Free to Serve or Service Through Guilt

Part 3
February 9, 1997

Greatest Commission


Michael A. Kovach

A short summary of the first two articles goes something like this: We are called to server, to be of service, to be ready to serve. We are not called to go and serve, be a service to God, serve through intimidation or guilt, center our service around works of service, modifying what it means to serve and to be in His service.

This article deals with our service and the great commission mentioned in the first article. I hope to illustrate what the Lord has given me to understand. Consider this as well, I am not a scholar of Greek, Latin or Aramaic, I have studied on my own and have listened to many who have formal education in this area. So, I'm not making claim to being some mental giant who has spent 40 years attempting to unlock the mysteries of Scripture. I'm just a simple servant who has been educated by Holy Spirit and who has in every way, attempted to apply those lessons in practical living.

This understanding is also shared with those who are in the brotherhood of believers, for consideration, correction, amplification, education and reproof. It is not my intent to write about the sins of the church-we are all sinners and that is why the church has so many sins. My intention is to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit by submitting what I have pondered personally, and to share the enlightenment the Holy Spirit has provided. One thing I have seen in throughout my walk is that we have some things backwards, and the Holy Spirit would have us correct our direction.

The Great Commission:

Matthew 28: 16-20

But to the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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."

Here is the climax of this Gospel; Christ sends forth His Apostles to conquer the world and make all men His disciples. Again there is disparity in doctrine here. First, it is a command to those who were present at that time, and the language reflects this use of time. All the commands are in an active present voice, (and this doesn't mean here and now). Also, verse 20 is perhaps a reflection of the liturgical usage of the writer's own time. In other words, to have what he wrote sound more palatable, he used this closing to appeal to the beliefs and attitudes of his time. In addition, the words "go therefore" is a translation rather than a transliteration; in my studies this I have seen this phrase rendered as "therefore as you are going," which implies action to be taken regardless of time and place. The former 'go,' allows for consideration and planning which is not consistent with the formula of the this passage.

The Disciples Commissioned:

Mark 16: 15-17

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

A very special notation must be made here: The word "believe" in Greek is in the aorist tense pisteusasi which refers to those who did believe, not those who would believe at that time or in the future. Here is the beginning of errors in doctrine of service. Reading carefully is vital to understanding what is said. In addition, reading from a historical perspective is as vital to our understanding as reading the daily sports sheets. This event was isolated from the present--we are not to attempt to duplicate this in any way because we have not been commissioned to do so. There are entire assemblies built around verse 17, and they could be in error and great spiritual danger. You are not the Disciples who were given this order; you should slow down enough to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal there meanings more clearly. It is also noteworthy to mention here that many manuscripts omit vv. 9-20, and this ending to the gospel may not have been written by Mark, though it is old enough.

Now dealing with service and commission I wish to take you back to a point in time shortly after Christ departed and Pentecost occurred. Go with me if you will to Jerusalem and meet with the disciples.

Peter, James and John are gathered around a table talking about all the new converts. Things have gone rather well and they were feeling pretty good. Peter was discussing where to send the next group of men with James and John. They had plenty of money and food stuffs to support several missionary journeys. Just down the street, a group of Hellenistic Jews complained about these native Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the Apostles summoned the congregation and chose seven men to look into this matter. From that day the word of God kept on spreading; and they increased greatly in Jerusalem. They are overwhelmed with joy and laugh and carry on having a great time of it. In their comfort and success they have forgotten something, and that something is about to explode.

Jesus is pleased with how the people have responded to the Gospel; but he is not pleased with how His servants are beginning to fatten their egos.

Now Stephen was the first to begin. He was performing great wonders and signs among the people. After all, they just dispatched seven men to take care of problems and things were beginning to happen as before. (keep in mind what took place prior to this. The Apostles sent out seven to take care of a problem. This is a clue that refers back to Matthew 28.) As you are aware Stephen was martyred after giving the greatest defense of the gospel to date. In fact, there was no other to stand up for the gospel as he did. Well, needless to say, everyone was beginning to worry for their safety, and rightly so. Now shortly after Stephen's death, the Apostles were most likely trying to figure out what went wrong, or how to escape. They might have thought that the Devil was working against them, to subvert the Gospel and stop its spread. Well needless to say, a cunning and brash man began hunting down Followers of the Way, and as a result many were scattered abroad. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word as they were going, and Philip went to Samaria proclaiming Christ to them, and the multitudes with one accord were giving attention to what was being said. Philip healed many and cast out unclean spirits and there was much rejoicing in the city.

You can read this story in Acts chapters six through eight. My point is this. Much good was being done in Jerusalem. However, that was not what the Lord had instructed them to do. He told them that as they were going, or (go) to make disciples of all men. They did not do this, they were probably comfortable being at home, sending out missionaries to various places and making all sorts of plans about additional services. They felt snug and secure, as well as blessed for all that was being done-and they were. Thus Jesus used Saul later to be named Paul, to roust the apostles into action. As a result of preaching while they were going whole cities were giving attention and many thousands more were added to the numbers of the believers.

Oswald Chambers once wrote:

"We are nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (John 12:32). It is a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God."

Concerning Service:

Romans 12:1-3

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith."

Our service is one of sacrifice and it is not a grievous one. We are to offer up us, to identify with Christ in His work on the cross. Sadly, many serve with the perspective of business, or worldly fashioning. If we desire to be of service for the Lord, we must die and lay our bodies on the alter of sacrifice, taking up a new life in Christ. Working and serving Him in any other way is not acceptable to Him. I dare not strive to please my master, I only dare to have my master pleased with me. It isn't by books and men that knowledge of Him comes. It is by the testimony of the Holy Spirit in us concerning Jesus Christ. When we obey what is presented and submit to Him, we will no longer be willing to server Him; we will be living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. From that point forward, our activities are directed by Him and any work done is the work of the Holy Spirit. We make ourselves available for His service at any time and place. Because as you are going proclaim the good news-for blessed are the feet of them who bring good news. After all: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph 2:8-10 (KJV)

Copyright ©February 1997
Michael A. Kovach
The Christian Underground Journal

Michael Kovach is editor and publisher of the Christian Underground Journal. He can be reached at "".

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