(Please Note: The title of this article is intended to be "tongue-in-cheek" rather than anything of a political statement of allegiance to a particular political party)
This article is adapted from a sermon manuscript preached on Jan 2, 2022. You can watch the sermon here or read the article below.
It feels like we’ve lost ground and Christians face many trials in our present culture. It's no wonder so many Christians feel defeated these days - as if things are destined to only get worse and worse without any hope of success of the Gospel in the broader culture. Practically speaking, this has left many Christians discouraged about the prospects of winning the culture and seeing the success of the Gospel in their nation. For many, the mission of the Church to disciple the nations has faded to a lacklustre image of its former glory...
In Canada, while many were distracted by the pandemic, several major pieces of legislation which directly assault the Christian worldview were recently passed into law. You may have heard about Bill C-4 which was passed by unanimous consent both in the Parliament and Senate that sets criminal charges concerning issues around gender and sexuality. There was also Bill C-7 passed this past year which widens the scope of euthanasia or medically assisted suicide such that any person 18-years of age can seek assisted suicide even if their physical death is not foreseeable. Canada continues to be one of the only countries in the world with no laws limiting abortion - resulting in 85,000-100,000 abortions per year. Furthermore, we have seen dangerous Marxist ideologies such as Critical Theory being taught in schools, people losing livelihoods, and the degradation of fundamental human rights to name just a few of the challenges.
All of this has come together with the radical de-Christianization of Western culture and the decreasing influence of a Biblical worldview on almost every issue in public life. More and more, Christians are made to feel like their religious convictions can have no impact on public life - keep it private, keep it quiet - all in the name of supposed “neutrality”. These are not obscure issues, but rather ones that will affect every single Christian who wants to be faithful to God’s Word. For the first time in modern Western and North American history, it may be that Christians will have to wrestle with the fact that standing up for their faith may actually cost them something.
Sometimes we can feel like all Hell is breaking loose and we’re helpless.
Yet Jesus promises that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church (16:18). Gates are defensive structures and the Church must advance against them. Imagine how ridiculous it is for someone to be afraid of gates chasing them! Yet, for a large part, the Evangelical church today in the West has been in retreat. Kenneth Gentry notes,
“There is dangerous atrophy in the Body of Christ (the Church) due to chronic retreatism and the more recent onset of acute superficiality. And the recovery of the true strength of the family, the Church, and the State will take both effort and time. Fortunately, the Great Commission, when properly understood, provides us with the strength needed for the effort ("I am with you," promises the One with "all authority") and the time necessary to the task ("even to the end of the age").” (Kenneth Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission, p. 160)
Make no mistakes about it - we are in a war. The Christian life is spiritual warfare. He’s given us what we need to mount the offensive to push back the powers of darkness… but we need courage. When we rightly understand our King’s marching orders to us - the Great Commission, it fills us with God-given boldness and courage to face the battle ahead of us.
HERE'S MY BIG IDEA:
We greatly underestimate the greatness of the Great Commission
My main thesis here is that we face these challenges because Christians today have greatly underestimated the grandeur, scope and magnitude of the Great Commission. Many Christians have lost sight of the weight of what Jesus tells us in Matthew 28. We need to make the Commission Great again - or rather, be reminded of just how great it is!
Let's dig into it...
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
From the commission, we first see that we must recover the conviction that Jesus Christ sends us as his ambassadors with His Divine Power...
1. His Divine Power | He has ALL Authority (v.18)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (verse 18)
1A. A Present Reality
The word translated as “authority” “denotes active power, the full ability to do as one wills.”
In the Greek of this verse, “has been given to me” is actually at the beginning of the sentence, giving it emphasis. Note also the tense of this verb - All power HAS BEEN given - past tense. This statement is a fulfillment of the vision in Daniel 7, where the prophet Daniel says,
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him [the Son of Man] was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (v.13-14)
How do we know this is the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy? In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus repeatedly used the title “The Son of Man” for himself (it occurs 30 times in the book - e.g. 16:28; 19:28; 24:30-31; 25:31-34; 26:64). This is a theme running through Matthew’s Gospel that now comes to its climactic fulfillment. The crucified and risen Christ has been vindicated and his dominion is that of the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision - over the whole earth and heaven as well. In chapter 4 of Matthew’s Gospel, Satan had tempted Jesus with sovereignty over the whole earth if he would bow to him; but Jesus in obedience to God the Father’s will to go to the Cross has received far more than what Satan could offer! He has all authority, everywhere.
His claim to all authority and power was total from the very first day he gave this commission to his disciples and is the basis for his command to disciple the nations.
B. A Pervasive Reality
But where is this power or authority exercised? And what kind of authority does he possess? Is it just in the church or in the hearts and minds of believers?
Jesus is saying that he has ALL authority, everywhere and possesses every single kind of authority. He has authority in heaven (the spiritual realm) and on earth (the temporal realm). Jesus doesn’t just have authority over the Church or individual Christians. He claims authority over the family, education, business, the arts, politics, law, medicine—everything. For those who call him Lord, we affirm that He rules over every area of our lives - your wallet, your relationships, your future plans, and even your affections!
Bible commentator, R.H. Lenski remarks,
“Who can fathom this brief utterance of Jesus? The kingly authority of Jesus embraces heaven, all that lives and has its being there, angels and archangels, powers, principalities, might, dominion, thrones, and the saints in glory. This authority is exercised also over the evil spirit world, whose prince is conquered and despoiled, and whose hosts lie in abject submission beneath Jesus’ feet. All the powers of heaven are in his hand to do his bidding without question or pause. This the disciples are to realize as Jesus sends them forth. Never did a human army have such resources behind it. All the earth is also subject to him, its inhabitants, both friend and foe, and all the powers that are in the earth.” (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, pg 1171)
That’s the type of authority and power that you have backing you! This is the power that is the basis of the church’s mission to disciple the nations.
Here at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, we see the culmination of the theme of the Kingship of Jesus Christ that has been referenced throughout the book. It was introduced by his Davidic royal genealogy (1:1-17) and the Magi’s search for “the king of the Jews” and Herod’s attempt to destroy the Christ-child as a threat to his political kingship. It was dramatically enacted by Jesus’s triumphant royal ride into Jerusalem (21:1-11), and as a part of his accusation and mockery in his kangaroo court trial in Matthew 27 as Pilate asks him if he’s the king of the Jews, and the Roman soldiers mock him with a crown of thorns. The Jews scorned the crucified Lord saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.” (27:42)
Little did they all know that the sign above his Cross meant to mock him as “king of the Jews” was actually the banner over his enthronement! Kanye had it right - Jesus is King!
Do you believe this? Do you live like it?
Secondly, Christ sends us to accomplish His purpose...
2. To Accomplish His Purpose | Make Disciples of ALL Nations (v.19a)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (verse 19a)
Note the “therefore” (οὖν). Anytime we see a “therefore” in scripture, you must ask - what is the “therefore” there for? It is there to show us that it is on the basis of Jesus’s total sovereign power and authority that we are sent to make disciples. If you lack confidence or courage - remember that it is not your ability or power, but His total authority that drives and empowers the commission!
2A. Make Disciples
What do you think the main verb of this sentence is? Many think it is “Go”. In Greek, it is clear that the main verb is to make disciples - the other verbs (participles) are dependent on the main verb. One way to translate this phrase would be “as you go, make disciples.”
Notice also, it is not just to make converts. A disciple is a life-long learner and follower of Christ. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus describes what discipleship is like, he says to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” To be yoked to Christ is to follow where he leads and to learn from him through His Word. Leon Morris comments,
“The life of a disciple is different because of his attachment to Jesus. The Master is not giving a command that will merely secure nominal adherence to a group, but one that will secure wholehearted commitment to a person.” (Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew (PNTC), pg 746)
The Gospel is a summons - that the Kingdom of God is at hand - so repent and submit wholeheartedly to this Sovereign and Loving King who wields all authority and live in joyful service to His Kingdom. Our faith must govern the totality of our life, or else it is not our real faith.
