“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt.28:18-20)
Which part of the Great Commission are we most prone to forget? Missiologist Gordon McGavran opined that the part of the Great Commission that is most frequently overlooked is the profound declaration of our Lord Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”
As Pastor Edmund Chan* said “The entire missionary enterprise of discipling the nations is fundamentally centered on this singular declaration……it is all about Jesus and His sovereign Lordship. Without the authority of Jesus in our lives, our labour will be in vain. Nor will the impetus to press on to fulfill the Great Commission under very difficult circumstances unless we understand and celebrate the truth of Jesus’ ultimate victory as the One with “all authority”.
“If Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!”
I first heard of this phrase many years ago when attending Sunday School in Geylang Gospel Hall just before a major examination. One teacher wrote the above statement on the board to challenge us to continue to put Christ first under all circumstances.
Putting Christ first is not just about attending church every Sunday, giving faithfully or doing our Quiet Time (devotion) regularly. It is about our heart’s devotion to Christ. It is about being obedient to the Lord in every way. The Great Commission is not just about making disciples and baptizing them but also to teach them to obey everything that Christ has commanded.
Hebrews 10:25 tells us about the importance of attending church and not neglecting to meet together. But that is not all there is to it, we are also instructed to “encourage one another” when we meet. Furthermore in verse 24, we are to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Meeting together are opportunities to obey these instructions.
Even for missions, obedience entails some to “go” while for those who “stay”, obedience requires us to provide sacrificial love, prayer and quality of corporate life that backs the witness of those who “go”. Not forgetting that “staying” does not exempt one from being an ambassador for Christ wherever one may be.
How can we obey if we don’t have His Word? Today we have many avenues to know His Word be it from the pulpit every Sunday, various Bible-study aids and programs, Sunday School, Adult Bible Class, seminaries, websites, books, e.t.c…. We are exhorted to ”do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2Tim.2:15)
Obedience is hard; in fact it is impossible if we do not submit to the enabling grace of God. Time set aside for devotion or Quiet Time with the Lord is a good channel of allowing His Word and our prayer to energize us spiritually.
Deacon Wayne Teo