By Steven D. Baxley
In Isaiah 6, we have recorded the vision in which the prophet received the divine commission to go and warn the people of Israel of impending judgment upon them. In verse 8, God asks the question “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Isaiah answers with the words, “Here am I; send me,” thus expressing his own willingness to carry the Word of God to those who needed to hear it. Isaiah faithfully preached that message. Today, God calls us to take his message to a lost and dying people; a people with only one hope for eternal salvation: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Will our answer to that call be like Isaiah’s?
Notice please Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus is just about to ascend into heaven, but he has some final words for the disciples who will now carry on the work that he had begun. Jesus states: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Jesus issues a direct command, based upon his divine authority (v. 18) for the disciples to take his gospel into every nation of the earth. Now, notice what he says immediately after that: “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.” Jesus thus tells the disciples that they are to teach people to observe his commandments. This necessarily includes the most recent command that Jesus had delivered: the command to “teach all nations” contained in the preceding verse. Thus, we see that Jesus’ order to teach is applicable to all Christians, it is a universal order to which we are all subject!
First of all, we as Christians need to realize that we all have an obligation as individuals to teach our friends, neighbors, and family members. We should be like Aquila and Priscilla, who took Apollos aside and instructed him “more perfectly” in the Way of the Lord (Acts 18:26). Was Aquila a preacher? If he was, the Bible does not specifically say so. Was Priscilla his wife a preacher? Such is impossible based upon the New Testament’s teaching concerning the role of women in the church. Aquila and Priscilla were Christians who obeyed the command to teach others the gospel of Christ. The Christians in Jerusalem, when scattered by persecution, “went every-where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Recently, a study was conducted which produced the conclusion that 80% of the people converted to a denomination are converted not by the preacher in the pulpit, but by friends, relatives, and co-workers! I would venture to guess that such is true in the church as well. How many souls are blindly marching off to an eternal hell prepared for the Devil and his angels, with Christian friends and relatives making no effort to stop them!?
Secondly, we as Christians need to understand that we have an obligation to supply the gospel with “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Churches should be actively teaching teachers to teach. Christians should be raising up children who are indoctrinated in the faith, who love their fellow men enough that they will work at saving them from eternal condemnation for their sins by teaching the gospel which “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel will only reach lost souls when the church supplies teachers and preachers who will take it to them. How sad it is that some congregations have to beg for people to teach the Bible classes! How sad it is that some congregations have to beg people to become active in personal work programs! How sad it is that faithful congregations of God’s people have no regular evangelist to work with them because there are not enough preachers to fill all the empty pulpits in this land and in others!
Third, we as Christians need to understand that we have an obligation to do everything we can to support those men who are working in the Gospel. Paul, in speaking of his right to be supported in spreading the Gospel states: “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). The Church in Philippi was praised by Paul for their actions in helping him: “For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity” (Phil. 4:16). These Christians recognized the need to assure their neighbors an opportunity to hear the soul-saving gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, all too many congregations today do not have the attitude of the Philippians.
Finally, what we must recognize is that no single one of these means of fulfilling Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 is self-sufficient. Congregations should be involved in all three aspects of spreading the gospel. Congregations should be composed of Christians who, as individuals, are committed to personally teaching the gospel to others. Furthermore, congregations should be training their members to teach the gospel to others. And then, congregations must recognize the need to supply evangelists with the funds necessary for them to do the appointed work. We should not lament and complain by saying that we are incapable of doing these things, and then leaving them to be done by others. What if Isaiah had said to God: “Here is this other fellow; send him”? Would he have been pleasing to God? Absolutely not! Rather, we must be like Isaiah… we must answer God’s call with a resounding, “Here am I; send me.” This takes time, energy, and sacrifice. We must be willing to take the time to teach others, to expend the energy necessary to teach others, and yes, when it is required, we must be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to fulfill the ordinance of God to teach. When we do so, the church will grow, and be “like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Lk. 13:20-21), spreading throughout this world.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 20, p. 14
October 21, 1993