By Paul Smithson
Just before He ascended Jesus commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15). “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt. 28:19). Why is it, however, that in many places the gospel is not being spread and disciples are not being made?
The problem may lie in that many have the idea that the responsibility of this great work is carried out by what is done together at the meeting house. For some, the idea of fulfilling the great commission is: building a meeting house, having sermons on Sunday morning and Sunday night, classes on Wednesday night, and having an evangelist come a couple of times a year to preach a series of lessons for a week. Regular meeting times are posted on the sign out front. When gospel meeting time comes around the date, time and speaker are posted on the sign. A few announcements are made and maybe an ad is placed in the newspaper inviting people to come– and if people don’t come, it is their fault and not ours, we’ve preached the gospel to every creature in our community!
But is that really what the Lord meant when He said, “Go and preach the gospel to every creature?” Is that what He meant when He said, “Go and teach them?” The Lord said “GO” we say “COME.” Who is right? The command to “Go” needs to be impressed upon the minds of every individual Christian, preachers included. To TAKE the gospel to people, you first have to GO.
Please understand that I am not saying these other methods of teaching are unscriptural or impractical. Pulpit preaching and classes at the meeting house are not only important and needed, they are Scriptural. There are certain responsibilities that God has given us that can only be fulfilled by our assembling and being involved in the these kinds of teaching. I’m simply emphasizing that these must not be the only methods of teaching we use lest we fail to obey the Lord’s command to “GO.” God has commanded us to come together and to teach in our assemblies, but He has also commanded that we go out preaching and teaching.
Pulpit preaching and class teaching are effective methods of teaching. However, these methods have their limitations. These methods are limited not because of the message, but because of their ability to present the message to all who are in need of hearing it. For people to hear the gospel proclaimed in assemblies they must come to our assemblies. And some will never come until we first “Go”. It is good to invite people to come to our assemblies as some will come and hear the gospel. Yet, we must remember we have not fulfilled our individual responsibility as a disciple of the One who came to seek and save the lost until we “Go.”