Last words of Jesus - The great commission

SERMON TOPIC: Last words of Jesus - The great commission

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 12 July 2015


Sermon synopsis: When someone is about to leave us (e.g. death or a departure to a faraway land), the last words they speak are ones that they consider to be the most important. There’s no time for wasted words when you have little time left with your loved ones. You want to utilize what time is left to impact them and, as we see in the case of Jesus, to leave any final instructions.

Among the last words spoken by Jesus after his resurrection and before his return to heaven are the words which have come to be known as: “The Great Commission”:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
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Sometimes we are so close to something we don’t see “the forest for the trees.” We fail to see the big picture.

So let’s have a look at the big picture of the Great Commission rather than just focusing on our own experience in our local area and country.

When someone is about to leave us (e.g. death or a departure to a faraway land), the last words they speak are ones that they consider to be the most important.

There’s no time for wasted words when you have little time left with your loved ones. You want to utilize what time is left to impact them and, as we see in the case of Jesus, to leave any final instructions.

Among the last words spoken by Jesus after his resurrection and before his return to heaven are the words which have come to be known as:

“The Great Commission”

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

Often people ask, “What prophetic event remains unfulfilled to prevent the return of Jesus?”

Well consider this prophecy by Jesus.

“… this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14)



Has the gospel of the kingdom been preached in the whole world?

Have all nations heard the testimony?

1.8 billion people standing shoulder to shoulder would go around the world’s equator 38 times.

1 World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000

In 2007 researchers David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson estimated the number of unreached people to be 1.8 billion people. 1

Bible Translations: There are 6,800 languages with no Scripture translations and no access to the Bible. 1

1 David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, eds., Status of Global Mission, 2006, in the Context of 20th and 21st Centuries, International Bulletin of Missionary Research (January 2006) 2 David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2001)


Unreached Cities: 1,670 metropolises have not been reached with the gospel. 2





Approximate Percentages


Jesus has not commanded us to go into “most of the world”, but into “all the world”. In Rev 7:9-10 we are told that the redeemed gathered before God’s throne consist of “every nation, tribe, people and language.”

Despite Jesus’ command to evangelize, almost one third of the world’s population (28%) – 1 in 3 people - have never even heard of his name.

So while we all look forward to the return of Jesus WE HAVE UNFINISHED WORK.

Oswald J. Smith: “We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” 1

1 Oswald J. Smith (1889-1986) was a Canadian pastor, author and missions advocate.


In “the Great Commission” Jesus instructs his disciples.

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19-20)

“… you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Have we been witnesses to the ends of the earth?

Have we made disciples in all nations?

Have we gone into all the world? Has the good news been preached to all creation?


We have been given a Great Commission, but for many Christians it is the Great Omission.

Hudson Taylor: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

Oswald J. Smith: “Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfil the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.”


As Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations, the logical thing to do is to identify those nations or people groups that have not yet been reached.

As “Great Commission Christians” we need to know where these people are located, so that our efforts in completing the mission will not just be busy but effective.



40° N

10° N

Most of these unreached people live in an area of the world nicknamed the “10/ 40 window.” This is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10°N and 40°N latitude.


An estimated 2.91 billion individuals live in the 10/ 40 Window. The area contains the overwhelming majority of the world’s least evangelized megacities - that is those with a population of more than one million. The top 50 least evangelized megacities are all in the 10/ 40 Window! 1

1 SOURCE: http:// resources/ articles/ 10_40_window



The 10/ 40 Window contains four of the world’s dominant religious blocs. The majority of the followers of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well as the Non-Religious block live within the 10/ 40 Window. 1

1 Ibid


Source: Global Mapping International


The 10/ 40 Window is home to the majority of the world’s poor. Of the poorest of the poor, more than eight out of ten live in the 10/ 40 Window. On average, they exist on less than a few hundred dollars per person per year. There is a remarkable overlap between the poorest countries of the world and those that are least evangelized. 1

1 Ibid







Lack of resources

Uneven distribution of resources


Opposition from atheistic, Muslim and pagan governments.


Disobedient Christians

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 2010, drew more than 4,000 Christian leaders from over 190 nations to Cape Town, South Africa. Mission leaders there said the hardest obstacle to overcome in reaching unreached people groups was the disobedience of Christians.


648 million Christians today (called Great Commission Christians) are active in Christ’s world mission; 1,352 million Christians ignore this mission. 1


In 1900: 14% of all Christians

In 2005: 32% of all Christians 1

While this is a move in the right direction, it still means that two thirds of professing Christians do nothing about this command of Jesus.

1 Table 1-1 in World Christian Trends, William Carey Library, David Barrett & Todd Johnson.




The large amount of nominal Christians



Mistaken belief that it’s not our responsibility

Unnecessary (Hyper-Calvinist fatalism)

Laager mentality of some Christians

Rise of self-centred, self-absorbed materialistic gospel

Q: Why are many professing Christians unconcerned about the Great Commission?



