Editorial: Reflections On The Great Commission -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:2 (Summer 2011)
Article: Editorial: Reflections On The Great Commission
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Reflections On The Great Commission

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

Everyone admits that our Lord Jesus’ command before his ascension to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28:18-20) is programmatic for the church. It has been rightly labeled the “Great Commission” for Christ’s church. If we are to be faithful and obedient disciples of our Lord we cannot neglect what the Lord of the church has commanded us to do. With that in mind, I offer three reflections on the Great Commission which hopefully will set the stage for this issue of SBJT, which is devoted to this very important subject and the larger theme of global Christianity. First, at the most basic level, the Great Commission is foundational to the church’s purpose. Often the church’s purpose is described in a threefold way. Our first and primary purpose is to glorify God and to worship him in every area of life. Worship, it must quickly be stated, is not merely what we do on Sunday or how the “worship team” leads us in singing and praise. Rather, “worship” is a comprehensive category in Scripture that describes our engagement with our covenant God through faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. Such faith necessarily expresses itself in daily obedience and service to God in every sphere of life, including our gathering as the people of God. Second, the church’s purpose is to nurture and edify God’s people in order to build them up into maturity in the faith (Col 1:28-29; Eph 4:11-16). Another way of stating it: the church is to make disciples by teaching them the Scriptures (cf. 1 Tim 4:6,11,13; 5:17; 2 Tim 2:1-2,14-15; 4:1-5; Tit 1:9) which equips “the saints for works of service” (Eph 4:13). Third, the church is to take ...

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