|Posted on March 6, 2019 at 1:15 PM|
The “called out assembly” Jesus promised to build on earth did not come with an organization chart or building plans. Instead, he promised to build the church on himself and gave it a global mission that was entirely dependent on his power and presence till the end of the age. The mission of the church, often referred to as “the Great Commission”, is recorded in Matthew’s gospel as Jesus saying, “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.”
Whatever form this “called out assembly” or church Jesus is building and empowering today takes, it is clear what he said it would be doing. A more literal translation of this mission statement might be, “As you are going make disciples in all nations”. By this statement Jesus implies that his assembly has a message to share with the world. While he offers no specific method for them to use here it is clear that he intends the members of his church to relate to others in such a way as to cause them to be disciples or learners. Previously Jesus had told his disciples that if he be lifted up, he would draw all men to himself. He further assured them that by their love all men would know that they were his disciples. Finally, he had promised them they would give witness to who he was and what he had done beginning in Jerusalem and to the uttermost part of the world. Their mission was to speak the truth in love concerning the good news of all that God had done for mankind through the person and work of Jesus.
This first part of the mission he gave may be thought of as an evangelistic outreach in which the church proclaims the good news to the world. Closely associated with that part of the mission was his direction to baptize them “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”. This instruction is far more than a simple command to perform the ritual of water baptism like John the Baptizer did in the wilderness. While the literal meaning of the word translated “baptize” is to dip, plunge, or immerse the figurative meaning is to be joined together with. It is in the figurative as well as the literal sense that Jesus used this word to describe the process of making disciples so that we understand the good news shared with the world centers around men becoming joined together with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Baptizing in the mane of” is equivalent to “joining them to the identity of” the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Disciples are made when they hear and believe the good news that God has done everything necessary to make them one with himself.
Finally, Jesus commissioned his church to “teach them to observe” his commands. Note carefully that he didn’t just tell them to teach his commands, but rather to observe (to follow) his commands. This part of the mission is a lifetime process of instructing disciples to listen to the voice of Jesus commanding every aspect of their lives. The members of the church Jesus is building do not presume to tell people what they should or should not do, but to listen to and follow personal directions from Jesus. The assembly Jesus is building today is focused on sharing the good news of God, making us one with him, and teaching believers to listen to Jesus for personal direction in their lives. In whatever form and context, it may appear we can be sure the church Jesus is building is focused on this mission.