A good Biblical definition of a “nominal Christian” is what Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 3:5, when he speaks of people “having a form of godliness but denying its power”.

As such, nominal Christians have no passion for the lost:

Curry R. Blake: “If your Gospel isn’t touching others, it hasn’t touched you!”

John Piper: “Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak.”

The reason some folks don’t believe in missions is that the brand of religion they have isn’t worth propagating.


Many Christians are unaware of the challenge of the unreached and of their obligation to the lost.

Barna reports that half (49%) of US pastors do not have a Biblical world view! 1

Defining such a world view as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a Biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of Biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize). 1

1 SOURCE: Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross section of Protestant churches.


Out of 648 million evangelical Christians, 70% have never been told about the 1.6 billion unevangelized individuals in the world. 1

Bill Lawrence (President of Leader Formation International): “No pastor is fully obedient to Christ if he does not lead his church to pursue the Great Commission by making disciples both locally and around the world.”

1 World Evangelization Research Centre


Remember as with the law of any country, ignorance is no excuse – it is our duty to be aware of the facts and to read God’s Word so that we know what is expected of us.

Prov 24:11-12 Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? (NASB)


Adoniram Judson (19th century missionary to Burma): “How do Christians discharge this trust committed to them? They let three-fourths of the world sleep the sleep of death, ignorant of the simple truth that a Saviour died for them. Content if they can be useful in the little circle of their acquaintances, they quietly sit and see whole nations perish for the lack of knowledge.”


Adoniram Judson (1788-1850)

Statistics on US Protestant Christians 1

99.5% have never led anyone to Christ.

99% have no passion for the lost. They don’t really care.

86% have never handed out a gospel tract.

68% Could not define “The Great Commission.”



Imagine (if you can) ten Boeing 747 jets crashing daily over the period of a year. 1

In 2013, the equivalent amount of people (4100) died each day from AIDS-related causes.

1 The 747-400, the most common passenger version 747 in service can accommodate 416 passengers in a typical three-class layout.


There were an estimated 12.7 million cancer cases around the world in 2008. This number is expected to increase to 21 million by 2030. 1

1 cancer_statistics/ world_cancer_statistics.php


Most of us know people or have loved ones who have died from cancer or AIDS.

Now imagine if we discovered that someone had found a cure for AIDS or cancer years ago, but failed to share this with the world! Basic ethics requires that if we have this type of good news, we are obligated to share it with others.

In 1843 Sechéle, ruler of the Kwêna people of Botswana, was converted to Christianity by David Livingstone. But he asked Livingstone a question which was difficult to answer.


Dr. Livingstone (1813–1873)

His question was, “Since it is true that all who died unforgiven are lost forever, why did your nation not come to tell us of it before now! My ancestors are all gone, and none of them knew anything of what you tell me. How is this?”

Incidentally Sechéle subsequently served as a missionary among his own and other African peoples. Neil Parsons, of the University of Botswana, stated that Sechele “did more to propagate Christianity in 19th century southern Africa than virtually any single European missionary”. 1

1 SOURCE: https:// wiki/ Sechele_I


Chief Sechele I (1831–1892)

While travelling on a Chinese junk from Shanghai to Ningpo, the renowned missionary Hudson Taylor entered into conversation with a Chinese man who had once visited England, where he went by the name of Peter. The man listened attentively to the missionary’s account of Christ’s saving love and was even moved to tears, but refused the immediate offer of salvation. 1

1 illustrations/ sermon-illustration-sermon-central-staff-stories-evangelismurgency-83309.asp


Hudson Taylor (1832–1905)

In the course of events, Peter fell overboard, but no one made any effort to save him. Taylor sprang to the mast, let down the sail, and jumped overboard in hopes of finding his friend. But no one on board joined Taylor in his frantic search. In agonized suspense Taylor looked around for assistance and saw a fishing boat close by furnished with a dragnet with hooks.

“Come!” shouted Taylor to the fishermen. “Drag over this spot. A man sank here and is drowning!” “It is not convenient,” was the unfeeling reply. “Don’t talk of convenience!” cried the missionary. “A man is drowning.” “We are busy fishing and cannot come,” they responded. 1

1 Ibid


When Taylor urged them to come at once and offered to pay them, they demanded to know how much. His offer of 5 dollars was refused. He then said: “Do come quickly and I will give you all the money I have - about 14 dollars.” Finally, the boat was brought and the hooks let down. Less than a minute was required to bring up the body but all efforts at resuscitation failed. Life was extinct.

