OUR GREAT COMMISSION Part 3
“Go Ye Therefore”
1. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 28, where we will read the account of the 8th time the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples following His glorious resurrection from the dead. When you have found Matthew 28.16, stand for the reading of God’s Word:
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 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.
2. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that great London preacher of the 19th century who was so much in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, and who so lifted up Christ in his preaching, referred to this location on the mountain as “the trysting-place their Lord had fixed.” What is a “trysting-place”? “A place for a meeting, especially a secret meeting of lovers, a rendezvous.” How appropriate of Spurgeon to think of that meeting in this way, the Bridegroom meeting with His Bride before ascending to His Father’s right hand.
3. And what happened at this meeting? A number of wonderful things. Let me mention but two: First, a large group of Jesus’ disciples obeyed Him. It’s always good to obey the Lord Jesus Christ, and one never goes wrong by obeying the Lord of glory. Amen? In the Christian life, obedience to Christ is paramount.
4. Second, when they saw Him they worshipped Him. Some doubted, but then some always doubt. But what does it mean in this verse, “to worship”? The Greek word here is proskunevw. It’s built on the word kunevw, which means “to kiss.” The word proskunevw was used by Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, as the word for the custom of prostrating oneself before someone and either kissing his feet or his garments as a gesture of complete submission to his authority or to acknowledge your complete dependence upon him.
5. Whenever the Christian worships, whether it is by singing hymns, by the giving of tithes and offerings, in offering up prayer, while sitting under preaching, or when we join together to evangelize our community, these acts of worship should be expressions of a heart that is bowed before Him in submission and dependence.
6. Before this morning’s sermon I want to focus your attention on three words in our text, three words that take on a world of importance to those who emulate Christ’s disciples by first obeying Him and then by worshiping Him. Do you seek to obey Christ in all that you do? Do you then bow your heart before the Savior, your Master, your liege Lord? Is it your heart’s desire to cast yourself down at His feet, as the four and twenty elders do in Revelation 4.10-11? Do you want to hereby love the fairest Lord Jesus?
7. To that rare individual who has such desires as these the short phrase that we focus our attention on this morning is pregnant with meaning: “Go ye therefore.” What does this mean to the real Christian?
1A. First, There Is The Command To GO
1B. As has been pointed out to you folks on numerous occasions in the past, there is only one verb proper found in the Greek verse from which this is translated, and that’s the word maqhteuvw, which we will deal with more fully next week, the Lord willing. The word in our phrase that’s translated “Go” is what’s called an aorist passive participle.
2B. Listen to what Spiros Zodhiates, a well known authority on the Greek language, says about the function of the aorist participle: “The Aorist Participle expresses simple action, as opposed to the continuous action of the Present Participle. It does not in itself indicate the time of the action. However, when its relationship to the main verb is temporal, it usually signifies action prior to that of the main verb.”
3B. What does this mean? Zodhiates is telling us that the very construction of this word “go” in the Greek language of Jesus’ day shows us that before the action of the verb is accomplished the action of this participle must be accomplished. In other words, they will not succeed in making disciples unless this command is addressed to get up and go.
4B. Why are we seeing few conversions here at Calvary Road Baptist Church? Is it because we are sowing “out of season”? We are surely in a dry season. Or is it because you are staying home on Saturday night instead of going out with us? You won’t know that until you either get to heaven or you faithfully participate in our Church’s outreach, will you?
5B. Don’t expect the lost to come to us when it is we who are to go to them. And don’t expect disciples to be made, sinners to be won, unless first we go get them and compel them to come in, as our Lord Jesus taught.
2A. Next, Notice That The Phrase Reads “GO YE”
1B. The Greek phrase that translates “Go ye therefore” actually consists of only two words, with the first word in the phrase meaning “Go ye.” It is an aorist passive participle, as I mentioned before. But it’s an aorist passive participle that just so happens to be second person plural, poreuqevntes. Thus, it is correctly translated “Go ye,” and means “Go you all” or “Go you people.”
