Before His ascension, Jesus issued what has come to be called The Great Commission. A commission is “an authoritative command; a directive; a command.” The disciples took the Lord’s command seriously. They went into the world and shared the gospel of Jesus; thousands upon thousands were saved by the grace of God. The disciples’ message was so powerful and their witness so effective that their critics accused them of “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, NKJV).
That was then, and this is now! What was given as The Great Commission has turned into what some have labeled The Great Omission. When something is omitted, it is “left out, undone, neglected.” Instead of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth as the Lord commanded, some churches won’t even take the gospel to the end of the street.
We are satisfied with our spiritual condition, but we are not motivated to see others come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Has The Great Commission become The Great Omission in your life and mine? Are we as a church doing everything we can to find inroads of outreach in the world around us?
I want to share four facts from these verses that give us much-needed insight into The Great Commission.
I. WE HAVE A DIVINE MANDATE (VERSE 19)
The mandate of The Great Commission is to “go.” “Go” is a word of action! We cannot “go” if we are sitting still. We cannot “go” if we stay where we are. We cannot “go” if we do not make a move.
This verb literally means “as you go.” As we pass through this world, we are to carry the gospel message with us, sharing it with everyone we meet along the way. There are two ways we can do this.
1. It involves our lifestyle (Matt. 5:13-16). Like salt, our lives should create in people a thirst for the Lord. Our joy, our peace, and our difference from the world should cause them to want to know why we are like we are.
2. It involves our lips. We are told to “teach.” That word has the idea of making disciples or to instruct. We are to live the right kind of lives, but we are also told to share our faith. We are to tell a lost world what Jesus did for us when He saved us and what He can do for them if they will trust Him as we did. It is not enough to just show it—we must also say it!
Mark 16:15 says this: “Go into all the world, and preach the good news to all creation.” The word “preach” comes from a word that means “to herald.” The word “preach” is a present-tense, active-voice, imperativemood verb. An imperative is a command. Active voice means that you are to be involved in carrying out this command. The present tense means that it is something we are supposed to be doing all the time.
II. WE HAVE A DIVINE MESSAGE (VERSE 20)
Jesus tells His followers to share a specific message: “. . . to obey everything I have commanded you . . .” As we go and tell the world about Jesus, the message we are to share is very clear: We are to share the gospel.
Jesus came to this world to make the gospel a reality. He came to this world to die on a cross, rise from the dead, and open a way of eternal salvation for all who will receive Him into their hearts. Jesus came to this world as the Savior of men (Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45; John 14:6). He came to make a way for lost sinners to get to God.
Our message is not about our church or our denomination. It is not about our style of worship. All of those are important, but none of them can save a lost soul. Our message is a simple message: hope to the hurting, life to the dead, peace to the tormented. It is a message that every person in the world needs to hear. It is a message that is universal in its application. It is a message that has the potential to change every life (John 1:11, 12).
There is no other message that God will use to draw sinners to Himself, and there is no other message He will use to save lost souls!
III. WE HAVE A DIVINE MISSION (VERSE 19)
Jesus tells us that we are to “go . . . and teach all nations” (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). Our mission is to every person in the world; our mission field is the entire world.
While He may never call you to go to a foreign land to tell the story of salvation, Jesus expects you to share the gospel where you live. He expects us to reach out to all people without regard to their ethnic heritage, race, past, lifestyle, economic standing, etc. If they are sinners, they need to hear the message of the cross. If they are lost, they need a Savior. If they do not know Him, they need Him, and we have been authorized and commanded to reach them!
What are we doing to reach the world around us? Are we active in our Jerusalems? Are we fulfilling The Great Commission? Or are we guilty of committing The Great Omission?
IV. WE HAVE A DIVINE MENTOR (VERSE 20)
Jesus doesn’t send us into this lost world without any resources. He doesn’t expect us to accomplish this Great Commission in our own power. In fact, these verses give us two of the greatest resources we have as witnesses of the gospel.
1. We are promised His presence. “I am with you always . . .” When you are sharing the gospel with a friend, a family member, even a total stranger, the Lord Himself is right there with you. He will help you, enable you, embolden you, and use you if you will simply obey Him and share the gospel with others.
2. We are promised His power (Acts 1:8). When we share His gospel message, we can be confident that God will use His message for His glory. He will take our feeble words and attach power to them. The Spirit of God will take our efforts and use the words we share to convict the hearts of the lost (John 16:7, 8).
I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but here are the facts: We have become more concerned about buildings than about people. We are more interested in having meetings than we are in fulfilling our mission. We are more interested in our personal comfort than about who is drowning in the sea of sin just beyond our walls. We are more concerned about the color of a man’s skin than we are the condition of his soul. We want to see people come into church as long as they are the “right” kind of people. I am afraid that for many of us, The Great Commission has become The Great Omission. That can change—it must change! It will change only when we come to the Lord and ask Him to change our own hearts!
General Conference Ministerial Association