– by Nico Bougas
The last words of a dying man can often tell us a great deal about his life.
The last words of John Wesley were full of the assurance of a man who walked with God. He said, “The best of all is, God is with us!” He died March 2, 1791. The great evangelist, D. L. Moody said, “One day you will read in the newspapers that D.L Moody is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive in that day than every before.” And on his deathbed he said, “Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me! If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.”
There is one man in history whose last words to His disciples tell a great deal about how we should live our lives. Jesus gave them one clear instruction:
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…and lo, I am with your always.”
He didn’t give them an instruction manual. He didn’t give them a list of do’s and don’ts. He gave them one simple challenge and instruction – “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
He was giving them one simple task asking these disciples to commit the rest of their lives to its completion. His last command should be the focus of our lives and our first priority.
The authority that He had
Jesus prefaced the Great Commission by saying, “All authority has been given to Me,” This was no ordinary man. These disciples had walked with Jesus for three years. When these disciples saw the risen Jesus, “they worshipped Him”.
These men, these Jewish men, for whom the First and Second Commandments forbid giving worship to any but the one true God, fell down and worshiped Jesus. Worship is reserved for the Lord God alone.
These disciples who had been with Him for three years walking the dusty roads of Israel, worshipped Him. They had seen Him at His weakest and most vulnerable. They had seen Him tired and weary, they had seen Him hanging on a Cross. And now they worshipped Him.
It speaks volumes to me to know that those men who knew Jesus best would worship Him. Yes, those who know Jesus best, worship Him most. As we too worship Him we will find that He draws near to us and He will speak His Words of life to us.
If you had the opportunity to pass on your final words and thoughts to those nearest and dearest to you, what would you say? You would likely tell them that which was closest to your heart. That which you believed was the most important thing for you to do and continue doing.
The early disciples did not face a lost world on the basis of their own authority, but on the authority of Jesus Christ.
The action that He requested
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”, We are not to wait for people to come to us, we are to go to them. Jesus would have His people on the offense and not always on the defence. As Greg Laurie said, “Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church. But He did say that the church should go to the whole world.”
Perhaps you are thinking, “this doesn’t apply to me. I am too old, or I have a family to support, or I have some medical condition or handicap”. But Jesus did not give this command to a limited group of chosen people. He gave this commission to disciples. Do you consider yourself to be a follower of Jesus? Then this Word is for you. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” If you cannot physically go, then you can at least make it possible for others to go through your prayers and financial support.
The problem is that we have failed to make the preaching of the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth a priority. We are comfortable in our own environment and in our own comfort zone. And a disproportionate amount of our money and our resources and our manpower (and womanpower) goes towards the home base.
We are loaded with countless church activities, but the real work of the church, that of evangelising and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.
What is the Gospel?
What is the Gospel that we should be preaching? In 313 AD, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, decriminalising Christian worship. As a result, Christianity became the official religion, People were suddenly regarded as Christians. There was no need for a conversion experience – you were born into a Christian empire, so you were automatically a Christian.
Little has changed since then. In Greece, 97% of the population would consider themselves to be Christians because they are members of the national church, although only 2% go to church on a regular basis.
Basically, the Church is not preaching the Gospel. It is spreading religion without a personal relationship. It is inoculating people against the real Gospel by giving them just enough religion to prevent them from finding the true Gospel.
We are told not just to go, but to go and preach the Gospel. We are commanded to go and make disciples.
The area to which He sent them
We are told, “Charity begins at home”, but it should not end there. Jesus does not expect us to neglect our needy neighbour. Jesus said that the Gospel had to be preached in Jerusalem (your home town), Samaria (the surrounding countries), and then to the uttermost parts of the earth.
It is not either or, it is both at home and abroad. But the truth is that 97% of our resources are spent on the home base and a mere 3% on delivering the Gospel to the unevangelised areas of the world that need it most.
Never have there been so many incredible opportunities for missionary work worldwide, yet there are tens of thousands of vacancies waiting to be filled on the mission field today. The harvest has never been so large – and the workers are frustratingly few.
Finding suitable missionary volunteers has never been easy – nor is it likely to get any easier. Missionary service demands dedication, determination, and discipline – and these qualities are basically rejected by the electronic generation.
Most churchgoers today are secular in their mindset and lifestyle. They have few convictions, and more questions than answers. They are reluctant to make long-term commitments. Our present generation has become selfish, sloppy, soft, spoiled, and self-indulgent, unaccustomed to personal sacrifice, unwilling to endure hardship, and unlikely to exhibit loyalty to any mission, devotion to duty or courage in the face of danger.
In this computer age our technological advantages over previous generations of missionaries is astounding. The advent of radio, computers, photocopiers, digital cameras, mobile phones, e-mails, and the world wide web have made the message of the Gospel incredibly accessible to all.
C T Studd, the famous cricketer turned pioneer/missionary to China, India, and the Congo, declared: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Where can we find such Christian volunteers today? Or more to the point – how can we produce such self-sacrificing disciples in our churches? If the church truly wants to obey the Great Commission, then we must produce tens of thousands of such disciples. To effectively evangelise the entire Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist populations in the final missionary frontier – the 10-40 window – we will need an army of dedicated disciples. They will need to be like the missionary volunteers who made the 19th Century the greatest time of missionary advance and revival in history. And the prayer support base that sends them out will need to be just as dedicated.
The assurance that He gives us
He doesn’t just tell us to go and preach the Gospel. He gives us the great promise, “and lo, I am with your all the days, even to the end of the age.”
David Livingstone, the famous missionary explorer in Africa addressed the students at Glasgow University. He was gaunt and sickly from the many tropical diseases he had suffered. His left arm hung limply from the time when he had been mauled by a lion. He said to those students. “Do you know what it was that kept me through all those years of exile amongst a people whose language I could not fully understand and whose attitude towards me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was these words, “Lo, I am with you always.” On these words I have staked everything and they have never failed me.
The presence of God, which Livingstone experienced, can be your experience. The companionship of Jesus Christ is offered to every believer as he or she makes their way through this world.
Jesus, by means of His Holy Spirit, promised to always be with those fulfilling His Great Commission. Always means all the days, every day. Days of strength as well as days of weakness; days of success as well as days of failure; days of joy and days of sadness; days of health and days of sickness; days of youth and days of old age. He is with us always, every day. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Jesus is not only in the midst of us when two or three are gathered together. But He is also with us when we scatter into all the world to witness for Him. Jesus is with His people wherever they are. His presence sustained David Livingstone, and it can sustain you. So make His last command your first priority and Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.
Article source: JOY! Magazine