One of the last matters Jesus addressed before his ascension was what we know as the Great Commission. When you stop and think about it, Jesus might have talked about many other things. He could have reminisced about his three years of intensive ministry with those apostles. He might have tried to leave them with some personal words of encouragement or admonition. He might have expounded upon doctrinal subjects with which he knew they were struggling. Or, he might have described for them what it was like to be crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, with a look forward to the place he was now going. But Jesus focused like a laser on the most pressing matter at hand: the need to evangelize the world with the gospel. This was of paramount importance.
“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” (Mt. 28:18-20).
Note that Jesus’ promise to be with us until the end of the world is dependent upon our obedience to his command to evangelize. If we are faithfully engaged in teaching God‘s word, Jesus is with us-he is interested, supportive, and in agreement with that endeavor.
The need to be carrying out the Great Commission has never been more urgent. We are living in an age where the fundamentals of the gospel are largely disregarded, and appear to be lost upon the majority of people around us. Most do not attend church services of any kind, and most of those who do are practicing denominational error. The need for teaching is great.
Our culture is being overrun by secularism, the belief that God has no meaningful place in human affairs. Prayer and spiritual discourse is being systematically removed from the public marketplace. If God’s name is mentioned on current television at all, it is usually used in derision or in vain.
The Lord’s church must focus on its crucial mission of glorifying God by preaching and teaching the gospel. The need for mission work, both foreign and domestic, is absolutely critical. Like Jesus, who came “to seek and to save the lost,” (Luke 19:10), we Christians must remember why we are here.
And we can do this! Jesus has not given us an impossible command. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that we envision, strategically plan, and carry out the Great Commission.
One area of our emphasis here at Central has consistently been in the realm of foreign mission work. Next week, we will feature an article detailing some of the specifics of this work over the years. But we are also greatly concerned with domestic and local mission work, because we are increasingly living in a “mission field“ here at home.
It starts at home. We need to get back to inviting our friends to the services. Let them know that they can expect biblical, scriptural preaching and teaching, and follow up with them in heartfelt discussions about what was taught. The preaching and teaching can be further tailored to the needs of the unsaved, if we know they are coming.
Start a Home Bible study! Whether in your own home or in their’s, the regular, weekly teaching of God’s word will produce a great harvest. Growing churches are busy in personal work. Personal evangelism is the most dependable way to fulfill the Great Commission.
We need to see every person around us as an evangelistic opportunity. They are souls who need to be taught! The cashier at the grocery store, the restaurant waitress or waiter, the receptionist at the doctor’s office, etc. etc. Give them a good tract and a kind word. Invite them to services. Expect them to come, and give them a warm welcome when they do.
It’s time to remember why we are here and get back to our mission. It’s time to stop being timid or acting like we are “ashamed“ of the gospel. It’s time to start winning the world for Jesus Christ!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.