The 4 Commands of the Great Commission: Remembering Our Forgotten Mission by JJ Weller

Jesus’ last words have been forgotten.

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He left the church one Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NASB).

Today, 51% of evangelicals don’t understand what the Great Commission is. Even 64% of “Bible-minded” evangelicals have forgotten the meaning of this all-important command.

The truth is obvious. More than ever, we need to recover the meaning of Jesus’ mission and find our part in it.

In this article, I’ll present four commands of the Great Commission as found in Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-18. In the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to:

1. Preach the gospel to all nations and people

2. Work miracles in Jesus’ name to testify to the gospel

3. Baptize new believers, and

4. Disciple those who receive Christ.

Command #1. Preach the Gospel to All Nations and People

In Revelation 7:9, God reveals the grand finale of human history.  When humanity’s struggle finally ends, God will fill His eternal Kingdom with “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” (NASB). 

Yes, God is preparing a glorious inheritance for His Son Jesus—an uncountable multitude of perfectly-forgiven, wholly-devoted worshippers from every nation, tribe, and tongue. We must not merely wait for this happen. God asks for us to work with Him to bring it to pass (2 Corinthians 6:1). Jesus commands: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Many today are deathly afraid of preaching the gospel. We’re glad to quietly live it…but boldly proclaim it? “Not me.” According to Barna, “Almost half of [practicing Christian] Millennials (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.” But Jesus did not stutter when he gave the Great Commission. As Hudson Taylor said, “the Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” If we would be Jesus’ disciples, we must go and preach the only message of salvation: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NASB).

But we’re not merely called to preach to the same nations over and again. No, God’s love is expansive and universal—He loves the whole world (John 3:16). Therefore, Jesus calls us to reach every person and people group with the message of salvation. Tragically, the modern church has terribly failed in this call. To this day, 41.6% of the world’s people groups—41.8% of the world’s population—have little or no exposure to the gospel. 97% of these live in a region called the 10/40 Window. What will happen to this generation of souls if Christians like you and I don’t awaken to our heavenly responsibility? How will our generation be saved? As Paul asked in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (NASB). It’s clear—we need to wake up to God’s call to preach the gospel.

Command #2. Work Miracles in Jesus’ Name to Testify to the Gospel

The second command of the Great Commission is to demonstrate Jesus’ miraculous power as a testimony to the gospel. In Mark’s record of the Great Commission, Jesus makes a shocking promise: “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18 NASB). Yes, Jesus promises that as we go, God will work wonders we never imagined for His glory. Christ’s promise implies a command—seek to become a vessel of His miraculous power. Jesus sends us out much like He sent the twelve: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8 NASB).

Miracles are very controversial in the modern church, but they shouldn’t be. As the late Derek Prince often pointed out, there’s no example of ministry in the New Testament without miracles. Jesus worked miracles. The apostles worked miracles. “Everyday” Christians were even used by God to work miracles (remember when regular-old Ananias was used to restore Paul’s sight?). Church history doesn’t record a time when miracles ceased. Christian history is the history of miracles. Why should it all stop now?

I don’t write this to win a theological debate, but to point us back to our original mission. Miraculous ministry is part of the Great Commission. Healing, deliverance, prophecy, and their kin go hand in hand with preaching the gospel. Miracles are not fireworks for super-Christians. They are signs of Jesus’ saving power, meant to draw attention to the most important message in the universe: King Jesus died and rose again to save all men from sin and judgment. With that glorious truth considered—have you ever tried praying for a sick person? Maybe that step seems too frightening for you. Why not study the Bible’s teaching about God’s miraculous power with an open heart? If you seek God for His power and study God’s Word for His methods, He will surely give you His blessing in due time.

I will give a warning. We must not let miraculous ministry become more important than preaching the gospel. Many today have lost their way by healing the sick but forgetting the soul (especially young people). Don’t make the same mistake—make the message of salvation from sin your first priority.

Command #3. Baptize New Believers

The third command of the Great Commission is to baptize those who receive the gospel. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (NASB). In Mark 16:16, Jesus promises that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (NASB). The truth is clear—if we don’t baptize new believers, we’ve failed to obey the Great Commission fully.

