinged to a promise. That promise is that Christ Himself is with us.
He enables, directs, protects, empowers, strengthens, and encourages us.
B. Thus, the heart of the Great Commission is an act of faith. It is carried out by those who believe God.....doing what God says do.
1. Who said he would be with us? Is God able to do what He says? Is God trustworthy? If he says He is with us then can we trust Him?
2. IF the answer is YES, then the result of our faith, of our believing God is that we will do what he says.
III. DO YOU FIND EXAMPLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT OF MEN GOING OUT BY FAITH? Acts 11:19-26
A. QUESTION? Who were the first missionaries in the New Testament who went to other areas and preached the Gospel?
1. Peter was first to preach the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:41 about 300 souls were saved. These were Jews and proselytes from 16 different nations. These men went back into their countries and preached they Christ.
There is no record of who was the first to preach the Gospel in Roman. Yet, before Paul went there, there was a large number of Christians. Acts 2:10 says there were Roman Jews saved on the day of Pentecost.
Peter continued to preach in Jerusalem, later around Joppa and the Plain of Sharon. Acts 6:8-8:3 Stephen or Steven, preached and was stoned to death. Paul was there holding the coats of those doing the stoning.
Acts 8:4..God raised up Philip. He faithful preached Christ to the Samaritans. The Jerusalem church then sent Peter and John to them to teach them. Acts 8:14
Acts 8:26, 40 Philip is sent of the Holy Spirit to a black man, the Ethiopian eunuch. He carried the Gospel to Africa.
Philip continue to preach in at near-by town of Azo-tus (20 miles), then journeyed north about 120 miles to Caesarea.
2. The first were Christians fleeing persecution in Jerusalem. Acts 8:4-5.
Verse 8:1-3 tell how the Saul (Paul) was going house to house seeking Christians and throwing them into prison. Yet, everywhere they went they preached the Christ Jesus.
In Acts 9: it records how that the Apostle Paul was saved on the Damascus road.
3. In Acts 10, Peter is sent to Cornelius.
4. Acts 11:19 They were some men from Cy-prus and Cy-ren-e who first preached Christ to the Greeks who lived in Antioch. 300 miles north of Jerusalem. They believed God. The believed Matt. 28:19-20 and Acts 1:9
5. Note Acts. 11:21. Just like Christ said, "The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."
6. Their belief in the promises of God was their faith....and their trusting in the promise of Salvation to all who would believe in the Lord Jesus made them share it with others, even Gentiles, when they were driven out of Jerusalem.
7. Who was the second missionary? Barnabas! When the church in Jerusalem heard of the Greeks being saved, they sent Barnabas.
8. Acts 11:24, says Barnabas was a good men, full of the Holy Spirit and of FAITH! It was surely an act of faith for Barnabas to leave his home in Jerusalem and go to Antioch to preach.
9. Paul was the third missionary. V25 says Barnabas went to Tarsus and got Paul and they both returned to Antioch and preached and taught there for on whole year.
B. Is it not interesting that Paul had an unusual part in starting the church at Antioch. It was started by men fleeing the persecution he was perpetrating!
1. NOTE who and how the Gospel was spread abroad.
2. Spread by those fleeing prosecution. They fled for their lives....yet they did not blame God for their misfortune!!
They believed the promise of God...I will go with you always.....folks that means even unto death.
3. Some were called by Christ as leaders, their names are recorded. Peter, Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Paul. Yet, Philip was a deacon, he started the work in Samaria.
Men from Cryene and Cyprus started the work in Antioch. They God sent Barnabas and later Paul.
4. It was a partnership...it was a team work... Each believer being faithful in witnessing where he was and under whatever circumstances.
5. According to Acts 1:8, missions begin where???
a. The evangelistic work of this church is a part of God's mission program.
b. The evangelistic work then extends outward from Jerusalem...unto the uttermost parts of the Earth.
c. It means that missions is this city, county, state, nation and foreign country are all apart o of God missions program. All are missionaries.
d. Without missions in Jerusalem....there can be no mission to the uttermost part of the earth.
6. There is no question about who are God's missionaries. The question is where the child of God will serve as a missionary.
All are called in their families, in their homes and jobs.
All are called in their homes, job and all are called in their local church serving as SS and Bible teachers, and on visitation and using what ever talent God has given them.
All are called in their families, home, church and some are called further to Jail ministries, working in Old Age homes.
Some are called further to home missions to church planting in their own country taking the Gospel to areas where it is not being preached.
Some are called to foreign fields outside our country.
Yet, all are called.
It is the local church that God commissioned and has the responsibility and privilege to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
5. For a number of years after I was saved I thought of missionaries as being those people God called to go to foreign lands.
You know it changed by whole life when I began to realize that although at that time I was not called to a mission field I was indeed in every way a missionary. I realized my calling was in my family, home, work and in my local church.
I realized that every one in the local church is called as a missionary, and we obey our call by serving, witnessing, teaching, and giving to missions.
6. In time God added another area to my calling, that being as a missionary pastor and church planter to the Inter-mountain West, to Mormon country to preach and teach the Gospel where God's truth was not being preached....where Bible believing churches were often fifty to a hundred miles or more apart.
But I still do not go alone...I go as a church member called out of a local Bible believing church, supported in prayer and financially through the missions program of local churches. And I count it a privilege and a great responsibility to be God's missionary where he has directed me.
I hope that you too count it a joy and a privilege to serve as a missionary where God has called you. I hope you the great responsibility it is and are faithfully serving our wonderful and Gracious God.
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