Disciples are not people who nominally acknowledge some facts about Jesus. They are followers and learners who realize the immeasurable value of the treasure of the Kingdom and who seek His Kingdom first in all areas of their lives. Does your Christian faith govern the totality of your life? Do you aim to make disciples like this?
2B. Of All the Nations
Notice also who we’re to disciple. Notice the scope!
Many people hear of the Great Commission and automatically what pops into their minds is personal evangelism such as sharing your faith one-on-one with a family member, neighbour, friend, co-worker, etc. While that is certainly included in this command, it is not the object of the verb, “make disciples”. We are to make disciples of ALL NATIONS! A nation is far more than just a collection of individuals. It implies culture, politics, civil government, laws and all of the other aspects of public life. This is what we’re to disciple! Wow. And not just some nations, but all of them! Feeling the weight of that?
In Greek, the verbal aspect implies that this is actually to be done! What a tremendous task! Let that just sit on you for a little bit. Had it not been for Jesus first declaring his omnipotence in heaven and on earth, we should rightly recoil at this!
David Brown comments,
"The disciples were commissioned to evangelize the world before Christ's second coming; not merely to preach the Gospel, 'for a witness,' to a world that would not receive it till he came again... but to accomplish, instrumentally, the actual discipleship of all nations,' to baptize them when gathered in, and to train them up as professed Christians in the knowledge and obedience of the truth, for glory - all before his second coming. In the doing of this, He promises to be with them - not merely to stand by them while preaching a rejected Gospel, and to note their fidelity, but clearly to prosper the work of their hands unto the actual evangelization of the world at large, before his coming." (David Brown, Christ's Second Coming, p.298)
Additionally, O.T. Alis concurs that,
"There is no room for pessimism or defeatism in these words. The Captain of our salvation is an invincible commander. His triumph is sure and assured." (O.T. Alis, "The Parable of the Leaven," Evangelical Quarterly 19:4 (Oct. 1947), p.272)
Jesus doesn't give us a mission he expects us to fail at! Kenneth Gentry notes that,
“His "all authority" over "all the nations" demands we preach His crown rights over all men and all their institutions, cultures, societies, and nations. The saving of multitudes of individuals must eventually lead to cultural Christianization under Christ's rule and to His glory by His providence, in conformity with God's creational purpose.” (Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission, p.58)
This theme in Matthew’s Gospel began with a proclamation of the Gospel of Kingdom from John the Baptist (3:2) and from Jesus (4:17) - “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” This theme of the Kingdom of God is vitally important to Matthew’s Gospel. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) We want to see Christ’s Kingdom established more and more here on earth. His will being done on earth as it is done in Heaven implies the obedience of the nations.
Puritan commentator, Matthew Henry, summarizes the Great Commission this way, “Do your utmost to make the nations Christian nations.”
Oh how we vastly underestimate the scope of the Great Commission! How often do we run after trivial pursuits when Christ has given us the most epic of missions? How often are young men wasting their prime years and energy on video games, pursuing virtual conquests and achievements when Christ has called them to win the nations in real life!
Consider: What happens when the church fails to do this?
Well, we don’t have to wonder, we’re living it. Jesus says in Matthew 5 that disciples are salt and light. In the ancient world, salt was a preservative and light illuminates. When Christians retreat from an area of public life such as politics, law, education, entertainment, arts, etc. it decays and goes dark. Without that influence, why is it surprising to us that the culture has become dark and decayed? We are living with the results of the removal of salt and light in many areas of Canadian public life and it won’t get any better by continuing to retreat.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this nation’s own Christian history. Canada’s own coat of arms has on it in Latin, "From sea to sea". It is taken from Psalm 72:8-11 which reads, "He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him, And His enemies shall lick the dust...Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him.” That’s a statement about Christ’s total dominion if I’ve ever seen one! The Preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”.
This nation and the benefits of freedom and prosperity we enjoyed have come to us as the beneficiaries of Christians in years past who understood this! They founded a country based broadly on a Judeo-Christian worldview. Our very founding documents attest to this. This is also true for the history of many other Western Nations. As our countries move away from their Christian foundation - what we are seeing is the structure crumble. We cannot destroy the foundations and expect the structure to stand for long.
