The Great Comission - Our Marching Orders


Ryan Hayden Mark

Take your Bibles with me and turn to Mark 16. I told you last week that I was going to preach one more message in Mark and it was going to be just on one verse - verse 15. Mark 16:15 says:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Have you ever heard of Hiro Onada? Hiro Onada was a Japanese soldier during world war 2 who was involved in the battles with America to retake the Philippines.

During a battle for one of the outlying islands of the Philippines, the Japanese were getting beaten by the Americans and Onada and a small group of soldiers were ordered to take to the hills and carry on Guerrilla attacks.

That was 1945. Onada obeyed those orders and stayed in the hills, carrying out guerrilla attacks for 29 years. He refused to believe that the war was over and just kept obeying his orders. It wasn't until a superior officer came to the jungles of Japan with a written letter from the emperor of Japan that Onada surrended. Before his superior officers disappeared he was given orders and He was going to obey those orders until his superiors told him to stop.

Before Jesus went into heaven at the end of his earthly ministry, He gave Christians some marching orders. You can read it here in Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

This command is actually recorded for us five times. I want to take the time to look at each one:

[Mat 28:19-20 KJV] 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.

[Luk 24:47-48 KJV] 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

[John 20:21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

[Acts 1:8] But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Every one of those verses has the same context - Jesus has risen from the dead and is speaking to his disciples about what they are supposed to do next. Jesus is giving his disciples their marching orders.

And then you can read Acts (and we did a whole preaching series on the book of Acts) and you can see that the Christians obeyed those orders. Not at first. At first they huddled together in Jerusalem, but God brought persecution and the Christians scattered around the whole world preaching the gospel.

These passages are usually called "the great commission." The word commission is defined as:

an authorization or command to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts...a formal request to produce something (especially an artistic work) in exchange for payment.

In other words, a commission is a job you are given to do.

I could summarize my entire message this morning with a simple sentence:

We have been given a job. We have been given marching orders.

But that would be a really short message. And Adam and the ladies getting ready for our meal would not be happy with me. So I'm going to give you four points about this job today. You can think of it as a job description or a job contract.

Let's pray and we'll get into our message this morning.

The first thing I want to talk about is ...

1. The job assigned - who is supposed to do it?

Some people think this great commission was just given to the apostles. Some people think it's just for people in the ministry. I don't think either of those things are right.

This job wasn't given to Jesus' apostles, it was given to Jesus' disciples.

The apostles were the original 12 - the 11 plus Paul. But all of us are disciples. Disciples are anyone who is following Jesus with their life. You are a disciple and I am a disciple and we are all supposed to go and carry on Jesus' message.

So this job was given to all those who follow Jesus, to be carried out, generation after generation, until Jesus comes.

Now we see this in the early church. For instance, the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, one of his missionary converts:

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Of course the mission of preaching the gospel to every creature wasn't going to be done by 12 men. It was going to be done by all followers of Jesus.

The point is that if you are a follower of Jesus, you are supposed to be obeying this command. Even today. Even in Mattoon Illinois in 2019. If you are following Jesus you should be a fisher of men.

This is our job to do.

Listen, I've done contract work before, where people give me a job to do and then leave me alone to do it, and do you know what? You always have to answer to the person you worked for eventually. And I believe we believers will answer to God for whether or not we've been faithful in doing our part in this great commission.

This isn't just for pastors. This isn't just for missionaries. It is for every believer. Every follower of Christ is supposed to be reaching people with the gospel.

So that is the job assigned - it's been given to us to do.

Let me give you the second point. Again, looking at Mark 16:15:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

The second point is...

2. The job defined - what exactly are we supposed to do?

Our job is simple - preach the gospel to every single person. Make sure that every single person, every creature, has the opportunity to understand and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our job is to preach it. To proclaim the good news. To share the message. To tell people about Jesus and what He has done and how they can be saved.

Now notice, Jesus didn't say "Go ye into all the world and get everyone to come to your church program." This isn't about growing our church. In fact, I think church growth can be one of the biggest cop outs and excuses for not sharing the gospel out there.

The great commission isn't about people coming to our church - it's about people coming to Jesus. It's not about people following Ryan Hayden, it's about people following Christ.

I'm going to level with you - for a long time I thought about evangelism in church growth terms. I thought the primary purpose of evangelism was growing our church. I know a lot of you might think that way too. But God dealt with me about this.

Evangelism is not an invitation to church. It's an invitation to follow Jesus Christ and accept what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross.

In other words, the great commission isn't "come and hear" it is "go and tell." The first word here isn't "come", it is "go".

Of course I want people to get to a good church and to grow in their walk with the Lord. Of course I want people to follow Christ with their life and be discipled. That's a part of the great commission too according to Matthew 28:19-20.

But the part we see here in Mark, is just preaching the gospel to every creature.

Which brings me to...

3. The job scoped - who are we to preach to?

The verse says we are to preach the gospel to every creature.

There are currently almost 8 billion people on the earth. Every day about 350,000 people are born and every day about 140,000 people die.

Our job as believers is to make sure that every one of those people has the opportunity to trust Christ as their savior. Look! That's a big job.

Look again at Acts 1:8 with me:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth

Jesus was telling the disciples here how their evangelism would play out. They would start there and work their way outward. But I also think He was giving us a pattern here.

