Sunday 18 February 2018

The Great Commission and The First Commandment from "Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom"

From Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom by Rob Rienow:

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, we find Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples.

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” - Matthew 28:18-20

God’s desire from the creation of the world is unchanged. He wants this earth, and the New Earth, filled with worshippers. With this in mind, we can see the first commandment from Genesis 1:28 echoed here in the Great Commission. Jesus parallels, reiterates, and expands His first commandment to Adam and Eve.

Genesis 1:28
Matthew 28:19-20
Be fruitful and multiply
Make disciples
Fill the Earth
Of all nations
Subdue it
Teach them to observe all I have commanded

In the first commandment, God calls us to multiply physically and spiritually through having and raising godly children. Jesus calls His followers to “make disciples” and thereby multiply! Jesus called His disciples to be disciple-makers. In the beginning, God established His plan to “fill the earth.” Jesus repeats His own words from Genesis 1 when He calls His disciples to “all nations.” In the beginning, God called Adam and Eve to subdue the world, and take dominion over it. This meant far more than taking care of the garden and the animals. Adam and Eve, and their descendants were called to establish the righteous and holy reign of God in every sphere of life. Jesus reiterates this call by saying “teach them (all nations) to observe all I have commanded you.”

Am I arguing that the Great Commission is all about marriage, the family, and raising godly children? No, the Great Commission is much greater and broader. But as we have seen throughout God’s word, marriage, the family, and raising godly children are all connected to the Great Commission.
Like you, I have heard many sermons on the Great Commission. The typical pattern in these sermons is to preach through the text and then challenge the congregation to think about (1) our non-Christian neighbours, and (2) unreached people groups (global missions). Are you praying for and reaching out to your non-Christian neighbours, and are you involved in global missions? These are certainly proper challenges, and appropriate application points from Matthew 28.

But our adult friends and those on the other side of the world are not the first ones we are called to evangelise and disciple. If we are married, encouraging faithfulness and godliness in our spouse is where our ministry begins. If we are parents or grandparents, God has chosen to entrust immortal souls into our care. God has given us spiritual responsibilities with our children who are a higher priority than our spiritual opportunities with our neighbours.

As a pastor and preacher, God has graciously given me many opportunities to share about the gospel and see people repent and trust Christ. None of these conversions came about because of my flowery words or persuasive presentation. The Holy Spirit simply uses His Word and brings people to repentance. I have had the thought, “What if God used my sharing the gospel to lead 1,000 people to repent and trust Christ…but I lost one of my six children?” I am thankful for any fruit God brings about in my public ministry, but my greatest desire is to spend eternity with my wife and children. For many years, I was passionate about making disciples of those in my community and around the world, while I neglected my most important calling, leading my wife and children to know and love God.

God’s plan has been the same from the beginning. He is filling the earth with His worship and He has chosen His temporary institution of the family as an essential component to carry out His plan. In every chapter of the four gospels, except for Mark 4, God refers to family relationships or gives us spiritual truths using a family analogy. There is a divine ordering to our Great Commission ministry in the world.

Other excerpts from the book:

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