Matthew 28:16-20—Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, 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 alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Introduction: Humanly speaking, the survival of Christianity depends on the child of God, and by extension—the church, obeying God’s clear command given us in this passage. I don’t believe this is an exaggeration. Of course, I understand fully Christ’s declaration, “…and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18b)
His promise will never fail. Perhaps it would help to understand what I mean by way of illustration.
If you, as you read this, are a child of God, are genuinely born again, it is because you have believed The Gospel of the Lovely Lord Jesus. No doubt, you have what we call, a testimony. The story of the events that took place in your personal life that brought you to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Your testimony is important. I often encourage Christians to write their testimony down in the front of their Bible. One day, your family and a preacher will be blessed to read it. But for the sake of this conversation, I would like to look at yours and my salvation, in relation to how it fits in with this passage of Scripture. Take a moment with me, and think about what has taken place for you to have heard The Gospel.
In context, each of the five passages we call “The Great Commission” are given after Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and about 50 days with His disciples. These Words are some of His last instructions before He ascends into heaven. Three years of eating, sleeping, and teaching these men… is wrapped up with four sentences. …less than 60 words. How devoted were these saints of God after they were given this sacred trust? (1 Thessalonians 2:4—But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.)
The Pharisees: Tormented and tortured the apostles
Paul: Persecuted the Christians
Nero: Persecuted Christians by feeding them to wild beasts, and burning them.
Dark (Middle) Ages: Foxes Book of Martyrs.
Anglican Church: Chased Christians across the sea to the New World
Persecution of Baptist in America
There is a long, unbroken chain of children of God, that started with a handful of men all the way back on that hill in Galilee, each link represents a faithful child of God who gave the Gospel to someone, who gave the Gospel to someone, who gave the Gospel … Each one being faithful with this sacred trust (1Thes 2:4) and who obediently proclaimed the Gospel over and over, baptized believers, and made disciples. Generations of saints we will see in heaven one day, resisted peer pressure, persecutions, popularity, and prosperity, and were martyred down through the ages, all the way to you. Imagine yourself as the last link in this chain of saints. Now it’s up to you. You’ve been called into active duty. What are you going to do?
Pause for a moment, and chew on that thought for a minute. Try to imagine the long line of our brothers and sisters in Christ, beginning with one of these Apostles, one by one, traveling through all the generations, ending with the one who led you to The Saviour. Ponder how many times this chain, that ends at your soul, could have been broken. Think about the one who led you to Christ. What if no one shared The Gospel with that person? Now multiply that by 50-60 generations! My soul! Talk about the mercies of God! I challenge you to spend some time meditating on this truth. As you sit in a comfortable church, being fed from the Word of God, resting in the fact that God has declared you righteous, realize it took two events for you to have a chance to receive such a gift. First, God the Father had to raise Jesus up from the grave, after He died as a sacrifice for your sins, and was buried. Second, someone had to tell you that He did so. In between these two events are millions of opportunities the chain could have ended. This truth should do two things for us. First, this truth should make us eternally grateful. Second, as the Apostle Paul asks, “what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6)