And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). From this classic text we learn: The gospel, good news is to be preached to every creature in every nation. There are conditions of faith and obedience that must be met to enjoy the blessings and promises of the gospel. Every Christian is to be involved in taking and teaching the gospel of Christ to every soul without Christ. They are to assist those who choose to obey Christ so that they too may be disciples of Christ who in turn teach the gospel to others (2 Tim. 2:2).
The apostle Paul relayed to the Ephesian elders his consistent work and message of the gospel to the lost: “…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).
The command is clear (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49) for Christians to teach others about Christ and His saving gospel (Rom. 6:1-18). Evangelism is to be public and private (Mark 16:15; Acts 2; 3:11-26; 8:5; 16:13-15).
The following points remind us of how we can assist others in coming to the Savior:
People must see Christ in us (Col. 1:27). The image and mark of Jesus must be evident in our words, actions and lifestyle. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). This will present itself in the realm of kindness, mercy, compassion, sacrifice, benevolence and love. These Christ-like qualities help influence those around us in the nature of Christianity and offer a better way of living and hope.
People must hear Christ in us. Our speech has influence in teaching the lost and being Christ-like examples. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). Our physical words as well as what we present on social media have a direct bearing on whether we are influencing for Christ. Some members’ media posts bring reproach upon the church and upon the Savior, closing doors to evangelism. We must do better knowing we will give an account of our words (Matt. 12:33-37; Col. 3:8).
People must infer Christ in us. Have you ever been accused of being with Christ? “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Can those with whom we associate and come into contact infer that we have spent time with our Lord in His teachings? Our mind must be in sync with His in order for us to live and practice true Christian living (1 Cor. 2:16). Our choices in what we do, where we go, who we are with, and how we act, all matter. “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Pet. 4:4).
People must turn from their sins. Repentance is the making up of one’s mind to cease doing evil and to do good, to stop serving Satan and begin serving God. It means to change directions (Jon. 3:10). The Lord tells us that our lives must change through our repentance (Luke 13:1-5). “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
People must turn to Christ. Those who are taught the gospel and receive it are those who submit to Christ by being immersed in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:37-38).
Finally, consider the example of the early church. They had a true passion for souls (Acts 5:42). As a result of this genuine concern for the lost, the church grew and expanded. Beginning with three thousand on Pentecost (Acts 2:41), the “number of men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4), “believers were the more added to the Lord” (Acts 5:14) and “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7). There was a heartfelt motivation for the souls of men. Many of the pioneer preachers in this country manifested the same kind of evangelistic fire. It was not uncommon for entire churches to be converted from denominationalism to undenominational New Testament Christianity. Preachers stressed themes such as “What is our Plea?”, “The Cross of Christ,” “Authority in Religion,” and “What Must I Do to be Saved?” A pronounced emphasis upon book, chapter and verse encouraged people to study for themselves. As a result of this type of evangelistic, doctrinal preaching, and an emphasis on reaching the lost, churches of Christ enjoyed unprecedented growth.
What do we need?
We need a clear vision of the mission of the church. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the church is the body of Christ and that its mission is an extension of the work of Christ. “To seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
We need to practice personal involvement in the work of the church. Too many have fallen into the habit of, going, sitting, leaving, and forgetting. It becomes easy to criticize and speak of what THEY are doing or not doing. What about us? What are WE doing? After all, we are the church!
We must recognize the value of a soul (Matt. 16:26). Are we honoring the command of Jesus in the great commission in our individual lives?
Steve serves as one of the ministers of the Gold Hill Road congregation in Fort Mill, SC. He is the president of the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger.