Are They Really Following The Great Commission?

I hear all the time ministries that make the claim “We are following The Great Commission”. What is this command? Who was Jesus giving this command to? More importantly, are people today really following the “Great Commission”?  

The “Great Commission” was a Divine Order from a resurrected Christ unto His chosen eleven disciples. Keep in mind that He personally trained these men for three years prior to this command; 

Matthew 28: 16-20 ESV 

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  

Pay attention to whom Jesus was speaking to and what He was commanding them to do. The three commands were: 

1). Make disciples of all nations 

2). Baptize in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit 

3). Teach the nations to observe His commandments 

Remember, it took Christ THREE years to disciple these eleven men. If it took Him that long, how long do you think it would take someone like you or me? 

Now I’d like to direct you to the Gospel of Mark 16: 15-18;  

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

Now we get an even closer look at who He appointed for this commission. Notice what He told them they’d be able to do in His Name; 

1). whoever believed and were baptized would be saved 

2). they would be able to cast out demons 

3). they would speak new tongues 

4). they would be able to pick up serpents with their hands 

5). deadly poison wouldn’t hurt them 

6). they would be able to lay hands on the sick and the sick would recover 

Have you ever witnessed in a language you’ve never learned? Ever drank a deadly poison and lived without receiving an antidote? Ever picked up a serpent? Cast out any demons recently? If you are truly “called” to follow the “Great Commission” then where are the results? Why aren’t hospitals full of sick people being healed? The ones that Jesus chose for this mission did all of that and more. 

So, are we to take this commission literally? After all, the words are in red, right? For those who answer yes, tell me something? Have you sold all you have and given it to the poor (Matthew 19:21)? That command is also in red. If it’s that important to follow one command, then shouldn’t it be equally as important to follow all of the commands? 

What each of us is called to do is disciple others and to teach them the meaning of living a Christian life. Have you discipled each member of your family? Friends? Co-workers? Neighbors? If the answer is no, then this is probably your missionary field. You have a mission field right in your own backyard and all that’s required is your time and knowledge of the Word of God (2Timothy 2:15). 

Jesus told His Disciples that the harvest is plenty but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). I suggest that your harvest field is right outside your front door, if it’s even that far away.  

There are countless ministries that claim to be following the “Great Commission that clearly aren’t. Whether they are confused or just don’t care is something I don’t have the answer to. Some motives are more clear then others and it’s up to you to determine whether the ministry you’re funding is on the up and up or not.      

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22 thoughts on “Are They Really Following The Great Commission?

  1. Phil,

    I have studied that Matthew passage and there is no doubt that the “great commission” was an apostolic commission i.e. specific and direct instructions to His specially chosen team, the Apostles.

    I have no problems with people who leave the comforts of their families and homes to take the Gospel far and wide. But they are not fulfilling the Great commission. That was fulfilled by the apostles of Christ.

    those “trying” to replicate it only end up as fraudsters, peddling false miracles and signs.

  2. I agree with Yomi. I am not a cessationist, but I believe that the apostles who liad the foundations of the Church back then used these signs and wonders to validate their position, so to speak. We will die if we drink poison, or “take up snakes” like some rural ministries do. Our shadows passing over sick folk do no more than provide shade. Prayer handkerchiefs are a scam nowadays.

    I think the general principle of the Commission can still be followed, but I agree with you, Phil, that there is a harvest right before our very eyes.

    When reading the Bible, we must always remember that it was written FOR us, but not TO us. Who was the audience? The Twelve (Eleven).

  3. I don’t agtee with you here Yomi, I believe the Commission was given to the church if that is the case, why are we attempting to take the gospel to the world, we don’t need to if the commission was only for the Apostles correct? When Christ said “upon this rock I will build my chuch” is that rock Peter? The Apostles? No it was the fact that “Jesus is the Christ”. We are to fulfill the great commission as Christ’s church.

    Phill N,

    As it relates to your question on selling everything, Christ uses hyperbole often in His statements. When He says a man must “hate” his own family in Luke 14:26 is telling us to hate the word is miseo in the greek whcih litarally means HATE not proper categorizing. So what do we do with that. If we are not doing this we are sinning correct? Now we know the answer. Christ often uses hyperbole to get the attention of His listeners.

    So the Great Commission is given to the Church and many contribute to it. Phillip and Stephen were deacons and helped fulfill the Great Comission, You and I wheever we share the gospel, missionaries when they give up careers are all fulfilling the Great Comission, sharing the Gospel with your mother or brother is fulfilling the Great Comission. To say the Great Commission ends on the Apostles is to ignore the very commands given through the Apostles to share the Gospel and to give as Paul thanks the Philippians in Philippians 1 “your participation”. We all particpate thus help in fulfilling the Great Commission.

  4. Lionel,

    I understand hyperbole Brother, and I understand the Greek language, both Khoine and current. I also agree that we are to teach, witness and disciple.

    Can you explain why the signs and wonders in the Mark text aren’t happening today if the Great Commission were truly meant for us?

  5. Phil here is the redering in the ESV

    14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]

    Now if I follow your logic of the Great Commission being only for the Disciples/Apostles based off of Mark 16 something is wrong. The scriptures doesn’t say “and these signs will follow you” it says “these signs will follow THOSE WHO BELIEVE” which would be the recipents of the Gospel not the ones sharing it correct? Let me know if I am wrong here, but those signs and wonders were not to be given to those who preach but to those who belive right?

    Secondly we know that as the Apostles went out that these were occuring with both the Apostles and these gifts were given to those who were not Apostles (Acts 2, Acts 10, 1 Corinthians 12). Now you won’t say that the gifts were limited to the apostles would you? Didn’t more people display some of these signs and wonders than the apostles? So this verse by no means has any bearing on the Great Commission being given to the church.

    Finally if you feel the Great Commission is only given to the Apostles and not the church, why are we still baptizing, teaching and making disciples? We should have stopped with the last Apostle right? I am curious on where you are going.

  6. Lionel,

    This posting was a prelude to the next two….and I apologize for not making that clearer!

    People like the GOD Channel and a host of others claim to be following the great commission. Usually with these ministries one of two things happen…either false signs or no signs at all. Is that really following the great commission? IMO the answer is no they are not.

    Are we called to teach, witness, disciple and baptize? Absolutely. Are signs and wonders following those who believe? I don’t believe they are or if they do, it is a rarity.

    I have no doubt that you are a believer. Did signs and wonders follow you when you believed? If not then why not?

    What I think I will do is do a posting on a ministry that claims to be following the great commission that isn’t. I promise I will be VERY specific brother. This posting will clear up for you exactly what I believe! Give me a couple of days!

    PS. Had I gone smash mouth, I would’ve been more clearer. Oh, learning is so hard lol!

  7. Those gifts were to validate the New Covenant, once that was established we don’t need signs and wonders. We are those signs and wonders. The very fact that I am converted brother is a miracle in and of itself!

  8. Hi kaitlyn,

    Thanks and welcome to Theology Today!!!!

    I like your comment very much! It’s a wonderful way to start my day!

    Why would you hate to be me kaitlyn? Is what I’m doing unbiblical? Am I teaching heresy? Asking for donations so I can go on a mission er..vacation? Lying about people? Gossipping?

    Maybe this blog struck a nerve? Maybe this blog has shown you that the ministry that you donate to or think God has called you to be apart of isn’t biblical?

    I notice you are missing some Scripture references in your opinon of my time before the Lord? Any reason for this kaitlyn?

    Thanks for making my day a little brighter!!!!!!

    Phil

  9. Lionel,

    I thought so as well!

    Maybe I should have began this article like this;

    “This is my bible, it is what it says I am……”

    What do ya think?

  10. Yeah, but when you say that you should say:

    I am an underserving recepient of Grace. I should be cast into hell but God being rich in grace and mercy, made me alive! I think Ol’ Joel could aleviate most of his parking problems with that alone! LOL!

    Phil: LOL……What about the “s” word? You know………..SIN! You’ll never hear him say that word either!

  11. Interesting article. I have been thinking lately about how Jesus did specificaly target the great commission to His disciples. And to a great extent the gospel has been proclaimed to all nations. There are very few unreached people groups left in the world today. However there are many people in developed nations that have never had an accurate presentation of the gospel.
    In regards to the signs and wonders. There are many signs and wonders being performed by christians in the world today, really the only groups that don’t see signs occuring are the ones that don’t believe they do occur anymore. I’d have a hard time attributing all healings and miracles to Satan (though there may be some), thats dangerous stuff. Also most of the miracles are happening in third world countries. Just take a look at the ministries of people like Rolland and Heidi Baker. Miracles are happening today.

  12. Phil

    I agree with you completely on the “great commission”..Some have tried to introduce the idea that the commission was given to the church among our people called “hardshells”. They led many astray but we
    continue to hold to the cessessionist position.

    An unworthy servant

    Elder Frank Thomas

  13. Phil,

    What is the significance of the differences in the 2 texts you provide, one text instructs the proclamation of the gospel, and the other instructs to “disciple” the nations.

    • Hi Paul,

      The difference is this. Proclaiming the Gospel is the beginning of the whole enchilada if you will. Its fairly simple to proclaim the gospel and in reality anyone can do it. A simple reading of 1Corinthians 15:1-4 is all that’s really needed and hopefully the Holy Spirit breathes life into the hearer.

      Disciplining is different. It takes time to teach others what the Gospel actually means but more importantly how to live that Gospel daily. Its an ongoing process and is meant to be done with great patience which is why Christianity is supposed to be done in communion with other believers.

      That’s the short version.

      Phil

  14. Phil,

    Though I disagree with the tone and manner of some of your responses, I agree with your position on the G.C. If every believer is required to “go into all the world…”, then there would be no local church. Christians would basically be nomads who never put roots down anywhere because it would take more than a lifetime to reach every part of the world. But that is not what we see in the NT. We see believers belonging to local congregations. Indeed, we do see some individuals doing “the work of an evangelist”, but that is not the intent for all.

    Another angle: In Mk. 16:15, Jesus tells the eleven to “preach the gospel to all creation”. So did they? Look now at Col. 1:23. Paul reveals that the gospel was indeed preached “in all creation under heaven”and that he, Paul, was specifically made a minister of that gospel. So we see the G.C. was fulfilled in that short amount of time (only with the help of the Holy Spirit). To further back this up, see Rom. 10:18. “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

    James

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I hear the “I disagree with the tone and manner of some of your responses” from folks sometimes and they never seem to point out what I said or how I said it that they thought was wrong. Will you please direct me to a comment in this particular thread that you found that supports what you have just said?

      Thanks James,

      Phil

  15. Phil,

    The response to Kaitlyn seemed particularly retaliatory and a bit uncivil. I believe her statement was uncalled for, but I don’t think fighting fire with fire is the best way to handle criticism. Simply asking her to explain herself might have been a good start. Anyway, I think you have a pretty good forum here, and I was dissappointed to see it tainted by unsportsmanlike conduct on both sides.

    However, I do appreciate you inquiry about my comment.

    Back to the G.C….. How did you come to your current view on the Great Commission? My background was very traditional in that respect, and it wasn’t until I was out of high school before I was able to see the inherent contradictions in the mainstream view of Mt. 28 etc. I am just curious about what brings others to this most unpopular stance that we share.

    Thanks,

    James

    • James,

      Thanks for the response. Kaitlyn is one of the 100’s I am forced to deal with because of this site. Hit and run “how dare you” comments and, well, when you get enough of them you sometimes let them have it. I do appreciate your insight and will keep that it mind. Thank you!

      Answering your question is easy. I studied this specific passage in order to determine the legitimacy of one ministries claims that they were following the GC. They weren’t doing any of the commands of Christ. All they were interested in is “go” and please give me the dough so I can “go”. The other thing that convinced me was what you stated earlier. Who would serve the local body if everyone were commanded to “go”? One final thing was the Greek terms and grammar. Its obvios that we aren’t all commanded to “go” but we are commanded to serve which includes making disciples of all men.

      Thanks,

      Phil

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