The Great Commission: Of four modern errors.
First, theological liberals pervert it to apply only to social and political involvement, consistent generally with a Marxist analysis. Second, fundamentalists narrow it to apply exclusively to saving as many individual souls as possible from this evil life before the rapture. Third, there are those who, by denying the free offer of the gospel, cause the Great Commission to appear harsh, thereby robbing it of its force and drawing power. Fourth, hypocrites neglect it or evade it by finding both doctrinal and practical excuses to excuse their apathy. (570-571)
Our understanding of the Great Commission determines our response to the crises and needs of our society and culture. Disciples of Karl Barth along with Pietists and many Fundamentalists neglect culture because they do not believe that the gospel will transform society. Those influenced by Humanism adjust to the culture around
them because of their philosophy of evolution. Marxists see the only solution to society’s problems as revolution, due to their dialectic philosophy of history. Consistent, Bible-believing Christians work to reconstruct culture and society in the power of the Holy Spirit, directed by the Word of God, to the glory of God, because they believe that Christ came to rescue culture and history, not to discard them. (571)
One of the first things to be noticed in the Great Commission is its UNIVERSALISM. Notice: All authority… everywhere… all nations…every creature… all that Christ commanded....The gospel is for the whole man, the whole of mankind, and the whole natural order. Since Jesus speaks of His own unlimited authority, He commits us to an unlimited task, with the assurance of His unlimited companionship. (571)
“Authority” is the prerogative to do something or the right over something,
backed by real power. It is the right and ability to act, denoting power that is decisive and authority that is final. (572)
His authority “in heaven” includes His sovereign control over all demonic activity (Revelation 6:8; 9:3, 10, 19; 16:9). His authority “on earth” includes His sovereign and gracious bestowal of eternal life (John 17:2; Matt. 11:27) and His ultimate authority over all human institutions, such as the family, church, and state, to which all these institutional authorities are accountable, as “the ruler of the kings
of the earth” (Rev. 1:5; 19:16). (572)
Thus, the Great Commission is to be seen as the glorious declaration of Christ’s triumphant sovereignty over the universe. (572)
“The Person of Jesus is central. Discipleship involved acceptance of his authority, inwardly by believing in him and outwardly by obeying him. There is a supremely personal union implied everywhere in the New Testament when the word [disciple]… is used. There can be nothing in the life of the disciple that is apart from the Lord and his life.” 356 Therefore, discipleship is at the very heart of Christian living. By it the disciple shows that he lives under the grace and lordship of Jesus Christ. This means that when someone responds to Christ’s call, “Follow Me,” he will invite other men to Christ, saying, “Follow Him with me.” 356 DeRidder, Discipling the Nations, 186. (573-574)
The mission is not completed until we have made THE WORLD’S NATIONS CHRIST’S DISCIPLES. (574)
[1: Person-winning] We are sent to evangelize, that is, to present Jesus Christ to sinful men that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and to serve Him as their King in His Church. ALL Christians are to be Christ’s witnesses (Acts 8:4; Rom. 10:9) vocalizing (by mouth) and visualizing (by life) the gospel of Christ. Therefore, our goal in evangelism is clear: in the power of the Spirit to compel sinners to stop worshipping the creature and to begin worshipping the Creator through Christ (Rom. 1:25; Acts 14:15). (574)
[2: Family-winning] At the heart of God’s plan to restore the earth by the Great
Commission, is the restoration of the family: “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish” (Prov. 14:11)....By example, influence and education, we must assist families to become solid Christian families, prospering and secure under God’s blessings (Deut. 28). The prosperity and safety of the Christian family rest upon it recapturing those basic powers given to it by God Himself: the control of welfare, children, education, property and inheritance. (575-576)
Baptism is the public confession that there is a Lord whose commandments take priority over everything else in the life of the believer and his family; and the public initiation into that covenant community of all who profess faith in Christ along with their children. (576)
The command to teach in this Commission (28:20a) also contains an emphasis on the family. Parents, assisted by the church, are to educate themselves and their children in all facets of life from a thoroughly Biblical perspective (Deuteronomy 6:1f)....Christian education, then, is not optional....It is an essential part of the Great Commission. (576)
