Volume 1 September 1, 2002 Issue 14

The Great Commission

"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. (Matthew 28:19 & 20 KJV)

In a world that has so many different religions and so many different denominations that call themselves "Christians," what do we do with this command to go into all the world and teach the Gospel?

As Americans we might think, "Who hasn't heard the Gospel in this country?" This is a valid question with television and other mass media pumping out messages daily that include the name of Christ and various versions of His teachings. However, in spite of the environment in which we find ourselves, this command to go and teach remains.

It is so very easy to give in to the idea that pretty much everyone who wants to hear the Gospel has done so. And most people already have a religious belief anyway, and after all who are we to impose our belief on them. This attitude is wrong on several counts. First, many in this country have not heard the Gospel of the New Testament. Second, even if they already have a religious belief, there is ample opportunity to learn and share our beliefs. Third, there are many people who have reached their fill of organized religion and its many deviate behaviors. The fact is that the saving power of the Gospel is exactly the same now as it was at the time it was instituted. It only becomes activated however, when we seize the opportunities that God gives us to "go and teach" it.

After discussions with many individuals over the last year we are convinced that America is actively looking for the Gospel without the many trappings that have been associated with organized religion.

As we read again the command given to us by Jesus Christ Himself, it is void of qualifications or a definition of who, where or when. The command was simply to — Go, Teach, Baptize and Teach.

As we read throughout the book of Acts, we find that the Apostles and Disciples did just as they were instructed and numerous accounts of conversions are noted there. They sometimes carried out this command at considerable risk to themselves — even to death. The commitment that they accepted was so extreme that they often faced powerful people without fear of stating the fact that those people were worshipping the wrong gods, or that they were lost in their sins (Acts 26:1-32; Acts 17:1-9; Acts 6:8 through Acts 7:60).

Those who accept the Gospel do so because of their need for salvation. We must be people who exercise love to a degree that will allow us to be able to teach those whom God places in our path, in a manner that does not create an overly intense feeling of embarrassment concerning their lifestyle and/or lost condition. Those people who are searching for a chance to have an fresh start with a new life will be sufficiently hard on themselves. We read in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit "...will convict the world concerning sin...." Also, Acts 2:37 tells us that those who heard the Gospel "...were cut to the heart..." and asked their teachers "...what shall we do?" It is our responsibility to do the "planting" as we have opportunity and trust that God will give the increase (I Corinthians 3:6 & 7).

At the risk of offending some readers of this publication, it seems to be obvious to us that an individual must accept that s/he is in a lost condition before s/he can realize the need for a Savior. Certainly we must handle each situation with tact and care, but we must also be honest with the one whom God has given us the opportunity to teach. When presented with the opportunity to discuss what we think his/her situation would be if s/he died and had not taken the necessary steps to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, the answer could be well stated in the form of a question. We might ask that individual; "Would you like to know with assurance that you are secure in your relationship with God?"

It is not for us to determine what God would choose to do with individuals who have not accepted Christ as their Savior — we can only speculate based on what we are told in His Word (Matthew 7:21-23; John 3:5; Romans 6:1-5). We can however, know with assurance that those who accept Christ in the watery grave of baptism and live a dedicated and faithful live in His service are promised a home with God in Heaven. (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:4; I Peter 3:20 & 21; John 3:16). We must work to assist individuals in removing any doubt concerning their relationship with God and whether or not they are assured of an eternal home with Him in heaven. That is spreading the Gospel.

It is one thing to hope to spread the Gospel, and another to intentionally do so. When we choose to accept and act on the command to "Go...and teach...," we should have some idea of how we might share with others the hope that is within us (I Peter 3:15).

For the balance of this article we are going to concentrate on a way of sharing the Gospel that has been useful to many throughout the years. We are assuming that there is sufficient rapport established with the individual with whom you are studying, to allow the sharing process to be open and without pretense.

First of all (and most important), it is essential to establish where the person is in relation to their understanding of the Bible. It is arrogant of us to make assumptions about his/her beliefs and move forward as if our assumptions are indeed reality. Spend time discussing his/her religious background and attempt to establish the level of understanding concerning the Scripture. It is always comforting to know that God will aid us in our efforts through His Spirit, but it is wise to have an idea of the order of topics you plan to discuss and their location in the Scriptures. This will give the learner a clear picture of what the Scriptures say concerning his/her particular circumstances and/or beliefs.

