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Stage 3

The Great Commission

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last..." John 15:16.

All ministry is based upon the fact that we have been sent by Jesus (John 20:21). We have been commissioned by Him to fulfill the purpose of God in our generation. It is this commission that determines the parameters for our ministry:

"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, baptising them...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 our charter for ministry. So important is this commission that the timing of the return of the Lord Jesus depends upon its fulfillment.

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" Matthew 24:14 (see also 2 Peter 3:11-12).

The Strategy of the Gospel

The Great Commission is not just about us doing something for God. It is about joining with God in His purposes on the earth. These purposes are laid out clearly in the Gospel. The focus of the Great Commission is the Gospel.

There is a clear two-part strategy to the Gospel:

A Come Strategy

"'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men'" Matthew 4:19.

The first part of the Gospel strategy is to come:

The purpose of this "come strategy" is to equip the believer for ministry (Ephesians 4:12,15-16). As we come together regularly, the Holy Spirit works to cause the Gospel to become an integrated part of the believer's life.

A Go Strategy

"...'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?..." Rom.10:13-15 (see also John 17:18).

The second part of the Gospel strategy is to go:

The "go strategy" involves the taking of the Gospel out to where the people are - not waiting for them to come to you.

It is important for us to see these two parts of the Gospel strategy clearly. If we do not, we might get the come-go strategy reversed. We end up having a come strategy for evangelism ("Come to church and be saved!") and a go strategy for training ("Go to that place to be trained!"). The Biblical pattern is to have a come strategy for training and fellowship and a go strategy for evangelism.

"Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel...so that all nations might believe and obey him" Romans 16:25-26 (see also John 17:20-22; Colossians 1:3-6).

One part of the strategy will not work without the other:

Under Authority

"...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go..." Matthew 28:18-19.

The Great Commission is backed by the full authority of God's Throne. But to be effective in that commission, we need to come under the authority of God. This means obedience - going, coming and doing as we are commanded.

"For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it" Matthew 8:9.

We need to be coming to Him, going where He sends us, and doing the things He commands - not just for big decisions, but on an every day basis.

The Message of the Gospel

"...Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" Mark 1:14-15 (see also Matthew 4:17).

The Gospel is described in many ways throughout the Bible - the Gospel of grace (Acts 20:24), the Gospel of salvation (Eph.1:13), the Gospel of peace (Eph.6:15), the Gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor.4:4) - and the Gospel of the Kingdom. The word "gospel" means "good news." The good news of God's Kingdom is based upon three solid facts:

"...I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" Acts 26:17-18 (see also Colossians 1:13).

Separated for the Gospel

Paul summed up his whole ministry as being "set apart for the gospel of God" (Rom.1:1). To be "set apart" means to be "dedicated for special use" (Acts 13:2). As we respond to the Great Commission, our lives are set apart for the purposes of God.

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" Acts 20:24.

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Copyright 1981,1996 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

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