The Great Commission (The Mandate): Matthew 28: 16 – 20: Part Two
Jesus placed between the two resource statements the objective:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
The task given by Jesus Christ is both ‘Evangelism’ and ‘Discipleship.’ Colossians 1:28-29 says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end, I struggle with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” The word ‘perfect’ in this passage means Spiritual maturity or complete without flaw. The Church’s task is to baptize converts and bring them into spiritual maturity as disciples. Christ’s message is for all Christians; even Paul and Timothy, wherever they went, brought the Good News to all who would listen. This teaching is that Salvation is available through Faith in Christ.
To be saved, the issue of sin must be addressed; it is a reality that we must decide. Baptism means ‘being washed.’ All human sins were washed away and passed onto Jesus Christ through His baptism. Jesus, after the resurrection, told His disciples to obey this example. And baptize new converts, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, into the new Faith and the new will of God. Apostle Paul states the essence of baptism in the book of Romans 6: 2 – 11:
By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried with him through baptism into death so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Jesus in His death, we will certainly be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. If we die with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died to sin once and for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It becomes imperative to baptize the new converts into Christianity as Jesus commanded. Jesus said to make disciples; this is the passage’s main idea where the emphasis is focused. “Jesus said, teach them to obey everything I have commanded” the Church’s task is to teach people not just to observe but to obey. To obey is to apply the principle and enable the principle to become a reality. There is a difference between making disciples and making converts. When Peter saw three thousand converted at Pentecost, he knew his job had just started, Acts 2:41; the next verse 42 says the converts continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine was all the things Jesus had taught them. Every person born into God’s family and a member of the Church of Christ is to multiply. Something is wrong with a Christian not multiplying. A Christian is to lead others to Christ and disciple them. Working for Christ is different from producing for Christ. The devil’s great trick is to stop the Gospel’s spread if he can before it gets started or incapacitate a believer of Spiritual reproduction by remaining a spiritual babe.
A Worldwide Ministry:
Jesus Christ wants the Church involved in a worldwide vision and a worldwide ministry. Each Christian is to contribute to this worldwide ministry. The ways to execute this include:
- Going Personally: Missionaries belong to this group; God has called many to labor in foreign fields.
- Through physical or spiritual children: God may call someone close to us, like our physical or spiritual children, to serve in foreign missions. These people are an extension of our life and members of the Church of Christ.
- Through Prayers: Prayer is the Master Key; every time we bow our heads and hearts to God, we have the capability of reaching around the world. Our intercessory prayers can enter into the labors of missionaries; therefore, we need to intercede for fellow Christians, especially the missionaries, regularly.
- Through Finances: Nothing belongs to us. All things come from the Lord, and of His own do we give Him. When we are blessed with material wealth, it is an avenue to invest in spiritual labor; one can enter into the labors of any missionary through generous giving.
- Through Vocation: Our Skills and Talents were given to us by God to use for ourselves and others. There are no Skills possessed by a Christian that is not needed in God’s vineyard and missionary organization; it is then imperative to enter the mission labors through our Vocation.
The Task Of The Church:
The Task of the Church will be addressed from the perspectives of some writers and evangelists with that I share similar theology. Christian Schwarz’s concept of the Church is based on the divine principle of Creation and Focuses on God, who created the Church to sustain the health and growth of the Church, like in organic farming where the root produces fruit. Schwarz formulated a concept using God’s growth automatisms: the Eight Quality Characteristics (Leadership, Ministry, Spirituality, Structures, Worship Service, Small Groups, Evangelism, and Relationships), and the three Paradigms: Biotic Principles, Spiritualizing, and Technocratic paradigms. He considered the ‘overestimated’ significance of Institutions, Programs, Methods, etc., of the Technocratic Paradigm. The ‘underestimated’ significance of Institutions, Programs, Methods, etc.; of Spiritualistic Paradigm and the Theological approach underlying natural Church development in Biotic Paradigm. He surmised that ‘the correlation between growth and the eight quality characteristics is statistically significant.’
Charles Van Engen is more concerned with the local ecclesia regarding the missionary people. He targets the leadership of the ecclesia and sounds very passionate about the Biblical and Theological issues that are fundamental to the task God has given the Church. Van Engen’s theological purpose is to build missionary congregations in the world. Charles Van Engen’s ecclesiology is ‘the anticipatory sign of the Rule of the King’, and its mission is to spread knowledge of the Rule of the King. He sees the Church as a unique body of Jesus Christ that is divine and human, so the human and divine aspects of the Church’s nature must be unified to arrive at a true understanding of the ecclesial mission.
The congregations must intentionally live as the missionary person of God to make the Church become what it is truly by Faith. Van Engen’s ideas are biblical as it agrees with the Great Commission and Paul’s missionary ecclesiology in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul, in his writing, saw the local Church as an organism that should continually grow in the missional expression of its essential nature in the world. Engen’s ecclesiology is in Unity (Eph. 4:1-16); in Holiness (Eph. 1: 1-14, 4:17 – 5:5, 5:6 – 6:20) and in Mission to All (Eph. 1:15-23, 2: 1-22, 3: 1-13).
In Van Engen’s missionary perspective, there are four attributes of a church that he described as gifts and tasks of the Church’s life with Jesus Christ at the center. They are:
- Gathering to Jesus (Col. 1: 28)
- Invitation to the great feast (Matt. 22: 2-10)
- Incorporating Faith
- Establishing an organic cohesion (Eph 1: 9-10)
- Becoming “One” (John 17)
- Building up Christ’s body (Eph. 4: 11-13)
- Preparing for the Lord’s return (Rev 19:7)
- Preserving Unity in the bond of Peace (Eph. 4:3)
- Apostolicity ((Proclaiming)
- Teaching & Discipling
- Receiving instructions (1 Cor. 11: 23)
- Witnessing & Mobilizing
- Sending out (Acts 13: 1-3)
- Holiness (Sanctifying)
- Forgiving & Healing
- Ministering as a nation of Priests (1 Peter 2: 4-5)
- Relating to God in holiness & Relating to others in Purity
- Reflecting the presence of the Holy Spirit by serving compassionately
- Conforming to the pattern of Beatitudes (Matt 5: 3-12)
- Catholicity (Reconciling)
- Becoming world Christians (Phil. 2: 1-11)
- Accepting others (Rom 12: 3-10)
- Acting as Ambassadors (2 Cor. 5: 11-21)
- Bridging (Networking) & Giving oneself to the world
- Breaking down barriers & Loving (1 Cor. 13)