In Matt. 28:18, before Jesus gave the Great Commission, He established the authority by which He sent His disciples into the world. He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Understanding the significance of this authority is vital to the spiritual life of every Christian. Jesus has all authority, not only on earth, but in heaven as well. This means that He has supreme rule. In the Old Testament it was prophesied that the Christ, the Savior of the world, would become king over God's kingdom (1 Chron. 17:11). In Acts 2:30-31 Peter tells us that this promise of a king was fulfilled in Christ at His resurrection. "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ." Having sat down on His throne on high, Jesus has the preeminence over all creation. "And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Col. 1:17-18). In 1 Tim. 6:15 the apostle Paul refers to Jesus as the "King of kings and Lord of lords."
Why is this important? Because, in preaching the gospel in Acts 17:30 Paul warns us that Jesus, as king, is going to judge the world. He is going to judge all of us as to whether our deeds were good or bad; in obedience or disobedience to His authority. "…but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31). Because He is king, the words of Jesus are LAW. He spoke concerning the authority of His words in John 12:48 saying, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." In other words, Jesus is coming to judge the world where He will save the righteous and punish the unrighteous. The standard (the law) by which He will judge all men is His word. According to the Great Commission, the purpose of Christians in preaching the gospel is to save as many as possible from the coming judgment. Remember that Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved"? Saved from what? Saved from the judgment which He is bringing upon the whole world.
The reason Jesus is going to judge the world is because since the beginning men have walked in disobedience to God. Our purpose on this earth is to fear Him and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13), but we have not fulfilled that purpose "for all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23). But, in Christ God has given us the opportunity to undo the effects of that disobedience; to turn back to Him and serve Him as we were created to do. Therefore, when the apostle Paul went about preaching the gospel he commanded all men, "that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:20).
That is the message that we are to be preaching according to the Great commission. We are to teach all men about the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in so doing show that He has been glorified in heaven as King and will judge the world. If we want salvation we need to turn to Him in obedience. We need to make Him King in our lives. How do we do this? By "observing all things that He has commanded us."
When a person obeys the gospel he is not just joining a church and he is not simply making himself a better person. When a person comes to Christ by faith and is baptized he is making a commitment to submit to Christ in all things. He is saying that he believes that Jesus is in fact King, and that he will live before Christ in total obedience. Paul illustrated this principle in himself in Gal. 2:20 when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Therefore, in making Jesus our King, we live as if He is living in us. Though we are alive in our physical bodies, we put those bodies to work for Him, serving Him in all things. Without this commitment one cannot be a disciple of Christ. Without this commitment one cannot be saved in Christ because we are told that He is the author of eternal salvation "to all who obey Him" (Heb. 5:9). Why? Because He is King!
Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Jesus said, "for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). True faith in Jesus Christ requires more than acknowledging that He was a real person. True faith requires acknowledging that He is king, that He has all authority, and it requires our submission to that authority. That is why Jesus said to teach them to observe all that He commanded. Only when we live in obedience to His word will we know true joy, true peace, and true hope. Only when we live in obedience to His word will we truly have salvation in Him. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? If you do, then cast off the sins and cares of this world. Come to Christ with a humble heart and a meek and gentle spirit. Put on Christ (Gal. 3:26-27) and begin living the way God intended for us to live. That is the call of the Great commission. Are you willing to respond?