Sermon #77                                                       Mark Sermons


          Title:            THE GREAT COMMISSION

          Text:            Mark 16:15-18

          Subject:       The Great Commission

          Date:            Tuesday Evening - March 9, 1999

          Tape #         V-17a

          Readings:     Office: Rex Bartley Auditorium: Larry Criss



          As you know, I will be leaving tomorrow to visit our missionaries, Walter and Cody Groover and their families, as well as several of the churches and pastors in Yucatan, Mexico. I wish you could all go with us. I encourage you, if possible, to do so in the future. It is encouraging to the missionaries, the pastors and the churches to have others show enough interest in what they are doing to make such a trip. And, I know of nothing that will give you greater appreciation and zeal for the work of our missionaries than a visit to the field.


          Walter and Betty have spent their lives in Mexico. They raised their children there. They have made tremendous sacrifices for the cause of Christ. Several years ago, Cody quit his job, a very good job, and gave up a lucrative income with excellent benefits and good retirement. He and Winna sold their home in Houston, and moved to Mexico with their three small children, to join Walter in the work of the gospel in Mexico.


          In the more than thirty years since Walter went to Merida, the Lord has raised up between thirty and forty gospel churches throughout the Yucatan. These are self-supporting churches, with their own pastors. He and Cody maintain a regular Preachers’ School in Merida to train these pastors.


Since Cody has returned to Mexico, he has been making regular trips to Chiapas, where Bro. Milton Howard labored for twenty-five years, before he accepted the pastorate in Ball, LA. He is also making regular visits to the Dominican Republic, helping to establish a work there.


I do not hesitate to ask you to give, even when it involves sacrificing other things on our part, to assist in the support of these and other missionary endeavors, both at home and abroad. Because I ask these things of you, I think it is altogether proper that you understand clearly the reason for our various missionary endeavors.


·        Why are men willing to hazard their lives and the lives of their families to go to foreign soil, live in a strange land, often in difficult and even hostile circumstances, to preach the gospel of Christ?


·        Why do we spend so much money and labor to preach the gospel around the world (radio, television, books, literature, itinerate preaching, conferences, etc.)?


·        Why should we make sacrifices for the support of these efforts for the furtherance of the gospel?


          These questions could be answered in many ways and from many passages of Scripture. They are all answered with clarity and encouragement in Mark 16:15-18. That will be our text tonight.


The title of my message is THE GREAT COMMISSION. These are our Lord’s final words to his church, his final words to you and me, as he was leaving this world. Here he tells us what our privileges and responsibilities are as his servants in this world. These are not the privileges and responsibilities of the apostles alone, or of gospel preachers alone. These are the privileges and responsibilities of all God’s people, his servants, in this world.


Mark 16:15-18  "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."


Proposition: It is the great privilege and responsibility of every child of God to do what he can for the furtherance of the gospel in his generation, to preach the gospel (and see to it that the gospel is preached) to all the world in the generation in which we live for the glory of Christ and the salvation of God’s elect.


Divisions: There are four things in these verses to which I want to direct our attention in this message.


1.    The Great Commission

2.    The General Call

3.    The Gospel Confession

4.    The Gracious Confirmation




Mark 16:15  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."


          It is utterly impossible for me to state emphatically enough the importance, the comprehensiveness, and the depth of meaning there is in these words. Our Lord’s charge to us in this one sentence is generally called the great commission; but few seem to understand that it really is just that, --THE GREAT COMMISSION. This is our commission from our God as long as we live in this world; and it is great!


A.  There is a great need.


          Our Lord commands us to go into all the world preaching the gospel, because all are lost without the gospel. In every corner of the earth the sons and daughters of Adam are the same. –Fallen, --Lost, --Without Christ, --Without God, --Without Hope, --Utterly Ignorant of God, His Grace, His Son, and HIS Salvation!


          Civilized or uncivilized, in Africa, China, or Great Britain, Mexico, California, or Kentucky, all who are ignorant of the gospel are in a state of wrath and condemnation.


B.  We have a great message.


          Our Lord here commands us to preach the gospel. This is the work of God’s church in this world. We must not neglect charity: feeding, clothing, and educating the poor. But that is not our commission. Our commission is far more important than that. Our Lord commands us to preach the gospel. To preach the gospel is to declare


1.    Ruin By The Fall – TOTAL DEPRAVITY!

2.    Redemption By The Blood – ACCOMPLISHED REDEMPTION!

3.    Regeneration By The Holy Spirit – EFFICACIOUS GRACE!


C.  The preaching of the gospel is God’s ordained means of grace for chosen sinners.


          All men and women have a God consciousness. God’s wisdom and power are revealed to all in the splendor of his creation. His law is written upon the hearts of all. Yet, Romans chapters one and two plainly tell us that these things are insufficient for man’s salvation. All men know something about God by creation. They are responsible to be holy, because God tells them in their consciences that he demands holiness. Yet, they have no ability to comply with the demands of their own consciences. The light of nature and creation can never convert anyone.


