Jesus came down from heaven to be born of a virgin and live a sinless life. He satisfied the righteous requirement of the law that we have broken, so that He could take our place on the cross as the perfect sacrifice. On that cross, Jesus suffered the wrath of God that we deserve for our sins, satisfying the justice of God. And on the third day He rose from the dead defeating death so that anyone who repents of their sins and trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Savior can be saved from the penalty of their sins and have eternal life with God in heaven forever. This is why Jesus came to earth, to seek and save the lost! (Luke 19:10) And this is also why Jesus doesn't take us up to heaven the moment He justifies us/saves us. He wants us to seek and save the lost as we strive to fulfill the last command He gave us before He ascended to heaven, The Great Commission:
"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." (Matthew 28: 18 - 20)
I. What is the Great Commission?
Answer: There are two aspects to this command, evangelism and discipleship.
1. Evangelism: "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"
2. Discipleship: "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you"
II. To Whom and Where should the Great Commission be carried out?
Answer: To everyone everywhere:
"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." (Mark 16: 15 - 16) (Emphasis Added)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 9And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1: 8 – 9)(Emphasis Added)
1. Start by evangelizing in your own household and discipling your own wife and children since if you are a married man, this is your primary God given ministry:
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6: 4) (Emphasis Added)
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5: 25 - 27)
2. Then proclaim the gospel to the rest of the world (your extended family and friends, your local community, and if you are called, in foreign missions).
III. How should the Great Commission be carried out?
Answer: By delivering the message of the Gospel using Biblical methods and then by developing deep personal relationships for the loving yet intensive discipleship of the new believer within the local church.
1. Message: Preach the gospel including God's Law and His Holiness, our sin and God’s Justice, and the eternal torment of Hell that we deserve for our sins so that people understand their need for a Savior; followed by an explanation of Christ's atoning sacrifice and resurrection, and a call to repent of their sins and have faith in Jesus as both Lord and Savior.
2. Methods: (Every method is to be carried out in genuine love for the person or people you are witnessing to)
a. One on One Witnessing using hospitality: Like Jesus did.
"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9: 9 - 13)
b. One on One Witnessing in public: Like Jesus (John 4: 1 - 45) (Luke 18: 18 - 30), Philip (Acts 8: 26 - 40) and Paul (Acts 16: 13) etc...
c. Open Air Preaching (If you feel called) like Jesus (Matthew 5 - 7), John the Baptist (Matthew 3: 1 - 12), Phillip (Acts 8: 4 - 8), Peter (Acts 2: 14 -41), Paul (Acts 17: 16 - 33) etc...
3. Personal Relationships: Personal relationships can be very important in evangelism and essential for discipleship. Inviting a person to eat a meal with you at your home or meeting with him/her one on one at another location can go a long way to showing someone that you truly care about them as an individual. But I do have a couple of thoughts regarding the place of personal relationships when it comes to evangelism and discipleship:
a. Evangelism: Never wait to preach the gospel. A personal relationship where the person you are witnessing to knows that you care about them can be established in minutes. It is extremely unwise to wait to preach the gospel until you get to know the person better because you have no idea how much longer that person has to live. They could die that very day and end up in hell. To my knowledge, this has happened to me twice. If you love them, you will preach the gospel to them ASAP!!!
At the same time, it is important to show the person that you really care about them. If they need physical help in any way, try to help them; but always preach the gospel. Remember, their earthly troubles are nothing compared to their eternal damnation. Never sacrifice the preaching of the gospel in order to maintain a personal relationship. You need to love God and the person who is on their way to hell more than you love yourself. In the end, the potential loss of a personal relationship is a small price to pay for the opportunity to love that person in the deepest way possible by preaching the gospel to them so that they might be saved from an eternity in hell.
This is the risk that I took when witnessing to my father. For the last 8 years of his life I risked losing our relationship each and every time we got together by persistently urging him to repent of his sins and trust in Jesus alone for his salvation. In the end, even though I don't know if God saved him before he died, I am comforted by God's sovereignty and by the fact that I truly loved my father to the very end by doing everything I could to keep him from going to hell. In conclusion, be persistent, lovingly preach the gospel to the individual until they repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or until they no longer want to talk to you about the gospel.
b. Discipleship: Once a person has been born again, encourage the person to get baptized and then begin discipling them by meeting with them individually and inviting them to church. Developing personal relationships as a member of a local body is extremely important for the discipleship of a new believer.
IV: Why should we carry out the Great Commission?
1. For the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10: 21) out of our love for Him (John 15: 5): "Our greatest concern should be that God's Name be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun (Malachi 1:11), and that the Lamb who was slain might receive the full reward for His sufferings (Revelation 7:9-10)." (Heartcry Missionary Society)
2. God commands us to carry out the Great Commission. (Matthew 28: 18 - 20) and (Mark 16: 15 - 16)
3. So that people will be saved from Hell. (Jude 1: 23)
4. So that people will go to Heaven to worship God forever. (Revelation 21)
5. To talk to others about our eternal Husband, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5: 22 - 32) and (Revelation 19: 6 - 10)
6. So that as a watchmen, our hands will be clean of the blood of those who will end up in hell. (Ezekiel 33: 5 - 6)
V. The Great Commission is 100% dependent on the power and sovereignty of God not on our own human "strength".
As human beings we will fall short in many ways in our attempt to fulfill the Great Commission. We will say the wrong thing or not have the answer to certain questions. We may sin by losing our patience and getting angry during a witnessing encounter. We may be overcome by the fear of man and chicken out of witnessing encounters. We may become distracted and miss clear opportunities to witness. There are countless ways in which we will mess up and even sin as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission. But thankfully nothing that we could ever do has the ability to short circuit God's Sovereignty over the Great Commission. We can take great comfort in the fact that salvation is 100% from God. Our job is only to be His messengers. Every single person that God predestined to be saved before the foundation of the world will be saved!!! (Ephesians 1: 3 - 6) (Romans 8: 29 - 30) This fact should give us great comfort and embolden us to continue to strive to fulfill our roles as ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5: 20) And even when we sin we know that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1: 9) In the end, love God and the lost deeply, pray fervently, preach the gospel at every opportunity, and "run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 1a - 2) And remember, as you try to fulfill your mission, you are not alone. As Jesus promised: "behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28: 18 - 20)