Thursday, February 19, 2004

Christ Commandments and the Great Commission

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

These words of Jesus have rightly been considered the marching orders of Christ to His Church. That is true, but we often miss what those orders are. The command of the Great Commission is not to "GO." It does not show up clearly in most English translations, but the word go in this verse is, in the original Greek, a passive participle and not a verb.

Ok. And what does that mean? It means that what we read as go should literally be translated "as you are going." As we go about our daily life, we are to be about doing what Christ has commanded here. We are to "make disciples." That’s the command in this sentence. A disciple is a vastly different thing than a convert. A disciple is a student of Christ and His holy Word (the whole Bible).

When someone is converted to the Christian faith they have reached the point where we can then start to obey the Great Commission with them. It is then that they can become a disciple of Christ. It is important to remember that making converts (i.e. evangelism) is certainly presupposed in the Great Commission, but it is not part of the commission itself.

What are disciples to be taught? Jesus doesn't leave this up to us or what we feel. He tells us the answer in verse 20. He says "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." That, my friends, is a very tall order.

In a previous blog I showed the importance of keeping Christ commandments. We saw how observing of God’s Commands is vital in the Christian life. It is clear that St. James and St. John both wrote that one who doesn't do as Christ commanded has a dead faith and such a dead faith is not a saving faith. Here again we see, in the commission of Jesus to his Church, the important it is for us to "observe all things whatsoever I [i.e. Jesus] commanded."

So we are to be learners and doers of Christ's commandments and "as we are going" we are to teach others to be learners and doers of Christ commands. Getting someone to pray a "sinners prayer" is not the demand of the great commission. The commission is to teach those that come to Christ to obey and do all that He commanded.

We see in the Great Commission what Paul said in Ephesians. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10) We are saved unto good works.

Soli Deo Gloria,

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