2B. If you are discerning you will detect here a Scripturally sanctioned method imbedded in the Great Commission itself. Pastors who are pragmatists not bound to Scriptural methods, and who are concerned with nothing but sociological manipulation as a means of increasing attendance in their Churches, will oftentimes say, “We change methods but we never change our message.” That sounds nice enough, but it ignores the fact that our message in great measure dictates our methods.
3B. Folks, our Great Commission is actually our marching orders, the directive of the Captain of our salvation for us to get the Gospel to a lost and dying world of sinners who are alienated from God. If we change to the approach of attracting people so that they just stream in because they like us so much, then we can be sure that we are doing something terribly wrong. You see, the whole point of the Gospel is that men are sinners, at enmity with God, in rebellion toward Him. So, in order for sinners to like us so much that they just stream in to hear our message we will have to become so much like them that we no longer reflect or project any likeness to God.
4B. Consider this as well: Let’s say some person in our Church never participates in our outreach, which is an integral part of the Great Commission. Do you realize that such negligence creates serious problems evangelizing any sinner who is invited to Church by that person? That’s right. It’s decisionism that separates obedience from conversion. But real conversion is not only a conversion to sins forgiven by Christ, but also a conversion to obedience to Christ. Do you doubt what I say? Then what do you think Ephesians 2.8-10 means? “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
5B. You create problems for that person you want to get converted when you succeed in inviting him to Church, and then when he gets under conviction and comes to talk to me about getting truly converted. If you do not participate in our Church outreach that lost friend will eventually put two and two together and will ask me if he has to go out in order to get converted, because you don’t. But what the Spirit of God deals with him about as a sinner he has to deal with if he wants to get converted. Can a sinner get converted while grieving the Holy Spirit about the sin of not seeking the salvation of the lost? No. Thus, if you do not go out evangelizing then one of us will be discredited to the friend you invite to Church, either you or me, either decisionism or the real Gospel.
6B. If you are discredited to your friend there is a great risk that he will no longer respond to your invitations to come to Church. After all, why come to Church with a Church member who is at odds with the pastor? If I am discredited to your friend there is a great risk he will no longer respond to your invitations to come to Church. After all, why come to Church with a Church member whose pastor is at odds with him?
7B. Therefore you see, the Lord Jesus Christ has left those of us who are His disciples no wiggle room. You and I have to be agreed on this issue of going out as a Church to try and get sinners under the preaching of the Gospel. If your desire is to serve Christ you must realize that you simply cannot serve Christ without participating in our Church’s effort at going to get sinners into Church. There is no spirituality apart from throwing yourself into the struggle to bring the lost to Christ. And there is precious little Christianity apart from throwing yourself into the struggle to bring the lost to Christ.
3A. Finally, The Phrase Reads “GO YE THEREFORE”
1B. The little word that’s translated “therefore” is pronounced ou\n. Here is how the word is defined in the Greek lexicon: “inferential, denoting that what it introduces is the result of or an inference from what precedes.”
2B. Again, we ask what this means. It means that the natural and direct result of Christ’s authority over all things in heaven and in earth is His right to wield that authority by commanding you to devote yourself to the Great Commission. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore.” Let me paraphrase our Lord: “Because I have been given all authority in heaven and in earth I will, therefore, use that authority to command you to go.”
1. Let us understand something, Christian, before I bring this morning’s sermon. The Spirit of God is not only the Agent of the new birth, He is also the Agent of the heart’s preparation for the new birth.
2. When the sinner is being prepared by the Spirit of God for conversion that sinner will not be converted who stubbornly refuses to yield to the Spirit’s persuasions and demands about sin. In other words, there will be no conversion when the sinner is consciously and stubbornly refusing to give up a sin the Spirit of God has chosen to deal with him about.
