Summary: The Lord commands His people to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature, but in spite of this, we stay put at the light. We do not go. We do not preach the gospel. This lesson reminds us of our calling as disciples of Christ.
We have all been there… We are sitting at a red light for a few minutes… After what seems like forever, the light FINALLY turns green. But unfortunately, the person in front of us did not see it turn green. They are talking on the phone or texting. They may be focused on talking to someone who is in their car. This happens all the time to us, and even we may be the ones guilty of this at times. When it is the person in front of us, we may give them a moment to see the light, but after that moment, we lay on the horn to wake them up to what they are missing. Then, finally, they start moving forward.
This illustration, in my opinion, is very applicable in the area of evangelism. We are the ones who have a green light. The Lord commands His people to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature, but in spite of this, we stay put at the light. We do not go. We do not preach the gospel. There are multitudes of our friends, family, and coworkers who, if it were possible, say to us on the Day of Judgment as the sobering hymn says, “You never mentioned Him to me: “You never mentioned Him to me; you helped me not the light to see. You met me day by day and knew I was astray, Yet never mentioned Him to me.” How many people do you see each and every day who could say this to you? I hate this song because it reminds me of all of the opportunities that I have allowed to pass and all of the time in the past in which I could have done more to get the Gospel out.
My hope and prayer for this series of studies is this: I am going to be the one who the Lord uses to lay on the horn behind you! We have the GREEN LIGHT. We have it right now. We have it each and every day. And we need to… we must… GO! My goal is to remind us of exactly what our mission as the Lord’s people is and to help us to follow the example of our earliest brethren; to evangelize like they did in the first century.
The things we will, Lord willing, be talking about over the next many lessons will be:
• What we are called to do.
• The Biblical pattern and definition of evangelism
• Today’s “evangelism” methods
• Removing the barriers to personal evangelism & dealing with our excuses
• How to start conversations and get to the gospel
• Apologetics and evangelism
WE HAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO:
1. TEACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL
I would like to begin by looking at the parallel accounts of the Great Commission that Jesus gave before He ascended to Heaven. It is important for us to see exactly what Jesus is calling His people to in the Great Commission.
• "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20)
• “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned…” (Mark 16:15-16)
• “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:45-48)
• “and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
I would like to ask some questions from these passages.
• Who is receiving these commands? I believe it is clear within the context of all of these passages that Jesus is speaking to the eleven Apostles (12 minus Judas). He is giving them the mission that He wants them to fulfill after He ascends to Heaven and sends them the Holy Spirit. But these commands are not JUST for them. They are given to all of Christ’s disciples. What we see in the New Testament is that disciples make disciples. That is made clear, in my opinion, in Matthew’s account. After telling the Apostles to go into all the world, Jesus tells them to teach the disciples who are made to observe all which is commanded them. This surely includes the command that we see Jesus give in the prior verse, go and make disciples. You and I are to make disciples. This is a responsibility given to us as individuals. I say this because it can be very easy for us to entrust the duty of preaching the gospel to only a few Christians. We will talk about this more later, but I will make this point: You and I can not preach the gospel by proxy. You are commanded to teach the gospel for yourself. Just as you cannot get someone to be baptized for you, you cannot get someone else to preach the Gospel for you. It is something you are supposed to do.