Tag Archives: Gospel

The Great Commissions of the Bible

If one were to stop and think through what evangelism is, having only the “Great Commission” passages, he would probably come up with something to the effect of: By Christ’s authority and by the power of Holy Spirit, we are commanded to go into all the world, teaching and so proclaiming to every person in God’s creation that Christ was to suffer, die, and rise again on the third day for the remission of sins upon the repentance and faith of the sinner, baptizing the new convert and teaching them to live in a manner worthy of their calling, taking upon ourselves the very mantle of Jesus.

This means that Christ has the authority not only to send us out as evangelists, but that He has the authority to give us lost souls to save. As with Paul who having been threatened by the Jewish leadership was told by Christ Himself: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people,” (Acts 18:9-10, ESV). In these two verses, we see Jesus’s authority commanding Paul to keep speaking and His authority by proclaiming there were many still yet to come to faith.

Yet, it is also done in the power of the Holy Spirit. As Spurgeon wrote, “Dependence upon God is our strength, and our joy: in that dependence let us go forth, and seek to win souls for Him.”[1] Without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in believers’ lives and the lives of the lost to regenerate their souls, they are helpless and weak.

In one’s evangelism effort, there is not to be one stone left unturned. As believers, each ethnicity or people group is to be evangelized, and no believer is to be prejudice toward any, but are to proclaim the truth of the gospel, and upon the convert’s repentance and faith, baptize them into the fellowship that is Christ’s church. But according to the “Great Commission” passages, the job does not end at baptism, but continues as the evangelizer teaches and builds them up in their faith so that they are not those who fall away due to trials, tribulations, or the of this world.

This is a command. As Dave Early wrote, “The word commission is a military term meaning ‘an authoritative order, charge, or direction.’ . . .The one disobeying the commission would be subject to court martial.”[2] Thus there is a seriousness within the commission. It is not a suggestion, nor is it to be taken lightly.

If one were to look at the five passages in question, he would see that there are similarities but also differences in each one as to how the church is to live out the commission. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told His followers to go in to all the world. The same would be true in Mark and Luke as well. But in Matthew, one reads that he is to make disciples and baptize the converts. He does not leave room for Savior only theology as he instructs His followers to teach them to observe everything He commands.

In Mark 16:15, one simply reads she is to proclaim the gospel. Like all of Mark, this is a very succinct verse. When one gets to Luke, the definition of the gospel comes through: the Christ must suffer, die, and rise again for the remission of sins. This then strengthens the doctrine of the church as to what the gospel is and what it is not. What is vital to actually evangelize and what is simply information-swapping.

As one reads John recording Jesus’s words that He is sending His followers just as He was sent (cf. John 20:21), one sees that Jesus was the example of how the commission was to acted upon. One is to spend time with those who are lost. One is to have a heart for those who are like sheep without a shepherd. One’s mission in life is to win souls to Jesus. That can only be done by testifying as to who Jesus is and showing what He has done, as read in Acts 1:8.

None of these verses get the full picture of evangelism in and of themselves, but read in light of each other, the church gains an understanding of the action she is commissioned to take. That being said, if I had to pick only one of these five passages, I would have to choose Luke 24:46-47 as the gospel is clearly delineated within those two verses. There is the mention of repentance and the remission of sin by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ.

What are your thoughts on the Great Commission passages (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-47, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8)? Did I get anything wrong? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments section; I’d love to hear from you.

[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1981) 39.

[2] Dave Early and David Wheeler, Evangelism is. . . How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville: B & H Academic Publishing Group, 2010), 21.

As Long as There is Breath

In the ancient lands what often took place was that the people would find a mountain, or if there were no mountains a hill, and they would use that as their capital city and the main place of worship.  They would build a temple to their greatest deity or deities as if to proclaim to all the other peoples around them or traveling through their cities that their god was watching over them.  Jerusalem was no different.  They had chosen Mt. Moriah, the mountain where Abraham had nearly sacrificed Isaac, also known as Mt. Zion to be their temple mountain and capital city (Jerusalem).

They had made a beautiful temple built at the instruction and care of Solomon.  It was one of the finest temples ever built in the ancient Near East.  It glittered in the sun. It shined in the night.  It could be seen for miles away.  It was a magnificent sight to see.  It is understandable why the elders of Jerusalem wept bitterly after coming back from Babylon and seeing the new temple that had been built.

If you have read Micah, you’ve probably noticed that he had proclaimed that the people of Judah were horrid people.  The government was corrupt, the prophets and priests were corrupt, and God was going to judge them.  They would lose everything.  They would be exiled and their lands would be destroyed.  The temple mountain would grow bushes and weeds because it would be torn down and abandoned.

But Micah, like God, loves the people too much to leave them in despair.  “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it,” (Micah 4:1).

This is what we would call poetry parallelism: highest of the mountains = above the hills. Micah’s point here is simply that God’s mountain, Mt. Zion, His house, the temple will be greater than the others. God is establishing His greatness above the other gods.  The palace of God, the temple (both the same word in Hebrew) would be not only restored to its original greatness and popularity, but even greater than it has ever been.  The debate over who has the stronger, more powerful God will be over.  God will be the undisputed champion of the world!  Everyone will know it.  No one will doubt it. People will be coming from everywhere!

That’s what Micah tells us, “And many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem,” (Micah 4:2).

What’s that?  People all over the world, nations, which to the Jewish listener would mean Gentiles were coming to worship Yahweh, the God of the Jews.  In other words, God would not simply be the God the Jews but the God of the world.  His kingdom would be over everyone!  Not in some God created everything so He is the king of everything kind of ways, but people are coming from all over the world and worshiping God because they long to do so!

The word of the Lord is no longer confined to the people of Judah, but is spread all over the world.  It began in Jerusalem, but from there is spread like wild fire to the ends of the earth!  Does that sound familiar?  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8).  By the time everything is said and done we will see what John saw:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:9-10).

What began 2,000 years ago will continue until Christ returns.  There is no limit it would seem to the people who come into this kingdom.  Nations, peoples, tribes, languages.  Think about those who are being persecuted in places like North Korea who have buried Christians alive, Afghanistan where people have put bounties on their own family member’s head because he/she became a Christian. People from those nations that seem like no one would ever believe (and every other nation) will come to know Jesus!  What we generally look at as a lost cause and a hopeless situation will turn around by the very gospel that we hold!  For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.  No one is outside the power of God’s gospel.  As long as there is breath there is hope.

Please leave me a comment; I’d love to read what you have to say. If you found this encouraging please feel free to share.