3. Therefore, it should not be thought either unusual or outrageous for the Spirit of God to deal with sinners today as the Israelites were dealt with in days gone by when they refused to turn loose of their sins: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone,” Hosea 4.7.
4. Do you think, then, that you will bring a friend, a neighbor, a coworker, a relative to Church and see that person converted so long as you refuse to put into practice in your life what is integral to the life of every Christian? It won’t happen. Try as I may to deal with that sinner, so long as he thinks he can refuse to give up a practice that you are holding on to he is grieving the Spirit of God and will not become a Christian.
5. In other words, I think you waste your time when you bring someone to Church while, at the same time, refusing to go out with the rest of us. When that lost person becomes aware that the entire Church goes out, but you don’t go out, someone’s credibility will suffer . . . either yours or mine. Either way, it’s bad for that lost person we would both like to see come to Christ. Amen? This is why it is so important for us to be like-minded, to be of one accord.
6. And now, brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we sing hymn #459, “Fairest Lord Jesus.” Let’s stand.
1. To us has been given the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the authority by which He has commissioned us is the authority which He was Himself given by God the Father, authority that extends from heaven to earth and all parts in between.
2. So, how are you and I to discharge this commission which we have been given? By what means are we to make disciples for Jesus Christ? We have learned during the exposition a few minutes ago that we are to go.
3. There are two ways the Christian is to obey the Lord Jesus Christ and go:
1A. First, There Is The Way Of Going That I Have Labeled UNSUPERVISED EVANGELISM
1B. This is the approach to evangelism that I taught every Sunday morning during the Sunday School hour, from the Spring of 1998 to the Fall of 2001. For 3 ½ years I educated and encouraged you in matters related to what some call personal evangelism. And during that period of time I dealt more thoroughly with showing you how to reach your friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers than you would have been dealt with had you attended a theological seminary.
2B. But I don’t like to call this approach to evangelism personal evangelism because all real evangelism is intensely personal. Instead, I would rather call it unsupervised evangelism or unorganized evangelism, because it’s an evangelistic effort that you do on your own, apart from a regular activity of your Church and typically not in conjunction with other members of your Church.
3B. If you live your life the way God wants you to live your life you will make contacts with other people. There will be members of your family, associates with whom you work, neighbors you live near, friends with whom you come into contact during recreation and exercise and hobbies, and those folks you cross paths with as you go shopping or yard sale hopping. These are the lost people who are the targets of unsupervised evangelism. These are the lost people who are the targets of your evangelistic efforts when not supervised by me.
4B. As well, these are the people who are most directly affected by your personal testimony and reputation. These are the ones who will judge such things as your personality, your meekness of spirit, your willingness as a wife to deflect praise to your husband rather than taking it all to yourself, your cheerfulness, and your hospitality.
5B. These are the people our Church will never have an opportunity to reach corporately. Yet they are just as lost, with spiritual needs that are just as great, as any sinner we strive to bring to Christ as a Church. And your personal responsibility to do your best to reach them is just as pressing as is your personal responsibility to participate in our Church-wide effort at bringing the lost to Christ.
6B. This personal responsibility was recognized by the apostle Paul, and it should be recognized by each of you. He wrote, in Romans 1.14, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” He had a moral obligation, as one who knew Christ, to do what he could to bring others to Christ. And you have that same moral obligation.
7B. If you do not seek to bring this type of person to Christ by bringing this type of person to Church, where he will encounter the means of grace, then you commit sins of omission by not doing what your Master obviously wants you to do. So, go in this way.
2A. As Well, There Is The Way Of Going That I Have Termed TOTAL CHURCH OUTREACH
The Great Commission was given to the Church, not to Christians as individuals. The body of instruction on the Church that we find in the Gospels and the epistles, especially those written by the apostle Paul, show us that Christ’s plan is for us to live our Christian lives corporately and in conjunction with other Christians. Not only are we not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, Hebrews 10.25 (with the thrust of that verse meaning that those who do not assemble with the Church are not real Christians), but our great evangelistic enterprise of seeking to fulfill the Great Commission is also, in the main, a corporate effort.
