THE GREAT COMMISSION
"Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen" (Matt.28:19-20 Para.).
The assignment that Jesus gave to his followers to proclaim the gospel is often called the Great Commission, because it should be a priority in the life of a Christian in this age. However, there are a few questions that a follower of Christ should be able to answer in order to carry out this great commission:
There are a great number of specific questions that could be asked in regard to the Great Commission; however, in this section we will confine our discussion to these four questions and a general overview of the subject.
The first thing that we notice about the Commission is that it is not a request, it is a command to proclaim the gospel.
The English word 'gospel' comes from the Greek word 'enaggelion' which means a 'good message'. Today, we would say that gospel means 'the good news' or the 'good news message'.
Who Will Receive the Gospel?
During Christ's ministry, he confined his proclamation of the gospel to a very small geographical area where there were mostly Jews. However, after his death and resurrection the gospel was to be proclaimed to all nations until his return at the end of the age.
The apostle Paul tells us that the gospel was to be preached to the Jews first and then to the Greeks (i.e., other people):
"So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom.1:15-16 Para.). See also Rom.2:9-10.
When Jesus sent his disciples out to proclaim the gospel, he specifically sent them to the house of Israel:
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, do not go into the way of the Gentiles [those not of the covenant people, i.e., non-Israelites], nor into the cities of the Samaritans: But rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt.10:5-7 KJV).
During the events of the healing of a woman from Canaan, Jesus said, “I am only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. See Matt.15:21-28.
When we analyze the scriptures that concern where the gospel was first proclaimed, it becomes clear that the assignment to preach the gospel requires that the Father's message be taught to the covenant people (Israel) first, then to all other nations (this was done in part by the early church).
Once again, just prior to the end of this age, the gospel message will be primarily directed toward national Israel, which is comprised of the House of Israel (the lost ten tribes) and the House of Judah (the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi). See Isa.58:1; Rev.18:4-5.
It is not the writers intention to point out exactly who and where the various tribes of Israel are today, because this information is readily available to anyone who wishes to research the subject.
What Will be Accomplished?
The gospel message is a warning, a witness, and an instruction to be proclaimed as follows:
Who is to Proclaim the Gospel Message?
The apostles and the early church preached the gospel message with great spiritual and physical power through the written word and personal and public evangelism.
During the time just prior to the return of Christ, the elect of God will again preach the true gospel message in much the same manner as the early church. Only this time, it will be preached with even greater power than it was by Jesus Christ or the early church. During this time, the gospel message will be proclaimed not only as a means of personal salvation but also as a means of national salvation, and as an announcement that Jesus Christ is coming to assume total rule over the earth and its inhabitants.
Although the primary responsibility for preaching the gospel fell to the apostles and those specifically chosen and sent to evangelize, the responsibility was not theirs alone; it was to be a task shared by all of the elect. All who believe the gospel message and have accepted its terms and conditions for salvation must participate in the preaching of the gospel. See 1.Cor.12:1-31.
What is the Message?
Jesus told his disciples to teach the things that he had commanded. This command not only referred to the things that he had taught during his earthly ministry in human form but also the things he had taught Israel as the Creator God before he became flesh. Please read Jn.1:1-11; Eph.3:9; 2.Tim.3:16.
"And he said to them, You go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; and he that does not believe shall be damned" (Mk.16:15-16 Para.).
All who hear the Father's good news message are held responsible for their response to it. All those who hear the message with understanding and truly believe its message, then act upon it in a positive manner will be spared from eternal death. However, those who hear with understanding and turn their back on the opportunity that is presented to them will suffer eternal death.
A short review of the early church and its preaching of the gospel message clearly shows that, when the early church disappeared as a powerful unified organization, the preaching of the gospel message as Jesus taught it also disappeared.
In order to teach and observe the things that Jesus taught, one must first truly understand what he taught. What Jesus taught will be referred to throughout this section. It is a biblical fact that what has been taught by popular Christianity since about 100 A.D. is not the gospel that Jesus taught. It is also a biblical fact that the true gospel will again be taught just prior to the return of Jesus Christ as Conquering King.
THE GOSPEL AND THE EARLY CHURCH
The elect went forth evangelizing and spreading the Father's good news concerning Jesus Christ, salvation, and the Kingdom of God. Their spiritual zeal literally changed the course of history as they taught the Father's good news message of salvation. However, it was not in the plan of God to save the world during Jesus' lifetime nor during the apostolic era of the church; if this had been his plan, he would have done it. See Isa.6:8-10, Matt.10:34-36, 13:10-15, Mk.4:11-12; Lk.8:9-10.
