Dr. Cathy Payne | Global Missions Coordinator
Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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 28:18–20). This passage provides the narrative for the last recorded encounter with Jesus by the disciples. Themed as the Great Commission, the last words of Jesus challenge the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations.
I am always galvanized by the first word recorded in the Great Commission. “Go.” It is an imperative verb—an action word that gives a command. I have been taught that imperative verbs don’t leave room for questions or discussion. Even though in this passage there were those among them that remained in doubt (v.17), Christ removed the “what ifs” and “if onlys” from consideration. His command moves us from our sometimes comfortably defined positions of service to purposeful obedience and action. The process of submission to the command may not come naturally, it may not always be so easy, and sometimes it is quite costly, but it is the first move in compliance with His call. The command for which they are tasked is to teach what they have themselves been taught by the Master Teacher. A disciple is one who is disciplined, one who has conformed to the standards and expectations of his instructor. Christ is the pattern for all things, to build the foundations of faith, and restore relationship to God, complete with the fundamentals of baptism and teaching.
The witness is inclusive to all nations. Our tendency is to be attracted to those who are like us or to those who may have the flashiest ministries. The command orders a willingness to also embrace those who are different, allowing the love of Christ to be the adhesive that brings us into fellowship and then into unity. The hope of success in response to the command is found in the opening assurance of supernatural empowerment and the concluding and enduring promise of His presence.
In preparation for the Ascension recounted in the book of Acts, Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be (emphasis mine) My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). Though they might not experientially understand the fulness of the heavenly comfort and power they were about to receive, it was clearly understood that the Holy Spirit would guide them and empower their effort toward accomplishment and fulfillment. The disciples had been appointed and purposed for this very mission. They had been with Him for more than three years. They had lived under the shadow of His faithfulness, witnessed His miraculous works among the people, listened to His instructions, and in the intimacy of their last supper fellowship, they had been called his friends (John 15:15). No one was more qualified to be a competent witness than the disciples. However, they were going to need assistance in the unstoppable mission to which they were being called.
I’m encouraged by the preparation made in the supernatural when it comes to fulfilling the mission! Often, as I reflect upon my own abilities and commitment to complete that for which I have been called, and repeatedly come up short of necessary competence, I remember Paul’s frustrating narrative found predominately in Romans 7:14-25. It crescendos with the apostle’s despairing cry of anguish—“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (7:24). Immediately, however, Paul circumvents his frustration with triumph, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our LORD!” (7:25 NIV). While Jesus’ command is personal and carries the expectation of it accomplishment, thank God He has already prepared us for and supernaturally provided the means for victory! It is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the promise of His presence that makes the mission, the Great Commission, undeniably unstoppable!
Christ guaranteed the success of the “Go ye” even before He issued the command. The Word, found in the beginning “with God” (John 1:1) prophetically proclaimed, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; (emphasis mine) and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14 KJV). We see the prophetic explode into reality as the experience of Pentecost filled human vessels with supernatural power and presence. We witness the dynamic ministry of prolific expansion during that day throughout the book of Acts and the Epistles and reiterated through the apostle Paul (Romans 10:18; Colossians 1:6, 23).
Having the advantage of working in the Global Missions office, I am inspired as we receive updates about the inexhaustible and productive ministry of the Holy Spirit among our work in the nations. Many nations are increasingly experiencing the constraining authority of non-Christian governments restricting Christian ministries. Yet, we witness the burgeoning effects of obedience to the command of Christ and the results of faithfulness! You want to be inspired? Read in the March issue of the White Wing Messenger. In it, you will learn about the new church plants globally, the intensification of leadership training and preparation, the re-visioning of youth ministries and children’s ministries, the spontaneous move of the Holy Spirit within multiple national meetings, and the Word in action as, “the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6 NIV). No one is excluded from the Great Commission! Each of us can be positioned to find our useful place in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27; Romans 12:5). We are all uniquely called and gifted. The uniqueness we offer is our service to the Lord and fulfills His plan in our individual lives and the greater Christian community. God speaks through the prophet, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
As we make our way through the month of March and again celebrate our privilege to support mission efforts through the March Mission Drive, may we be so moved and reminded to inquire of the Lord as to His purposeful placement of our own unique investment in this eternal and unstoppable mission. May the Holy Spirit lead us to service and connection in the global task of sharing the whole Gospel to the entire world. We so deeply appreciate each of our prayer partners, Harvest Partner churches, Helping Hand and One Child Fund donors, and the active mission work teams who give faithfully as a part of their service to the Lord. May the Lord pour out His richest anointing and blessings.