[3: Culture-winning] We are called by Christ to make Christian disciples out of the nations of the world, so that they will be Christian nations with Christian cultures full of Christian people. For this reason, Christ calls us to bring the power, direction and discipline of the Word of the Lord to bear upon the nations themselves—politically (Rom. 13:1–7), economically (Rom. 13:8), industrially (Eph. 6:5–9; 1 Tim. 5:18), educationally (Col. 2:3), morally (Matt. 5:27–32), socially (Luke 6:29), judicially and legally (1 Cor. 6:2). (577)
This comprehensive approach to the discipling of the world which the Great Commission commands, brings out the unity of the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:28: “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over… every living thing that moves on the earth,” and the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18–20. The Great Commission is Christ’s
restatement of the Dominion Mandate, taking into consideration fallen man’s need of redemption. (577)
Culture-winning means working to reconstruct Christian civilizations based on Christ and His Word in the place of anti-Christian civilizations. (577)
"Do your utmost to make the nations Christian nations.…Christ the Mediator is setting up a kingdom in the world, bring the nations to be his subjects; setting up a school, bring the nations to be his scholars; raising an army for the carrying
on of the war against the powers of darkness, enlist the nations of the earth under his banner." 361. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible,New Modern Edition, 6 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 5:362. (578)
[4: The Strategy] Our first strategy is SEPARATION from the “world” unto God’s purposes. This is not isolation. We must involve ourselves in this world of lost people; but we must also separate ourselves from the priorities, saviors,
worldviews, behaviors and lifestyles of those in rebellion against God; and we must be separated to the revealed ways of God in the Bible, realizing our highest joy in glorifying God and enjoying Him. As Christians, we must constantly maintain the antithesis between the church and the world—keeping the differences clear and uncompromised between the covenant people of God and
those societies built upon a principle of revolt against God in every area of life and thought. (578)
Our second strategic element is INVASION and INFILTRATION of society: “out of the salt-shaker into the world.”...We must be everywhere, speaking out on every critical issue, on all fronts, so that those opposed to Christ cannot escape us
or the presence of our Head, Jesus Christ, Whose power is exercised through us.
The third strategic element is the EDUCATION of Christian adults and their children in our Christian and covenantal heritage, in the application of Biblical Law for all of life, in the sovereignty of God’s grace, and in the victory-orientation of Christ’s kingdom: “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20).
The fourth element is for each Christian to PRACTICE 2 Corinthians
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive
to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete." (579)
 When He encouraged His disciples with these words—I am with you, He was claiming to be the God of the Covenant Himself, Jehovah incarnate....The Messianic prophecies of the Bible...frequently identify the Messiah as fully God, as well as fully man, as the Sprout of the Lord as well as the Sprout of Jesse, as the Son of God as well as the Son of David, as “the LORD,” i.e., Jehovah, clothed in our humanity. (580)
 His promise—“I will be with you”—is the guarantee of His presence with His church forever. (580)
 By His promise, Jesus is identifying Himself as the “Warrior of Israel” and “Captain of the hosts of the Lord” who leads His hosts into battle, who gives them victory over their enemies and success in their conquest of the land. (580)
...the Great Commission was addressed to the officers of the Church, and therefore to the Church....only the church has the responsibility for the Great Commission.
Para-church organizations were not given this authority, responsibility or promise. (581)
First, therefore, the institutional, functional, and jurisdictional separation:
Both church and state are of Divine origin, and, although they are different institutions with different officers, functions and jurisdictions, both are under the same Divine King and accountable to the same Biblical revelation....God has given the state the power of the sword to enforce Christ’s supremacy in civil matters (Rom. 13); and He has given the church the power of the keys of the kingdom to enforce Christ’s supremacy in spiritual and moral matters (Matt. 16, 18).
"From the very nature of the state it cannot, without departing from its proper place, usurp the office or assume the jurisdiction of the Church, because it has received no authority to perform, and is not competent to exercise, spiritual functions; and, on the other hand, the Church has no power to assume to itself the powers and prerogatives of the civil magistrate, because those powers and prerogatives, being civil and coercive, are wholly alien to its character and jurisdiction. The church did not originate with, nor is it subordinate to, the state, being a holy commonwealth under Christ; nor did the state originate with, nor is it subordinate to the church, being a civil commonwealth under Christ.
