Part 2 of Why Preach the Gospel?
We are sent to share the Gospel. In a statement known as the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus told his followers to go to all nations. They were sent to proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Evangelism is more than having an audience raise their hands, repeat a prayer or sign a card. Making disciples goes beyond baptism. It’s an investment into people’s lives that involves building relationships and working together in ministry. Followers of Jesus are not to just promote him but to lead others into a life of following. To teach others all that Jesus has command we must first learn and understand ourselves. The two processes actually happen simultaneously. We continue on the journey of learning and being conformed to the image of Christ while recruiting others to walk with us. Go to all the world, preach/teach/share the Gospel, make disciples. To this task we are called.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
Some translations render the Great Commision in terms of preaching the Gospel to every creature. Acts 1:8 says nothing about preaching. Jesus said to all watching and listening, his last words before ascending into heaven, “be my witnesses.” Any Christian believer should be able to share their faith with another person, even if it’s one on one. It doesn’t take a platform, an auditorium or a degree in theology to tell someone what Jesus has done in your own life. As a matter of fact you might be a better witness without those things. Your family members, your friends and your neighbors – the people you have already built a relationship with, the people in your sphere of influence – may be more receptive to hear the Gospel or anything for that matter than to listen to a preacher or pastor.
The Great Commision is the sending of believers into the world to make new believers. Acts 1:8 is about being witnesses of what we have seen and heard, first where we are and then beyond. Preachers, pastors, ministers and missionaries are called into a life of service. To paraphrase Romans 10:13-15: To call on the Lord people must hear about him. To hear someone must preach. And to preach one must be sent. All believers are to do the work of evangelism. There are many spiritual gifts and we are all working together to build the kingdom. To those in vocational ministry, it can be discouraging. We don’t always see an immediate return on the time and energy invested. Sometimes there is no return that we can see at all. But if you have answered that call let me encourage you not to turn back now. Paul said we press toward the mark and the prize; everyday is not like running the race. Some days it feels like walking uphill against the wind. I wish I could give proper credit but all I can say in this case is that I once heard a preacher say “If you can quit preaching, you should.”
Why preach the Gospel? Because God has called us and sent us into the world for this singular purpose. We are compelled. Jesus and all of his chosen apostles gave their lives for the Gospel. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12