Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. (Psalms 110:3)
At the end of Matthew’s gospel is one of the most familiar of all texts concerning the work of the church. It ends with the commission of world evangelism given to the apostles by the risen Christ. The task of preaching the gospel to the nations was daunting to say the least, and seemingly unreasonable given the nearly wholesale rejection of the Lord’s own ministry. He was despised, rejected, beaten, humiliated, and crucified which was no indication the message He preached would gain widespread acceptance.
There was, however, a very important factor that made the task possible. It was His resurrection from the dead which told the disciples that anything was within His power. He was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). If the risen Christ commanded world evangelization, it was therefore possible. Jesus further declared the success of His commission by saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
This brings me to the 110th Psalm with its powerful message of the authority of Christ. In verse one of the psalm, David wrote, “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This is a conversation between two persons of the Godhead. God the Father spoke to God the Son promising He would receive all authority in His kingdom. The suffering and death of the cross would result in His exaltation to the right hand as the King of heaven and earth.
This psalm holds the distinction of being the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. The importance of it cannot be overestimated especially as it relates to the closing verses of Matthew. There are two critical factors for the success of the commission of Matthew 28:19-20 that arise out of Psalm 110:3. The psalmist wrote, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power…” As witnesses of the gospel, the disciples were not much willing as they forsook the Lord and despaired in His death. They saw no hope of a dead Messiah fulfilling His promise of being the King in an earthly kingdom. However, their hope was revived with the resurrection. The power of the risen Christ and His promise to remain with them by the presence of the Holy Spirit gave them the sorely needed motivation for gospel preaching. They were willing to attempt an impossible task because the strength to accomplish it was not their own.
It is wonderful to have courage induced by the strength of Christ, but as impressive as this is, it is not enough to complete the task. This alone will not turn wicked sinners with depraved hearts to Christ. The factor of a willing soul-winner is needed but another factor must also accompany it. The second factor is a willing lost soul. This is equally impossible without supernatural ability because no souls are willing to come to Christ. Man’s will is bent away from Christ and will be forever unless it is changed by the Holy Spirit. This is what the Holy Spirit does in regeneration. He brings dead sinners to life and enables them to choose Christ in repentance and faith. When scripture says, “Thy people shall be willing” we know the gospel will be successful because God makes it so. He empowers the soul-winner with the courage to preach and then guarantees the success of the preaching by empowering the sinner to believe.
This is a topic that requires much more time and space, but it should be noted the word says, “Thy people shall be willing.” No others become willing except those who have been chosen by God to believe the gospel. This powerful combination of enabled soul-winners and enabled lost souls is far more than enough to convert those intended to be reached. Thank God none of this depends on our power. There is no success without God’s power and nothing but success with God’s power.
Pastor V. Mark Smith