Matthew 28:11-20 Part 11


There is another “great commission” in the Scriptures… other than the one we’ve been considering here in the text.  And it’s not specifically found in the great prophetic works that we’ve referred to so often with Jesus’ words.  It’s not found in the Psalms, or in Isaiah, or in Daniel.  And it’s not found in the big theological letters of Paul (Romans or Ephesians).  And it’s not even found in the glorious Revelation of St. John.

In fact, if we searched and searched through the Scriptures we wouldn’t be able to find anything that even came close to the comprehensive power and glory of the specific words and phrases of our Lord Jesus Christ as He commissions His apostles.

But even though the words and phrases aren’t there – specifically - there is another place in Scripture where the full intent and content and concept of the great commission appears.  And that place is – In the Beginning.

“In the Genesis… God….”  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Before… there was no space, no stars and galaxies, no earth, no time.  The “universe” didn’t exist.  And God, in Whom there is all power and authority, brought it all into existence by the Word of His Power.  He “Spoke”.  And it was.  Moses writes, “God created….”  The Hebrew word is bara – “to make from nothing.”  By the Word of His Power, God brought it all into existence… where nothing existed before.

Similarly, the apostle John begins his Gospel with these words,


“In the beginning was the Word.  And the Word was with God; and the Word was God; and without Him nothing was made that was made.”


“The Word” – O Logos – Lord Jesus Christ.  “I AM.”  “I AM THAT I AM.”  “I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE.” WAS. IS. SHALL BE.  “In the beginning was the Word….”  “In the beginning God….”

By the Word God brought the universe (the cosmos) into being… – … space; and the earth.  And He made light and dark (and periods of time).  Then He made the stars and planets.  Then He separated the waters from the waters, and the waters from the dry land (making boundaries for each).  Then He made all plant life, and, subsequently, all animal life.  Then, last (and separate from all other life) He made man.


“Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.’”


“Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”


So, a man, with an appropriate helper (that’s what “helpmeet” means), was given the power and authority to “have dominion” over all living things (a kingly task); multiply (bring forth many men to fill the earth); and subdue it all (bring it all into order; submit it to man’s authority – under God).

This is called “the creation mandate”.  In simple terms, God says… “this is why I made you.”  “Man in My image does these things….”  Birds do what they do because I made them birds.  Fish do what fish do because I made them fish!  Spiders do what spiders do because I made them spiders.  Now, “man in My image” does these things because I made them “man in My image”!!!

“Man in the image of God” on earth was in communion with God; and he heard and responded to the instructions of the One Who created him.

He was to 1) fill the earth; and 2) subdue it; and 3) have dominion over it.  And he was to do all his work in six days… resting the seventh.  And there were blessings promised for obedience; and there were curses promised for disobedience!

And, of course, you know the story.  This individual man, the first one, rebelled… wanting to be “as God”.  And all the curses promised by the “covenanting Creator” faithfully came to pass!

Man in the image of God had “estranged” himself from God; he had become unholy and unclean by nature; and he had been irrevocably cast from the presence of God (death).  We won’t go through all the effects of “the fall”; but the entire creation suffered the ill-effects of the curse.

And here is the “root” of the issue with respect to the individual and the great commission… (the two great commissions).  The ill-effects of sin and the curse were devastatingly comprehensive!  Man, of a “sin-nature”, is forever at enmity with God… having no capability to please Him in any way or at any time!  This condition is his individually; and there is no possibility of his amending, or changing, his condition. So, there’s the very root of the issue!

So, “man in the image of God,” the first man, the representative man, the “federal head” of mankind… was cursed by God and died!  And thereafter all his progeny would be born in that same condition.  Individual, personal judgment by God – the root of the issue.

All men would be at enmity with God… doing what was right in their own eyes; and the earth would not be filled with righteous men… subduing it and having dominion over it in the Name of God the Creator!  Instead, it would be filled with rebellion!!  Individual, rebellious men!

But!!  God loved His creation!  And filling it; and subduing it; and bringing it under His Kingly dominion was covenantally commanded!  And what He has commanded to be accomplished will be accomplished!

And what was required was a new beginning.  A new Genesis.  A new creation.  It was necessary that there be a new federal “Head” of mankind (the first one had a “sin” nature!).  The sanctions of the curse had to be completely satisfied (for the first one); the full debt had to be paid (for the first one); a perfect obedience had to be substituted (for the first one).

