The Great Commission
One of the greatest responsibilities given to the Christian is called The Great Commission. Many either don’t know or misunderstand their responsibility under this charge given by our Lord Himself. Matthew recorded: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20}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. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19- 20). Mark recorded: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. {16} He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16).
Years ago brother Ivan Stewart titled a book: “GO YE” MEANS “GO ME.” Preachers have always tried to help brethren understand that the Great Commission was given to ALL Christians, not just to the preachers.
Notice Acts 8:1, 4: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles...{4} Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” One of the great misunderstandings is that all the responsibility lies upon ourselves and our own ability to teach. Many have tried to teach at least one person, but when that person didn’t respond they never tried again. We need to see that the sinner also has a responsibility. In fact, let’s see exactly who has what responsibility.
As Christians we do have the responsibility to take the gospel to our neighbors, friends, relatives, etc. Brother Ivan Stewart was right: Go Ye Means Go Me. Those first Christians in Jerusalem understood that. First of all, they were so joyful that their sins had been remitted by the blood of God’s own Son that they could not refrain from telling others. And, according to Acts 8:4 above they readily accepted the responsibility. But, we must understand that not every one we approach will want to hear nor will everyone we teach respond.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if EVERYONE we taught would obey? But all will not; in fact, MOST WILL NOT! Most do not want what God has to offer. Most are not willing to make the changes that God demands. On the other hand, when one does obey it is worth all the dozens that didn’t obey or turned us away. Once the sinner has heard the plan of salvation the responsibility shifts to the sinner. He has heard the truth. He knows that God loves him. He knows what God gave for him. He knows what he must do to be saved. He knows that God hates sin, and that he must give up the sins in his life through repentance. He knows that God has given only one plan of salvation, and that He has purchased only one church with the blood of His Son. What he does with what he knows is UP TO HIM. He can think about it—toss in his sleep over it. He can put it aside with anger and prejudice, or he can obey it. We cannot FORCE him to obey! There is an old cliché: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
We need to remember that Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Sometimes it just takes time for the gospel message to prick the heart. We have taught, and the sinner has heard and understands. If he is lost now he has no one to blame but himself, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16). Once the sinner has obeyed there is a double responsibility. He must desire to grow, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Peter 2:2). Peter also instructed, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; {6} And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; {7} And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. {8} For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8) We all have the responsibility to help each other grow: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13). James said, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” also “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; {20} Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:16,19- 20).
The Great Commission is given to every Christian. Go and teach! BUT, don’t let someone’s lack of response cause you to quit. When you have taught, you have fulfilled your responsibility!

By John D. Cotham

Return to the General Articles page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /