Commission: Which one is ours?
Most people today would say they didn’t know there was more than one. They would immediately think of what is typically called The Great Commission. When they think of a divine commission of our Lord, they think of the one our Lord gave the apostles right before He ascended into Heaven. Many churchgoers will readily recognize these words.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Emphasis added]
Then we have another account of the giving of this same commission, but many don’t like to refer to this one because it doesn’t line up with some of their beliefs, even though it is perfectly consistent with the Matthew account. They even mistakenly claim that some of Mark’s account was not a part of the commission and represents a faulty translation.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. [Emphasis added]
But don’t we see the apostles and others doing these same things after the commission was given to them. We do! And that’s because all this was a part of that commission. Members of that church did these things. There are numerous examples of this.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. [Emphasis added]
There’s quite a list of these examples in the book of Acts.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. [Emphasis added]
Barnabas and the apostle Paul also did these miraculous things for a time.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. [Emphasis added]
11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. [Emphasis added]
We even see Paul getting bit by a poisonous snake but being miraculously healed [Acts 28:3-6]. These things went on all the way to the end of the timeframe of the Acts period. But are believers supposed to be able to do these miraculous things today? Are they a part of our commission? Certainly, there are those who claim they are. But no, they are not a part of our commission! Even the apostle Paul only did these things in the first part or earlier years of his ministry. He had the ability then to do these miraculous things to assist him in establishing his authority as a man of God with those to whom he ministered. This was especially important because his message differed from Peter’s and the other apostles to Israel. But after Paul had time to establish his authority as the apostle to the Gentiles, he could no longer do these things. Even Paul had his own “thorn in the flesh” physical ailment that served to humble him. I have a whole study on this called, Healing: Can we expect God to heal today? That’s the name of the link on our website.
What else is a part of the commission given to the apostles to Israel that is not a part of ours today? How about water baptism? Was that not a part of the commission given to the twelve apostles?
Again, Matthew 28:19
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [Emphasis added]
But notice how Mark’s account states it.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [Emphasis added]
Isn’t it interesting how so many have distorted that by saying it means they should be baptized? But is that what the grammar of the text says? It is not! Water baptism was required for salvation. It was not optional. It was through water baptism that they publicly expressed their faith, their belief, or as it was for most, their unbelief.
30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. [Emphasis added]
Please notice the gospel message Peter proclaimed in obedience to this commission.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]
As late as the time of Acts 19:5 we see the record of water baptism going on.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [Emphasis added]
But was this a part of the apostle Paul’s commission? Apparently Paul thought it was for a time and until he got further revelation because we see him also commenting about his baptizing activities. But notice how he states it.
I Corinthians 1:13-17
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
In this same passage we see Paul disclosing something most of the church today has completely ignored. Look at his very next statement about his ministry and commission as it relates to water baptism.
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. [Emphasis added]
What did he mean when he says he wasn’t SENT to baptize? Is he not speaking of his commission? Of course, he is! Later he tells us there was only one baptism that was to be a part of his commission and ours today.
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [Emphasis added]
And which baptism is this he speaks about? It is the one he spent so much time talking about throughout the greater portion of his ministry and in his writings. It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that enters all believers of our time into union with Christ at the point of their salvation. And there’s no water involved in this baptism at all.
I Corinthians 12:13
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]
This is by no means a water baptism. It is a baptism where the Holy Spirit is the agent putting every believer into a permanent union with the Lord Jesus Christ. In this baptism, instead of being identified with water, the participant is identified with what is called the Body of Christ. This not only puts us into union with Christ but also all fellow believers of our time. That’s who this “body” is.
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. [Emphasis added]
Therefore, we know that the twelve apostles with Peter as their head had one gospel and one commission, but we through the apostle Paul have another. Paul speaks of his gospel as the gospel of the uncircumcision and Peter’s gospel as the gospel of the circumcision, that is, of Israel.
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]
Be careful of which translation you read that verse from because some have mistranslated it. Some make it appear that it was the same gospel these men were preaching but to two different groups of people—Paul to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews. You can see more details about all this in my article—Gospels: Did Peter & Paul preach the same gospel? Please take the time to read it if you haven’t already.
Peter and Paul not only had different gospel messages, they had different commissions. The so-called Great Commission was given to Peter and to Israel. What I call the Greater Commission was given to Paul. It is this commission that was given to Paul that is ours today. If you want passages that present that message simply and clearly, here’s one of two that first come to my mind.
II Corinthians 5:14-21
14 For the love of Christ constraineth [SUNECHO = compels] us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead [speaking of spiritual death]:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
It is verse fifteen that states our gospel for today. To present Peter’s of Acts 2:38 is not only misleading but wrong. It is by believing in this gospel of Paul’s and ours that people can be saved today.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh [speaking of Christ’s earthly ministry and message]: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
We now know Christ by His heavenly ministry and message which came to us through the special revelation He provided for us through the apostle Paul.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [KTIZO = creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ [having paid the full price for our sins], and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
That means every believer today is in the ministry. Here he’s speaking of the service we can provide for others by telling them of this good news about what God accomplished at the cross and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Until this work of reconciliation God has provided, we are His enemies. This means then that we are not at peace with God. Instead, we are said to be His enemies [Ephesians 2:15-16]. But note in this next verse what God did to provide a solution for this.
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
This verse tells us all our sins were held against Christ and judged in Him. Therefore, they can never be held against us. If a person doesn’t accept this work God did for him through Christ, he stands condemned by the justice of God. Man’s own works are totally inadequate to provide salvation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ [meaning we as believers are all His personal representatives], as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
To be fully reconciled to God is to accept this work Christ did in our behalf.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
And here’s the other passage that comes to mind about all this. If you’ve read many of my articles or watched many of my videos, you’re probably familiar with it.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached [contrasting it with the one Peter and the other apostles preached] unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
It is this message regarding the means to salvation, more than anything else, that Satan has desperately sought to hide from all mankind.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [Emphasis added]
Just think of all the things Satan has tried to substitute for this wonderful message. The list of substitutes for the right message is long. All of them seek to cause man to establish his own system of works to gain the salvation and eternal blessing of God. And there’s plenty of documentation in the Pauline epistles warning us not to trust in any of them. I’ve always believed this next passage sums the situation up best. Clearly, personal works are not a part of our salvation today.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Works definitely do have a place after we’re saved, but not before or as a part of the attainment of one’s salvation.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Emphasis added]
Every time people try to bring their works into the picture they are either looking at non-Pauline passages or dreaming up their own method for salvation. The apostle Paul never speaks of there being a demand for personal works of any kind for our justification and salvation.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]
Therefore, it is extremely important for people today to know their commission. If they don’t know that, their message is bound to be wrong and misleading. Yet we have pastors of many churches today who are completely ignorant of all this and leading others, sometimes many others, down the same wrong path. Always realize that the size of a pastor’s church has no bearing whatsoever on the truthfulness of the message he communicates. In fact, I have found that large churches with pastors who understand this are almost non-existent. Even after many years of ministry, even the apostle Paul, as great a man as he was, found himself in a small minority of people at the end of his life.
II Timothy 1:15
15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. [Emphasis added]
Just remember that even though we’re in the minority now, we’ll be in God’s majority when we get to Heaven. And the reason we’ll be there is our correct understanding of which commission and which gospel God gave us.