Here is the command stated again:
“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).
All new Christians are to be taught to obey everything Jesus commanded, including this command. This means that the Great Commission is self-perpetuating. Each generation of Christians is supposed to hand it off to the next generation.
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria . . . Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:1b, 4).
In the first century, thousands of Christians left Jerusalem, preaching the gospel everywhere they went. But the apostles (the official “evangelists”) stayed in Jerusalem.
We would be concerned if we knew that there were active terrorists in every neighborhood. What we don’t realize is that the Enemy has such spiritual terrorists everywhere. Is the world concerned that we have active, effective evangelists in every neighborhood? If we did have them, believe me, the Enemy would take every means to silence them. We do have them, but they are not being effective. It seems that our sleeper cells went to sleep.
“I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you” (Acts 26:16).
“Go! This man is a chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
“At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the son of God” (Acts 9:20).
The common element in these three verses is that the Apostle Paul was sent as an evangelist at the time of his conversion. His position as an evangelist is one of the reasons the Bible gives for his conversion, and upon being converted he became that evangelist without further training or growth in the Lord. We might conclude that Paul was unique in this and that the rest of us cannot, nor are we expected to, follow this pattern. Or we can say this is God’s requirement for us all. The apostle says exactly that in his second letter to Corinth:
“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:15–21).
When Paul speaks in verse 15 of “those who live,” and in verse 17 of, “anyone in Christ,” he is clearly not speaking of himself alone, but of all believers. He goes on to say this: “who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” The “us” is “anyone in Christ.” Therefore, anyone who is in Christ, as soon as he is in Christ, is immediately commissioned in the ministry of reconciliation at his conversion. The ministry of reconciliation is not only given to reconciled men: it is given at the moment of reconciliation. The demon-possessed man Jesus healed is an example of this:
“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed” (Mk. 5:18–20).
God has given us the ministry and the message. We are to preach the Word everywhere, just like the new Christians in Acts.