While it is true that everything our Lord said is extremely important and worthy of our deepest
consideration and respect, still we can’t help but pay special attention to the words he spoke
among the very last, before departing this earth. Included in these are what is often called the
“great” commission (as opposed to the earlier commission which was “limited” to the Jews only).
The great commission was designed as the mechanism to take the gospel into the entire world.
Jesus said, “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).
When we think about the broad scope of this amazing commandment, it is at once thrilling
and daunting. “All the nations” are to be taught, or discipled. From members of our own
immediate family to strangers in earth’s remotest bounds, our mission extends to everyone. To
those who are like us and those who are different, those of the same political persuasion and those
of others, or of no persuasion, fellow countrymen and aliens far and near, friends and enemies
alike, we have a God-given responsibility. And notice that we are not given the option of picking
and choosing—we are commanded to bring the gospel to all.
This is a self-perpetuating command. Although originally given to our Lord’s apostles, they
were commanded to teach their hearers “to observe all things whatsoever [Jesus] commanded”
them. Thus, the great commission becomes binding upon disciples of every age, as though our
Lord reiterates the command to each of us today. This means that I cannot escape my duties by
suggesting that someone else fulfill this part. I cannot pass this duty on to preachers, missionaries,
“personal workers,” etc. Each of us as a Christian is bound to comply with the great commission.
I know that this can often only be accomplished by financially and morally supporting others
who are actually in the field doing the work. Each of us cannot pull up stakes and personally go
to every mission field. But do we not often excuse our own lack of evangelism on the grounds
that we are “supporting” someone else to do it? How serious are we really about teaching those
within our own sphere of influence? How serious are we about obeying the great commission?
Many in my generation often thought of “mission work” as work done by missionaries in
foreign lands. We would think of far away places like India or Ghana. And as long as we had
funds budgeted for these “mission works,” we were safe in our compliance with the great
commission. But while these foreign places certainly qualify as mission works, can we not now
clearly see that the United States of America is itself a vast mission field? Ironically, a nation
founded on Christian principles and ideals, for the most part by Bible-believing men, has grown
so ignorant of God’s word! Most Americans are Biblically illiterate. They were told by someone
long ago, not to discuss religion – and they listened. Most Americans go months without any
serious Bible study, and they could not hold up their end of a serious Bible discussion if their life
depended on it.
For all of our lip service about “carrying out the great commission,” the American culture is
more secularized than ever—and what are we doing about it? Where is the fervor to teach our
children in our homes, establish Christian schools, and vigorously evangelize each
neighborhood? What has happened to the excitement of door-to-door canvassing? Where are the
home Bible studies? Are we making progress or losing ground? To many of us, the answer seems
painfully obvious: We are not carrying out the great commission.
We need to get back to viewing each person around us as an eternal soul. We need to see others
as spiritual opportunities, individuals who are lost without the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we
need to recognize that we have the one and only thing that can save them. We just need to share
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.