…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… Matt 28:19-20
The Great Commission! How it excites us to go and preach the good news to everyone, to the whole world. We feel responsible for it; evangelists and preachers constantly encourage us to be missionaries, taking God’s Gospel to the utter parts of the world. But let’s look at this passage in context:
The Lord Jesus, after being resurrected, was with His disciples when He spoke the words. In context, the disciples were given the responsibility to teach to all nations. When reading the epistles in the New Testament, none of authors ever mention that preaching the Gospel is a responsibility of ALL saints! If it were so, the epistles would be filled with such commands; but they are not! Instead they are full of teachings of who God, who Christ is, who the Holy Spirit is; they are full of encouragement, rebukes, admonitions, instructions on godly living.
Not all are apostles, not all are teachers, not all pastors or preachers or evangelists! 1 Cor 12:29. Not all Christians are called to evangelise! But because of misinterpretation of the Scripture, we have all sorts of Christians feeling compelled to preach their own gospels because they feel it is their responsibility to obey the Great Commission (which was given only to the disciples!) Christians pay less attention to the instructions in the epistles (which are inspired by the Spirit of God) but more on the making the Gospel known, which they themselves do not live. They come up with their own interpretations that sound amazing and simple and adaptable, which do not require much change in lifestyle. The key to making the Gospel known by Christians is by LIVING it! That is why the epistles are filled with rebukes towards wrong lifestyle; the authors did not give instructions on evangelism. If there’s no change in your life, how dare you preach your gospel of ‘no change’ to others?? If your lifestyle cannot be differentiated from that of the heathen, you have no right to tamper God’s Word! The assumption that the Great Commission is applicable to every Christian has caused much confusion. Unbelievers observe our lifestyle more than our words.
By this I do not imply that we are not to speak of Christ at all; it is necessary that we declare God’s mercy and forgiveness towards us by sharing our testimonies, yet the greatest way to share a testimony is, again, by living the Gospel. Let the heathen see us and know we’re different because we have the Light; those convicted are bound to inquire.
Let the Lord choose His evangelists! Those who teach and preach His Word are at a greater risk of His judgment, for they use His Word – they could either speak His Truth or make twist it to deceive. Such are held highly responsible by the Lord (James 3:1).