In the Bible the word “gospel” occurs only in the New Testament. It is translated from the Greek word euaggelion, meaning “good news,” or “glad tidings.” Although it occurs in several different contexts, this discussion is concerned with the expression “The Gospel,” as exemplified in the following two passages:
- Romans 1: 16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (non-Jews, or gentiles);”
- 1 Cor. 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
“The Gospel” is the centerpiece of Jesus’ so-called “Great Commission.” This commission (assignment) was given to all Christians, and is so important that it is repeated five times as Jesus’ final instruction to His followers before His ascension to heaven:
1. Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spoke to them (His disciples), saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen;”
2. Mark 16:15-20, And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen;
3. Luke 24:48-50, Then He (Jesus) 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, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven;
4. John 20:21, So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you;”
5. Acts 1:4, 8, And being assembled together with them (the disciples), He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me. — But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
To truly appreciate all that the Great Commission (to preach the Gospel) involves, as defined by the above five passages of Scripture just quoted, we need to set the stage.
God, the Father, had sent Jesus, God the Son, on a trip to the earth to minister to a lost, sinful mankind-this ministry is described in the following passages from the New Testament:
- By Jesus Himself, Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man (Jesus favorite name for Himself) has come to seek and to save that which was los (mankind);.”
- By the Apostle John, 1 John 3:8, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil;”
- By the Apostle Paul, 1 Tim. 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
After 33 years on earth Jesus had finished the ministry which God sent Him to do and was about to return to heaven. During those 33 years Jesus was born, grew up to be a sinless man 30 years of age, spent 3 years preaching the Gospel and then fulfilling it by His death on the cross for mankind’s sin and by His resurrection. In preparation for His going back to heaven, Jesus said, “AS the Father sent me (to preach the Gospel), I also send you (to preach the Gospel),” per John 20:21 in Great Commission #4 above.
The ones He was sending were eleven of the original twelve Apostles (Judas was dead), Matthias, Judas’ replacement, and 108 other believers. All of them had been born-again, baptized in water, and were obediently waiting in Jerusalem to be baptized with (or filled with) the Holy Spirit for the power to preach the gospel. When this happened on the day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the Church was born, nearly two thousand years ago.
We will now sort through the five passages which speak of the Great Commission (to preach the Gospel) quoted above, and list the many things that are involved. Each item will be tagged by a number in brackets showing which passage it comes from:
- Who will preach the Gospel/be witnesses for Jesus? Every born-again, Spirit-filled, Christian in the world-wide Church (5);
- Who are the targets of preaching the Gospel? Every (human) creature (2); (the people of) all nations (1) beginning in Jerusalem, then all Judea, then Samaria and to the end of the earth (5);
- What is the purpose of preaching the Gospel to (every person in) all of the nations? To make them disciples of Jesus, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (1). The mention of baptism assumes that the person who is being made a disciple is a born-again Christian who is obeying the scriptures by being baptized in water and filled/baptized with the Holy Spirit. The word disciple is translated from the Greek word mathetes, meaning learner-hence the instruction “teaching them to observe (be an obedient follower of) all things that I (Jesus) have commanded you (1);
- Though quoted previously at the beginning of this essay, look at Romans 1:16 again, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (non-Jews, or gentiles).” Let’s put the underlined portion into an equation: Gospel of Christ = Power of God > Salvation for everyone who believes! The Gospel is all about power, God’s power. The power to witness comes from the Holy Spirit (5). All authority (power) has been given to Me (Jesus) in heaven and on earth—–and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (1). Jesus has the power, and is always with us to make that power available to us, Glory! Also note from the Romans passage, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first. During the Church age Jews are saved by the Gospel, just like the gentiles;
- When the Gospel is preached, God confirms the word preached with signs: those who believed were saved, who then cast out demons, spoke with new tongues, were protected from serpents and deadly things, laid hands on the sick who were healed. (2) The scriptural basis for this scenario has never been changed and should be as true in every church today as it was in the days of the book of Acts. Many third-world churches do still exhibit a Gospel with such power, but the churches in developed countries rarely do, alas! Note that those who did not believe were condemned. (2) Refusing the good news has terrible consequences;
- Luke’s account of the great commission to preach the Gospel (3) puts it this way, “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.” Unfortunately, sin and the necessity for repentance are preached less and less in western Christianity, being replaced by a “gospel” of comfort and prosperity for God’s people;
The Great Commission in Acts (5) sums it up-Every Christian, born-again (truly saved), baptized/filled with the Holy Spirit, is to be a witness for Jesus (preacher of the Gospel) from Jerusalem to the end of the earth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that me? Is that you?