And when all of this took place God would be satisfied; and He would be reconciled to this depraved and cursed creature called “man”!

God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son… to do that!  The apostle Paul, in Second Corinthians chapter six, says:


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation… that is, that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the Word of reconciliation.”


So it is Jesus Christ the resurrected Lord Who has reconciled individual men to God.  It is Jesus Christ the resurrected Lord Who is the new “federal Head” of mankind.  The sin of man was imputed to Him; and He received the covenantal payment for it.  And His righteousness is imputed to us!  Man couldn’t do anything about his condition; but Jesus did!

And that Word of reconciliation is now to be preached to the nations of the world!  Do you see the connection between the Great Commission and the creation mandate?

The Word of reconciliation must be preached (and taught); and men must be “rebirthed” into our “new Adam”.  We have to have a new beginning; we have to have a new authority; we have to have a new nature; we have to be made new creations in order that we fulfill God’s original creation mandate!  Be fruitful and multiply.  (Fill the earth with Godly offspring.)  Subdue the earth and have dominion over it.  Be “vice-regents” of God, and rule the cosmos in His Name and by His holy Law-Word!

The first Adam did not do that.  But the second Adam is our new beginning.  He did that in the place of the first Adam.  And that Word of reconciliation is now to be preached.  And He sends His apostles with these words…


“All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given to Me.  Having gone therefore disciple the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to keep all that I did command to you.  And, lo, I with you AM, even until the end of the age.”


I am the second Adam; and I shall have dominion!  I have kept My Father’s Word; and now I have been given all authority in heaven and upon earth!

All His authority is behind the command.  Therefore what would be absolutely impossible is now an assured reality!  What God commanded to be done (which Adam did not do), is now to be done by Christ.  Whereby, before, all who were in union with Adam were in union with his rebellion and his sin and his death.  Adam is the father of all who come after him in natural succession.

BUT, all who are in union with Christ are freed from sin and the curse and are now set free to obedience in covenant succession!  Not in “natural” succession (as from Adam), but in covenant succession through Christ!  And we do that-which-Adam-was-commanded-to-do in the beginning!

You see, there is a covenantal obligation (it is not a suggestion).  All who are reborn in Him are obligated to make disciples… teaching them that Christ is the Owner of all things; and that His Word is absolutely authoritative!  And they can’t do that on their own… they’ve already failed in Adam, you see!

But in Christ there is the proliferation of Godly offspring; and there is a subduing of the earth; and there is dominion over the cosmos!  In the Name of Christ, and under His absolute Authority!  He has commanded it, and it will be done!  Where Adam failed… Christ did (and is, and will) succeed!

Now, we are looking at the implications of the Great Commission for individuals… I know.  But what I’m about to say applies to individuals; because individuals ought to know this.  It’s important!

What is it? Discipling the nations, and teaching them all that the Word has said, and confronting them with the authority of Christ… is not just to be seen as the salvation of individuals!  Although that’s important it’s not the broad picture given us in the Great Commission or in the creation mandate!

Our religion today is so intent on personal salvation and on the “inner”, spiritual person, that the original mandate and the Great Commission of Christ for His Church have “faded” into the background of the Churches’ mission!

The view of the creation mandate was cosmic order and dominion!  And, now, the view of the Great Commission is cosmic salvation in which cultures, societies, nations and families (as well as individuals) are Christianized!  Whole pagan cultures are to be turned to Christ; and the mark of God is to be placed on their bodies; and they are to be taught the transmitted (spoken) message of Jesus Christ.  The Word, O Logos, is to be spoken to every area of life; and it is all to be passed from faith to faith – generation to generation!

And, you see, this isn’t “another” cosmology; it isn’t an alternative cosmology; it isn’t one of several cosmologies… this is the cosmology.  It is an ordered creation as God intended it when He created it.  Not just the limited sphere of the “inner personal life” (as evangelicals would have it), but to bring every realm of life into account.

