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A Summary of Michael Horton’s The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples

August 16, 2012

Horton’s book is basically an exposition of Matthew 28:18-20. Under the theme of the Great Commission, Horton’s exposition consists of three main points: (1) message, (2) mission, and (3) methods.

I. Introduction: The Great Announcement

The Great Commission begins with a great announcement of Jesus that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18). According to Horton, this glorious announcement is our motivation to do the Great Commission, because it assures us that Jesus has the power to save sinners.

II. Message: The Gospel of Christ

God sent His only begotten Son to the world to save whoever believes in Him.

III. Mission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (v. 28 b)

Horton emphasizes that the goal of the Great Commission is to make disciples. Christ mandates us not only to declare the gospel to the lost but to disciple new converts also. For this reason, we must show to these new believers their need to be part of a local church where they can grow in their faith along with other older believers.

IV. Methods: The Word and the Sacraments

On the basis of Matthew 28:19-20, Horton lists the following four God-instituted methods for making disciples:

Preaching: We need to preach the law and the gospel. Horton says, “The law commands, telling us what we must do and threatening death for transgression; the gospel promises, telling us what God has done in Christ for our salvation” (166). The gospel is not just for unbelievers, but for believers as well.

Baptism: Horton argues that baptism is “not only Christ’s mandate in the Great Commission but also means of grace that God uses to give us faith in Christ and to strengthen that faith to the very end” (173).

Teaching: Horton notes, “When Jesus included in his commission ‘teaching them everything I have commanded you,’ he underscored the point I made…that a disciple is first of all a learner… (175).

The Lord’s Supper: Hortonexplains, “Although it is not mentioned in the Great Commission, the Lord’s Supper is included on the command to teach everything that Jesus Christ has delivered to his apostles” (177).

V. Conclusion: The Great Assurance   

The Great Commission ends with a great assurance that Christ will be with us always through His Spirit. This assures us of the Great Commission’s success. The Commission begins with the power of Christ and ends with His presence.

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