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The Most Important Command in the Bible

D.B. Dick

THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND

IN THE BIBLE

 

"Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you..." Mt 28:19

 

Mission work implies reaching out to all the nations with the gospel - all people, not only non-whites! It is the most important command in the Bible. Why is this so?

 

1. BECAUSE MISSION WORK IS A FULFILLMENT OF THE GREAT COMMANDMENT TO LOVE

The commandment to love requires that I should love God above all else (I fulfill this by being obedient to the call to do mission work.); and my neighbour like myself. (I fulfill this by my loving concern for others and by my testimony which strives to lead people to salvation and keep them from hell.)

Mission work originated with God in heaven, as He so loved the world that He gave his only Son to save them. God's love for sinners and his burning desire to save them lays at the root of mission work. Those who are prepared to follow in Jesus' footsteps, love God and their fellow human beings. Anyone who is set against mission work does not love God (as he/she does not obey his command) or his/her neighbour. How can one say one loves one's neighbour if one is not concerned about his/her soul and keeps the key to heaven for oneself?

 

2. BECAUSE MISSION WORK WILL KEEP SINNER FROM DAMNATION IN HELL

Thousands of people die daily, without God and without hope. Mission work is like throwing a rope into a stream in which lost souls are being swept away. Mission work humiliates satan as it "steals" God's property back from him. This is why satan hates mission work and strives to influence people negatively towards this work. Certain teachings such as the White Theology, for example, which claim that mission work amongst coloured people is against the will of God, are from the devil who will do all in his power to stop the spread of the gospel.

 

3. BECAUSE IT WAS JESUS' LAST COMMAND TO HIS DISCIPLES

It was Jesus' loving concern for souls that drove him to speak to his disciples about mission work until the end. When people are on their deathbed, they do not speak of trivial matters: then they speak of what matters most to them. Jesus' last words were, "Go...!"

 

4. BECAUSE GOD'S HONOUR IS AT STAKE

God is glorified by mission work. In Luk 15:7, the Bible tells us that God and his angels are emotionally involved in mission work: "... there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents..."

Mission work is concerned with the core of our religion, namely Jesus Christ. Where the Son of God is accepted, praised and worshipped, the Father is glorified (Jh 13:31; 1 Pet 4:11). Mission work is the most important command because it does not deal with secondary matters but with the core. For this reason Paul, like Peter and the other disciples (Acts 2:22; 4:12) says, "For I made up my mind to forget everything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and especially his death on the cross" (1 Cor 2:2). Nothing glorifies God as much as mission work which introduces his Son to people who do not know Him.

 

5. BECAUSE MISSION WORK HASTENS THE POSSIBILITY OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

"And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached through all the world, for a witness to mankind; and then the end will come" (Mt 24:14).

Jesus will not return until this Word has been fulfilled. The sooner all those who need to hear the gospel hear it, the sooner Christ will come again. As mission work hastens the time for Christ's second coming, all who are apathetic towards or against it, are demonstrators and opponents against this second coming.

 

6. BECAUSE MISSION WORK IS THE REASON FOR THE CHURCH'S EXISTENCE

Someone once said that the purpose behind the creation of a pen is that it can be used to write with. A glass is made so that one can drink out of it and a pot for cooking. The purpose for which the church was established is mission work. This is why God saves people and draws them together to be salt, light and yeast.

God had only one son and He made Him a missionary. Jesus had twelve disciples and they all became missionaries, except for Judas who became a traitor. All the books in the New Testament were written by missionaries and all the letters of the New Testament were written to mission congregations.

Jesus' whole ministry was aimed at fulfilling his missionary task: "As the Father sent me, so I send you" (Jh 2:21). Jesus continually reminded his disciples of the challenge: "There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in" (Mt 9:37). Through parables such as the one about the lost sheep and the lost coin, He awakened a concern and a burden for souls in the hearts of his followers. Jesus' last words emphasise that He is intensely involved with churches and individuals who obey his last command. The call to go and make disciples of all people is followed by a promise, "I will be with you always" (Mt 28:20). This means that God gives a conditional promise of his presence and blessing to those who carry out his most important command. Paul's well-known words, "And my God, with all his abundant wealth in Christ Jesus, will supply all your needs" (Phil 4:19), were directed at people who were doing missionary work. Within context, this means that God will provide in all the needs of those who give priority to God's most important command.

The church does not exist simply for the sake of the communion between believers, or to provide charitable services, or to speak out against social and political injustices, or to build magnificent cathedrals or hold bazaars. Like a fire without flames, a pen without ink, a pot without food, a body without breath - such is the church/congregation/Christian who is not actively involved in mission work. This boils down to a denial of the reason for the establishment of the church.

 

7. BECAUSE CHRIST SAID THAT MISSION WORK MAY NOT BE NEGLECTED FOR THE SAKE OF PERSONAL AND CONGREGATIONAL UPLIFTMENT

In Luke 15 Jesus explains this truth with the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. As if they are of less importance, those who are safe are left alone and those who are lost are sought.

This is, however, not wholly true. The shepherd goes out in search of the lost sheep, the floor is swept to find the lost penny, and the father prays for the return of the prodigal son, but by this God wishes only to stress the importance of reaching out to lost souls. God's church is his ambulance service: born again Christians are members of this corps and should always be reaching out to those in spiritual need. God awards priority to mission work to counter self-centred, selfish Christians who are only concerned with their own spiritual enrichment. God also knows that nothing enhances spiritual growth and strength as effectively as practical mission work and evangelism.

The lives of Christians and of congregations where mission work does not enjoy priority are usually spiritually and financially poor and lifeless. They miss the blessings and wealth God gives to those who put his primary command first.

 

8. BECAUSE GOD GAVE THE BEST EQUIPMENT, THE HOLY SPIRIT, SO THAT CHRISTIANS COULD CARRY OUT THE COMMAND TO BE INVOLVED IN SPREADING THE GOSPEL

"You will be my disciples... when the Holy Spirit comes over you..." (Acts 1:8). In the Holy Spirit Christ returned to send his children out himself (Acts 13:1-3) and to equip them for their all important task. The Holy Spirit was sent for the sake of mission work.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in the church or in someone's life may be judged in terms of an awareness and involvement in mission work. This has always been the case - renewal has always occurred in places where people obeyed this primary command. Mission work is not the hobby of an individual or a commission: it should be the central point of all the activities in a congregation. There should be prayers for mission work and missionaries during every service. Children should be made aware of mission work from an early age.

 

HOW MAY YOU BECOME A CO-WORKER IN THIS MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND?

1. PRAYER: You become a co-worker when you pray. By making use of a systematic, planned prayer list you may become involved in mission work all over the world. Prayer crosses boundaries. Even the iron curtain could not keep prayer out of the Soviet Union.

2. FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: You could contribute financially to mission projects as and however the Holy Spirit leads you. Read 1 Cor 9 to see how Paul pleaded and fought so that mission work would not be neglected financially. Invest your contributions where God is at work.

3. INVOLVEMENT: Start working on your housemaid, your neighbour, your colleagues. Witness with your mouth and your deeds; distribute tracts and other literature, etc.

Do you and your congregation regard mission work as the most important command?. Do the minutes of the church council meetings verify this? Does the congregation's budget allocations do justice to this most important command? Or are our big, grand church buildings, the minutes of our church council meetings on time-consuming trivial matters going to testify against us that we never considered God's most important command important enough?

D.B.Dick

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