I know I touched on the Great Commission before, but I wanted to devote my entire ranting to it. We notice in Mark that Jesus talks about salvation. He gives His commission to His disciples (and, therefore, us) to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel message to everybody, not just to a select few. People who put their faith in God will be saved!
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. (Mar 16:15-16 NLT)
Next, we look back into Matthew, and notice that Jesus doesn’t only talk about conversion, but about an ongoing teaching. He says to go into all nations and make disciples. In other words, to teach, or instruct.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Mat 28:18-20a NLT)
It is my belief that the Great Commission was meant to be carried out by individuals, rather than for people to reply on the Gospel message to come from the pulpit. I believe that we need caring Christians who are willing to carry their cross into the world they live in, and not rely on a church to do the job for them. I believe the job of the church is to:
- Glorify God
- Edify and instruct believers
- Comfort the hurting
- Provide a means of salvation to the lost
Notice how I put the salvation of the lost last on the list? I do not believe it is the primary job of the church to find people who need Jesus, and deliver Him to them. I believe that job belongs to each individual Christian. I had a pastor once who loved to say, “Shepherds don’t beget sheep, sheep beget sheep!” It is not our job to decide who needs Jesus, but to share our faith with everyone. The Great Commission tells us to “preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.”
The Bible doesn’t tell us to hound someone, or to annoy them to death by preaching the Gospel to them. I like the way Patrick Morley put it in his book Man Alive, “Evangelism is simply taking someone as far as he or she wants to go toward Jesus.” We can’t force people to accept Christ, but we need to make Him available to them. Once someone does get saved, we can’t just leave them dangling, with the recommendation of a good church. According to Matthew 28, we must disciple them.
Christ modeled this plan for us. He called 12 men, and He discipled them for 3 years. With the Great Commission, He calls us to do the same.