The Great Commission—We Are to Go with a Priority
Last Sunday, I began a series of messages on The Great Commission. Southern Baptists, well over 100 years ago, decided that the Season of Advent was the very best time to promote missions giving. It was Lottie Moon herself who suggested that we take up an offering at Christmas. The offering was officially named in her honor in 1918.
God gave His one and only Son and our giving makes it possible for others to go and tell about God’s one and only Son.
Each of these messages centers on our Lord’s end-time command to His church. The final instruction of Jesus to His disciples was not veiled in metaphor or hyperbole. There is no ambiguity in The Great Commission. It is clear, it is concise, and it is compelling. This morning, I want to preach the second of five messages on becoming a Great Commission Christian. Each sermon is based on one of the five passages where the Commission is found. It is recorded in each of the four Gospels and also in the Book of Acts. Each reading is just a little bit different, but in that difference we see the five priorities we must have as a church. This morning we will examine the commission found in Mark’s Gospel.
Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
The first—and most well known version of the Great Commission—is found in Matthew 28:19-20. The thrust of this rendering is that we are to go in power. Jesus promises His eternal presence in us and with us through His Holy Spirit. The Spirit will empower us in three areas of our Christian witness:
- The Spirit empowers us with a holy unction. It is the Spirit who gives us the earnest desire to witness and share our faith.
- The Spirit empowers us with a holy boldness. The same Holy Spirit that gives the believer in China boldness to testify of Jesus when he is being persecuted, is the same Holy Spirit that will give you boldness to witness to the waitress who takes your order at Applebees
- The Spirit empowers us toward holy living. When we get serious about the Lordship of Christ in our lives, others will take note, and they will ask what it is that makes us different.
From this first great commission we discover the First Priority Shift our church must make: We must cease being program-dependent and return to being Spirit-oriented. Dependence upon God’s Holy Spirit as a guide to ministry priority was the normal experience for the early New Testament Church. As Southern Baptists, we’ve become overly dependent on “church in a box.” We take what has worked in some other church, in some other place, distill it into a set action plans, slap a catchy title to it and market it to every church in the convention with the promise that this is the program that will make your church grow. May God grant us a spirit of repentance from our pragmatism and may we find a renewed vitality as we seek to become a spirit-oriented congregation that prays and fasts to discover God’s will for our missions and evangelistic agendas
II. The Second Great Commission: WE ARE TO GO WITH A PRIORITY
- Mark 16:15 "And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."
A. OUR PRIORITY AUDIENCE IS A WORLD OF LOST PEOPLE
- “Go ... to all creation.“
- ILLUS.“When we gave our life to Jesus Christ, we gave up our right of choosing who we will love.”
- if God so loved the world, what right do we have to pick and choose who we will or will not redemptively love by sharing the good news of God’s mercy with?
- perhaps this is why the version of the Great Commission found in Mark’s Gospel, instructs us to preach the gospel to all creation
- the word go in this sentence quite literally means as you go or as you are going
- now, what’s that point?
- it implies that evangelism is not a special effort, but a normal occurrence of the Christian life
- as we go, wherever we go—because we are always going—we are to live our faith and share our faith with those people whom we come in contact with in the everyday course of life
- for some of you, your world of contact and influence will primarily be Osage county
- folks, can I clue you in on something?
- there are enough lost folks within a 45-minute drive of this church to keep you busy witnessing for Jesus until Jesus comes
- of the 13,324 people in our county, only 2,119 are Evangelicals which means that it’s a good bet that most of the remaining 11,205 are very likely lost
- 27% of the county’s residents claim no church affiliation at all
- Jesus said, “As you go about your business in Osage County, tell others about Me as you have opportunity.”
- some of you have a much larger world
- your job, or your interests take you far beyond the boarders of the 606 square miles of our county
- Jesus said, “As you go about your business in mid-Missouri, tell others about Me as you have opportunity.”
- some of you may find yourself moving because of a job or vocation change, and some of you young people will go off to college to far-flung parts of America
- Jesus said, “As you go about your business wherever you find yourself, tell others about Me as you have opportunity.”
- and yes, some of you may find that God has called you into full-time vocational ministry
- our priority audience is everyone we meet
B. OUR PRIORITY MESSAGE IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
- “ ... and preach the gospel to all creation.”
- there are lots of important things the church can do, and lots of important ministries you can be involved in ...
- Christian social ministries are important
- Rescue Missions are important
- Children’s ministries and Senior Adult ministries, and Youth ministries are important
- Church supported benevolent and educational and health institutions are important
- but they all pale by comparison to the Church’s greatest—and 1st—priority
- Job #1 is to proclaim the good news that Christ died for sinners
- “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, ESV)
- ILLUS. Martin Luther, the 16th century Reformer once told his students, “I preach, and then I sleep.” What he meant by that is this: It is God’s job, through His Holy Spirit, to use the Gospel that we’ve preached, or taught, or shared in a one-on-one encounter to convict the un-converted of sin, judgement, and righteousness.
- redemption of the sinner is God’s work
- but for some unknown reason, He has chosen that the means of His redemptive work is the preaching of the gospel
- and that is your priority and my priority
- “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13–15, ESV)
C. OUR PRIORITY MOTIVATION IS THE COMMAND OF JESUS CHRIST
- "And He said to them, “Go ... “
- the word go in this verse is a verb in the imperative mood
- that means that we are left with no choice—this is a command
- we can either choose to obey it or disobey it
- what we can’t do is ignore it
D. Our Second Priority Shift: WE MUST CONSCIOUSLY SEEK TO CULTIVATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOST PEOPLE
- that means finding ways to serving others
- “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22, ESV)
- whatever stands in the way of our serving others must by laid aside
- is it prejudice?
- is it cliquishness?
- is it business?
- is it pride?
- is it self-centeredness?
- what is it that stands in the way of you telling someone else about Jesus?
- Don’t Make False Assumptions
- too often, we operate on the premise that everyone we know is a Christian
- Pray for People Specifically
- make a prayer list of the lost people you know
- pray that God will bring lost people into your sphere of influence
- Learn a Basic Witnessing Technique
- use the Roman Road, use a Christian evangelism track
- learn how to share your testimony
- Understand That the Power of Our Story Rests in Jesus Alone
I believe in the Church evangelizing. I want you to believe in it to. I want you to believe in it, not because I do, but because you believe our Savior gave His church a commission – a Great Commission, and it must be our priority!