The following are realities that must be dealt with in order to bring one who is in need of a Savior to Christ.

  • All of mankind is lost for eternity without Christ — not just the person being taught, but ourselves as well, before accepting Christ.

    "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God".(Romans 3:23 KJV)

    "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23 KJV)

  • The Bible deals with this subject of "lost mankind" starting with the "Fall of Man" in Genesis 3 and ending with the eternal destiny of man in Revelations. It is a complete work.

  • When the individual with whom we are studying accepts that s/he is in fact in an eternally lost condition without Christ as his/her Savior and understands that this condition does mean eternal separation from God, s/he at that point, is a candidate for further study. If s/he has not reached this realization, study should continue, but this fact must be readdressed with an intention of gaining its acceptance. Otherwise, the individual will see no need for salvation through the blood of Christ.

  • Upon his/her recognition of the need for salvation, the book of Acts gives ample illustrations for anyone to know how individuals became Christians from the very beginning of the Church.

  • In most instances when an individual comes to the realization of the need for a Savior s/he is motivated to want to know what s/he needs to do to accept Jesus as his/her Savior. It is at this point that we can rely on the book of Acts to lead the way. The examples of conversions listed in Acts clearly demonstrate exactly how the early Christians accepted Christ as their Savior. In every example they came into contact with the blood of Christ by being immersed in the watery grave of baptism for the remission of their sins.

  • Romans 6:3-7 tells the newly baptized individual that s/he is now a new creature in Christ and that s/he has re-enacted Christ's death, burial and resurrection in order to come into contact with Christ's cleansing blood.

    "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His Resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (NAS)

It is even logical! We bury our sinful life and give our new life to Christ.
Christ died was buried in a tomb rose on the 3rd day to live again.
We die to sin are buried in a watery grave rise to a new life.

  • The newly baptized individual then begins a new walk. (Romans 6:6-14). This is where some of the greatest challenges begin for a new Christian. Satan does not loose his hold easily and his/her need for Bible study has just begun.

Though much time has passed since Jesus commanded each of us to Go, Teach, Baptize, and Teach, the message is as fresh and as powerful as the day he spoke to the Apostles. The same things that made a person a Christians then are the same things that make a person a Christian today. Make no mistake about it.

Resist any temptation to be drawn into a discussion of the validity of how people became Christians in Acts. It is just as simple as it was then and it has not changed. The very same steps that were valid then, are still valid today. Anyone who teaches that it has changed is simply attempting to rewrite the Word of God. It's simple, it's clear. There's no need to twist what God has so clearly "spelled out" for us into something that is obscure and/or complicated to understand.

You will notice that the enclosed extra sheet in this issue is a chart listing cases of conversions throughout the book of Acts. It clearly demonstrates the way the early Christians accepted Christ. We hope that this issue and the extra page enclosed will encourage you to share Christ with someone you know.



How was salvation obtained according to those accounts listed in the Bible?

ACTS 2:14
Acts 2:37
Acts 2:38-41
Acts 2:38-41
remission of sins
Acts 2:38

ACTS 8:5
Acts 8:12
Acts 8:12-13

EUNICH heard
ACTS 8:35
Acts 8:36 & 37
Acts 8:37
Acts 8:38
Acts 8:39

SAUL of TARSUS heard
ACTS 9:17
Acts 22:10
Acts 22:6-10
Acts 9:18
sins washed away
Acts 22:16

ACTS 10:34-43
Acts 10:43
Acts 11:18
Acts 10:48
remission of sins
Acts 10:43

LYDIA heard
ACTS 16:13
Acts 16:14
Acts 16:15

ACTS 16:32
Acts 16:31
Acts 16:33
Acts 16:34

ROMANS 10:14
Hebrews 11:6
Acts 17:30
Romans 10:10
Galatians 3:27
2 Timothy 2:10

"Diligence" is a privately funded publication of:
Dennis and Sherri Owens — Cincinnati, Ohio