Let me, for a few minutes, contrast the decisionist method of Church evangelism with the Biblical method of Church evangelism that we seek to employ here at Calvary Road Baptist Church.
1B. First, There Is The Decisionist Method
This is the method that was popularized by the well-known fundamental Baptist pastors and evangelists who were so prominent from the 1950s through the end of the 20th century. And though this method of evangelism is still used by some Churches, it has been generally abandoned or de-emphasized because of one undeniable fact: Those who actually come into the Church are not those who were supposedly won to Christ via this method.
And what is this decisionist method? It began as door to door evangelism, whereby a soul winning team that had been taught various skills and techniques would go to someone’s home unannounced, and deal with them for a few minutes using a Gospel tract or a predetermined series of verses. At the conclusion of the presentation the sinner would then be persuaded to pray and receive Christ and the soul winning team would go on their way to win someone else to Christ.
The problem, of course, is that almost no one ever gets converted that way. People pray that way. People ask Jesus to come into their hearts that way. But people do not get converted that way. And here is why that approach to bringing people to Christ doesn’t work . . . .
1C. First, that is an approach to evangelism that simply does not recognize the depths of human depravity, assuming that sinners tell the truth, when the Bible clearly shows that sinners do not tell the truth, Jeremiah 17.9: “The heart is deceitful above all things.”
2C. Second, that is an approach to evangelism that excludes the Spirit’s ministry. No one would deny that Jesus taught that the Spirit of God’s ministry in a sinner’s life is to reprove of sin, righteousness and judgment, John 16.8. But decisionism assumes that as soon as the Gospel presentation has been completed the sinner will always be ready to come to Christ. But where is the Spirit of God in this? And by what right does anyone assume the Spirit of God will operate according to any human time table? Does not John 3.8 speak to this? “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Therefore, how dare a so-called soul winner presume that the Spirit of God has finished His convincing work just because the soul winner has finished reading his Gospel tract?
3C. Third, decisionism is an approach to evangelism that denigrates preaching. In First Corinthians 1.21, Paul declared preaching to be the preeminent means of imparting grace to sinners: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Yet most decisionists assume that most conversions to Christ come from door to door soul winning and not Gospel preaching. This is the reason why one of the most prominent “soul winning” pastors of recent times actually bragged that he did not preach the Gospel in his Church, even though he criticized his childhood pastor for not preaching the Gospel the one time his own father attended Church! Yes, preaching has fallen into disrepute these days, and is therefore for the most part abandoned as God’s primary means for converting the lost. But did the apostle Paul not anticipate this attitude toward preaching by the unconverted? First Corinthians 1.18: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
4C. Finally, decisionism minimizes the importance of the Church. What happens to the sinner who isn’t converted the first time he hears the Gospel (which is the vast majority of the time)? What do you do with him? Decisionism doesn’t recognize the need to get sinners into Church, under the sound of the Gospel, thus minimizing the importance of Church attendance as a means of grace. But did not Jesus teach, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled,” Luke 14.23? Will a sinner get converted who refuses to come to the Lord’s house? No.
5C. As I said before, door to door soul winning was popularized by big name preachers of days gone by. But these days big Churches no longer emphasize such an approach to evangelism because they recognize that it simply doesn’t work effectively. More effective is the marketing strategy of Church growth, whereby a Church is sold as a commodity to the unsaved of the community in an attempt to persuade them to attend and then to commit themselves to the Church. But even this new development is decisionism, with no preaching on man’s depravity, no preaching the Gospel at all in most cases, and no place for the ministry of the Spirit of God (though He is frequently talked about).
