By Paul K. Williams
The Great Commission contains the marching orders for the church of Christ. It is Christ’s New Testament in brief, and the letters of the apostles spell out the details. I often use the three accounts of the Great Commission Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47) to teach people what they need to do to be saved. But the Great Commission was given primarily to teach Christians what they must do.
There are five commands to the apostles recorded by Matthew and Mark. They are: (1) Preach the gospel. (2) To every nation. (3) To every creature. (4) Baptize the believers. (5) reach the disciples to observe all things commanded by Jesus. These commands spell out the primary duties of the apostles and of all those who would follow the apostles. And these are the commands by which we should measure the success or failure of the church.
When I see a congregation with two hundred members, a nice building, a faithful preacher, and a growing attendance, I generally judge it to be a good church. When we see such a church in a community, we feel the town is well served. But such is not necessarily the case. I fear that too often churches which seem to be “good” churches are failing woefully when measured by how they are carrying out Christ’s marching orders.
Preacher, elders and teachers should be judging their performance strictly by how successful they are in leading the congregation to carry out these commands. A church can seem successful while failing in every one of these five areas. Judge not by the size of the building, or the numbers attending, or the amount of the contribution. Judge not by the reputation of the preacher or of the elders. Judge solely by whether the gospel is being preached to every nation, to every creature, in such a way as to cause believers to be baptized, and by whether those baptized are being taught to observe all things commanded by Jesus.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 27, pp. 12-13
May 10, 1973