The last command
Do we know why we’re here? Andrew Murray calls the church away from ‘selfish religion’… Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations.' – Matt. 28:19
How terribly the Church has failed in obeying this command! How many Christians there are who never knew that there is such a command! How many who hear of it, do not in earnest set themselves to obey it! And how many seek to obey it in such way and measure as seems to them fitting and convenient.
We have studied what obedience is. We have professed to give ourselves up to a whole-hearted obedience. Surely, we are prepared gladly to listen to anything that can help us to understand and carry out this our Lord's last and great command: the gospel to every creature? Let me explain under the three simple headings: Accept His command. Place yourself entirely at His disposal. Begin at once to live for His kingdom.
I. Accept His command
Various things weaken the force of this command. There is the impression that a command given to all and general in its nature is not as binding as one that is entirely personal and speciﬁc;that if others do not their part, our share of the blame is comparatively small; that where the difficulties are very great, obedience cannot be an absolute demand; that if we are willing to do our best, this is all that can be asked of us. Brethren, this is not obedience! This is not the spirit in which the first disciples accepted it. This is not the spirit in which we wish to live with our beloved Lord. Let me for a moment separate myself from all others, and think of my personal relation to Jesus.
I am a member of Christ's body. He expects every member to be at His disposal, to be animated by His Spirit, to live for what He is and does. It is so with my body. I carry every healthy member with me day by day, in the assurance that I can count upon it to do its part. Our Lord has taken me so truly up into His body that He can ask and expect nothing else from me. And I have so truly yielded myself to Him that there can be no idea of my wanting anything but just to know and do His will.
Christ has bought me with His blood. No slave conquered by force or purchased by money was ever so entirely the property of his master, as my soul, redeemed and won by Christ's blood, given up and bound to Him by love, is His property, for Him alone to do with it what He pleases. This is my joy and my glory.
There was a time when it was different. There are two ways in which a man can bestow his money or service on another. In olden time, there was once a slave who, by his trade, earned much money. All the money came to the master. The master was kind and treated the slave well. At length the slave, from earnings his master had allowed him, was able to purchase his liberty. In course of time the master became impoverished, and had to come to his former slave for help.
He was not only able, but most willing to give it, and gave liberally, in gratitude for former kindness.
You see at once the difference between the bringing of his money and service when be was a slave, and his gifts when he was free. In the former case he gave all, because it and he belonged to the master. In the latter, he only gave what he chose.
In which way ought we to give to Christ Jesus? Have you ever wondered that the disciples accepted the great command so easily and so heartily? They came fresh from Calvary, where they had seen the blood. They had met the risen One, and He had breathed His Spirit into them. During the forty days, through the Holy Ghost He had given His commandments unto them.' Jesus was to them Saviour, Master, Friend, and Lord. His word was with divine power; they could not but obey. Oh, let us bow at His feet, and yield to the Holy Spirit to reveal and assert His mighty claim, and let us unhesitatingly and with the whole heart accept the command as our one lifepurpose: the gospel to every creature.
2. Place yourself at His disposal
The last great command has been so prominently urged in connection with Foreign Missions that many are inclined exclusively to confine it to them. This is a great mistake. Our Lord's words, “Make disciples of all nations; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” tell us what our aim is to be – nothing less than to make every man a true disciple, living in holy obedience to all Christ's will. What a work there is to be done in our Christian churches and our so-called Christian communities ere it can be said that the command has been carried out! And what a need that the whole Church, with every believer in it, realise that to do this work is the sole object of its existence!
If there is one thing that the Church needs to preach, in the power of the Holy Ghost, it is the absolute and immediate duty of every child of God, not only to take some part in this work, as he may think fit or possible, but to give himself to Christ the Master, to be guided and used as He would have. Therefore, I say to every reader who has taken the vow of full obedience – and dare we count ourselves true Christians if we have not done so? – place yourself at once and wholly at Christ's disposal. As binding, as is the first great command on all God's people,“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart,”is this the last great command too: ‘The gospel to every creature.’ Fear not; come at once and forever out of the selfish religion which puts your own will and comfort first, and gives Christ what you see fit. Place yourselves entirely at His disposal.
3. Begin at once to obey
In whatever circumstances you are, it is your privilege to have within reach souls that can be won for God. All around you there are numberless forms of Christian activity which invite your help and offer you theirs. Look upon yourself as redeemed by Christ for His service, as blessed with His Spirit to give you the very dispositions that were in Himself, and take up, humbly but boldly, your life calling, to take part in the great work of winning back the world to God. Whether you are led of God to join some of the many agencies already at work, or to walk in a more solitary path, remember not to regard the work as that of your church, or society, or as your own but as the Lord's. Cherish carefully the consciousness of doing it unto the Lord,' of being a servant who is under orders, and simply carrying them out; your work will then not, as so often, come between you and the fellowship with Christ, but link you inseparably to Him, His strength, and His approval.
It is so easy to get so engrossed in the human interest there is in our work, that its spiritual character, the supernatural power needed for it, the direct working of God in us and through us, all that can fill us with true heavenly joy and hope is lost out of sight. Keep your eye on your Master, on your King, on His throne. Ere He gave the command, and pointed His servants to the great field of the world. He first drew their eyes to Himself on the throne: “All power is given Me in heaven and on earth.” It is the vision, the faith, of Christ on the throne that reminds of the need, that assures us of the sufficiency of His divine power. Obey, not a command, but the living Almighty Lord of Glory; faith in Him will give you heavenly strength.
These words preceded the command, and then there followed, “Lo, I am with you alway.”It is not only Christ on the throne – glorious vision! – that we need, but Christ with us here below, in His abiding presence, Himself working for us and through us. Christ's power in heaven, Christ's presence on earth – between these two pillar promises lies the gate through which the Church enters to the conquest of the world!
Blessed Son of God! Here I am. By Thy grace, I give my life to the carrying out of Thy last great command. Let my heart be as Thy heart. Let my weakness be as Thy strength. In Thy name I take the vow of entire and everlasting obedience. Amen.