By Mike Willis
The Lord gave the Great Commission to his apostles, charging them with the responsibility of taking the gospel into all the world.
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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28:18-20).
And he said unto them, Go ye into a the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believed not shall be damned (Mk. 16:15-16).
This commission charges us with the responsibility of teaching every creature of every nation the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is but one way for every man to be saved; there is not one way for a Jew to be saved, another way for an Iranian, and another for an American. The one gospel is to be taken to every creature of every nation under heaven.
How Well Are We Doing?
Having recently read some requests for support from foreign evangelists, I am concerned that churches not develop an attitude of preaching only in their backyard. There is a tendency for churches to send money only to support a preacher working with a congregation within easy driving distance in order that the elders can better judge whether or not to continue supporting him while he is doing a local work. While I am concerned about pouring money down a dry hole, I am also concerned that we not eliminate preaching on foreign soil. There are good men preaching the truth in Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Nigeria, South Africa, Japan, the Philippines, Canada, and other places. These men need and deserve our support. We need elders with enough concern for the lost in other nations that they will commit themselves to supporting gospel preachers who are willing to labor there.
Having worked with local congregations in several states, I am also concerned about how well we are taking the gospel to the home towns in which we live. Too much of our preaching is limited to the pulpit. Too few alien sinners are visiting our services. Consequently, we are baptizing very few every year. The gospel is the only power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). Unless we can bring the sinner into contact with the gospel, we cannot teach him the way of salvation. If he will not come to the building to hear the gospel preached, we are going to have to take the gospel to him.
Home Bible studies are an effective way of taking the gospel to a person who will not come to our meetings. Most of the people whom I have baptized have resulted from a private study in their homes. All of us preachers will verify this same fact. Yet, how many Bible studies are in progress among the members of the congregation where you preach? Once you determine this figure, you may be well on the way to realizing why so few are being baptized.
What Can We Do?
1. Accept personal responsibility. I can accept my personal responsibility to take the gospel to others. Paul said that “faithful men” will “teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). If I am going to be a faithful Christian, I must accept my obligation to teach others the gospel. Like the early Christians who were scattered abroad as a result of Jewish persecution in Jerusalem and “went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4), we who are going every where need to be preaching the word. I cannot excuse myself from this obligation saying, “That is the preacher’s job.” The preacher has his responsibility but so do I. I need to accept my responsibility to teach others.
2. Organize a Bible class. Each of us can organize a home Bible study in our neighborhood. While each of us may not be qualified to teach a Bible class, each can talk to his friends and neighbors about getting together for a Bible study. We can use our influence with our friends to encourage them to study God’s word.
3. Pray for the spread of the gospel. Each of us can pray for open doors for the gospel. We can pray for our friends who need to obey the gospel. No doubt there are Christians attending where you worship whose mates are not Christians. You can pray for these mates that they might obey the gospel.
4. You can open your home to visitors. When someone begins to visit the services, you can open your home to them in order that they might feel welcome and loved by the members of your congregation.
5. You can look for opportunities to do good to your friends and neighbors. Jesus said that our good works cause men to glorify the Father (Matt. 5:13-16). By doing good works, I open doors which enable me or someone else to teach the word.
6. You can live a life consistent with the gospel of Christ. Your life should be an example of what being a Christian means. Too many times (once is too many) the gospel is hindered by the moral character of those who profess to be Christians. You can live in such a way that the beauty of holiness is displayed in your life.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that nothing we do will accomplish anything. This becomes our excuse for doing nothing. I would hate to think that our reason for not reaching someone with the gospel was our unwillingness to work. I hope that we have not become so involved in the affairs of this life that we are neglecting our opportunities to teach others the gospel.
Brethren, let us renew our zeal for taking the gospel to this lost world. There are some who are still desiring to learn the word of God, although that number may be smaller than in some other periods of time. The soul we save in taking the gospel to others may be our own (read Ezek. 3:17-19).
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 17, pp. 514, 535
September 3, 1987