Why go? The closing words of Matthew’s Gospel give the answer (Matt. 28:18-20).
First, because it is the LORD’S PRECEPT — “Go ye!” Immediately before His ascension into Heaven He came to His disciples to give them that message. “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying” —Earlier He had said to them, using the illustration of the plentiful harvest, “Pray ye!” (Matt. 9:38). About the same time He had commissioned them to “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” They had prayed, they had gone, they had healed, they had cast our demons, they had preached. Before His departure to the Father the Lord extended their sphere of service to “all nations,” and their activity to making, baptizing and fully instructing disciples in the doctrine He had imparted to them. This expansion would necessitate an increase in the numbers of those who received the precepts of the Lord. Even while the apostles were alive, others who are not called apostles obeyed the precept and “went everywhere preaching the Word.” Paul, before his departure commissioned Timothy to commit to faithful men the things he had learned, in order that they in turn might be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). So the Lord’s command to “go” is still binding upon His disciples today.
Second, those who obey the precept are assured of the LORD’S POWER. “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth.” The word translated “power” means “authority.” Here are the credentials of the Lord’s servant in all ages: he has the authority of his omnipotent Lord, and that extends to every department of activity and every sphere of action in Heaven and on earth. His gospel, of which His servants are the ‘trustees,’ is His “power unto salvation” to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). Here the power is dynamic and inherent in the gospel, effecting the salvation and transformation of the believer. There is no limit to the authority and power of the Lord Jesus, for “the Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hands”; and there is no limit to the power of the gospel His servants proclaim provided it is received simply by faith.
Third, with the precept and the power to obey it comes the Lord’s Promise, which is unbreakable and unshakable. It is emphatic, too, for He says, “I will never, no never, leave thee; I will never, no never, forsake thee.” All who truly go forth for Him can with assurance count on Him. This is one of the most precious and encouraging of the “exceeding great and precious promises” given to the servants of Christ. “Lo I am with you alway.”
The promise from the Lord’s own lips is a message of inestimable comfort, and the assurance of the Lord’s Presence which is the substance of that promise becomes by faith a blessed reality to all who obey His precept. His presence may be realized always, in all circumstances, conditions and climes, each and every day of our lives, and as long as His servants are engaged in service for Him, right to the very end of the age. It is enjoyed by faith now. When He comes to reward His servants, we shall see Him “face to face;” we shall be with Him where He is; and we shall be like Him.
But can we claim His “LO!” if we ignore His “GO!”?
A poem written by Dan Crawford, missionary to Luanza, Garanganze, and the author of Thinking Black, would seem to be a fitting conclusion to the above brief study of the great Commission of our Lord.
Came a vision of St. Paul—
Scene, within a Roman Hall.
Face lit up with holy gladness,
Festus twitted him with madness.
“Noble Festus, nay! not mad!
But a heart supremely glad.
All my soul is now aglow,
For I’ve heard my Master’s ‘GO!’
And His LO!’ I’m ever with you,
Prove I daily this is true.
Caesar could not order so;
Christ said ‘GO!’ and also ‘LO!’
Came the echo down the ages,
Record true of saintly sages;
Came the witness all sublime,
Of those conquerors of time,
Whether living they or dying,
This their shout, all time defying;
“Men of God, the order’s so:
Ours that ‘GO!’ and His that ‘LO!’ “
Came the vision of the years
Of the lonely pioneers;
Came their sob of hope forlorn
For the breaking of the morn;
Came the rugged tug of doubt,
Then anon — the victor’s shout
And the routing of the foe
To Christ’s tune of ‘GO!’ and ‘LO!’
Comes the warning of the Lord
To all readers of His Word,
His appeal of love and yearning
That we hasten His returning;
Warning us lest we forget
That the Christ must tarry yet
While His servants are so slow
Forth to ‘GO!’ and prove His ‘LO!’
Comes a message from the Throne
Answering the heathen groan,
Comes a voice from God’s right hand
Word of hope for every land;
“Go ye into all the world”—
Let My banner be unfurled:
Widen out your ranks and ‘GO’
And I’ll flood them with my ‘LO.’