Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)
This is the Great Commission, Jesus’ last command to His disciples. Most Bible teachers feel that because He issued this command last, He meant it to have great importance for the church. Devout followers of Christ down through the ages have served tirelessly, often in the face of fierce opposition, to take the gospel message and make disciples in all nations, to all people groups.
While I was executive director of Evangelical Friends Mission, I was aware that the places where it is easy to take the gospel message had all been reached and now there remained places and cultures where Satan has had hundreds of years to put down his roots,and he does not give up that ground easily. We were also constantly monitoring our progress toward the fulfillment of this Great Commission, and I read and heard reports on the estimated number of people groups that still did not have a Christian witness among them. Because of the drive to fulfill this command, there is a strong emphasis on reaching the unreached—going to new people groups.
Part of the motivation to reach all peoples comes from Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” This commission is given in different forms in all four Gospels. In connection with the giving of this command in Luke 24:49, NKJV, Jesus gave another command, which I’ve chosen to include here, rather than to list it separately: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
In Acts 1:8, He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Then the NKJV version says, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” If we hope to be successful missionaries, then we must receive the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. I’m convinced that the most successful Christian ministers have a strong emphasis on missions. C. W. Perry, the beloved pastor of one of the largest Friends churches, used to say, “The church God blesses gets outside itself.” God honors a ministry that seeks diligently to fulfill this command. The wonderful promise in connection with this command is Jesus’ promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age. All of us want His presence with us.
I wonder if we can really have that if we are not in some way involved in the mission of seeking to take the gospel to all nations. As an act of obedience to the second part of this command, I have given almost a lifetime to writing this book. (I started it while I was young, but I laid it aside for years when I was extra busy.) I saw that Jesus commanded us to teach others to observe all things He had commanded, but as far as I knew there was no book, outside of the Bible, that taught all the things He commanded.
Lord Jesus, I want to follow You wherever You lead. You are so clear with Your command to go into all nations, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching. Please give me an increased passion for world missions. Show me how to pray daily for Your heart concerning the world. If there is any way that I am to be involved beyond my prayers and my giving, please show me. I want to move in Your authority to see You receive increased glory around the world.
–Adapted from Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life by Norval Hadley. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise the Lord, who made and cares for heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them (Ps. 146:1-6). Give thanks for his personal care for you. Confess instances of putting ultimate trust “in mortal men, who cannot save” (146:3). Commit yourself to putting your hope in the Lord your God. Ask God to help you hand your cares to him through daily prayer.
Pray that God will continually prompt his people to join him in caring for those oppressed or otherwise in need (146:7-10). Ask God to grant corporate and individual wisdom, persistence, and love in seeking to extend his kingdom.