Few realize the awesome power that Jesus placed at the disposal of the early church in order for them to fulfill their commission to proclaim the Father's good news message. There are at least 21 distinct authorizations of spiritual/physical gifts of power from God noted in the New Testament that were given to the organized and unified Body of Christ. See our study papers concerning the spirit of God and spiritual gifts.
There are many accounts in the New Testament of the elect using these powerful authorizations at their discretion to perform miraculous works in order to fulfill their commission. See Acts 5:1-15; 6:8; 13:8-11; 15:12.
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new languages; They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover" (Mk.16:17-18 KJV). See also Acts 1:4-5,8.
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen" (Mk.16:20 KJV). See also 1.Thes.1:4-5.
SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES
Jesus Christ had tremendous power at his disposal; he used this power at his discretion and authorize others to use this same power. Among his authorizations of power from the Father were the following:
Greater Power to Come
"Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater, than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (Jn.14:12-14 KJV).
As powerful as the apostolic era of the church was, they did not do a greater work than Jesus. They did perform many great acts and miracles as a powerful witness. However, the historical record clearly shows that they did not do a greater work than Jesus.
"And I will pour out my spirit on my slaves and on my slave-girls in those days. And I will give signs in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord" (Joel 2:29-31 Para.).
Just prior to the return of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords, the prophecies show the dynamic power of the holy spirit again being manifested through the elect of God. During the time of the end, the church of God will have all of the spiritual and physical authorizations that Jesus and the early church had and more. There will be a unified dynamic body of the elect of God who will be filled with tremendous spiritual and physical power with which they can defy the very laws of the physical universe. No spiritual or physical power will be able to stop them from performing their God-given task to proclaim the entire gospel message, teach the truth of God, and announce the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.
Theirs is a greater work because their task is greater than that of the early church. Therefore, they require greater power to proclaim the gospel and warn a sinful and rebellious world that it is about to meet its Creator.
The Prophet Habakkuk
"Behold you [the various tribes of Israel] among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, you will not believe, though it were told" (Hab.1:5 KJV). See also verses 1-4.
The apostle Paul issued a prophetic warning to those of his day and the future in regard to Habakkuk's prophecy:
"Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you" (Acts 13:40-41 KJV). See also Isa.29:9-14.
THE OPEN DOOR
In the last years of the apostle John's life and during the time when the once powerful and dynamic church of God was disappearing from the world scene, Jesus Christ revealed to John the major events that would take place and the conditions that would exist at the time of the end. One of the major things that will be happening during the time of the end is the proclaiming of the gospel to the world with great physical and spiritual power:
"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have a little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them to come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you" (Rev.3:7-10 NIV).
At the time of the end, centuries after the door through which the early church preached the gospel had been shut and locked, Jesus Christ will open another door through which the gospel will be preached. This time, the door will remain open and cannot be shut by anyone except Jesus Christ who has opened it. During the time of this prophetic open door, the gospel will be preached to the world and the great commission will be accomplished by the powerful, unified elect children of God:
The gospel message that Jesus brought from the Father and that his people preach is so dynamic, so powerful, so diametrically opposed to what has been taught by this world's religious leaders and philosophers that the vast majority of people will hate and reject it when they hear it proclaimed.
When one does a detailed analysis of the prophecies concerning the time of the end, it becomes apparent that the fulfillment of these prophecies surrounds national Israel and the nations closely associated with them. It is primarily to these people that the gospel was preached by the early church, and it is primarily to these people that the gospel will be preached during the time of the end.
In his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul spoke of preaching the gospel to national Israel prior to and during his lifetime and during the time of the end.
As we review what Paul said to the elect at Rome concerning the preaching of the gospel to national Israel scattered throughout the world, we see that, indeed, Israel will have heard the gospel preached prior to the return of Christ.
Romans 10:11-21 Paraphrased
"For the scripture says, Whosoever believes on him [Jesus Christ] shall not be ashamed. . .For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (vs.11-13).
Paul opens his comments about national Israel and their salvation by affirming that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ and no other.
"How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without one to teach them? And how shall one teach unless one is sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those that preach the good news of peace, and bring good news of good things" (vs.14-15).
It is a fact that one cannot believe in God the Father or Jesus Christ if one has never heard of them; therefore, someone must be sent to convey this information in order for there to be belief. Paul also spoke about the fact that it is a great honor and blessing to be one who brings the good news to others.