2B. In Contrast To Such An Approach There Is The Biblical Method Of Evangelism
It must be recognized that during times of revival startling conversions will take place. But we do not live during a time of revival. There is no great moving of God in our midst as He is doing in other parts of the world. Therefore, we are careful to make use of those Biblical methods of evangelism that are suited for our time and for the condition of those we seek to reach.
1C. A Biblical method of evangelism seeks to recognize the depths of human depravity. The heart is deceitful above all things. The heart is desperately wicked. Sinners will lie, even when it’s in their best interests to tell the truth. What method takes into account the sinner’s depravity? The method that makes sure the sinner is dealt with by someone who is profoundly convinced of the sinner’s depravity. And that method is the method that we use here at Calvary Road Baptist Church, with sinners dealt with carefully and cautiously, with hopeful convert’s testimonies scrutinized, and with great care taken with each precious soul.
2C. A Biblical method of evangelism seeks to recognize the necessity of means. God makes use of means. He doesn’t ordinarily hit someone with a lightning strike to bring about his conversion. What means does God use? Several to quickly mention: Prayer on behalf of the sinner, Gospel preaching to the sinner (I’ve already quoted two relevant verses), and Church attendance. I cannot overemphasize the importance of these three means of grace. If you do not pray for the sinner, and if I do not preach the Gospel to the sinner, and if the sinner will not faithfully attend Church, it is unlikely that he will be converted. Decisionism simply does not recognize the necessity of the means of grace, as is evident from the fact that the means of grace is never referred to by decisionists. In all my years as a decisionist I never once heard or read of a decisionist even making mention of the various means by which God communicates grace to a sinner. Thus, it is a part of evangelism that is completely ignored by decisionists.
3C. Finally, a Biblical method of evangelism seeks to recognize the irreplaceable role of the Holy Spirit of God. When the Spirit of God begins to convict a sinner of his sins there are produced a number of indicators of that conviction. Why does decisionism pay no attention to such indications of the Spirit’s work in a sinner? And why, in all my own years as a decisionist, was the human inability to predict the direction of the Spirit of God’s work among sinners never pointed out? I think it’s because decisionism presumes that the Spirit of God must regenerate whoever the decisionist persuades to pray a sinner’s prayer. Thus, the Spirit of God is effectively removed from decisionism’s model of evangelism. What a terrible crime that is.
1. “Go ye therefore.” There are two ways for the obedient child of God to go. You go in an unsupervised manner, as you go through the normal routine of life, and you go in a supervised manner, as a part of our Church’s organized outreach.
2. If you do one and not the other you are not going. If you show up on Saturday night and participate in our organized effort to bring visitors in, but do not seek to bring in your friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers, then you are not obeying Christ.
3. As well, if you do a wonderful job of bringing coworkers and family members and friends to Church, but do not participate in our organized Church outreach, then you also are not obeying Christ.
4. When Jesus told us to go, He had in mind, and He still has in mind, a life given over to going. And since there are some people who can be reached in one way who will never be reached another way, it is imperative that we go both ways.
5. You may enjoy more success one way than the other way. But there are benefits that accrue to you and your Church via both approaches, so don’t deny to yourself or your Church blessings that God has in store by opting out of one or the other, unsupervised evangelism or our Saturday night total Church outreach.
6. May God bless you as you purpose to bring a friend, neighbor, relative or coworker to Church with you tonight, and as you so arrange your schedule that you participate in our Total Church Outreach Saturday night.
 Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Commentary on Matthew, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), email@example.com
 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 2032.
 Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 882-883.
 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1110.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1991), page 1228.
 Ibid., page 1585.
 Second Timothy 4.2
 Luke 14.23
 Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved.
1 Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner’s standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.
2 R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Today’s Apostasy: How Decisionism Is Destroying Our Churches, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., 1999), page 26.
 Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 736.
 R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Preaching To A Dying Nation, (Los Angeles, CA: Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles, 1999), pages 81-84.
 First Corinthians 14.24-25
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