“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18–20 NIV)
Wow, that’s a big job! The Great Commission is one of the most important and final assignments Jesus gave us after His resurrection before He returned to heaven, which is why we refer to it as the Great Commission.
The Great Commission is the foundation of why we do evangelism and missions in the church today.
So why is it one of the most ignored commands in the Bible?
Well, there are a number of reasons. But at the end of the day it comes down to understanding why the Great Commission is important and understanding it as a command for every Christian to share the gospel to the world around us.
The Great Commission isn’t exclusively the job of preachers and missionaries to tell other people about the need to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! It’s every Christian’s responsibility to share their faith regardless of age or stage of life.
I was once asked why it is important for us to teach the Great Commission to our students. Here are ten reasons why today’s students need to have a deeper understanding of the Great Commission.
10. The Great Commission engrains a lifestyle of missions and a focus on evangelism in students’ lives.
What we do as adults is forged in our student years. Studies have shown that the commitment to attending church is diminishing with each new generation. Logic would indicate the same outcome for our willingness to share the gospel with others. If we establish a lifestyle of missions and evangelism now, this way of living will hold stronger in adulthood.
9. The Great Commission deepens the student’s relationship with Christ.
The more we understand God’s call in our lives, the more likely we are to hear His guidance each day!
8. Students are the best at reaching their fellow students for Christ.
Our worldview is solidified in our teen and young adult years, and we are less likely to accept Christ the older we get. So it is important for students to share their faith with their friends in hopes of reaching them before their hearts harden to hearing the truth.
7. The Great Commission forces us to dig deeper.
In college, I quickly learned of the challenges that come at you when you are away at school. I thought I was solid in my understanding of the gospel, but I was quickly approached and challenged by those wishing to twist the gospel. I was not afraid to share my faith because the Great Commission was emphasized by my student leader at church. When faced by nonbelievers, I had the courage to dig deeper, to defend my faith, and to challenge their lies. If I had not understood the importance of the Great Commission, I would have likely just walked away.
6. Sharing our faith is not a “one and done” tactic.
We are told to “go and make disciples,” which isn’t convincing someone to repent and then leaving them without further instruction. Instead, it’s important to build a relationship and mentor others so they can grow in their knowledge and understanding of the faith and in their relationship with Christ.
5. The Great Commission is NOT optional.
Jesus commands us in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” He doesn’t ask us to consider telling others about Him when it is convenient. As Christians, we are all expected to share our faith daily.
4. If we don’t share, they won’t know.
Who first shared Jesus’ love with you? Ask your students who introduced them to Christ. These people did so out of obedience to the Great Commission. If we ignore this command, the world around us will miss out on having a relationship with Christ.
3. We are on a time crunch.
We do not know when the Lord will return to bring his people home, and those who have not made Jesus their Lord will not have another chance. We have to get busy, no matter what age we are. There are no retirement clauses or restrictions for when you can start sharing. Christ calls us to be His representatives from the day we accept Him into our hearts to the day He returns or our life is over. Get busy!
2. There are grave consequences for others if we don’t follow the Great Commission.
We know “whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). If our students do not learn to live out the Great Commission and share their faith, there may be people in their lives who will face eternal condemnation as a result. Is this something they want to live with?
1. It’s NOT about US!
We live in a world today that thrives on self-satisfaction. Students want to be active and feel good about doing things for others. Doing things for others is great! Volunteerism among students and young adults is at a record high. The challenge is when the good feelings wear off, they walk away in search of the next way to make themselves feel good by helping others. The Great Commission is an order for all of us to take the love of Jesus to the ends of the world. It will be tough at times, but it is a job we have to do because the stakes are high!
Brian Holt is the Royal Ambassadors and Challengers coordinator for Tennessee.