"But they have not all obeyed the good news. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report? So then faith comes by hearing and hearing, by the word of God. But I say, Have not they heard? Yes truly, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the habitable world" (vs.16-18). See Isa.53:1; Psa.14:4.
Here Paul speaks of both a fact of history and prophetic events of the future. The ancient nation of Israel did not, as a whole, believe or obey the good news message that they were given by the Creator God through his priesthood, prophets, and servants prior to his coming to earth as the Messiah. The majority of the Jews and other Israelites who lived during the time of Christ, the apostles, and the early church did not believe the Father's gospel message either, and the majority of the house of Israel and the house of Judah who are scattered among the nations of today's world will not believe the Father's gospel until after the return of Jesus Christ.
How did the nation of Israel hear the gospel after the death of the apostles and the disappearance of the early church? And how will they hear it just prior to the return of Jesus Christ?
Since the death of the apostles, Israel has heard the gospel message preached throughout the centuries through the publishing of the Bible—the most published and read book ever written. Wherever you find racial Israelites throughout the world, you will find the Book of the Law and/or the Old and New Testament being preached and/or taught. You will find one or both of these books in almost every home, business, library and lodging place in an Israelitish nation.
Just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, all of Israel, wherever they have been scattered throughout the nations of the world, will hear the gospel loud and clear through a powerful and dynamic witness, but they still they will not believe and repent:
"But I said, Did not Israel know? First Moses said, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a nation of no understanding I will anger you. But Isaiah is very bold, and said, I was found of them who did not seek me; I was revealed to them that did not ask about me" (vs.19-20). See Deut.32:21; Isa.65:1.
The people and nation that Moses and Isaiah spoke of are those whom God the Father has called to salvation through Christ during the gospel age—a royal nation of king-priests drawn from among national Israel and other nations of the world. These are called to salvation outside of the covenant relationship with national Israel and are called to proclaim the Father's good news message to the houses of Israel and Judah and the world at large prior to the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings.
"But to Israel he [God] said, All the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contradictory people" (Rom.10:21).
God has sent many prophets, preachers, and teachers of his word to Israel since he made a covenant with their ancestors centuries ago at Mount Sinai. And today, he is still stretching out his hand to this disobedient and rebellious people.
A DECEIVED WORLD
Many who profess to believe in the God of the Bible do not truly believe in the reality of Satan the Devil; however, this evil being is real. It was he who first deceived Adam and Eve. And it is he, along with other evil spirits, who is actively deceiving the entire world with evil worship systems, philosophies, political/governmental systems, and false messages of peace, prosperity, and salvation:
"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, that deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev.12:9 KJV).
Jesus clearly says that the whole world is being deceived by this powerful evil spirit and those who were cast out of heaven with him. The Bible also shows that the only ones who have not come under the deceptive influence of this incredibly powerful and evil being are the elect of God.
The major reason for so many different religions, philosophies, and political/governmental systems in the world today is Satan's deception. Satan began his master plan to destroy the work of God with the deception of Adam and Eve and he has been going about his devious business ever since.
Jesus revealed to the apostle John that, prior to his return, the whole world would be in a state of deception. The whole world including the vast majority of those who profess to follow the true God have been deceived into believing false concepts and philosophies that are supposed to bring peace, prosperity, and salvation, but in reality, they eventually bring just the opposite:
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2.Cor.11:13-15 KJV). See also Deut.13:1-5; Jer.23:21-22.
Yes, Satan has many ministers (servants) and organizations, both religious and political, disguised as messengers of light (Rev.2:9; 3:9). His servants are in every strata of society, from common people to leaders of religions and nations. If you were to ask these people if they were evil servants of Satan, they would most likely become very offended. Deceived people do not know that they are deceived, otherwise they would not be deceived.
The Bible shows that Satan is the god of this world (2.Cor.4:4). The whole world, including the vast majority of Christianity, has come under the deceptive influence of this incredibly powerful, evil spirit-being. They look to his false religions, philosophies, and political/governmental systems for salvation from their social and spiritual ills.
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matt.24:11 KJV).
It is the majority of people in today's world who are deceived into thinking that the way to peace and happiness can be obtained through human effort alone:
"Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and there will be many who will go through this gate: Because difficult is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few will find this gate and way" (Matt.7:13-14 Para.).
It is to a world that has been deceived for thousands of years into thinking that they can solve their own problems that the gospel will again be proclaimed with tremendous and awesome power. It is to this deceived world that the plan of God is again being revealed as the only means of personal and national salvation.
