We have seen the role of the Triune God in securing our salvation. We noted how the three Persons of the Godhead, in love, grace, and unity, chose to save fallen mankind and to re-create a new humanity under the Son from the fallen world and fallen creation (Rom. 8).The Triune God would make all things new – redemption-plan is from eternity past to eternal future (with the culmination of God’s eternal purpose in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21 and 22).

We considered also how the Triune God continues to work, even after the Cross, and after the formation of the Church (consisting of every race, culture, and nation throughout all generations) – the Father still sovereignly rules, overrules, and co-ordinate the outworking of this cosmic plan; the Son, ascended in glory, still carries on His mediatorial work, His intercession for the church, and His presence with the saints through the ministry of the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, indwells believers and the church, and transforms believers from within into the likeness of Christ and prepares God’s church to be the radiant bride for the Son in eternal future.

But we need also to realise that the ministry of the church in evangelism, discipleship and the fulfilment of the Great Commission, is also the continuing work of the Triune God, albeit, through believers and His church, by the Spirit, in conjunction with the Father, and the Son, who are spiritually present in the church, the temple of God.
The book of Acts, often touted as the acts of the Apostles, is in fact the acts of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who enabled the apostles and the believers to reach out from and in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the known world (Acts 1:8). He ‘orchestrated’ the whole outreach ministry, including allowing the persecution in Jerusalem (including the slaying of James; Stephen) and causing the believers to spread out and to reach their ‘neighbours’ with the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit of Jesus who met Saul on the road to Damascus and commissioned him as Paul to reach the Gentiles; it is the Triune God who granted boldness to the Apostles in Jerusalem to continue to share the gospel in the face of threats, persecution, and even death. It is the Spirit who enabled Paul, in the midst of severe persecutions and sufferings, to continue his ministry until he was beheaded in Rome.

When Jesus commissioned the Apostles and His followers in the Great Commission in Matt. 28, it is with His authority as the ascended glorious Son, at the right hand of the Father, with all things under His feet; note also that the commission is to make disciples (not conversions or increasing membership in the church per se); and the commission entails teaching the disciples all the things Jesus has taught His disciples (and the Holy Spirit would do this and remind the followers of Christ’s teachings, now written and revealed in the Scripture by the Spirit, the author and interpreter of the Bible).This is to carry on until the end of this Age.

The commision includes ‘baptising them in the name of the Triune God’; and baptism is a public declaration of our salvation and our loyalty and commitment to the Triune God. It is not just a casual ‘prayer of salvation’, without realising the serious commitment that may entail persecution, suffering, and the need for perseverance and endurance. Those who turned to Jesus in the early church were effectively saying that they were prepared to be committed to the Lord, even through tribulations and pain, even to the point of death.The church was founded on the ‘blood of martyrs’. Even in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, it is recorded, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the sun the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth, and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants and brothers and sisters were killed just as they had been” (Rev. 6:9-11).

So, what are the implications for the church and believers today in our obedience to the Great Commission (in evangelism, discipleship, and in preparing God’s people for the eternal hope and inheritance awaiting them in the eternal future?

We must first of all acknowledge that it is the Triune God who intends to work through us by the Spirit to fulfil the commission; it is not us principally, but ‘us’ in the context of dependence on God, in fellowship and deep relationship with Him, prayerfully abiding in Him, and doing God’s work in God’s ways. That does not mean we do not ‘work out our salvation and our calling’ but it is essentially ‘the works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:12-13).
But in the previous verse (vs 11), we are told, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service….” God gave this group of people, who are called, and enabled to equip His people for works of service to build up His church. They are to do this in preaching, teaching, guiding and living out the truths of the gospel, in dependence on the Spirit.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose” (Philipp. 2;12-13). Take note that it is God who works in us to enable us to do His will.
“Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come to see you or hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together with one accord for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you” (Philipp.1:27-28). Christians are not exempted from persecutions and sufferings; God uses sufferings to mould His people and His church.

Ministry blossoms in holy lives. In effective ministry (which included evangelism, discipleship), God’s power is channeled through God’s servants into areas of human need. A saintly person of limited gift is always likely to channel more of it than would a person who is more gifted but less godly. So God wants us all to seek holiness and usefulness together.

It has to be so, if effective Christian ministry is ministry of the Triune God, through us and the church, by the Holy Spirit. And holiness is attained through the work of the Spirit in believers from within; it is in conjunction with understanding and appreciating God’s revelation in Scripture – it follows that we cannot embark in effective Christian ministry without a lively abiding in the Triune God (John 15:5) – and abiding involves communion with Him and meditating on His will from Scripture. Effective ministry is an outflow of an intimate relationship with the Triune God – we do not attain this by learning methods and attaining ‘programmes’ – we are only able to do this by abiding in Him, by abiding in His Word, and together in the community (the Church). Those we led to Christ are not our disciples – they are God’s disciples and they belong to God’s community (the Church).

Ultimately, God does not need well-trained individuals in methods and programmes; He needs obedient, holy, humble servants of God who walk by faith and blossom in love for God, His people and the lost!!