The Great Commission

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Jesus said, "Go into all the world!" This statement is more than just a request. Christians of every generation have heard these words. Jesus did not merely command them, but with His arrival He became the first missionary to people in need of salvation.

"And they went out and preached everywhere" (Mark 16:20). Jesus is the best example for the service of evangelism. His great love was the basis for His influential life (1 John 3:16).

 

Love

A burning love for lost souls is necessary for saving them. All knowledge about people is useless without a deep love for people. Without love, the best sermons, the most original evangelising methods, and the most interesting topics are useless. Entire congregations have died out because they lost their love for people.

Paul writes to the Philippians, "For God is my wit- ness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:8). In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul explains that all efforts are in vain if love is miss- ing. A man was asked why he drives to the other end of town to go to church, even though there are churches in his neighborhood. He simply replied, "that is where I am loved."

Sacrificial Love

It was Christ's love that brought Him to earth and made Him equal to men (Philippians 2:6-7). Someone who has a burning love for lost souls offers himself in order to save others, and does not manipulate others for his own gain. Paul writes to the Corinthians about his attitude as a Christian missionary, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). "Just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved" (10:33).

We find an illustration of an important principle of missionary work in 2 Kings 4:34 where Elisha, "went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm." Both Elisha's willingness to fit himself to the child and the warmth of his body caused the miracle of life. Formalities and rituals have never been able to save a soul, even though they may have risen from good intentions. It is much more effective to understand and fit oneself to the circumstances and culture of a people. Hudson Taylor and many other missionaries discovered this secret and were able to use it for a great blessing. They considered the traditions and culture of the country and also held services in the native language of the audience. These are essential elements in the great work of spreading the gospel.

A preacher was once asked what his local congregation was doing to save souls in their community. The honest answer was, "Nothing at all. There are many poor people who live in this area. Most of them are alcoholics. If they would come to church they would bring their problems to us. We would be forced to help them, and they would disturb our whole order and we don't want that." The preacher who had asked the question responded, "You are making yourself guilty of their souls."

Wisdom

Jesus started His conversation with the Samaritan woman very wisely (John 4:7). The result was the saving of many souls. Similarly, Paul preached the gospel to the Athenians in the wis- dom of Christ (Acts 17:22-23).

A king had a dream. He dreamt that all his teeth had fallen out except one. He called for wise men to interpret his dream. The first said, "King, all your relatives will die and you alone will remain." The king was furious and had the wise man beheaded. The second wise man explained the dream with a smile, "Wor- thy King, you will live such a long life that you will outlive all your relatives." He was greatly rewarded for his positive inter- pretation. Both men interpreted the king's dream with the same meaning but formulated their words differently. It is not only the message that is important, but also the way it is presented.

It is important to learn the traditions, religions, and cultures of a people for missionary work. This knowledge should be wisely applied when preaching to the lost about their souls, salvation, and eternity.

What do we offer people? Jesus brought eternal life (John 10:28). The apostle Peter possessed heavenly riches (Acts 3:6). We need to offer souls something that they need and captures their interest. If you apply the right fragrance to the wings of a dove, it will lure many other pigeons. Throughout history the lives of Christians have spread a pleasing fragrance, and have raised the moral standards that society needs.

Jesus First

"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4). All the efforts of Christ were meant to reveal and glorify the Father. The task of our life is to win souls. Two men were fishing trout. One man hadn't hooked a single fish, while the other's pail was full. The first man asked, "How is it that you've already caught so many fish?" The other man answered, "I'll tell you three secrets: First, make yourself invisible to the fish. Second, step back even farther. Third, move as far to the side as possible. Then you will have success." It's similar in the work of the Lord. Christ must be preeminent–it's all about Him! Honor and glory belong to Him alone.

Lost souls are never saved by chance. In order for at least some people to be saved, we must hear – above all the noise of our time – the call of Christ: "Go into all the world!"

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