Some may say, "but the disciples didn’t seek to change the nations in their time. They just focused on personal piety and evangelism - they didn’t get involved in politics or public life." However, in Acts 17, Jason is charged before the city authorities that the disciples who had turned the world upside down had now come to Thessalonica, against Caesar saying there is another king - Jesus! They understood that saying Jesus is Lord meant that Caesar was not. The Gospel had massive implications for public life.
This same message can still flip this world upside down - God has not changed! And indeed he has used it throughout history…
The believers in the Early Church faced what should have been insurmountable odds. Christianity started off as a movement made up of 12 cowardly common men and about 120 cowering believers in an upper room. They lived in a Pagan state that mercilessly persecuted them (feeding them to wild beasts, crucifying them) and had utter disregard for life and human rights. The Christian church by all human reckoning should have been quickly destroyed - yet Christ had given them his power and presence - and through it the Church emerged victorious, transforming Roman culture and life. No one today is worshipping Zeus anymore, are they? Or Molech? Or Assyrian gods?
Throughout history many ungodly empires and kings have tried to squash Christianity - from the Islamic Ottoman empire to the Communist regimes of China, North Korea, the USSR, and South America, Revolutionaries like Napoleon and Fascists like Hitler - yet Christ’s Kingdom has always outlived its would-be pallbearers.
Christians, by applying a Christian worldview throughout world history have brought about a higher sanctity of human life from womb to tomb, elevated the dignity and freedom of women, put an end to slavery (e.g. William Wilberforce), established hospitals (ever wondered why so many hospitals have Christian names?) and universities (e.g. Harvard, Princeton, Yale - all started off as Christian institutions - here in Canada, William McMaster & Egerton Ryerson - both Christians and founding fathers of Canadian education), influenced art, music, criminal and international law and so much more.
It’s been 2000 years of Christ being faithful to his promise that Hell’s gates will not prevail. This is not some easy-believism or triumphalism - these victories came at great cost over a long time and required men and women of God with Spirit-given steel in their spines and the Word of God in their hearts.
For the Christian, it is an act of love for God and neighbour that should compel them to want to see the advance of Christianity into these spheres of public life because a society built on God’s principles will prosper and enjoy His blessing - even for the ones who are not converted. Do we believe this? Do we believe this can happen in whatever city and country we live in?
Thirdly, we are accomplishing His purpose of discipling all the nations according to His plan...
3. According to His Plan | Baptizing and Teaching Obedience to ALL His Commands (v.19b-20a)
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (verses 19b-20a)
The main verb of the commission is to make disciples, and these other verbs - going, baptizing and teaching - explain how we are to make disciples. We can’t just make up our own plan. This is Christ’s plan for discipling the nations and the Church must not lose our focus on this.
3A. Baptism into the Triune Name
What does Baptism “in the Name” mean?
It represents having been brought into the sphere of the Triune God. It represents coming under the Lordship of the Father, Son and Spirit. It means that our whole life is subsumed into His - or as the New Testament puts it, we are “in Christ” and removed from the dark realm of Satan to the dominion of His glorious light. Dr. Gentry gives the example,
“For instance, Pagan soldiers swore into the name or possession of the god Zeus upon their entry into military service. And in financial matters money was paid into the name or account or possession of someone. "Accordingly in the present passage the baptized may be said to be translated into the possession of the Father, Jesus Christ, and His Spirit." (Kenneth Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission, p. 83)
Thus, if you say Christ is Lord, you must be baptized. If we say we belong to Him, but refuse to be baptized, we lie with our actions.
Also, consider that this is still in reference to nations! Yes, it obviously applies to individuals being baptized. However, the scope that Jesus has in mind here is much bigger. If “baptism into the Name” means to come under the Lordship and into the possession of the Triune God of Scripture, then this implies that whole nations should be won to Christ! Let that rock your world a little.
3B. Teaching to Obey All His Commands
Notice, it is not just to know of some of His commands. What is to be taught is not just a list of facts or a pattern of beliefs, but rather a way of life. His choice of words here in Greek (τηρεῖν & ἐνετειλάμην) connect with the keeping of God’s law (19:17 & 23:3). In the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7) Jesus expounds the real scope of the law - that it was not just about outward observance but obedience from the heart, and that he did not come to abolish or relax the standard of the law. Thus, he means all of His Word - Old and New Testaments have relevance for us today.
All of Christ’s commands in all of His Word are to be taught as relevant and necessary for us today. The idea that all we need to do as Christians is to acknowledge just one or two central concepts of the Gospel is highly dangerous. Jesus binds us to all of it! How well do you know God’s Word? How are we supposed to teach nations to obey all of it if we do not apply ourselves to studying it and living by it ourselves? How much do you apply yourself to know and apply all of His Word to all of your life?
Reduction of the Gospel to Personal Salvation
If you know that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone apart from any good works we can do - great! However, that’s just the starting point of the Christian life. We’ve often reduced the Gospel to a simple call to faith, or four spiritual laws to get people “saved” or sometimes presented it as a sort of “fire insurance” instead of the all-encompassing summons to give up all to follow Christ and proclaim His kingdom!
To reduce the Christian mission to just getting people “saved” and into the church so that they can go to heaven is a serious reduction of what Jesus meant. If we reduce Christianity to just personal evangelism, personal piety, personal growth and personal blessing we remain immature believers, “with little or no conception of the scope and grandeur of the gospel or the transforming power of the kingdom of God for all of life. Christians in this context can remain as "spiritual infants" all their lives. The birth of a baby is a wonderful thing, but it would be a tragedy if a baby did not mature over the years into an adult.”
“A piety which concerns itself only with man’s soul and leaves the world to the devil is a profane piety.” (R.J. Rushdoony)
This is nothing less than a reaffirmation of the Creation Mandate God gave to humanity in Genesis 1:28 to be fruitful and multiply, subdue the earth and have dominion over it as God’s vice-regents. This was our purpose from the beginning. Saints, this is what we were created to do! We were created to bring God’s loving rule to bear on all of creation. Sin marred that but didn’t destroy it, and in Jesus, he restores us to be his vice-regents bringing His Kingdom’s reign over all of Creation. We must recover this scope of the extent of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The secularists who are running our government, entertainment, news and institutions of higher learning are not neutral in those spheres and neither should you be. They are actively making disciples of their own values and kingdom. They are seeking first their kingdom. The truth is, we are always and at every time being discipled - it’s just a matter of by whom and for what kingdom?
Our Sovereign King sends us as His emissaries to declare His rule over all things. We’re to make it our aim to bring everything into subjection to Christ. But not as the world does - through the strength of force or might. Our weapons are not like this world’s weapons, but rather have divine power to demolish arguments and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). We’re to love one another (John 15:12), bear with one another (Eph. 2:4), and outdo one another in showing honour (Rom. 12:10). By this will the world know that we are His followers, that we love one another (John 13:35).
If the Great Commission is our marching orders, the Great Commandment - to love God and neighbour - are our rules of engagement.
Expectations of the Kingdom
Perhaps some of you are struggling at this point. You see in the text that it says to disciple the nations, but you see things getting worse and worse and think, “It’s useless.” Isn’t this what’s supposed to happen? Won’t seeking to transform the culture be like trying to polish brass on a sinking ship? Well, let’s let Jesus define that for us instead of our own speculations.
In chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells parables to help show us what to expect with regard to His Kingdom:
The Mustard Seed (Matt. 13:31-32)
The Leaven (Matt. 13:33-34)
Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:1-23)
Weeds and Wheat (Matt. 13:24-30)
The Net (Matt. 13:47-50)
Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44)
Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:45-46)
What do you think happens when a drug dealer is genuinely converted to Christianity? What do you think is the lifestyle change of a con artist, pornographer, secular psychologist, Muslim, or corrupt politician? When someone submits their life wholly to the Lordship of King Jesus, it changes their values, behaviours, priorities, business dealings, parenting, education, and personal finances - all areas of their lives are transformed as they learn to obey all of what Christ has commanded. What do you think happens when someone is radically challenged and convicted that Christ’s wisdom is better than the wisdom of this world? They vote differently and think differently about law and social issues. They create differently. These changes will have an impact on culture, and as more and more people are brought under the Lordship of Christ in this way - the culture will be transformed to reflect more of Christ’s teachings as a whole.