Since Jesus’ authority is unlimited and comprehensive, all realms of life are accountable to Him.  As Paul wrote in the second chapter of his letter to the Church in Philippi:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”


So you see that it isn’t “inner spiritual life” that we’re talking about here… but it is the individual in outward submission to ultimate authority!  It is outward confession; it is bringing thoughts and words captive to Christ; it is submitting the daily operation of the home and business to the dominion of the King; it is outwardly disciplining the tongue; it is doing the definition of love; it’s doing the works of repentance and faith!  It’s teaching them to “keep” all that He did command to us!

Our Lord Jesus Christ has won the Headship of it all, as Paul says in Ephesians chapter one:


“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the Fullness of Him who fills all in all.”


His salvation and authority are overwhelming; and all the powers and governments and principalities and dignitaries and headships must be confronted and altered!  Listen to Paul again in Second Corinthians ten:


“…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ….”


They are all pervasively corrupt (these governments and headships and principalities), because depravity extends to the far reaches of society.  It permeates it all!  But, you see, the salvation extended to the world by Jesus Christ the Lord is not only salvation from sin, but it is cosmological salvation from the implications of sin!  The entire world order operates better when it has turned from sin to do what is right under the authority of Christ the King!  And it is the responsibility of the individual, by the obligation of covenant succession, to confront the institution (the world order) with its accountability to Christ.  It’s the only way to be set free from the guilt of sin, and it’s the only way to be set free from the power of sin… the implications of sin!  And since it’s the only way, it’s your obligation to confront the world order with the Word of God!

The apostles were the foundation of the New Temple of God; and they were the first-fruits of the Gospel.  But we (of the nations) are their fruits and the continuation of the Kingdom!  It has come to us by covenant succession!  So there’s no possible way to separate ourselves, individually, from this commission!

We are not apostles… but we are confessing believers.  We confess to being reborn in Christ.  Therefore we result from the Great Commission and the work of the apostles!  And our duty, in the age in which we live, is to continue their work – in our own situations and in our own callings.  Individually we are responsible to see to it!  Whatever our callings, the Churches are to be established; and the peoples are to be confronted with the authority of Christ and His commands.  It’s our obligation!

The goal…?  Everything is to the glory of God; but, the goal is the original creation mandate!  Subdue the earth.  Bring it under the authority of Christ and His people.  Replenish it with Godly offspring.

Each individual is to do that under the rule of Scripture, each in his own situation.  And, remember I said… “under the rule of Scripture.”  One can’t come out from under the rule of Scripture in order to address the mandate.

A woman, for example, isn’t to step out from under the rule of her husband in order to begin preaching and ministering to the nations!  As responsible as we are to continue the Great Commission, we are not to break the rule of Scripture in order to do it.  An elder can’t do that; a deacon can’t do that; a minister can’t do that….  Nobody has absolute authority; so how can one take himself out from under Christ’s authority?  One can’t bring “accountability” to society and culture and families if one is not, himself, accountable!!!!  (Funny how that works.)

Now.  Quickly… our motivation.  Jesus, our ultimate authority, commanded us to do it!  And He also teaches us to pray for it!  And He wouldn’t command us to do it; and He wouldn’t teach us to pray for it, if it were not to be done.  How “inane” (or vain) it would be if the King should command us to do it and not provide for it to be done!  Or to pray to Him for its accomplishment… yet refuse to hear the prayer, and not provide for, and execute, the result!  So the motivation for us is too simple!  (It’s why I’m in the pulpit… I want to be involved!)  Jesus has commanded it; He’s required us to pray for it; and it’s going to be done.  The nations will be discipled and brought under the covenant and confronted with their accountability to Christ the King.  And they will be taught to keep all that Jesus commanded.

And since He will do it, the motivation is to be involved.  Will you be involved in it?  Or will you just “go along for the ride?”  Many, who call themselves believers, just sit back and watch.  They wonder why Jesus hasn’t done much lately.  That’s deadly.

Some check out of society and check in to a monastery (there are a lot of different kinds of those) in order to pray and deal with that “inner self”.  That’s deadly too!

Others have too pessimistic a view to be effective at all.  They’re paralyzed with fear!

But I’m getting off track.  The point here is… Jesus Christ our Lord has been given all authority in heaven and upon earth.  And you as an individual believer, under the rule of Scripture, need to be an active participant in His dominion mandate.

We’ll have one final look at the Great Commission the next time we meet and our series in Matthew is over.