Great Commission Proofs for Church PlantingBy Dave Harvey
October 27, 2020
The Great Commission Collective is a family of churches joined together to plant churches and strengthen leaders. Our very name reflects our collective conviction that the Great Commission triggers the church’s call to witness and multiply.
The Great Commission starts with the glorious gospel, fastening the mission of God to the triumphant reign of Christ secured by his death and resurrection: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The reality of Christ’s authority forms the foundation for the mission of church planting. The Great Commission announces that the contract is inked, the rights are reserved, and the deal sealed: Christians can serve God’s warrant of good news to a broken world. We get the wild privilege of telling lost souls they are loved… and wanted by a risen Savior. As Matthew records:
“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)
This Great Commission was entrusted, not just to the Eleven apostles who walked with Jesus, but to the Eleven as representatives of the church. This means we are all in view when Jesus delivers this historic address. This conclusion is drawn from the following 4 proofs:
Proof #1: The Commission is a command.
If you will grant for a moment that the apostles were commanded to teach Christ’s followers “to observe all that I have commanded you” (v.20), then we can infer their instruction would include obedience to the Great Commission. If we deny this logic, the church should not teach everything, nor would we baptize, since these duties would have been given only to the apostles. Thankfully, most people believe the obvious reading of the passage.
When it comes to the Great Commission, the Eleven received it and we finish it.
Proof #2: The Commission’s scope.
“Make disciples of all nations” (emphasis mine). Is it possible that these eleven men could circulate to “all nations” of the entire earth? The obvious and technical answer is not-by-a-long-shot. It’s evident that other people—a lot of other people—are in view here. This is why Great Commission Collective is dedicated to planting churches globally.
The Great Commission is not merely North American in scope–nor European, or African, or Australian, nor merely the seasonal scientific community of Antarctica. The commission is in effect until every nation, tribe, tongue, and people have been gospelized.
Life all believers, we believe in the day where every people, tongue, tribe, and nation will be around the throne praising God Almighty and shouting “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” as living testimonials to the gospel’s power to rescue those in sin. To achieve that end in eternity, we give ourselves to fulfilling the great commission today.
Proof #3: The Commission’s duration.
The “end of the age” referenced by Jesus didn’t refer to the next few weeks following their mountaintop goodbyes. The Apostles may have been special, but they certainly weren’t eternal; they, too, would ultimately pass. That means the “you” referenced in verses 20 and 21 refers to people beyond them, those who outlived them and who would be born and saved after them. Christ is speaking to the Eleven and to the church lasting to the end of the age.
This helps explain the coming of the Holy Spirit and his indwelling of all believers. The Great Commission could not be fulfilled unless all believers were empowered by the same Spirit that filled Jesus in his earthly ministry. Because Christ’s perfect sacrifice was accepted by the Father, the church now has power and purpose—to see the gospel spread across the globe for the glory of God.
Proof #4: The Commission’s application.
If Acts and the remainder of the New Testament chronicle the early disciples’ understanding and application of the Great Commission, local churches seem to emerge as the fruit, focus, and fuel of missions. Paul’s missionary journeys are essentially church planting ventures. From Acts to Revelation, the missiology of the New Testament is primarily church based and church generated.
The eleven Apostles received the Great Commission but the church must complete it. John Piper writes, “It was not only given the apostles for their ministry, but was given to the church for its ministry for as long as this age lasts” (Let the Nations be Glad, p 174).
Jesus gave us a Commission and ensured, by empowering of God’s Spirit, that all believers can fully participate in it. Whether we are sharing the gospel personally as witnesses or participating sacrificially in church planting, we are playing our part in the Great Commission. As GCC pursue our passion for global church planting, my prayer is that we remember these four proofs and use them to inspire our courage to satisfy our call.
If you are looking to plant a church and would like more info on the Great Commission Collective, get acquainted by reading Is the GCC Right for You?, then review our Church Planter Profile. Then, Start the Process.