Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He left the apostles with the Great Commission, recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. The Great Commission summarizes the mission of the apostles and of Christians everywhere. On the Day of Pentecost, the apostles fulfilled the Great Commission in Peter’s first sermon. We can look to Acts 2 and see how each part of Jesus’ mission statement for His church was enacted at Pentecost and must be carried out today.
The Lord begins, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). The sole source of authority in the church is Jesus Christ. In Acts 2:4, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, endowing them with miraculous gifts, signifying an extension of Christ’s authority on them. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 that their commandments were given through the Lord Jesus, “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (v. 8). Today, our authority must come from the same source, the inspired words of God, found in the Bible.
Next, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19a). In Acts 2, the apostles were provided with an audience of men from every nation (v. 5). Because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, each person in attendance heard Peter’s sermon in his own tongue (v. 6). No matter where they came from or what language they spoke, they heard the message of Christ. In verses 14 through 39, Peter preaches to them the gospel that calls all men everywhere to be reconciled to God through discipleship in the church of Christ.
How is someone added to Christ’s church? How is a sinner made into a disciple? The men at Pentecost were cut to the heart, realizing that they had crucified the Lord. They asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (v. 37). Jesus told the apostles back in Matthew 28:19-20 how to make disciples. By “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” So, Peter replied to the multitude, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).
If we want to be the church Jesus Christ died for, we must follow the Lord’s mission statement. The apostles obeyed each tenant of the Great Commission and established the church in Acts 2. If we want to enter His church and grow His church today, we too must accept the Great Commission.