The days of Jesus on earth were finally coming to a close. The Lord had been resurrected and for a period of forty days He spent preparing His disciples for His ascension. Jesus declared to them again to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed by the Holy Spirit and power (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8a). The Lord instructed His disciples that they were to be His witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8b). Their mission was the propagation of the gospel by inspiration of the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth (John 16:13; Acts 2:4).
These men were chosen by Jesus to go and make disciples. The gospel of Matthew concludes with Jesus’ great commission to His disciples –
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (28:19-20).
Their goal was not to maintain the status quo, but rather to take the gospel to the hardest of hearts and convict men of their sin. This task did not bring Jesus’ disciples glory and honor from men, but rather intense persecutions followed them every step of the way. Secular history records that each of these men, except possibly John, all experienced a martyrs death. The apostles were devoted to the cause of Christ even if it meant their own lives. Are we willing to entertain the thought of dying for the cause of Christ?
We live in a world that is predominately free of persecution. While there may be places of intense persecution around the world, our local community is accepting of Christianity and its doctrine and practice. How are we doing in seeking and saving those who are lost? A wise man once said – “The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin–but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God.” The cross is the one emblem found throughout the world, because it changed the scope of history for mankind. The One who died on the cross freed man from the bondage of his sin and his eternal separation from God caused by sin’s great stain. We can be brought near to God through the cross. There is no greater love than what Jesus manifested on the cross.
The gospel does not need to be diluted or edited, because it is already absolutely perfect. The gospel should never be left behind a pulpit in an empty building, but rather it should be adorned in every facet of a Christians’ life. It should motivate how we act toward our family, friends, and even strangers. It should provoke us to speak, when silence would have been the “easier route.” It should shine out of our hearts and into the lives of those who are lost in the darkness of sin. The gospel is God’s answer to man’s incurable disease. Its value is incalculable, and its power resides in the One who offers the invitation.
Do not be afraid of rejection! When man rejects your offer to study, he is not rejecting you, but rather God. He is rejecting the only source by which he can be saved. This is a sad reality, but the Lord said –
13 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
It is not our responsibility to prejudge a person’s willingness to listen and ultimately obey, but rather to make every effort to help the lost find the truth.
We live in a time religiously that is unique and far different from the world where the apostles were sent. Our world desires the truth and there are hearts ripe for the harvest – “…Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35b). We simply need to go and proclaim the gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15). We have been sent to sow the seed. The harvest is the work of God and He will gives the increase to our efforts (1 Corinthians 3:6-8). May God bless us with the courage to live faithfully and teach the gospel to all who are lost.