The Great Commission

Woodrow Plyley
Cincinnati, Ohio

One phase of the mission of the church, as God defines it, is to evangelize the world with the gospel of Christ. This objective stands first and supreme in the Work of Christ's church. This fact should never be overlooked nor forgotten. It is the business of every Christian to carry the message of Christ to the lost. The chief considerations of the church should be that all resources and energies be primed for this purpose. To this end the Lord gave us what is known as the "Great Commission."

For the past several years, preachers, elders, and churches have been plagued with letters from some of our "promoting brethren" begging for money to further their schemes which they are pleased to call the carrying out of the Great Commission of our Lord. Those who promote such efforts as the "Herald of Truth" have continued to plague the brotherhood with such letters implying that if there is not a willingness to contribute to such efforts we do not believe in, nor are we willing to carry out the Commission as the Lord gave it. Some of the questions which are concerning us are: (1) Do the scriptures authorize such arrangements as the "Herald of Truth"? (2) Can we meet all the demands of the Commission without supporting such an arrangement? (3) Does the "Herald of Truth" meet all the demands of the Commission to the extent that it can be truthfully said that it is carrying out the Great Commission? Number 2 must be answered in the affirmative; to this all will agree without question. Numbers 1 and 3 must be answered in the negative by all who know what is involved in such arrangements and in the scriptures.

The Lord said to His disciples, "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" (Matt. 28:19-20). Paul says, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). These passages emphasize three facts. (1) The responsibility of all Christians in carrying the gospel to the lost; (2) the church, the local congregation, is the organization through and by which this is to be accomplished; and (3) the objective is the saving of the lost. In all of God's teaching He has not given any authority for room for such arrangements as the Herald of Truth in doing any phase of the mission of the church.

There are two questions with which we are concerned in this article: (1) Does the Herald of Truth meet the demands of the Great Commission?; and (2) Can we, as Christians, meet the demands by contributing to such an arrangement? That which is involved in the Commission is clearly seen by a study of what is said. There are four points involved of which there is no escape. (1) going into every nation; (2) preaching the gospel to every creature; (3) baptizing the believers; and (4) teaching the baptized to observe all things whatsoever the Lord commands. All who are acquainted with the Herald of Truth must know that it does none of these.

The going is very extensive in its scope. In fact, it demands a contact with all people of every nation. According to Paul, this was done within thirty-five years after the establishment of the church (Col. 1:23) . This was done without the modern means of transportation, radios, and television. If it were possible to place a radio or television set in every home in the world and conduct a half dozen thirty minute programs each day it would be impossible to meet the demands of the Great Commission, because it would not be doing what is said to do. I believe that much good can be done by such means, but teaching alone will not meet the demands.

No doubt, the personal contact the early Christians made with those who were being taught had a great effect. upon them. The Lord said, "GO." It is to be carried to the lost. Often we say, "Let them come and get it." The demand of the Commission will not be met in its fullness until every person has been contacted and the gospel preached. For this reason, the Herald of Truth cannot even touch the hem of the garment in meeting the first demand of the commission.

After men have been taught and they have believed, they are to be baptized for the remission of sins. This is what the commission involves. In this, the Herald of Truth has made a miserable failure. Some time ago, while working with the church in Yazoo City, Miss., I received a letter which was. written by a gentleman of that city to the Herald of Truth which was forwarded to me. I was asked to contact the man who had written the letter. He was asking for further information on something he had heard on the Herald of Truth program. In trying to locate the gentleman, I learned he had left the city more than a year before. While noticing the date of the letter, I learned that it was written almost two years before I received it. If it were possible for the Herald of Truth to teach all men, it would be impossible for it to baptize the believer. You cannot baptize the believer by a remote control system. There must be that personal contact when the believing takes place. I understand the design of the Herald of Truth is to preach the gospel in remote places, where the church is not known. I wonder how many preachers and workers it has in such fields to baptize those who believe the gospel? Does it see that those who believe the gospel are baptized? If so, how is this accomplished? We must know in order to satisfy the demands of the Commission that the penitent believer must be baptized.. To fail in this is to fail in the whole. The believer is lost until he has been baptized for the remission of sins.

Another command of the Great Commission is to those who are baptized to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." I have heard and seen many of the Herald of Truth programs, yet I have never heard any part of such programs being devoted to instructing the baptized to observe the acts of Christian living in a specific manner. We must remember that it is just as important to instruct the child of God in Christian living as it is in teaching and baptizing the sinner; both commands are included in the Great Commission. For a person to believe and be baptized and fail to live as a Christian should, it would have been better for him to have never known the way (2 Pet. 2:21). Therefore, the necessity of teaching them to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

Thus, we take the stand that the Herald of Truth does not meet any of the four demands of the Commission. Informed brethren must know this. The cries: "Send your contributions to the Herald of Truth and obey the Great Commission" is but a deceptive move to encourage brethren to pour their resources into their treasury to further plans to do things in a big way. Brethren who think they are meeting the demands of the Commission by sending contributions to such efforts had better awaken to what is said. Until they do they have no right to criticize the sectarian preacher who tells the sinner to lay his hand on the radio and pray and he will be saved.

Truth Magazine, V:9, pp. 10-12
June 1961