“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2)
The risen Christ commands the eleven apostles, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). The great commission was the last which the Lord gave to His disciples before He was taken away from them. It was given to the apostles who represented the whole body of the believers. This therefore, is the great command to the church to preach the gospel to all creatures.
Preaching the gospel is the most important work on earth and the highest and glorious calling to which one can be called. Preaching is the communication of the truth of the word of God by man to man. Preaching is the God-appointed means of bringing sinners to Christ for salvation. Christ commands us to preach the gospel to every creature because it is the means by which the elect are to be gathered out from among the sons of men. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” (Romans 10:13-15). The preacher is the person called and commissioned by Christ to undertake this noble task of bringing the good news to sinners.
The gospel which we are to preach to every creature is the great truth that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). God has, for our sake, made His Son to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). The heart of the gospel is Christ’s death and resurrection on behalf of His people. He was delivered for our offences and rose again for our justification (Romans 4:25).
The preaching of the gospel is for all time, until Jesus Christ Himself shall come. As long as there is a church in the world, the obligation to preach the gospel will remain. Preaching is hard labour and the preacher of the gospel must take pains to prepare. Paul tells Timothy to, “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching… Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:11-16). Wherever Christ is faithfully preached, God is honoured, and Christ is honoured.
The preacher of the gospel must own that gospel which he preaches. The preacher must have a personal experience of the saving work of Christ in order to be able to convince sinners of their need of a Saviour. This was true with Paul as he writes to the Thessalonians. “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). The preacher must realize that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and convinces sinners thus causing them to turn to Christ. One reason why Christianity is not so aggressive and influential as it was in apostolic times is the feebleness of our faith in Christ as compared with the full assurance of faith exercised by the men of those days. The living force that should compel us is a bold reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit, and a deep conviction of the might of the truth of God which we are to deliver.
Many preachers today offer a gospel that has been adulterated. The popular gospel today is the so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ which is no gospel at all. It is a man-centred religion which is primarily concerned with material well-being without touching the corrupt and desperately wicked heart. Paul pronounces a curse to anyone who preaches another gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). We must be faithful in preaching the gospel of Christ. Preaching the cross remains a stumbling block to many but it is still the power of God for salvation.
How are we to carry out this commission? The Lord tells us to, “pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38). We need to earnestly pray for God’s help that we can be effective preachers of the gospel. We must also pray for pastors and other servants of God engaged in preaching. We need to realize that God has called people to do His work and we must pray for each other. We pray to God to open more doors of opportunities for the advancement of the gospel in our land. We must also promote personal piety that results in personal effort.
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” If you claim to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, then question yourself: “What have I done to carry out my Master’s command?” Regrettably we have done so little in comparison with the sacrifice Christ made to secure our salvation. Let us spend, and be spent, to glorify His name among the sons of men. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).