From the very nature of the state it cannot, without departing from its proper place,
usurp the office or assume the jurisdiction of the Church, because it has received no authority to perform, and is not competent to exercise, spiritual functions; and, on the other hand, the Church has no power to assume to itself the powers and prerogatives of the civil magistrate, because those powers and prerogatives, being civil and coercive, are wholly alien to its character and jurisdiction. The church did not originate with, nor is it subordinate to, the state, being a holy commonwealth under Christ; nor did the state originate with, nor is it subordinate to the church,
being a civil commonwealth under Christ." (586-587)
Christ is the Head of the church and the King of the state. In both, His
written Word is the source of law. (587)
The state is assigned the duty by God to be the civil protector of the church of Christ....As the guardian of the church, the civil government is to be God’s Avenger of evildoers to terrorize them and to punishment them for their criminal behavior, for the benefit and protection of good people (Rom. 13:1f). (588)
The state is to protect the church, not only from those who would injure her, but also from those who would hinder her from her world mission of preaching the gospel to every creature. The civil government must guard “[t]he full and free and unrestricted power [of Christianity] to take possession of this world in the name of Christ, to the exclusion of any other form of faith and worship.” 369 Bannerman, The Church of Christ, 1:141. (588)
...according to the Confession, the church is not under the state, the state is not under the church, and neither the church nor the state may with impunity usurp the functions and powers of the other or disregard the jurisdiction of each. (589)
The point this paragraph is making is: Whereas the state has no power WITHIN the church, God has given it power ABOUT the church. It has NO authority in the church, but it does have jurisdiction concerning the church, or about the church. These two ideas are vastly different, and they must not be confused. The state has no jurisdiction within the church, but it does have a God-given responsibility to promote and advance the interests of the church. (590)
First, the state is to take order for those objects at which it aims....It means “to provide for, to attend to, to take care to accomplish,” language far from implying
the usurpation of authority over the church by the state.
Second, in order to carry out its God-given duties with reference to the church, the state has the power to call synods.
Third, the state has the power to be present at synods which it calls to meet.
Fourth, the state has the authority not only to be present at meetings of synods, but also to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God....The clause meant "to make it an object of care and attention generally, that what is done be done according to the word of God." 374. Bannerman, The Church of Christ, 1:180–81. (590-591)
The church has a prophetic responsibility toward the state: when the state strays from the Law of God, the church is to call it to repentance and to show it the right way, or else receive God’s judgment....Martin Luther, in describing the church’s ministry to the state, said that the church is to “lick the fur,” (not the feet), of the state. In other words, as a cat is constantly licking its own fur to keep it shiny and clean, so with the preaching of the Word of God , the church is to “keep the state clean,” i.e., obedient to Biblical Law and the supremacy of the triune God. (592)
The final section in Chapter 15 was a brief history showing how Presbyterianism was the "model and motive for the U.S. Constitution".
Although the radical Thomas Paine claimed to be the father of the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, Daniel Webster was correct when he said that the American Revolution could not have lived a
single day under any well founded suggestion of possessing a tendency adverse to the Christian faith. Even Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, neither known for their staunch belief in orthodox Christianity, felt it to be unavoidably necessary, in order to give spirit to the enterprise, and moral heroism of the people, to bring into operation the principle of Christianity. This was the electric power which
made men stand erect upon the basis of liberty. (624)
The adoption of the U.S. Constitution with its federal (covenantal) plan and republican form may have been the most important event in modern history....It gave an example of a great people not only emancipating themselves, but governing themselves without either a monarch to control, or an aristocracy to restrain. It demonstrated, for the first time in the history of the world, contrary to
all the predictions of statesmen, that a great nation when duly prepared for the task is capable of self-government—in other words, that a purely republican form of government can be founded and maintained in a country of vast extent, and peopled by millions of inhabitants. (627)
The fundamental principle of the Constitution is the vesting of the supreme authority, executive and legislative, in the people, who themselves are governed in all things by the Word of God, to be exercised in every case by their chosen representatives—in no case, except in their elections, by themselves....It is another, and an essential principle, if indeed it be not involved in the former, that the choice of representatives and a chief magistrate is the only elective function exercised by the people—all civil and military officers, and especially all judicial functionaries
being appointed by the executive government. (627)
CONFEDERATION and REPRESENTATION are the two essential principles which lie at the basis of the American Constitution, and both of these principles are Presbyterian principles. FIRST, in the Presbyterian system—as over against the congregationalist system for example, with its autonomous, unrelated local churches—there is the principle of “Connectionalism” or “Confederacy,” wherein local churches are structurally connected together by a common confession and form of government, called Presbytery.
SECOND, Presbyterian government is republican, i.e., representative government. The members of the Presbyterian Church elect elders to represent and administer the constitution of the Church, the Bible.
Therefore, because of the influence of Presbyterianism, the U.S. Constitution created: (1) a confederacy of state governments united in a federal government, each with well-defined and limited authority, powers and jurisdiction; and (2) a constitutional, representative republic, wherein the civil magistrates were elected by the people and the states to represent, defend, and administer, not the whims
and fancies of the majority of people, but constitutional law based on a Christian moral order. (628)
Not only were the American War of Independence and the Declaration of Independence inspired by Presbyterian principles, and the U.S. Constitution based on them and given its character by them, but after the War of 1776 was over, when the leaders in the states came to settle the form of government in their states, they simply copied into every state constitution the simple elements of representative republicanism found in the Presbyterian system. It is a matter of history that cannot be denied that Presbyterianism, as found in the Bible and in the standards of the several Presbyterian churches, defined the character of our free institutions. (631)