The transformation we’re to expect is one that starts small - like a mustard seed - and then grows to eventually fill the whole garden! We need to stop thinking in terms of top-down solutions and salvation - secular politicians won’t save us. We will not get a true lasting positive change that way. We should rather think from the bottom-up. The fundamental building blocks of any society is the individual and the family unit. Let Christians start there! Let that encourage you - for the moms and dads, as you try to disciple rambunctious little sinners, or for the singles - as you grow as a disciple and serve King Jesus together with others. As those fundamental building blocks become transformed by the power of the Gospel - society will change. It has happened before and it can happen again. Start small and expect growth! God is faithful.
Do you believe that God has not changed and His Spirit is still with us? Well, if you doubt that, let’s move to our final point - that Jesus sends us with the promise of His presence...
4. With the Promise of His Presence | He will be with us ALWAYS! (v.20b)
Don’t underestimate the presence of the Holy Spirit in you. He says,
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (verse 20b)
Matthew’s Gospel started off with the Christ-child as “Immanuel” - God with us (1:23) - now it ends with Jesus Christ declaring that He will always be with us!
Perhaps that’s where you find yourself today after hearing the massive scope of this Great Commission. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the voices of doubt in your head. Don’t worry, you’re in good company - verse 16 said that some of the disciples doubted also. Hear now the voice of your Saviour. Let it drown out those doubting voices. He says “behold”! To call our attention. What he says can be more literally translated as, “I, myself am with you every single day, until the completion of the age.”
Christ was sending these timid disciples to set up His Kingdom in the world - such an enormous undertaking! This is why he promised to them his presence with them every step of the way - to carry them through the difficulties they were destined to face. He said to them, “I am with you - to bear you up and plead your cause… with you in all your sufferings to bring you comfort and peace… with you when you go through the fire. I’m with you in the pulpit and the prison. I am with you to make your ministry effectual that your labour is not in vain in seeking to disciple the nations. I am with you as you pull down the strongholds of the Enemy and set up stronger fortifications for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes it can feel like we’re alone in this fight like we’ve been abandoned. We’re taking enemy fire on every side and feel left for dead behind enemy lines. Jesus’s words assure us that this is not the case! As Matthew Henry notes:
“The God of Israel, the Saviour, is sometimes a God that hideth himself (Isa. 45:15), but never a God that absenteth himself; sometimes in the dark, but never at a distance.”
The Lord of all, who has conquered sin, Satan and cemetery, promises to you - as you take up his commission that He will be with you every step of the way. This is the image I want you to have in your head. He’s got our back. Think about this:
In 2 Kings 19, one angel strikes down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and in other places in the Old Testament, one angel is enough to pretty much nuke a city. Jesus said he has legions of angels at his call. A legion was between 4000-6000. You have that kind of power backing you and infinitely more.
A Great Deception
What we say in taking on a defeatist mentality is that, even though Jesus Christ is the Risen Lord with all authority everywhere and sends us out on His mission to disciple all nations to obedience to Him with his presence every step of the way, it’s going to be a hopeless project destined to fail. You’re saying that even the power and presence of the Sovereign Lord of lords and King of kings will fail to accomplish his purpose. Does that make any sense to you?
The Devil knows that he is a defeated foe - the Cross and resurrection guarantee that. So, what greater deception than to get the Church who has the greatest of weapons - the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and prayer which is our direct line to heavenly bombardment of the enemy lines - the greatest defensive armour - the full armour of God which includes the shield of faith that extinguishes the enemies arrows - the promise of the greatest power and presence with them to back them up in their mission - what greater deception is there than to make the saints and soldiers of this Kingdom believe that they are going to be defeated, unsuccessful, unexpectant of growth, distracted, lazy, unambitious, retreatist, sheltering and cowering in place… He’s even deceived some to think it’s somehow pious to let the world go to Hell as they waste time speculating about Blood Moons and waiting for Jesus to beam them up out of here… what greater deception is there!?
