The last words Jesus spoke before ascending into Heaven are of critical importance. These words are a summary of the authoritative order to be carried out of all who follow the ways of Christ. All who call themselves “Christian”, are responsible to keep this final commandment.
Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus told His disciples, He is in charge. God has put Him ruler and king over all heaven and earth. Therefore, the disciples need not doubt who is in charge. They can be confident this God-Man who came as a baby, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead was in control of everything that happened in heaven and earth.
The disciples had seen and heard first-hand this One who was from the beginning. The Word of Life had become flesh and lived among them. They looked on, took in, and experienced the Son of God in human form. They had nothing to doubt that He was exalted by God because He had perfectly obeyed all God’s commands and done exactly what His Father had instructed for Him to do.
“Go” was the command. It was an order to move. The intention was that they not stand still, but they move among others. They could go anywhere in heaven or in earth because Jesus had given them the authority to “Go”. He had all authority and He could tell them what to do. There was no territory that was not subject to His authority. These disciples of Christ had the owner’s permission to move about freely in heaven and in earth. There was no place that was “off limits”. Every territory was open to them. They had the authority of Christ, the “owner” to enter all territories there feet walked.
“Teach all nations” was the action they were to take as they were walking. To teach is to help someone to progressively learn the Word of God to become mature. The purpose here was clear, the disciples’ main duty was to help others hear and do all God’s word had declared, commanded. There was no limit to who they were to help progress in the learning, understanding, and applying God’s Word. No territory was off limits. Their teaching was to be global, universal, without boundaries.
“Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” was further clarification of the duty of each person in the hearing of Jesus. The triune God, three in one, was the theme of the message to be declared. Jesus was commanding – make them “fully wet” with the reputation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Do not just sprinkle a little fact, but totally “whelm them over” with all the Father is, all the Son is, and all the Holy Spirit is. The character and how to recognize the word and work of each role of the Godhead should be fully understood by each individual the disciples help to progress in the Word of God.
“Teaching them to observe” was the end result which the disciples were going after. Doing all God commands was the goal of their “Go”, their “Teach”, and their “Baptizing”. The disciples were to look for evidence the people heard, understood, and applied in their life all God had said. Complete would be the job of the disciples when the actions of obedience was displayed among those to whom they spoke.
Assurance of spirit was not absent though a bodily presence would be missing. Jesus was about to go away, yet He had promised the disciples He would send a “Helper” to them. He would not leave them without comfort. There was no intention the disciples would be powerless to carry out this “Go”, “Teach”, and “Baptize”. Jesus assured them, He would be with them. He would never leave them or forsake them. Though the world pass away, His Word would not pass away. Though the earth be no more, He is timeless and raised for all eternity. He would not be in their vision much longer, but He would unite His Spirit with their spirit. His way of doing things would unite them and enliven them so they could carry out the “orders” He had just given them.
Is this “Go”, “Teach”, and “Baptize” command relevant to us today? How can we practice obedience to this final verbal order of Jesus?
There are several examples of followers of Christ practicing this Great Commission recorded in the Bible. We can identify 12 ways we can practice doing the Great Commission. Two passages you can review in your evaluation of these 12 practices are found in Acts 8:26-40 and Acts 17:16-33. There are others that illustrate 12 ways to practice the Great Commission. In John 4, where Jesus witnessed to the woman at the well, He demonstrated how the Great Commission should be performed.
Led by the Spirit
Philip was prompted by the spirit. Paul’s spirit was moved to action and speak to those men in the city.
Come up beside
Philip ran up beside the Eunuch. Paul moved to where the people were congregating. Both these men put themselves in the same company with those they would talk to. They got themselves within hearing distance.
Hear of their interest
The passage explains Philip’s experience. It records he ran up beside the chariot and heard what was of interest to the Eunuch. The passage records Paul was hearing the men of the city speak and saw their conduct. Both Philip and Paul met the people they spoke with at the point of their interest.
Ask if they understand
Philip and Paul both heard the questions and lack of understanding of the people to whom they shared the Word of God.
Provide assistance when they ask
Neither Philip or Paul pushed their way to be heard. They waited for a door of opportunity to be heard to be opened. Then, they spoke the Word of God in a manner that met the need of their hearers. They assisted the ones who were hearing to have their understanding enlightened.
Listen to their questions
All the talking was not done by Philip or Paul. They kept open communication between their hearers and themselves. To complete this, they listened to the real question the individuals were asking and hear their root need.
Answer their questions with the Scripture
Depending on the latest trend or idea was not the means by which Philip or Paul addressed the hearers. Instead, they used the Word of God to explain God and His plan to each one who would listen.
Show them Jesus – (expose/reveal)
Explain who Jesus was, what He did, why He did it, and what that means for the individual was the message they gave in the words they spoke. Revealing the great love of God to sinners in the Person of Jesus Christ was their major objective.
Pause for the hearers personal acceptance
Look for the hearer to believe the word that has been spoken, the Christ that has been revealed, and turn to Him. Paul and Philip looked for individuals to have a personal acceptance of the word that was spoken.
Check for belief
Ensure before going any further, there is individual persuasion of what has been shared from the scriptures. Clarify any misunderstandings with scriptures. Ensure the person understands, agrees, and wills to adhere to what has been told to them.
Follow through in obeying the scriptures
In Philip’s case, they determined to baptize the Eunuch as soon as they came to water. Paul got right to the point encouraging every one who was in his hearing to “repent” and “believe”.
Be led by the Spirit to the next person
Philip was taken away from the Eunuch and found him on to another group to proclaim the wonderful news of God. Paul stayed to proclaim the scriptures to the people, then was moved on by the spirit to a new group of people.
Notice the most central theme of witnessing and fulfilling The Great Commission is the sharing and the proclamation of the Word of God. It is the Word of God that saves. It is not the method, the pomp, or the right situation. It is truly the leading of the spirit of God and the Word of God that brings individuals to the point of persuasion, belief, acceptance, and obedience.
If you ever feel a little apprehensive to “Go”, “Teach”, or “Baptize”, just remember these 12 ways to practice the Great Commission and begin today. Use your time to study and learn all you can about the character of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You never have any trouble talking about someone you know.
Written By: Anne Gurley