One of the wisest Christian men I have ever known was my uncle Manuel. He once told me, “When God repeats Himself in the Bible, He means for you to pay special attention!” I have never forgotten this, and always try to see where God “repeats Himself.” One of the best examples of this is the Great Commission. The Great Commission is so important, Jesus gave it to us five times – Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8. The Great Commission identifies our place in God’s plan: making Christ known to the nations.
The apostles in Acts 1:8 could not fulfill the Great Commission right away; they had to wait on the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would empower the apostles to be witness in John 16:13-14: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Again in John 15:26-27: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (ESV). Once the apostles received the power (dunamis) of the Holy Spirit, they will be witnesses (martus) for Him according to the three-phase plan He has given them.
We, however, do not have to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit for He is already present with believers. There is nothing withholding us from fulfilling the Great Commission in obedience to Jesus’ commands. There is no excuse for following the example of the servant in Luke 19:11-27 who buried his responsibility; we are to invest the Gospel with our neighbors and the nations that God might gain an increase. Today, we need only to become willing, useful, and obedient. We are called to sow the Gospel and reap the souls of men.
Although the apostles had to wait for the Holy Spirit, they obeyed what they could of Jesus commands; they went to Jerusalem to wait for empowerment through the Holy Spirit. Once He arrived, they followed the plan Jesus laid out in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (ESV). His plan is still practical and possible today; we begin with Jerusalem (local, our home), then spread out to Judea and Samaria (regional, national), and then onward to the end of the earth (international). Did you know:
- there are 1.365 billion people who have no access to the Gospel?
- of the 6,800 various languages, 5,900 have no written Bible?
- 86% of the world’s Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists do not know a Christian?
- for more information visit joshuaproject.net or unreachedpeoplegroups.org
Every church has a responsibility to fulfill this command in some way. We should evangelize our local communities personally, volunteer for short-term mission trips, be open to God’s call to long-term missions, and give regularly to missionaries and missionary groups. What are we waiting for?