Start in your Jerusalem - that's Mattoon. That's Gays. That's Trilla. That's Humbolt. That's your family. That's your coworkers. Start there.

I believe that we have a responsibility to our city - to share the gospel with everyone we can and to give everyone the chance to respond to the life saving message of Christ. Listen, you are fooling yourself if you think everyone in Mattoon, IL knows the gospel.

We talk to people all the time that don't understand the gospel and who have never had it clearly explained. No doubt there are people in your family or in your workplace who have never heard the gospel explained clearly. You have neighbors who have never understood the gospel. We need to tell them. Preach the gospel to every creature.

I know it's old school and I know people hate it, but one of the best ways to accomplish this today is just to go door to door. I don't think that's all we should do, but I don't know of another way to reach "every creature" than just showing up at their door and trying to talk to them.

It starts here. But then it says "in Samaria" - that is the surrounding area. We can think of that as the United States. I think if our church is faithful we will be sending out brothers and sisters to start churches here in America. There are several towns in our area that don't have like minded churches and there are many places in our country where there just aren't good churches. Our church could be instrumental in starting some.

The church I grew up in in New Hampshire wasn't huge. In their heyday they probably ran 300, but most of the time they were much smaller than that. But it was influential in starting six or seven different churches in the area.

Rather than see our church have three hundred people on Sunday, I'd much rather see our church break off on purpose and start a church in Neoga, or start a church in Sullivan or Shelbyville. I'd love to see people from our church leave to start churches in other cities. God will bless that. That's part of the job.

And then it says "unto the uttermost parts of the earth", that is why we send out missionaries and support missionaries. We want to try to support people going to where there isn't gospel preaching churches.

One thing I would love to see in our church is for us to get more involved in foreign missions. That doesn't mean taking on more missionaries, but it means going on missions trips, really getting to know the missionaries and their fields, trying to help them all the time. Really partnering with a few missionaries.

So we need to preach the gospel to every creature, at home, around the country and around the world. That is our job. But before I move on to my last point let me make one more observation:

It says here in Mark "preach the gospel to every creature."

The gospel isn't just for people like us. Again, I'm speaking from my own experience here. We live in a divided time when people literally hate their neighbors. We are so polarized between left and right in this country and the talk radio shows and the cable news just feed that anger and hatred all the time.

And what starts to happen is you begin to think that God can't save people that aren't just like us already. That the gospel is for white, middle class conservatives. But that's not who we are called to preach the gospel too - we are called to preach the gospel to every creature.

Listen, if God can save a guy who was literally rounding up Christians to send them to jail, who was breathing out threatenings and slaughterings and lying in courts to make sure that Christians go away and then turn that guy into the apostle who wrote half of the New Testament - God can save anyone.

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 6 for a second. 1 Corinthians 6:10-11:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

That's bad news isn't it. It says you can't go to heaven and be a fornicator or an idolater or an adulterer or effeminate. You read the list.

But look at the next verse:

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Listen to me, God can save anyone.

  • I believe that God can and has saved gay people.
  • I believe that God can and has saved famous rappers.
  • I believe that God can and has saved murderers on death row.
  • I believe God can and has saved politicians.
  • I believe that God can save anyone.

"And such were some of you."

Look, if He can't, then the gospel isn't by grace anymore. The gospel becomes by grace through faith, not of works accept the work of not committing certain sins before you heard the gospel.

God can save anyone, even people we don't like. Even a wretch like me.

Even people like me. They all need the gospel. They all need to hear what Jesus has done for them. Every creature.

Now, let me give you the last point and then we'll close for invitation...

4. The job supplied - how are we to get it done?

Look at our text one more time:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Now look at the next verse:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

God has promised that when we preach the gospel, some people will believe it and be saved. Not everyone. Not even the majority of people. Maybe a small minority - but some will believe and be saved.

Do you know that advertisers spend thousands and thousands of dollars on ads that 99% of people will totally ignore. Those flyers you get in the mail that get chucked in the trash - you aren't alone there. 99 out of 100 people throw them away too.

So why do the advertisers do it? They do it for the one who doesn't throw them away. One person out of 100 will read that ad and think "you know, I really do need a new knife set" and will call with a check or money order.

Listen, when we share the gospel - most people are going to reject it. That's just a fact. It was the same with Jesus. It was the same with the apostles. Most will reject it. But not all will reject it. Some will hear and understand and believe and God will change their life.

They will become the

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

And listen, some people who hear it and reject it initially will hear it again, and again, and maybe totally ignore it for awhile, but years in the future that seed will take fruit in their life and they will believe, and you'll be a part in that. Because this is God's work.

1 Corinthians 3:7

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Look, do you know what that means, that means it's not your work it's God's work and you just have a small part in it. You can mess it up, you can be rejected, and God can use it because He wants people to be saved more than you and I do.

God just wants us to be faithful, to carry out our marching orders.

Now let me close by asking a simple question - when is the last time you told anyone about Jesus? When is the last time you shared your testimony with someone or struck up a friendship with the hope of sharing the gospel with someone? When is the last time you gave out a gospel tract?

We've been given our marching orders, we've been given our job, we need to be faithful in doing it.