The Devil is a liar. Saints, stop believing the lie and believe God’s Word.
As Martin Luther penned,
Though this world with Devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us...
Do you believe this?
We must recover the greatness of this Great Commission! Christians - make the commission great again... not because we're something awesome, but because we have the power and presence of an Almighty Lord backing us to accomplish his purpose according to his plan.
Some Action Points
Here are a few practical application points to consider.
Based on Jesus’s power and promise of His presence - believe it and pray for God to make it more and more real to you. Speak openly about your faith - don’t be silenced. Don’t let your faith only exist between your two ears!
“To be fearless in the Lord does not require us to be great and powerful men, but only to believe in the Great and Powerful God.” (R.J. Rushdoony)
GET IN COMMUNITY
This commission was given to the disciples as a whole, to the church - don't go it alone… find fellow soldiers in arms to surround yourself with. Get into small groups, study the Bible or read a book together, wrestle through issues from a Biblical perspective with one another, support and pray for one another, hold each other accountable, and love one another.
Remember the power you have backing you and the presence you have with you. Pray big Great Commission-sized prayers - it’s like calling in spiritual heavy artillery bombing. This life is war. The mission field is a spiritual battlefield but God has resourced us with all that we need!
TAKE INITIATIVE & START WHERE YOU ARE
Maybe you’re overwhelmed at the task of discipling nations when you don’t even know how to be a disciple yourself. Don’t just sit around navel-gazing and waiting for someone else to tell you what to do. Make a resolution to start somewhere. Find a mentor. Commit to the local church and become an active member. Go get a book from the Recommended Resources and start reading it. If you’ve got a home or apartment, make it a hospitable place for Gospel conversations and loving relationships and community to flourish. Get to know your neighbours and co-workers, love them and look for Gospel opportunities. Married men, lead your families in the Word and piety - be a godly example of a man after God’s heart. If God has called you to singleness in this season, mentor a spiritual son or daughter in the faith. If you’re elderly, lend your wisdom to those younger than you - encourage and support the next generation. Tell them stories of our history. Use more of your free time for kingdom pursuits more than mere entertainment - leisure isn’t evil in itself, it just has a different priority and place when you realize you’re in a war.
STRATEGIZE & THINK INCREMENTALLY
Nations aren’t discipled by accident. Strategize - Jesus was right when he said that “the sons of this age are more shrewd in their dealings than the sons of the light’ (Luke 16:8). Think of how in only a generation’s time LBGTQ activism has totally transformed society’s values worldwide. This did not happen accidentally! They were strategic in their planning and execution of their mission. They moved incrementally and took strategic positions of power and influence in the culture to get their message out. If they were able to do that without the Spirit’s empowerment, think of what God’s children can do!
Think long-term. How can we build for our grandchildren’s grandchildren’s generation and beyond? Form Christian Think Tanks. Get on the local school board. Vote and write to your MPs. Be involved with Christian organizations like ARPA Canada which are working for change in our country. Form co-ops of Christian moms who study together and pray for their husbands, kids and societies. If you’re a business owner, partner with other Christian businesses and form networks. Build something and create new cultural artifacts from a Christian worldview. Start a business. Make a short film. Write a book. Compose songs - all to the glory of God. Whatever your talents or calling in life, think about how you can use your particular sphere of influence or industry to transform a little piece of culture and change will come incrementally.
It is not time to retreat, but rather to advance. We must take the offensive - not just defensive. Remember: the gates won’t prevail! Everything else built on another foundation is on sinking sand (Matt. 7:24-27) and is destined to eventually fall.
The time for playing around is long gone - though it never was. The church cannot remake asleep and ineffective to Christ’s commission to disciple all nations. We need men suited up with the full armour of God for battle. A soldier doesn't put on armour to sip a cocktail and relax… he puts it on to go into battle! Get on the battlefield and carry out our Commander’s commission.