Commanded to Spread the Gospel
By Dr. Tom Walker
The greatest message that has ever been proclaimed is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the truth about the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior.
It is tragic that so many who claim to know Christ as a personal Savior do not show great concern and interest in spreading the Gospel message. If you had a cure for cancer and did not share it with others, what kind of person would you be? It would not speak very well of your character. So many individuals and families have suffered due to that terrible disease we call cancer. If there were a cure for it why would a person not share it? If there is a cure for man’s sin, and there is, why do we not spend more time seeking to let others know about it?
Some have estimated that the Apostle Paul traveled over 10,000 miles in spreading the Gospel of Christ. On his first missionary journey alone, it has been estimated that Paul traveled over 1400 miles. He did not have modern modes of transportation and yet he traveled all those miles because of what Jesus did for him on the Damascus Road.
There are four definite commands regarding the spread of the good news about Jesus and his love. We are going to spend a little time looking at those four mentions in each of the first four books of the New Testament.
Matthew’s Account- Matthew 28:18-20
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Who is the Lord talking to in verses 18-20? He is talking to His disciples or His followers. The lost are not interested in spreading the truth about Jesus, but His born-again people are. Saved people have an interest in seeing others receive salvation in Christ.
What does the Lord give us to help as we carry this commission out? His power is given to us that enables us to tell others about Him. It is because of that power given to the saints that we can spread the message of salvation to the lost. God’s power is “almighty” power. All power is almighty power. It has no limits nor restraints.
Look at the verbs in this version of the Great Commission. They are to go, teach, and baptize. Going has the idea of reaching out to others; going where they are. Teaching has the idea of instructing people in righteousness, whether it be in the pulpit or in the classroom. Baptizing is making an open confession of two main things. It signifies that we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In addition, it testifies that we are dying out to the old way of life and rising to walk in newness of life because the Lord has saved us.
What encourages us as we tell others about Christ? He says, “Lo, I am with you alway.” Our spiritual stimuli in getting out the Gospel comes from the knowledge that we are obeying the Lord and that His divine presence is with us in all our endeavors for Him. There is never a moment as we serve Him that he is not with us.
Mark’s Account- Mark 16:15,16
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Again, as in Mark 16, we are told how we should go:
We should go obediently because the Lord has commanded, we do so.
We should go confidently because the message we have is the right one.
We should go expectantly, believing as we proclaim God’s Word, He will bless it.
We should go compassionately, revealing a loving concern for the lost person.
We should go knowledgeably having put the Word of God into our hearts.
Observe first we are told where to go, “into all the world.” Wherever there are human beings, from the largest cities in the world to the darkest jungles of Africa, the message must be given. If you were in the place where the Gospel had not been, knowing what you know as a believer, would you not appreciate someone coming to you with the truth about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
In addition, we are told what to do, that being to preach the Gospel of Christ. We have a powerful message that can turn people from the wrong to the right. Paul put it this way: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom.1:16). Since it is the power of God unto salvation, we dare not miss our opportunities to spread the Gospel of Christ since it has such a tremendous power to bring about salvation.
In your first look at verse 16, it may look like both believing and being baptized are part of coming to know the Lord in salvation. The last part of verse 16 clarifies why the lost person will go to hell if they are not born again. The reason for being damned and condemned is due to the fact a person has not believed. No one is lost because they have not been baptized, rather because he or she has not believed in Christ as Savior and Lord. Baptism is not a part of being saved, it is a practice that follows salvation.
Luke’s Account- Luke 24:46-49
“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
So many today do not include the message of repentance in the good news we preach. One must be willing to turn away from sin before they can turn to Christ to be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor.5:21). Jesus said if people do not repent, they will perish (Luke 13:3-5).
God has chosen us to be His witnesses. A fellow said to me one time, “Why did God not choose to send out his message through angels?” My response to him was: “The angels have never been lost and redeemed, but us human beings who are saved have been. Who better to tell the story than those who have been lost and found?”
John’s Account- John 20:21
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
It unmistakable why the Lord saves us. We do not experience redeeming grace just that we might one day go to Heaven, but that we might have a mission like that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As the Father sent Jesus to “seek and save that which was lost”—we are saved in order that we might do the same thing. We cannot provide salvation. Jesus did that through the shedding of His blood on Calvary’s cross. However, we can teach and preach the good news that the Lord Jesus has taken care of the sin problem. If the Gospel of Christ is the solution for man’s sin, let’s not hesitate to proclaim this saving message.
Dr. Tom Walker is President of Foothills Bible College and Pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Marion, NC.