God has ordained the salvation of chosen sinners by the means of gospel preaching. Without the gospel none can ever be saved. This is not my opinion. This is exactly what the Scriptures say. The Holy Spirit’s exact words are these: It is the gospel preached unto us, “By which also ye are saved” (1 Cor. 15:2).


Romans 1:15-17  "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."


Romans 10:17  "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."


1 Corinthians 1:21  "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."


Ephesians 1:13  "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."


2 Thessalonians 2:13-14  "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."


James 1:18  "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."


1 Peter 1:23-25  "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (25) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."


          Hear the Master’s commission. - “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” God will save his elect. There is no question about that. The redeemed of the Lord shall be converted by his grace. That is a matter of absolute certainty. Every chosen redeemed sinner shall, at the appointed time of love, be born again by the Holy Spirit’s irresistible grace and power. The elect of God, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, shall all be granted the gift of life eternal and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But not one shall be saved without the preaching of the gospel.


          Without question, our God could have saved his elect without us. He could send angels, or frogs, or rocks to preach to them, or he could regenerate them without the use of means altogether; but he has ordained the salvation of chosen sinners through the use and instrumentality of other chosen sinners! What a privilege he has bestowed upon us!


          I’ve often thought, “I would love to have Dick Clark and Ed McMaan’s job. I don’t have any money of my own; but I would sure like to be the man who carried a ten million dollar check to someone’s house! Wouldn’t you? That would be a great job to have. But you and I have one that is indescribably better. We are the people commissioned of God to carry his salvation to perishing sinners!


Ephesians 3:8-11  "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (10) To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, (11) According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."


·        Let the redeemed of the Lord, sinners saved by God’s free grace in Christ, tell sinners everywhere about the Redeemer and about God’s free grace to sinners in him.


·        Let us give ourselves relentlessly to this glorious work of preaching the gospel.


·        Let us all do whatever we can to fulfil our commission in this age, for the glory of Christ.




Mark 16:16  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."


          The effectual, irresistible call of the Spirit always produces faith in Christ. No man can do that. It is the work of God alone. Yet, the effectual call and irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit comes to elect, redeemed sinners through the general call that is issued to all men in the preaching of the gospel. This general call is neither more nor less than the preaching of the gospel to all men.


·        We preach the gospel to all people indiscriminately because we do not know who God’s elect are.

·        We preach the gospel to all people indiscriminately because our Lord commands us to do so. Note: Our responsibility is determined by the Word of God, not the decree of God.

·        We preach the gospel to all people indiscriminately, as we have already seen, because this is the means by which God saves his elect.


          In this general call we must incessantly make two things crystal clear.




1.    The only way any sinner can ever be saved is by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.


2.    Every sinner in the world who believes on the Son of God is saved.


·        It is our faith in Christ that makes our calling and election sure.


Hebrews 11:1-6  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (5) By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."


·        Faith in Christ is the one thing needful! --“He that believeth not shall be damned!”


          This is the matter of great concern. –Do we have this gift of faith in Christ? Multiplied thousands are washed in the waters of baptism, who are not washed in the blood of Christ! Multiplied thousands attend church every Sunday, who have never yet worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ! Multiplied thousands eat at the Lord’s Table, who have never yet tasted the grace of God in Christ. It is not even doctrinal orthodoxy that unites our souls with the Son of God, but faith in him.


1 John 5:10-13  "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."


          The gospel gives the promise of grace, salvation, and eternal life to all who believe on the Son of God. But, in preaching the gospel, we must also faithfully set before eternity bound sinners…




          How fearful the thought! How awful the words! Yet, they are true and faithful and must be proclaimed by those who would be true and faithful to the souls of men. God must and will punish sin. He will send you to hell forever, if you refuse to be saved by the merits of his dear Son.


Deuteronomy 32:29  "O that men were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!"


          J.C. Ryle wrote, “He that died upon the cross has given us plain warning that there is a hell, and that all unbelievers shall be damned. Let us take heed that his warning is not given to us in vain!”




          Look at verse sixteen again, and learn that baptism, the believer’s confession of the gospel, the believer’s confession of faith in Christ, is not an insignificant matter, but rather a matter of tremendous importance.


Mark 16:16  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."


          Let me be crystal clear. Baptism does not save anyone. Baptism does not wash away sin. Baptism does not convey grace. Baptism does not regenerate. Baptism does not contribute anything to the saving of our souls.


