the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this sixth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the first responsibility given to the church in the Great Commission. This is the responsibility to take the gospel message to a lost and dying world….
The First Responsibility Found In The Great Commission: Evangelize The Lost.
1. What Is The Gospel Message:
The clearest definition of the four parts of the gospel message is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain….”
Part #1 Christ’s Death
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”
Part #2 Christ’s Burial
“And that he was buried,”
Part #3 Christ’s Resurrection
“and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
Part #4 The Witnesses To The Resurrection
“And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”
2. The Responsibility to take the gospel to the lost is given to the Lord’s local assemblies in:
Matthew 28:18-20: To Make Disciples, or Students, Of Christ
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,…”
Taking the gospel to the lost is described as “teaching” in the above text. The Greek word that is translated “teach” means to “to make a disciple, follower or student”. In other words, the local church is to take the gospel message that is able to transform the lost into a disciple, or follower, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The church is responsible to take the gospel message into all areas of the globe. This is done through the support of missionaries and other ministries (print, radio, tv, internet ministries) that take the gospel worldwide.
Mark 16:14-18: To Declare The Good News Of Christ
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The command to take the gospel to the lost is “preach the gospel “ in the gospel of Mark. The Greek meaning of this phrase is “to declare publically the good news”. The local assembly is to take the good news of Christ, His coming and His work and declare it to the public.
The gospel is not a message to be kept within the walls of the church but is to be taken out into the public arena sharing Christ with those who do not know Him. In both Matthew and Mark, the church is told to “GO”, again teaching us to take the gospel into the world, not wait for the world to enter into the church.
The church services are meant to instruct and strengthen the members of the church so they can then declare the gospel to the world when they leave the assembly and live their lives among their lost family, friends, acquaintances and anyone they may come in contact with.
(Please note: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”… this phrase is teaching us that, although belief is Christ is the only prerequisite to salvation, a willingness to be baptized is a strong indication that genuine belief has taken place in the heart of man. If a person claims to believe in Christ, but is not willing to publically declare that faith by baptism, the authenticity of his faith must be questioned. That’s why Christ is saying that the local church can give assurance of salvation to those “that believeth and is baptized”. For those who lack a willingness to be baptized, great care must be exercised in giving them confidence in their salvation experience.)
Luke 24:33-50: To reveal man’s responsibility to receive the gospel message
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”
Along with proclaiming the gospel message, the church is to proclaim man’s responsibility to receive the message by faith. This is described by the phrase “repentance and remission of sins”. As members of the local assembly were to tell others about Christ and His work, they are to also teach them their need of “repentance”.
The Greek word translated “repentance” means “to change the mind or attitude”. The lost individual, as they hear the gospel, must change their attitude about Christ and His Work… instead of ignoring it, they must take it seriously; instead of rejecting it, they must accept it as truth; instead of laying it aside, they must apply it to their lives. This change in attitude about Christ and His work will result in them turning from their sin to Christ, believing on Him as their Lord and Savior. As this genuine repentance leads to belief in Him…. this then leads to the pardoning and freedom from the bondage of sin and its punishment.
Also, please note the local assembly is to begin by giving out the gospel to the area where it is located. in this case, Jerusalem and work outward taking the gospel worldwide. The first priority of a local assembly should be its home area. As the church grows in membership and financial ability it should then gradually increase its missionary outreach to all areas of the globe.
John 20:19-25: To be sent as Jesus was sent
“as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
The church being sent in to the world is now favorably compared to Christ being sent into the world. In many ways the two sending are similar. Some of these similarities are:
1. Being sent under Divine authority as ambassadors of a life giving message (John 3:17)
2. Being sent to reveal God’s Word to a lost and dying world (Hebs 1:1-2)
3. Seeking to do only those things that please our Lord (John 8:29)
The list is endless…
Acts 1:2-9: To Share our experience of Christ with others
“ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Declaring the gospel is described here as being “witnesses”. The idea of a witness is “one that declares that which he has experienced”. Especially this word is describing a “martyr” or one that is willing to given his all for the sake of proclaiming his message. This helps the local church to understand both the content and importance of taking the gospel to the lost.
The content…The members of the church are to declare to others what they have seen and experienced in their relationship to Christ. Many times people are timid to share Christ with others out of fear they do not have the right words to say. When really all the Lord asks of us is to tell others about our experience with Christ. Just tell others what He has done for us. It is truly as simple as that.
The importance… as members of His local church, we are to be willing to give our all for the sake of the declaration of our wonderful experience with Christ. As He has given His life for His church, so too it’s members are to give their lives for Him. (Eph 5:25)
Here in Acts, once again, we find the prioritization of the delivery of the gospel message in detail. The church is to begin in their local area and gradually move farther out as God supplies the ability. Note the listing given with an example to be applied in our day and age… Jerusalem, the CITY where the church is located; Judaea, equivalent to the state in which the church is located; Samaria, the other states that make up the nation where the church is located; uttermost parts of the world, the other nations of the world.
As we studied the local churches commission we have seen:
1. That great commission was always given to the assembled Apostles that made up the first local church (church at Jerusalem). (Please note the exception: In John, we saw that Thomas was missing but the rest of the eleven were present.)
2. There are three basic responsibilities involved with the Great Commission:
To evangelize the lost; to baptize into the assembly those who profess faith in Christ; to indoctrinate church members to equip them for the service of Christ.
As we studied the first part of the Great Commission that is given to His assemblies we have seen:
1. The content of the gospel message:
Christ’s Death; Christ’s Burial; Christ’s Resurrection; The Witnesses To The Resurrection
2. The Responsibility to take the gospel to the lost is given to the Lord’s local assemblies is described as:
To make students Of Christ; To declare the good news of Christ; To reveal man’s responsibility to receive the gospel message; To be sent as Jesus was sent; To share our experience of Christ with others
3. The priority of taking the Gospel into the world
Jerusalem, the CITY where the church is located; Judaea, equivalent to the state in which the church is located; Samaria, the other states that make up the nation where the church is located; uttermost parts of the world, the other nations of the world.
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church? It is the ONLY organization that has been given the responsibility to take the gospel into a lost and dying world. It is through the local church that we are prepared to go, given the authority to go, and given ongoing support to go.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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