Let’s begin with the words of Matthew 28:19‑20 (KJV) –
“19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit: 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.”
WHAT IS OUR WORK?
We are definitely not travelling alone in this narrow way since GOD called out a faithful band of servants who, with every talent consecrated to His work, are steadily pursuing their course in the narrow way. We know some of them by name and by character and by their steady and progressive activity in the blessed work. And though not all of these have a copious amount of talents, they, nevertheless, quietly and unobtrusively go about from day to day preaching the wonderful words of life, and GOD is with them and is leading them on. Their hearts are full of joy and hope and they are kept securely amidst all the perils of this evil day. No amount of discouragement from the adversary, stops these that still remain amongst our midst, from continuing on with FULL ZEAL in the LORD’s work.
The ones who have the greatest appreciation of Truth,
are those who are FULLY enlisted in the LORD’s service.
If we bury our one or our many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family — whether this be by wasting consecrated time upon science, philosophy, music or art; or upon business, politics or pleasures; or in pampering pride and appetite – then as unfaithful servants we will sooner or later go into outer darkness, by being caught in some of the snares of this “evil day.” and will be led farther and farther into error and away from truth. (R.1282)
In no single case have we seen one drift away from the Truth in these last years of the Gospel Age among those who were very active and FULLY enlisted in the LORD’s work, whose one aim and endeavor was to herald the truth and to bless others with it. (R.1282)
“To such the LORD says, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’ – Ye shall never fail, for so an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ .” (R.3696).
Each royal priest is the peer of each other one in authority and dignity of priesthood; though in talents, intelligence, etc., and therefore in fitness, they are not all equals. (R.1137:4)
Some stewards do not quickly enough note talents which might be utilized in the Lord’s service. (R.1047:5)
Jesus’ words of Matthew 28:19‑20 to the apostles, apply to all fully consecrated disciples of Christ – who are authorized to preach the Gospel in any and every way, publicly or privately, by word, pen, or printed page.
THE THREE PARTS OF JESUS’ COMMISSION
PART 1 – MAKE DISCIPLINES of all nations
The word “disciple” signifies pupil, in the school of Christ, in the primary department. We are to first inform those who have ears to hear that they are sinners through the fall, but that GOD has made a provision for their rescue.
“We have a commission to proclaim the Gospel according to our opportunities and abilities.”(R5588:1)
The work of the Evangelist comes first, to make disciples. So let us continue to preach as the twelve disciples preached, “by the wayside” (Matthew 13:4) or wherever you find a hearing ear (Mark 4:9).
Pastor Charles Russell encourages and suggests, the following:
“If you lack talent for preparing a discourse,
READ FORCIBLY AND CLEARLY
something touching the subject
you consider most needful to your hearers.” (R. 1047:5)
“This Gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” (Matthew 24:14)
Since Christ died on Calvary as our Passover Lamb, the message of redemption has gone out to all who are willing to be disciples of Christ – no longer restricted to the Jewish people. The early disciples became witnesses to the Truth, and we should follow that example.
“Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
PART 2 – BAPTIZE them
Immersion is the correct translation and the original method of baptism, as acknowledged by many authorities. Water immersion is the outward symbol by which believers confess their faith in Jesus as their Redeemer. When a Christian devotes his or her life to GOD, one is “immersed” into the will of GOD, and thus into the service of Christ whom GOD appointed as our Lord and Master.
In Romans 6:3-11, Apostle Paul adds another dimension to our immersion into Christ – namely, immersion INTO the sacrificial DEATH OF CHRIST:
“Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
WHO CAN PERFORM THE IMMERSION SERVICE?
“All authorized to teach are equally authorized to baptize. That includes every follower of Christ, not excluding females, only that modesty indicates that they should avoid such public services except in rare necessary cases” (R1541:4).
“All baptized would be commissioned to perform this symbol for others; and, if no consecrated could be found, an unconsecrated believer, or even a worldly person or unbeliever, might do it.” (Volume 6, “Studies in the Scriptures,” page 454).
The following words are recommended by Pastor Charles Russell for any immersion service:
“Brother … in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, by this authority, I baptize thee into Christ” (Volume 6, “Studies in the Scriptures,” page 455).
There is the thought amongst some Bible Students that the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 may have been altered during the third century to support the development of the false doctrine of the trinity. This is well explained in a study titled “In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” by Lenard Griehs (“Beauties of the Truth”, January, 1991). The evidence for this seems good.
However, if one favors the text as it appears in the common version, following are some comments that are helpful.
“Into the name of” – signifies into accord with, into fellowship with (R5587).
