Sunday, June 5, 2016

Is the Great Commission For All Christians?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
Was this commission given to all Christians? There are certain Christians out there who seem to think so. If that is the case, then every Christian has the authority to baptize whomever they wish, whenever and wherever they wish, including their own children. But as I understand it, baptism can only be administered by someone ordained to do so. Like a pastor or a missionary.

This commission was, however, given to the Apostles. As appears in several of Paul's letters, there are different gifts for different members of the body of Christ. To say that every Christian should be following the commission of Matthew 28:19-20 is no different than saying every Christian ought to speak in tongues. It is unrealistic and it is unbiblical. Some have the gift of preaching, some have the gift of teaching, some have this gift, some have that gift. Some might have several gifts, but no one has every gift and no one has no gift at all. And every Christian is not expected to have every gift.

In Matthew 10:5-15 and Luke 9:1-11, Jesus commissions the twelve. Later, in Luke 10, Jesus sends out the 70 or 72 in pairs (depending on the manuscript or translation you look at). Out of the multitudes that followed Jesus, there were several hundred true believers. Yet, Jesus did not send each and every one of them out. Why do you suppose that is? The commission in Matthew 28:19-20 is given to the remaining 11 Apostles (because Judas was no longer with them, having hanged himself). Examine the context of verse 16 and you will see that this is so.

It was the Apostles who were first commissioned to disciple, baptize, and teach. As they appointed elders in certain areas, they would have ordained them to do the same. Not every convert they converted was to turn around and go do the same. I am gifted more in the areas of apologist and theologian. I am not an evangelist, nor do I have the gift of evangelism. I do not go up to complete strangers and start talking to them about the Gospel out of the blue, nor do I deliberately bring it up in casual conversation. When I am talking to people, if the subject comes up in one form or another, then I have no problems addressing it in the context it is in, be that answering questions of faith, sharing my faith, defending the faith, or whatever. But I keep it on topic as it came up. If they start opening it up further, then I will address that as well. But I do so in a way that shares the truth with them, leaving the results up to God. I do not try to force more and more information upon them in hopes of getting a conversion. That is what far too many Christians are doing wrong, thinking the conversion and the results are up to them.

If you think I am somehow being disobedient to the Lord, well, then that definitely is your own opinion. If that command was given to all Christians, then when I have children I can baptize them whenever and however I want, without the need for a church. Like I said, as I understand it, baptism can only be administered by someone who was ordained to do so. Every Christian might be a missionary of sorts in their own right, like parents to their children, etc., but every Christian is not commanded to go into the world and be the type of missionary Paul was. You have to be called of God for it, and you have to have a gifting.

Each member of the body of Christ needs to learn what their specific gift(s) is/are, and use it/them in accordance to where God has placed them. The gifts of the Spirit are meant for the edification of the body of Christ.