The New Testament teaches that baptism is an important part of becoming a Christian. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter told the masses how to receive salvation: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NASB). When Ananias led Paul to Christ, he exhorted him clearly: “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16 NASB). In Romans 6, Paul pinpoints the moment we begin new life in Christ: “We were…buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NASB). It seems that the modern church has seriously overlooked the importance of baptism in our mission.

Now, I’ll be clear. Water cannot save you; only blood—the blood of Jesus. But in baptism, we make “an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21 NASB). Baptism is the biblical “sinner’s prayer.” For this reason, whenever we win someone to the Lord, we should seek to baptize them as soon as possible. Only, we should make sure that the new believer enters the water in true repentance and faith, trusting God to cleanse their conscience and renew their inner man.

Anyone can baptize—the Apostle Paul was baptized by an everyday believer. What stops you and I from leading someone to Christ biblically?

On a simpler note, Jesus commanded us to baptize new disciples, and that should be motivation enough.

Command #4. Disciple Those Who Receive Christ

The fourth command of the Great Commission is to disciple those who receive Christ. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commanded—“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (NASB). I believe we’ve forgotten the spiritual power of Jesus’ call to discipleship. When was the last time you heard a message that deeply convicted you of your need to obey Jesus? As a witness, when was the last time you challenged someone to offer their life in total surrender to the Lord?

In the late 1800s, Evangelist William Booth warned, “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” Booth sure got it right.

In the last century, Christian missionaries have exported a powerless gospel more than ever before. This gospel omits the call to repent of past sins and follow Jesus in obedience by life or by death. As a result, the world has more professing Christians than ever—but shockingly few fiery disciples of Christ. If we would be faithful to Jesus’ Great Commission, we must not only win converts but disciples—true Christians who have died upfront, choosing to spend their lives learning how to follow Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we have forgotten this call more than any of the others. Today, if you mention Jesus’ commands, many cry, “Legalist!” If you focus too much on the Sermon on the Mount, others cry, “You’re giving us law, not grace!” But if we would obey the Great Commission of our Lord, we must teach our disciples “to observe all that [Jesus] has commanded” (Matthew 28:20). Yes, we must ground our hearers in the love and grace of God, but we must also show them how to properly respond to God’s grace: “I appeal to you . . . brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV).

Many shy from personal discipleship because of its difficulty. It’s dirty. It takes time, patience, and wisdom. Even more, it requires consecration. To teach another obedience to Christ, you must first obey Christ. Therefore, perhaps the Great Commission has a fifth, hidden command: Give your all to Jesus. Follow Him day in and day out. Let His hope and light restore you. Let His Word transform you. Soon, you may find it hard to keep His glorious message hidden away. You’ll want to tell the nations. And by God’s grace, the nations will listen to His voice through you.

How About You? 3 Questions for Personal Assessment

1. John Piper said, “There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient.” Which group are you in?

2. Jesus has commanded every believer to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Do you see this as your ultimate mission in life? What are you doing to fulfill this all-important command?

3. In this article, we reviewed the four commands of the Great Commission. Which of the four commands do you need to grow in? What steps are you willing to take to do so? Which are you strong in—and how can you share that strength with other Christians?

We encourage you to take some time to reflect on the scriptures in this article. We’d also love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. May you be blessed as you SHARE GOD’S HOPE!

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JJ Weller is a writer, researcher, editor, and creator for Message Ministries and Missions. He has served in evangelism through Message Ministries for 6 yearsthrilled to preach Jesus’ salvation to thousands and teach biblical evangelism to hundreds. He has a passion for God’s glory, the true gospel, biblical evangelism, biblical and historical revival, and the salvation of the unreached. He lives with his beautiful wife, Cynthia, in Lima, Peru. 

2 Responses to “The 4 Commands of the Great Commission: Remembering Our Forgotten Mission by JJ Weller”

  1. Olive Springall says:

    I go to Bloxham Baptist Church and you will be pleased to hear that the message you spoke of that Jesus taught
    before departing our Minister talks about every service and we try very hard to carry Jesus wishes out every day we have a great Minister who encourages us in every way

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