In the period up to the crucifixion of Jesus, it became very clear that the leaders of the Jews hated Jesus. Jesus exposed their hypocrisy and this made them even angrier. However, the day did come when Jesus was crucified. After he was resurrected, the scriptures say “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.” (Matthew 28:16). It was here that Jesus gave them their great commission. We can find it the key verses for this article, Matthew 28:19-20
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 28:19-20
These words were Jesus last commission to his apostles. They were words which go to the very core of a man or woman’s life and what they must do. These were the conditions of salvation being offered:
- Belief of the gospel of the Kingdom of God
- Obedience in all things commanded.
The salvation being offered is not possible without these three things.
Peter on the day of Pentecost preached the word of the Lord to the Jews who were there. The Jews asked a question of Peter and the other apostles – “Brother what shall we do?”.
We can see Peter’s response to their question in Acts chapter 2 and verse 38:
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”
Whilst Paul was in Athens he preached to those gathered at the Areopagus:
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Baptism is an act of obedience, in which we receive remission of sins and are united to his name. This is why it is necessary to receive salvation. Even Christ himself, though sinless, was baptised in the Jordan River. This act showed us an example of obedience. He said to John the Baptist, who was reluctant to baptise him:
“Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matt. 3:15
God immediately recognised this righteousness by saying:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17
Baptism saves “by the answer of a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21). When you’re baptised,it is the sign by which we become sons and daughters of God and members of the seed of Abraham in Christ Jesus through the everlasting covenant. We begin a relationship with both God and Christ. This is what it says in Galatians chapter 13 and verse 27:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Endure throughout your life being obedient
As we saw in the Matthew 28:20 quote (above) we are to “observe all that I have commanded”. This will involve facing trials in your life. Christ himself was “tried” and “made perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10: 5:8, 9). He warned his disciples that they likewise would be tried in their lives and he gives examples of these in Matthew chapter 10 verse 19 to 22. But then it says in the last part of verse 22:
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
In our modern society we may not suffer the same persecutions that the disciples did back then but may be times we suffer persecution.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Some of us may suffer severe persecution in their life whereas others may suffer very little persecution. For some of us, the trials in our life may involve fighting against ourselves – we find ourselves drifting away from God and towards the world and what it offers.
Whatever the trial, it is only for a time, and if once we are saved we shall be saved for ever. Therefore it is up to each one of us to follow in the footsteps of Christ and the Apostles, no matter what opposition we may meet.
Besides baptism and the obedience to all commandments, there is another aspect to Matthew chapter 28 and verses 19-20.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them….
Jesus is also commanding that believers go out and preach among the nations.
Paul is a great example of one who worked hard preaching. He was very good at organising and helping others so that they themselves would become workers for God. Others were baptised and created ecclesias (churches) based on what they had learnt from the apostle Paul. Believers who came in contact with Paul, but more particularly his own converts, were inevitably influenced by his missionary enthusiasm. The Thessalonians were a excellent example of this and as a result they received commendation from the apostle in 1 Thessalonians 1: 6-8:
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
The Thessalonians are a good example of what the words of Matthew chapter 28:19-20 truly mean.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them …teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
This teaches us what it means to go out and preach. We can learn a lot from Paul’s example and also from those who he had converted. Preaching involves a body of workers who have been instructed in the Word of God and have the internal fire of missionary enthusiasm to go out and tell the world about God’s plan. It means avoiding lethargy which leads us to doing little to preach God’s word. It should be possible for every committed disciple of the Lord Jesus to find in the Gospel a message which he or she can with joy and conviction proclaim to others.
We are to preach of the saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and also of the coming kingdom. We therefore need to be very clear about the central issues of salvation. With this knowledge in our mind, we can’t help but to go out and proclaim the Gospel with optimism as we talk about the coming kingdom of God. It is a wonderful place promised to all those who love God. Surely those who possess a “blessed hope” are not going to keep it to themselves, but, grateful to God for His grace in Christ Jesus, will dedicate themselves with great optimism to its proclamation to others.
Things God wants you to know
Matthew chapter 28 and verses 19 to 20 are important verses where God gives us information that he wants us to know. We are to firstly, believe in the gospel of the Kingdom of God and repent. Secondly, be baptised. Third, be obedient in all things commanded. These are the only way we can achieve salvation and be in the future Kingdom promised by God. As believers, we then need to preach the gospel to others so that they will come to learn of God’s wonderful plan for this earth.