However, believer’s baptism and faith in Christ are intimately connected. True, saving faith in Christ and obedience to Christ go hand in hand. Where there is no obedience to Christ, there is no faith in Christ. “Faith without works is dead!”


          There are several things which need to be understood about this blessed ordinance of the gospel.


A. Baptism follows faith in Christ; it cannot precede faith.


          Without faith in Christ, baptism is nothing but an empty, meaningless religious ritual. It serves no purpose, except to make the unbelieving ritualist twofold more the child of hell than he was before.


Note: Infant baptism not only does not help children, it positively hurts them. It gives them hope without faith, as they grow up believing they are Christians rather than being faithfully taught that they must be born again.


B.  Believer’s baptism is an act of obedience to Christ our Lord. –Thus it is the answer of a good conscience toward God.


C.  Baptism is the means by which believers first confess their faith in Christ publicly.


1.     It is a picture of the gospel - Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and our death, burial, and resurrection with him representatively.

2.     It is a public identification with Christ, his gospel, and his people.

3.     It is a line of separation from the world and its religion.

4.     It is a pledge of commitment to Christ.

5.     It is a confession of our hope of resurrection with Christ at the last day.




          Look at the great, gracious, encouraging promises given in verses 17 and 18. Our Lord Jesus knew what great obstacles we would have to overcome, what tremendous difficulties we would have to endure, what battles we would have to fight, and how easily we would be inclined to give up the effort. Therefore, he cheers and encourages us with the promise of divine, supernatural, omnipotent power to attend our labors, power that would be unceasingly confirmed to us.


Mark 16:17-18  "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."


A.  It must be stated emphatically, in this day of charismatic chaos and confusion, that THE AGE OF SIGNS, AND TONGUES, AND MIRACLES ENDED WITH THE APOSTOLIC AGE AND THE COMPLETION OF THE SCRIPTURES.


          These things were literally fulfilled in the book of Acts, in the apostolic age, the formation years of the church. But no one has these apostolic gifts today. They were gifts by which the apostles were confirmed as God’s messengers, as his inspired spokesmen as the penmen of Holy Scripture.


Hebrews 1:1-2  "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."


Hebrews 2:3-4  "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (4) God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"


Having the complete Word of God, God no longer speaks by dreams, and visions, and signs, and wonders. There is no need for me to speak in tongues or perform a miracle to convince anyone that my message is of God. All you need do is compare what I say with God’s Word. Since that which is perfect has come (The Book Of God!), then that which was in part has been put away. If miracles were every day events, if they were common things, they would not be miracles!


However, just because the age of physical miracles has past, that does not mean that this text has nothing for us. In fact, its spiritual implications are even more delightful and blessed that the physical miracles performed in apostolic times.


B.  Our Lord here promises us that, as we go into all the world preaching the gospel, his presence and power will be with us incessantly, and manifestly confirmed to us.


          It is a great pity that our faith is so weak that we need for our God to confirm his Word to us; but it is a great mercy that our God condescends to our weakness. His eye is always upon us. His arm is always stretched out for us. His power is manifestly confirmed to us.


Isaiah 59:19  "So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."


          Just look around you, and behold this house of miracles, divine miracles, by which our God confirms the saving power of his grace revealed in the gospel we preach.


1.    Here is a people out of whom the Lord has cast seven devils, by the power of his grace.

2.    Here is a people who speak with new tongues. Mouths once filled with cursing and bitterness are now filled with mercy and grace!

3.    Here is a people who are forced every day to take up the serpents of this world and drink the deadly concoctions of the wicked, who are unhurt by the serpents’ bites and the poisons of the ungodly!

4.    Here is a people who were sick with the deadly palsy of sin, who have been restored to health by the grace of God.

5.    Here is a people who, like Lazarus, have been raised from the dead.

6.    Here is a people who are literally going through the world today, preaching the gospel, and thereby laying hands upon multitudes of sin-sick, impotent folk, dead in trespasses and sins, who are recovered by the grace of God!


          I ask you, my bothers and sisters in Christ, do you need any greater confirmation of God’s power upon us to do the work he has sent us to do? In these 19 years we have labored together, we have never yet…


·        Knocked at a door he did not open!

·        Come to a raging sea he did not divide before us!

·        Met an enemy he did not slay!

·        Had a need he did not supply!


          As our God has been faithful to us, let us be faithful to our God. Let us take to heart this commission. Let us each take it as the word of God to us personally. Let us take this as the great commission given by the Son of God to Grace Baptist Church of Danville, Kentucky, as though it were given to us exclusively!


Mark 16:15-18  "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."