By the words “The Father” ‑ the meaning is that “all of Christ’s disciples are to recognize the Father’s name as standing for righteousness; and they are to become dead to every other principle than that which His name represents, and to be thoroughly immersed into that name of righteousness, justice, truth.” (R.5587 )
“These words do not imply three baptisms in one. The use of the three names is as if you were using a firm name, such as Smith, Jones and Brown; all three names would be used to show that it has the authorization of the whole firm. The Divine Three ‑ Father, Son and holy Spirit ‑ are related to our faith in the Creator, Redeemer and Regenerator; and this suggests the three steps in bringing men into the divine image.” (R.197:3)
The words “Of the Son“ ‑ shows that we ignore all sectarian names, Protestant or Catholic, but rather, recognize the name of Jesus, Yeshua, the Messiah, and desiring to be his members, his Bride and his Body, “the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23, NIV).
The term “holy Spirit“ refers to GOD’s spirit, influence and character in our lives. The word in the Greek is “pneuma”, which means spirit (not “ghost” as in the King James version). The use of these words in Matthew 28:19 has been understood to signify that the immersed candidate’s own spirit or will becomes dead, and GOD’s holy will and mind are to become their will and purpose.
PART 3 ‑ TEACH them
The word “teach” in verse 19, is from a Greek word “matheteuo” and signifies proselyting or making disciples of.
It is not a command to convert the world but to gather out of all nations those willing to be disciples of Christ.
In verse 20, the words “teaching them” means instructing them regarding GOD’s divine character and plan, the graces of the spirit and the rooting out of the spirit of worldliness and selfishness. Not astronomy, geology, nor any of the vain philosophies about which the world speculates, but “the things which I have commanded you.” (R5045:4, 3200:2).
In Jesus’ words “observe all that I command you” we are reminded that all men are sinners, that Christ came to give himself a ransom, that he is the only way to life, that whosoever would come must take up his cross, that all believers are one with him, that every branch in him must bear fruit or be taken away, that those who trust in him are to hope for and expect his second coming, that we have a hope to be of those of the first resurrection, and that love is the fulfilling of the Law.
Jesus reassures, encourages, and strengthens us through his words to the Apostles, “I am with you always,” and we see this by the gift from GOD of the holy Spirit of GOD to guide and lead us through the age. By this, means Jesus is present with us in spirit. As our high priest, he sees to our spiritual interests. Jesus has been with his representatives in all their labors of love and self‑denial throughout the entire age so we are NEVER alone! We have the companionship of him who promised, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
In our Lord’s words, “even unto the end of the age,” the word “end” is from the Greek word suntelia, which means the ending period of the age. Now, in the present “Harvest,” or ending period of the Gospel Age, beginning with 1874 as pointed to in Daniel 12:12, Jesus is actively engaged on behalf of his saints to complete the Church, and inaugurate a period of transition into his Millennial Kingdom.
Jesus’ work for his people includes raising his sleeping saints in the first resurrection! Once the last member of the 144,000 shall have gone through the 2nd vail into the Divine Realm, then Jesus with His Bride, the Elect, shall establish his Kingdom, bless the nation of Israel with the New Covenant, and thus bless all mankind.
We are now not only in the Harvest, the ending period of the age, but even in the closing years of the harvest period itself. We have some years to go. Some brethren point to Acts chapter 27, and Paul’s voyage to Rome, as indicating the travel of the Church through the Harvest to the Kingdom, the center of world authority.
In this case, it is feasible that the 14 days of storm which precede the “Armageddon” crash of the ship of state, could suggest 14 years of distress closing the harvest.
In this case, those who consider that the blessed Millennium might commence another 27 years hence, find a milestone along the way, by which to check their expectations.
Meanwhile, let us not neglect our opportunities
to represent the Truth to all who may have a hearing ear.
We seek the last grains of wheat for the heavenly barn – so that thereafter the blessings of life can flow to the world. Then, through the elect, raised to heavenly glory, the inhabitants of the world shall all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, and secure wonderful, everlasting, earthly blessings.
“Let us remember, too, while using all the WISDOM we can in this service, that the Lord’s object in giving us a share in his work is not so much what we can accomplish as in the blessing that the labor will bring upon us. This will be an encouraging thought to the dear ones who are engaged in the “Volunteer” work; and if they find many discouragements and but small results the reflection that the Master knoweth them that are His, and that He appreciates every sincere effort made to serve His cause and to lay down our lives on behalf of the brethren, will give courage and strength to those who otherwise might faint by the way” (R. 2811).
“Let us see to it, not only that we do with our might what our hands find to do, but also that our every sacrifice and gift to the Lord and His cause is so full of love and devotion that the Lord will surely approve it; as done from love for Him and His, and not from vainglory” (R3166).
Charles T. Russell – “R” represents the “Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” The numbers next to the “R” represent the page numbers of the reprinted articles.
Leonard Griehs’ – for his study from “Beauties of the Truth” – as referenced in the above post.