Ask any Christian about the biblical basis for missions, and most, if not all, of them will point to Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations.”
These famous last words from the Gospel Narrative of Matthew chapter 28 comprise what we know and have been taught as the Great Commission.
“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, ESV).
When we look closely at this passage, we see Jesus uses almost the same word four different times: the word all.
Consider these four “alls” of Christ’s commission:
- “All authority”
- To go to “all nations”
- To communicate “all his teaching”
- Empowered by his presence “all the time” (translated always)
Don’t miss the claims — they’re Bible basics, but they’re beyond enormous!
Jesus claims to have all authority in the universe to lead us on this journey.
He further claims that his teaching is the most important thing in life to follow.
Therefore, he claims that all nations need to know his teaching.
And last but not least, Jesus claims that he will be with us for all time.
Massive claims, and in the literal sense, far beyond incredible — you can’t believe them unless Jesus is God. “If Jesus Christ is who He said He was, then we cannot respond to Him mildly” (Tim Keller, The Reason for God).
When many of us think about entering ministry, beginning a new ministry or joining an ongoing ministry, becoming a missionary, we see the obstacles —
both known and unknown — both obvious and not so obvious, facing us.
Move halfway around the world to live among people who might not want us there and might never care about the message we bring?
Bring a message which in their understanding and belief system is inconsistent and even dangerous to their own way of living, moving and having their being?
Jesus said – Matthew 10:16 (Amplified)
A Hard Road before Them
16 “Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves [have no self-serving agenda].
It is those phrases – “Innocent as Doves” and “have no self-serving agenda.”
Those are very scary propositions!
How do we or should we or could we interpret: “Innocent as Doves?”
Trying to get into God’s way, we can get in our own ways – bring our personal biases, interpretating our life experiences (good and bad and catastrophic), in the process bringing our anger, resentment, hard core prejudices into action.
We can let fear crowd out our faith.
Let “politically correct truth” crowd out what is clearly God’s Truth (John 14:6)
But pause for a moment and soak in this Great Commission passage.
Let the four “all’s” speak peace to your heart.
Jesus spoke these words to give us a task and to give us courage in the task.
The Great Commission isn’t about marketing Jesus.
No matter how eloquently (or not) you proclaim the good news, gospel salesmanship won’t bring the least-reached into God’s kingdom.
These “all’s” remind us that the burden isn’t on us but on the One with quite literally and theologically, ALL OF THE AUTHORITY.
What is on us, however, is the obligation to obey Jesus’ command.
Many of us look for confirmation in a “calling.”
But Jesus didn’t call some (or any) of his followers to his mission.
Rather, he called them to himself and sent them on mission.
If we are indeed 100% genuinely, truthfully, walking with Jesus, this Great Commission command is absolutely incumbent on us all.
Think of it as an implied fifth “all” — a command for all believers.
Every disciple must be a transformational disciple-maker, whether God sends you to your next-door neighbor, down the street or the other side of the world.
As you and I go — to school, to work, to the grocery store, and to the gym — to our large and small churches, our faith communities – live and love like Jesus.
Be confident in his authority. Teach his commands. Abide in his presence.
Matthew 28:16-20 Amplified Bible
The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted [that it was really He]. 18 Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Does the Bible indeed teach that the only “true” way it can help all people face all tomorrows in the power of God’s love is by becoming a diverse and inclusive congregation – multiracial, multigenerational and multicultural – offering all who come to enter its sanctuaries a warm, non-threatening environment to all?
What about churches choosing a different path to fulfill the Great Commission by becoming “Open and Affirming / Welcoming” rather than becoming places of supernatural transformation?
What about those many churches who see themselves as a place that, no matter where one is on their journey of faith, they are 100% unconditionally welcome?
Some within the church choose to believe the only way it can help all the people face tomorrow in the power of God’s love is by becoming a diverse and inclusive congregation – multiracial, multigenerational and multicultural – offering all who come an inclusive, warm, non-threatening environment to absolutely all.
It is believed that by being “Inclusive,” “Open and Affirming,” they show a willingness to offer koinonia, and even future membership to everyone who could be blessed from belonging because they are willing to tackle the severe faith, hope, love, issues of the day with moral passion and genuine tolerance.
Churches that are not “Open and Affirming” have, in their view, adopted a sectarian mentality that insulates themselves from the culture and causes the arson burning of bridges which connect the church with the un-churched.
On the surface that seems reasonable.
Jesus said in John 10:16-18 (Amplified)
16 I have [a]other sheep [beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they will listen to My voice and pay attention to My call, and they will become [b]one flock with one Shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life so that I may take it back. 18 No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down voluntarily. I am authorized and have power to lay it down and to give it up, and I am authorized and have power to take it back. This command I have received from My Father.”
By God’s Command, The Kingdom of God does include all of God’s children.
Jesus came to seek out the downtrodden, He associated with many who were considered outcasts of society, such as a prostitute, a tax collector, and a leper.
He accepted all individuals for who they are, yet not condoning what they do.
No one should ever discriminate against anyone because of their age, beliefs, gender, ethnicity, skin color, sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.
However, the divisive question becomes, does the real meaning behind being “Open and Affirming and Inclusive” as becoming a church that accepts not only the individual but inclusively, specifically their lifestyles and sexual behaviors?
The Authority of Scripture
Based upon the authority of the Old and New Testaments it is evident that normal sexual behavior is that which functions according to its design.
Biblical record reveals sexual union was established exclusively within the context of the male-female relationship and formalized in God’s ordinance of marriage.
The natural order of Creation and empirical Science dictates procreation for the survival of every species
From the beginning, Genesis reveals to us that God created mankind as male and female, to be joined together as a reflection of God’s love and relationship with His bride, the Church universal.
Because God’s character and nature is love, He would never create someone opposed to the design of His natural order, then say it is wrong to be like that.
Same-sex “marriage” is about overthrowing cultural norms that have for centuries set traditional marriage apart from other household forms on the basis of ‘correctness’, tradition, legal precedent, and social-science evidence.
Marriage has always been properly and appropriately discriminatory, as when it denies a man the right to marry his mother, daughter, sister, a child, someone already married or someone of the same gender. (Read the Levitical Codes).
It is erroneous to assert that homosexuals are being denied the right to enter the marriage union when the immovable foundations of natural law dictate that marriage is by definition a heterosexual institution – a union between one man, one woman – because men and women are the only categories of human beings who can ‘procreate’, ‘bear fruit,’ ‘multiply,’ bring forth the next generations.
Limiting marriage to one man and one woman alone cannot be construed to be discriminatory.
It is a necessary condition for marriage.
The church’s moral obligation to protect the sanctity of marriage is based upon creation, nature, human physiology, the authority of Scripture, the protection of family and children, and safeguarding the ability to build strong, sustainable societies based on biblically grounded, biblically sound ethics and moral values.
In the New Testament, the oneness of male and female in marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
Every Believer is to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness – period!
When historical Christian tradition is examined from the first century, and on through the ages, it is seen that the moral teaching tradition of the Christian church has declared any other behavior to be contrary to the will of God.
“Be Ye Transformed”
God gives anyone who humbly surrenders their life totally to Jesus Christ – the Creator, Author of Life, and Lord of the Universe – the ability to be changed if they sincerely desire to be changed. (Romans 10:9-13)
The ultimate challenge for every Believer is to live a holy life by allowing the Holy Spirit to give them a new nature and transform them
“into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
2 Corinthians 3:18 (Amplified)
“18 And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.
If Christians, in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, “openly” welcome people to become a Disciple of the risen Lord and do not teach that, through
God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
they have the power and ability to be changed from the inside out, and they do not have to remain just as they have always been,
living according to the old fallen nature, they negate the work of the Cross and fall far short of being “Warming, Tolerant, Inclusive, Open and Affirming” and fulfilling God’s good, acceptable and perfect will (See Romans 8:26-28, 12:2).
The Apostle Paul writes to us these words in
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (Amplified)
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. 18 But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God].
20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. 21 He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].
For the Church, becoming truly, biblically, scripturally, “Open and Affirming” is to walk in holiness [Ambassadors for CHRIST alone], fulfilling God’s Law through the ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness by loving one another.
All people must openly be welcomed into the church where their individual dignity and legal rights will be biblically affirmed and vigorously upheld.
The Natural Order
I have great difficulty with those who would say that the proof of a transformed homosexual is that they are now a “heterosexual.”
I would feel compelled to argue that God did not create man to be heterosexual (sexually attracted, oriented, to persons of the opposite sex) or be homosexual.
I believe God created humans “asexual’ in the way they are to behave towards one another until marriage. (Psalm 139:13-18 KJV,
Psalm 139:13-18 Amplified)
For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
Much of human “sexuality’ is an environmental and learned behavior.
Many “straight” people assume the natural order is for a man to be sexually attracted to a woman and visa-versa.
For the Christian, I do not see any proof of that in Scripture. Quite to the contrary, I see the Bible saying that there are those who can live celibate lives.
Christians are to treat one another as brothers and sisters – first and foremost. They are one family united by Jesus’ shed blood.
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, MALE OR FEMALE. For you are all Christians–you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28-29 NLT – emphasis mine).
What is called “natural” desire in Romans 1:26-27 makes sense in a procreative sense, but not in a “sexual” sense.
I strongly believe that there are far more heterosexuals who need to have their sexuality transformed and sanctified by Jesus Christ, as there are homosexuals.
If the church is to be a spring of healing and fulfill the commandments of God,
then it must openly offer and affirm to those who desire to be set free – whether it be from their homosexuality or heterosexuality – the way found only in Jesus.
The ultimate challenge in 2022 for every Christian is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform them “into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor 3:18 NIV).
Christians must allow Jesus to be the healer through them by looking at others as Jesus sees them – lost sheep in need of a Shepherd.
Without condoning their behavior, they should let God “work out” the sins and failures of others.
When they do, they will gradually, and prayerfully – graciously, see the lives of literally everyone they touch healed and transformed by God ALONE, into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ thereby fulfilling God’s Great Commission.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God our Father, God, Author of our lives, we thank you that when you are for us, nothing can be against us. We ask you for a miracle, and we know that you will freely give us all things. We thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are at the right hand of the Father, continually interceding for us. We thank you that nothing can or will ever separate us from your love. We thank you that in all these things, we are more than conquerors through you, who unconditionally love us all. Amen.