The gospel of the Kingdom of God is a far cry from what has been taught over the centuries by a false Christianity. The true gospel is so dynamic, so powerful, so diametrically opposed to what has been taught for centuries that the vast majority will reject it when they hear it.
Before the foundation of the world, God the Father and the Creator God (who became Jesus Christ) set in motion a plan by which humans could be born into the Family and Kingdom of God. This plan requires true belief in the true Sovereign God and his Son, repentance from sin, baptism, redemption, and salvation. See Acts 2:38; 3:19.
Over 1,900 years ago, the Father sent his Son to his chosen people to explain the method by which humanity could secure an abundant, happy, and prosperous life for all eternity. Instead of being overjoyed at this good news, the Jews murdered his Son and persecuted those who continued to proclaim his message.
One would think that because the gospel message claims to hold the keys to life and death for those who hear it, the message would be well received. However, this is normally not the case at all. Most who hear this message go about their daily lives as if what they heard will not effect them.
THE GOSPEL TODAY
Today, just prior to the return of Jesus Christ to conquer the earth and establish his Father's religion and government over it, the true servants of God are to proclaim the good news of God the Father just as Jesus and the apostles did centuries ago.
Believe the Gospel
Jesus Christ said that those who truly believe the gospel message and are baptized shall be saved and those who do not believe shall be damned:
"And he said to them, You go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; and he that does not believe shall be damned" (Mk.16:15-16 Para.).
When the Creator God came to earth as the Messiah, he did not come to make this world a better place in which to live under its present leadership:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matt.10:34-35 KJV).
Jesus came to proclaim the good news of salvation for humanity, the coming Kingdom of God, and the preparation of a people to rule the earth with him. See Matt.24, Mk.13, Rev.5:9-10, 11:15; 20:4-6.
The sword of division and separation that Jesus brought is the Father's word and truth concerning the reason for all of humanity's ills and his solution to remove those ills—his good news message. It is this truth that cuts deep into the soul of each individual and causes a division and a separation between those who believe the Father's truth and those who do not. See Eph.6:17; Heb.4:12-13.
THE END SHALL COME
Jesus said that after the good news of the Kingdom of God is preached, something will end; this something that will end is human rule on earth:
"This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then the end shall come" (Matt.24:14 Para.).
It is obvious that the preaching of the gospel by the early church did not bring an end to human rule on earth or result in the return of Jesus Christ; therefore, this prophecy was for another time—the time of the end.
Many prophecies speak of the time of the end in the context of cataclysmic earth-shaking events that will effect the heavens as well as the earth and all its inhabitants. It should also be obvious to anyone who studies the Bible and world events with an open mind that we are now living in the time just prior to the end spoken of by the prophets and Jesus Christ.
Death and Destruction
A question that needs to be answered is how could the preaching of anything, whether religious, philosophical, or political, precipitate an end to the world's governments? What is it about this message that will cause massive death and destruction to come upon this world?
It is not the message itself that will bring the end of human rule. The thing that will bring about the end of human rule is the wrath of God upon the earth because of people's refusal to accept the Father's good news message and respond appropriately.
The good news message is a call to repentance for the house of Israel and Judah first, then for the rest of Abraham's descendants and the world at large.
Because the vast majority of those who hear the Father's good news message will not repent, the Father is going to cause his wrath to fall upon the earth and its inhabitants. The horrible events that are coming with ever increasing rapidity are just a preview of the great devastation that will occur just prior to the Father sending his Son to conquer and rule the nations of the earth.
The Creator God first came as the Messiah to proclaim the Father's Good News of the coming Government of God and taught how to enter the Family and Government of God. Jesus commanded his Father's children to proclaim this same Good News and announce that the next time he comes to earth, he will come as a Conquering King to gather the elect of God and enforce the way of peace, happiness, and prosperity upon humanity.
It matters little whether one believes the Father's good news message or not, because the events of the future will come to pass whether or not one believes this good news.
Both Paul and Peter were inspired to issue a warning about what is going to happen to those who will not take the gospel message seriously:
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, until the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, coming in flaming fire and taking vengeance on them that do not know God, and that do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2.Thes.1:7-8 Para.).
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables" (2.Tim.4:2-4 Para.)
"For the time has come to begin judgment at the house of God, and if it begins with us, what will be the end of the ones who disobey the Father's good news? And if the righteous are scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1.Pet.4:17-18 Para.).
By B.L. Cocherell, file b1w10