To Hudson Taylor this incident was profoundly sad in itself and pathetic in its parabolic significance. Were not those fishermen guilty of the death of the Chinese man, in that they had the opportunity and means of saving him but refused to use them? Most assuredly they were guilty. 1

1 Ibid


“And yet,” says Taylor, “let us pause before we pronounce judgment on them, in case a greater than Nathan answers, ‘You are the man.’ Is it so wicked a thing to neglect to save the body? Of how much worse punishment then, is he worthy, who leaves the immortal soul to perish. The Lord Jesus commands me, commands you: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). Shall we say to Him, ‘No, it is not convenient?’ Shall we tell Him that we are busy at fishing or other business and cannot go?” 1

1 Ibid


You are the man! (2 Sam 12:7)

Many that are aware feel that the unsaved millions are not their responsibility. Let these willingly ignorant Christians note:

Oswald J. Smith: “If God wills the evangelization of the world, and you refuse to support missions, then you are opposed to the will of God.”

J. Howard Edington (Senior pastor of Orlando’s First Presbyterian Church): “People who don’t believe in missions have not read the New Testament. Right from the beginning Jesus said the field is the world. The early church took Him at His word and went East, West, North and South.”


Hyper-Calvinists fatalistically assert that God’s intention to destroy some is equal to his intention to save others. This view holds that it is pointless to tell the ‘non-elect’ to repent and believe the gospel. They believe that an altar call or even Sunday School is unscriptural.

We may ask then why Jesus gave his disciples a Commission if it was unnecessary or fruitless? Why too did the early church bother to go out and evangelise the known world?

It’s just as well that William Carey, the “father of modern missions”, didn’t listen to the rebuke given to him arising from this twisted way of understanding God’s grace.


Carey became involved with the Particular Baptists (Hyper-Calvinists). At a ministers’ meeting in 1786, Carey raised the question of whether it was the duty of all Christians to spread the Gospel throughout the world. An elder pastor, J.R. Ryland, allegedly retorted: “Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine.

To the Hyper-Calvinist who thinks God will do all the work, Paul says of the unsaved, “how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Rom 10:14)


William Carey (1761-1834)

The word ‘laager’ is Afrikaans in origin and refers to an improvised mobile military formation used by the Voortrekkers, whereby they would arrange ox-wagons into a circle as a form of defence for themselves and their animals.

Some Christians are so shocked by the evil in the world that they are just waiting for Jesus’ return, without doing anything in terms of completing the Great Commission. They simply want to gather in a ‘laager’ and “hold out” till Jesus comes back.


To the “Laager mentality” Christians

When Jesus spoke of the nobleman (representing himself) who went to a faraway country to receive a kingdom, and then to return (Luke 19:12-13) – the servants were told to:


Occupy till I come.

Why sit and wait for Jesus’ return when he said the gospel must first be preached to “all nations” before the end comes? (Matt 24:14)

95% of Christian ministers focus on their own people. 1

There are also some churches which teach a self centred gospel and although they have access to resources – they use all these resources on themselves – to build more extravagant church buildings, buy private jets and lavish mansions for the pastor - when others don’t even have the gospel in their language or someone to preach to them.

1 SOURCE: Stan Park, Ethne ’06


No church would dream of having a mission statement stating:

“Our goal is to be a self-absorbed, self-serving church, focusing only on our own needs while ignoring the needs of those around us and in the rest of the world.”

Yet although no church would say this in their mission statement document, many churches say something very close to this in another document that reveals their true priorities - the budget.

97% of money given to the church is spent on the people (directly or indirectly) who give it.


Christians spend more money on dog food than on missions. 1

The average Christian gives 1.8% of their income to Christian causes. 2

Christians make up 33% of the world’s population, but receive 53% of the world’s annual income

and spend 98% of it on themselves 3

1 Leonard Ravenhill 2 Stan Park, Ethne ’06 3 Barrett and Johnson 2001, 656


Let all indifferent and materialistic Christians note:

God doesn’t bless us to increase our standard of living, God blesses us to increase our standard of giving.

John Piper: “God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (no matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized, uneducated, unmedicated, and unfed millions.”

1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.


Christian giving behaviour:

Christians who make $50,000 or more a year only give an average of 1 to 2% of their income to the church. 1

People earning $10,000 or less per year give an average of 10 to 20% of their income to the church. 1

So on average the more money Christians make, the smaller the percentage of money they give to the church.

1 http:// english/ syme/ messages/ d96.htm


Some folk say, “If I get a very good job and make a lot of money, I’ll give a large percentage to God’s work.” But in reality this usually isn’t true. Now, there are some rich Christians who are extremely generous, but on average the more wealthy Christians become, the less they give. Getting more doesn’t mean you will give more; it usually means you will give less.

Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”


Our own vision stated on our church website includes the following 2 points:

To reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ and to disciple them.

To support and encourage the persecuted church in prayer, financially and in person if God opens a door.


Matt 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”


The harvest (of souls) is plentiful…

70,000+ people die everyday in the unreached world without Jesus (in 2007). 1

… but the workers are few…

1 Baxter 2007, 12


Since the time of Jesus, 36.8 billion people have been born on the Earth. i.e. 1 in 6 of all the people born are alive today! This presents us with a unique opportunity for evangelism.



This is not only our best shot at the global harvest; it’s our only shot. When it comes to your target and the direction of your life’s influence, aim well.

Kurt von Schleicher: “Our God of Grace often gives us a second chance, but there is no second chance to harvest a ripe crop.”

We have eternity to tell of victories won for Christ, but we have only a few hours before sunset to win them.


Romans 10:13-15 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”


After the wonderful promise in Rom 10:13-15 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”, Paul asks 4 questions:

How can they call on the one they have not believed in?

How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?

How can they hear without someone preaching to them?

How can they preach unless they are sent?

So we need people who go and people who send.



William Carey: “If you want the Kingdom speeded, go out and speed it yourselves. Only obedience rationalizes prayer. Only missions can redeem your intercessions from insincerity.”


David Shibley: “Not every believer has the missionary gift, but every Christian is called to some kind of involvement in missions. We are called to advance the gospel in some way and to participate in the fulfilling of God’s purposes in our generation.”

While not all can go into fulltime local evangelism or foreign missions, you can ‘send’ or mobilize.


By ‘sending’ I don’t mean simply delegating some unwanted task to another.

‘Senders’ have the responsibility to:


1) Pray

2) Support financially

3) Encourage

When Paul said “How can they preach unless they are sent?” it shows the importance of the home support base for missionaries.

Phil Parshall: “To understand the role of mobilizers, think of World War II as a parallel. Only 10% of the American population went to the war. Of those, only 1% were actually on the firing lines. However, for them to be successful in their mission, the entire country had to be mobilized!”


Always bear in mind though that not only financial resources are needed. Jesus made it clear that the power needed to fulfil this Great Commission would come from the infilling of the Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

And so too, intercessory prayer is vital:

Dick Eastman (author and president of Every Home for Christ): “I am convinced that when we stand before God… we will discover that every soul ever brought to a knowledge of Christ was in some way related to intercessory prayer.”


Sending missionaries or supporting indigenous missionaries.

Supporting Bible translation and Christian literature translation efforts in the mother tongues of the unreached.

Radio/ TV: Regular listeners to Christian programs over secular or religious radio/ TV stations rose from 22% of the world in 1980 to 30% in 2000. 1

Internet: In 2009 alone, Global Media Outreach, the internet outreach branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, reported over 10 million internet users came to faith in Christ through their websites. They also received close to 4 million emails. (Global Media Outreach)

1 World Christian Trends, William Carey Library, David Barrett & Todd Johnson.)


Brakpan AGF give +/ - 20% of income to local, African and international missions (including restricted countries).

We encourage our members to get involved in mission trips e.g. Zambia, Greece (Hellenic), Zimbabwe and Open Doors (taking Christian literature into restricted countries).

Have someone dedicated to focus on mission ministry.

Have one month a year (July) to focus on missions. Ministry in that month is on missions or by missionaries.

Each homecell ‘adopts’ one or more missionaries. They:

contribute to the monthly giving to the missionary

keep in contact and encourage the missionary and

pray at the Table for the specific needs of missionary.


During Missions Month we have an International Evening. Each homecell is assigned a country that is in need of mission work. The members dress up like the people of the country, cook some local dishes, have a display stand at the church and give a talk on the evangelisation need in the country. They then pray for the country. This helps to raise mission awareness.


Taryn, Robin & Gavin Paynter as the ‘Hakka’ (Chinese) International evening (2007)

Website translation of ministry into foreign languages –

Local: Zulu, Tsonga, Afrikaans

Africa: Chichewa (Malawi), Shona (Zimbabwe), Swahili (Kenya & Tanzania), SiSwati (Swaziland)

Asia: Hindi & Bengali (India), Punjabi & Urdu (Pakistan).


Seraphine Shahbaz (Urdu, Punjabi)

David Makiyi (Chichewa)

Prudence Mabasa (Tsonga, Zulu)


Robert Speer (leader in Student Volunteer Movement): “There is nothing in the world or the Church - except the church’s disobedience - to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility.”

John Wesley: “Give me 100 men who love only God with all their heart and hate only sin with all their heart, and we will shake the gates of hell and bring in the kingdom of God in one generation.”

Ralph Winter: “Never concede to doing something so small that it could be accomplished entirely in your lifetime. Be a part of something that began before you were born, and will continue onward toward the fulfilment of all that God has purposed to accomplish.”



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