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What is the Church's "Great" Commission?

The Spread of "The Christmas Conspiracy"

Could it be that Christ is the Prophet Who would be heard (Deuteronomy 18:15) only in the age of the Apostles? When the Apostles preached, thousands of people from every nation heard the Gospel and believed, giving evidence that God was going to keep His promise to Abraham by putting His Spirit in the hearts of the Gentiles (Galatians 3:14; Acts 2:41). From your study of the Bible, answer this question: Was this trend meant to continue?

Was the Church given a Great Commission to see people converted by the thousands until every nation beat their swords into plowshares and the entire globe was characterized by decentralized, spontaneous, heart-felt, personalist obedience to the Word of God?

Or . . .

Was the Church given a pathetic commission to dilute God's Good News into a gospel of pessimism, to acquire worldly power by joining hands with pagan emperors and dictators, to hide the Word of God from believers and their families, to protect the power of an elite priesthood by putting in place of the Bible a hierarchical establishment of sacerdotal pomp and ecclesiastical double-speak, requiring of the faithful an enslaving obedience to superstitious rituals or bureaucratic regulations, then to instruct the "dumb sheep" to ignore the poor, don white robes and sit in the desert awaiting the "Rapture," leaving lives unsanctified, interpersonal disputes unresolved, and neighbors, nations, and nature in unremitting conflict?

Such a difficult question should not be tackled until one reads the promises of the Word of God. These promises are contained in an Appendix. You may want to read those verses now.

New Testament believers knew these verses. Paul wrote to Timothy:

But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15

New Testament saints, if they believed their Bibles, believed that the Gospel would spread from shore to shore.

It got a quick start; Jesus predicted that before the temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed (in A.D. 70; Matthew 23:37 - 24:2,34), the Gospel would stake a claim in every single nation (Matthew 24:14). The seed was planted on the Day of Pentecost, when Jews were brought together from every nation under heaven and heard the Gospel from Peter (Acts 2:5). Ambassadors for the Kingdom of Christ thereafter took the Gospel to every nation (Romans 1:8; Colossians 1:6,23; Romans 16:26). Soon afterwards, Israel was cut off and the Kingdom extended to all the other nations (Matthew 21:43).

In spite of this clear manifestation of the power and mercy of God, many began redefining the Gospel to be good news only to Israel the nation, rather than all nations. As Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:8), Paul was particularly sensitive to those who restricted the Promise of Abraham to members of the Pharisees, or any other elite Jewish group. These religious leaders were powerful, and even Peter succumbed to the temptation to gain approval from "the in crowd" (Galatians 2:11f). It was for this reason God gave Peter a special revelation concerning those the Jews called "unclean." Paul fought fiercely against those who redefined the jurisdiction of Christ's Kingdom and restricted the sending out of the Gospel. That the Messiah's Kingdom would include the devout of all nations and tongues on earth, and not just Israel, was a major theme in Paul's writings. He followed Jesus in His attack on elitists who, in their self-righteousness, thought they were few who would be saved (Luke 13:18-29).

Christ's Kingdom is a Kingdom of the Word and of the Spirit. We must not make the mistake of the Jews who expected a political messiah -- a puppet emperor who would do the bidding of the pharisaical religious leaders and exalt their own nation. Christ's Kingdom is a Spiritual Kingdom (not "spiritual," meaning "non-physical," but "Spiritual," meaning "empowered by the Holy Spirit"). Christ's reign is extended by a great multitude of saints from every nation who hear and obey the Gospel. And the Old Testament is ever so clear: the number of people we can expect to become followers of all that Christ said is vast, and their influence great; as the "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" the Spirit uses them to bring to the world the Blessings of the Kingdom. If our generation fails to obey the Great Commission, the Blessings of Christ's Kingdom will be withheld for a future generation. The Lord is in no hurry (2 Peter 3:8-9).

Go to Next Installment: Hal Lindsey: Passť Prophet of the Wimp Gospel

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