In the history of the world there have been successive empires, including the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, Roman, Frankish, Mongolian, Muslim, Byzantine, Ottoman, Napoleonic and Nazi regimes. These had a few characteristics in common with each other:
1. Absolute authority
2. Required loyalty to the sovereign
3. Required absolute obedience
The leaders of these empires were not noted for humility, kindness, or love. Submission was largely out of a fear of the consequences. They used the weapons of this world. Although these men had great authority, their empires lasted an average of only 250 years (Napoleon’s and Hitler’s lasted much less).
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me” (Mt. 28:18). That is a lot of authority. He required obedience, but not out of fear. His leadership was one of love, humility, sacrifice, and spiritual power. Many of his followers have lived their lives and deaths in obedience to and imitation of Christ.
When an emperor gives a command, it is personally given to his generals. They in turn give it to all of their officers who give it to the common soldiers. In other words, the commander in chief’s orders are to everyone, not just to the generals. The generals alone cannot accomplish the tasks assigned.
So it is with Jesus Christ’s operational order. It does not apply to the apostles only. They could not do it all. Let us look at the grammar of the order:
“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).
The first sentence is the basis for the command: make disciples of all nations. The second sentence begins with “therefore,” meaning you have no reason to ignore or disobey the command to make disciples (recruiting soldiers for His army). Then He tells the apostles how to carry out this command:
1. Baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
2. Teaching them to obey everything He commanded
Number one is conversion. Number two is the sanctification of the believer. Each believer is to make believers and teach them to obey everything the Eleven were commanded. The Great Commission is to every Christian. If we are not participating in the evangelization of the world at some level, then we are being disobedient soldiers.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’” (Lk. 19:9–10).
“We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost” (Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, trans. A. W. Wheen. Boston: Little, Brown, 1929).
The lostness of the lost! Unlike the soldier quoted above, the lost do not know they are lost. The saved also do not know, or if they do know, they do not care. If the saved do care, they either do not know how to help the lost or they are afraid to help.
*Excerpted from Weapons & Tactics. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.