Overcoming Evil: Staying Focused on the Great Commission

The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 213

As of the time of this writing, we are about a week and a half into the latest conflict between Israel and its neighbors. War has been declared. The cowardly and evil actions by Hamas have been placed front and center for the world to witness. Other evil forces are beginning to join in or threaten to join.

Without the historical backdrop of Scripture, many people are landing on the side of evil, not even knowing what they are really supporting or why. As the world has moved further and further away from objective, absolute truth and decency, it’s no wonder. The further you are from the source of truth and goodness, the harder it is to see. Like a distant star too dim to see with the naked eye, much of the population is in relation to God.

Are they really far from God, though? Acts 17:26-27 says, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us (emphasis added). 

Yes, the omnipresent Creator is certainly not far from anyone, but for those not seeking Him, how would they find the invisible triune God? The answer is the Holy Spirit and His Church. We are his image-bearers. We are his representatives to humanity. Man may be far from God, but God is never far from man.

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The Mandate of the Church

What is our main thing? What is our mandate? What, more than anything else, should we, the Church of Jesus Christ prioritize? Everything cannot have equal importance. If everything is important, then nothing is important.

The answer to these questions is the Great Commission.

The final words of Jesus to his disciples before ascending into heaven contain his greatest call and commandment to all followers of Christ to spread the gospel message to the ends of the earth. 

As it is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commands his disciples:

“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.”

This should be the driving mission behind every Christian church. As the body of Christ on earth, the church exists to carry out his final marching orders to make and mature disciples of all people groups around the world. This is the mandate of the church.

In today’s culture, however, it is easy for churches to lose sight of the Great Commission. In many places, churches have turned inward, focusing on programs and ministries that serve their own members rather than those outside the church. They gear their messages towards felt needs and practical tips for living your best life now. Events and activities cater to what is comfortable and entertaining for church members. Outreach and evangelism often take a backseat, if they are present at all.

Some churches do focus outwardly but with no eternal fruit to show. They take the “love people” portion of the Great Commandment to heart but fall short of its intent. Sure, they can hand out food, clothing, and other material needs. Worthy endeavors, but to not love someone enough to introduce them to the only one who can take away their sins and give them eternal life is not truly living out the command or the commission.

Still, others excel at sharing the Gospel and gathering multitudes to give praise to God, but the work ends there. They’ve not taught anyone to “obey everything that I have commanded you.” You cannot call yourself a Great Commission church and not be making disciples and guiding them to maturity. What is maturity? Becoming a disciple-maker. The Great Commission is cyclical and multiplies. 

The book of Acts shows the early Christians as a missionary force, expanding outward rapidly. The apostles and church leaders made Kingdom expansion their top priority. They were willing to face persecution, hardship, and even martyrdom in order to be faithful to Christ’s commission.

The Great Commission Today

As the church today, we must recapture this outward focus. The Great Commission applies just as much to us as it did to those first disciples. Here are a few reasons why it must remain the number one priority of every local church:

  1. It is a direct command from our Lord and Savior. As his followers, our utmost desire should be to carry out his final instructions to us. The Great Commission is not a suggestion, but a mandate for all of Christ’s disciples.
  2. It reflects God’s heart for the lost. The Father sent his Son to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to provide salvation to all who believe (John 3:16). As those filled with God’s Spirit, we should seek to share his passion for reaching the lost.
  3. The task is still unfinished. There are still millions of souls who have never heard the gospel or been introduced to Jesus. We have work to do until every nation, tribe and tongue has been reached (Revelation 5:9).
  4. It fuels every other aspect of the Christian life. Being instructed in the scriptures teaches us Christ’s commands. Our own spiritual growth overflows into a desire to share Christ with others. Worship leads us to celebrate the God who saves and commands us to tell the world about him. Biblical community equips us to fulfill the Great Commission together.
  5. We have been entrusted with the only message that can save. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16). Faith comes from hearing the message about Jesus (Romans 10:17). We have the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

The mission of making disciples of all nations stands as the central driving force behind all that we do as the body of Christ. When this becomes obscured behind lesser priorities and programs, we lose our purpose and effectiveness. Let the final command of our Lord to his first disciples ring in our ears. 

Our Sacred Trust

The Great Commission remains a sacred trust. It deserves first place in all the plans and ministries of our churches. Only by carrying out our Lord’s plan can we call ourselves his faithful followers.

The Great Commission matters because lost souls matter to God. Lost souls are ravaging the world as we know it today. Can you directly affect the soul of a Hamas terrorist today? Likely not, but God can, and he may be preparing someone now to reach someone else who will continue to carry that message of grace, peace, and salvation. 

When we see the world around us burning, and lawlessness, and evil everywhere, and disunity, and chaos, our instinct may be to turn inward. We may think the greatest need is to care for one another who are already in the care of our Father in Heaven. 

Don’t fall victim to the devil’s schemes.That’s exactly what he desires – that we would shut down and stop the assault on the gates of hell. We know that Christ’s church will not be held back, but it takes every one of us. May we recommit ourselves to this highest priority of the church and pray for the salvation of all who fight against God and his Kingdom.

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A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.

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