Jesus “Great Commission” … Is it for today?

A friend was leading worship at a town here in North Carolina and preached a sermon on Jesus’ Great Commission: “Going therefore, make disciples of all nations (by) baptizing … and (by) teaching them to pay close attention to all-what-so-ever I have commanded you. For I am with you until the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) After the worship service one of the church’s members came up to him and asked him a question: “Are you saying that the Great Commission wasn’t only for the first century?” My pastor friend was taken by surprise. Where had this man heard such a thing? Jesus suffered, bled, died and rose again for all people of all time, not only for those of the first century. God has only given us two ways to bring this salvation to people of “all nations,” (1) by baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and (2) by bringing this teaching to people in every place and time. Jesus died for the sins of all people but it is through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) that a person receives this precious gift. Even faith is a gift, created by the Holy Spirit through the message (Romans 10:17) that Jesus has taken our sins upon himself, suffered and died in our place, and freely absolves (forgives) us, not because of anything we have done (Romans 4:5) but freely by grace (an undeserved gift). This message of forgiveness is entrusted to each one of us, not only to pastors. It is for each of us to “go” bring this message to all people, not only in the first century but also in our own time. Some who haven’t heard this gospel message live in far away nations and “going” may take considerable time and effort. Others here in America live in places where the gospel is rare. We need not travel great distances, but only do as the Apostle Peter encouraged us in 1 Peter 3:15 – “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect.” As you have freely received the gift of life with God, so also freely pass this gift on to others, that they too may have forgiveness and life with God, for it was not only something for first century believers to do, but also for you and me and all Christians until the day when our good and merciful Savior and Shepherd returns, to gather his sheep into his presence forever.