Go into All the World

Tom Nettles
| Matthew 28:18-20 | May 23, 2017

What is the Warrant to Go into All the world?

The disciples gathered where Jesus had instructed them to meet (28:10). Matthew condenses the post resurrection events to this meeting between Jesus and the disciples. Luke 24 and John 20, 21 include several other events and meetings between Jesus and his disciples. Paul records those other meetings also in 1 Corinthians 15 and Acts 13:31. The command that Jesus gives the disciples here is a summary of all the moral duties that are fitting for the relation of the creature to the creator. The immediate authority of Jesus would be sufficient for absolute obedience, but the intrinsic worthiness of the Gospel is the fountain from which flows the abiding power of this command.

 

I. Note how consistent this command is with the two great commandments.

A. Love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength. Nothing is more worthy of the complete devotion of a creature made In God’s image, than to love God without any reservation, without any rival. The command is not an imposition on the human conscience undeserving of obedience like worshipping the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar. No, this command is entirely consistent with the infinite excellence of the living object of worship. It is absolutely unpretentious, and fully worthy of the most earnest and energetic, unalloyed obedience.

B. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

  1. Intrinsically, as creatures of God, made in his image, every individual of mankind should seek for his neighbor every good that he ought to seek for himself. Everything that fulfills the purpose and potential for which we were created, we should seek for ourselves and we should work for the same thing for our fellow image-bearers. The equal dignity and equal worthiness of every creature makes the second command stand in beautiful symmetry with the first command proves it to be perfectly rational.
  2. As Fallen creatures, we must seek reconciliation with God for ourselves and seek that same reconciliation for our fellow sinners. Nothing is more fitting and nothing is more urgent for the honoring of the name of God and eternal good of ourselves and our neighbors than reconciliation, so nothing should be more compelling to our affections than the ministry of reconciliation.

 

II. All Authority

A. Note the claims of Jesus – Based on Psalm 110. Note that the Psalm represents the Lord giving to the Lord power over his enemies as well as efficacious power to save. “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power.”

  1. In Matthew 11:27 Jesus claimed that “all things have been handed over to me by my Father. He is speaking specifically in the realm of the redemptive purpose of God. “No one know the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” The disciples will go into all the world with the confidence that the Son has saving power.
  2. John 17:2 reaffirmed this as Jesus, in his great high priestly prayer, said, “You have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:27 looks to the final victory over all things after Jesus’ resurrection with the same attribution of authority, “For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”
  4. This post resurrection authority is give even more detailed description in Ephesians 1:20-22: “He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

B. As Son of God, eternally generated by the Father, he possesses naturally authority over all things. In eternity, the Father committed to the Son the function of creating this word and sustaining it (Hebrews 1:3, 4a; Colossians 1:16, 17). And all judgment has been committed to the Son (John 5:22, 23).

C. As Messiah, having come to redeem, authority “has been given” (Matthew 28:18).

  1. As “Son of Man” Jesus has been given authority to execute judgment ( John 5:27-28). As the Messiah in whose name redemption comes, judgment to the unbeliever also comes.
  2. Philippians 2:9, 10 show that as a result of his humiliation, “even the death of the cross,” God has exalted him and “given him” the name that is above every name. This particular exaltation is given to him, as merited by his perfect obedience.
  3. Hebrews 1:4, 8, 9 – Having become as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high. Having loved righteousness and hated wickedness in his role as the new covenant head of his elect, God “anointed him with the oil of gladness” beyond his companions, but for the sake of his companions.

D. “In heaven and in earth” – His fulfillment of the covenant of redemption has consummated the purpose of the heavenly counsels. He seats at the right hand of the Father interceding for his people so that not one of them will perish. On earth he has sent forth his Spirit to convict and convert his people (Acts 2:33) so that as many as are ordained to eternal life will believe (Acts 13:48).

 

III. Go – A participle to be taken as a command deriving its force from the imperative make disciples.

A. The words “Make disciples” has the force of giving instruction of such a nature that it creates submissive learners.

  1. They are to teach and preach in such a way that human sin is defined clearly and the need for salvation is established without equivocation.
  2. They are to define repentance and faith so that the fitting response to the gospel will be understood and they will be drawn to trust in the completed work of Christ.
  3. They are to teach the character of God with clarity and establish his sovereignty over all things even in the midst of human sin and presumptuous arrogance (Acts 2:23)
  4. They are to proclaim the certainty judgment on the basis of the work of Christ Acts 17:31).
  5. They were to teach all the elements of the gospel and the eternal purpose of God in glorifying himself through the grace of the gospel (Acts 20:26, 27).
  6. They were to teach that the inevitable outflow of true faith was holiness of life (Romans 12:1, 2).

B. Of all nations – The new covenant community is the target. The gospel transcends the protection of the purity of Israel. This is one of the reasons the Jewish leaders, were so alarmed at the company Jesus kept. They were the conservators of a revelation that they did not understand. Jesus’ sermon at Nazareth (Luke 4:26-30) evoked a response of hatred toward Jesus and a desire to kill him because of his emphasis on divine sovereignty in giving special blessings to Gentiles even in critical situations in the Old Testament.

  1. This was a fulfillment of what Jesus told the Woman of Samaria in John 4 – “Neither in this mountain nor in that” but in Spirit and in Truth.
  2. This brought the end of the religious state. Th people of God do not inhabit any particular socio-political place but are throughout the world, people of every tongue and tribe and nation. They all will praise him as the Lamb who redeemed men to God by his blood (Revelation 5:9, 10). It is a mistake to seek to reinstitute it or pine for the existence of a “Christian nation.”

 

IV. Baptising them

A. Those so discipled are to be baptized. On the interpretation of this phrase,

  1. Every person, not only every land, is a mission field for this presentation of the gospel for this purpose.
  2. Wherever in the world we baptize, we testify to the enduring nature of the entire command. If we baptize believers here in our home churches, then we confess that all that Jesus said in this command still has authority

B. Trinitarian Formula – We testify to the absoluteness of the Christian message by invoking the name of the triune God at the observance of this ordinance on the one professing belief of the gospel. There is no other God but the God who exists eternally in a fellowship of three distinct persons, existing in the same nature.

 

V. Teaching them to observe all things. – Paul always saw this as consistent with his ministry Titus 1:1 condenses this stewardship with the words, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; to Titus, my true child in a common faith.”

A. All that Jesus taught them to observe during his earthly ministry

  1. Baptism
  2. Celebrate regularly the memorial of his death.
  3. Expect men to revile and persecute you.
  4. Have courage in the face of error and hostility.
  5. Love one another.
  6. Go to the Samaritans; go the Gentiles; preach the gospel to the outcast and to those deeply miserable in sin

B. All that he would teach them to observe through the continued revelatory ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15).

  1. Distinguish between the ceremonial and the moral law that people might understand the nature of saving grace and righteousness (Acts 10:44-48; Galatians 5:1-3; Philippians 3:1-3).
  2. Contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
  3. Cultivate the affections by which the power of indwelling sin will more and more be subdued (Galatians 5:13-16; Romans 8:12-14).