A GREAT COMMISSION
“And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behaved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of My Father unto you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49).
This splendid passage of Holy Scripture sets before us a great commission the risen Lord entrusted to His apostles as He was about to ascend into the heavens, having gloriously accomplished all His blessed work on earth. It is truly a wonderful commission, and opens up a wide field of truth through which we may range with much spiritual delight and profit. Whether we ponder the commission itself, its basis, authority, power, or sphere, we shall find it all full of precious instruction. May the blessed Spirit guide our thoughts, while we meditate first of all on the commission itself.
The apostles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ were especially charged to preach “repentance and remission of sins.” Let us remember this. Some of us are prone to forget it, to the serious damaging of our preaching, and the souls of our hearers. In our eagerness, some of us are apt to overlook the first part of the commission, perhaps to get to the second, but this is a serious mistake. We may rest assured that it is true wisdom to stay close to the veritable terms in which our blessed Lord delivered His charge to His earliest heralds. We cannot, we must not omit a single point of the commission without serious loss. Our Lord is infinitely wiser and more gracious than we are, and we need not fear to preach with all possible plainness what He told His apostles to preach – “repentance and remission of sins.”
The question is, are we careful to maintain this important connection? Do we give sufficient prominence to the first part of the great commission? Do we preach “repentance?”
We are not now inquiring what repentance is; that we shall later do, if God permit. But, whatever it is, do we preach it? That our Lord commanded His apostles to preach it is plain; and not only so, but He preached it Himself, as we read it in Mark 1:14-15: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel.”
Let us carefully note this record. Let all preachers note it. Our divine Master called on sinners to repent and believe the Gospel. Some would have us to believe that it is a mistake to call on people dead in trespasses and sins to do anything. “How,” it is argued, “can those who are dead repent? They are incapable of any spiritual movement. They must first get the power before they can either repent or believe.”
What is our reply to all this? A very simple one – Our Lord knows better than all the theologians in the world what should be preached. He knows all about man’s condition – his guilt, misery, spiritual death, helplessness, his total inability to think a single right thought, to utter a single right word, to do a single right act; and yet He called on men to repent. This is quite enough for us. It is no part of our business to seek to reconcile seeming differences. It may seem difficult to reconcile man’s utter powerlessness with his responsibility; but “God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”
Believing what He says and doing what He tells us is our happy privilege and duty. This is true wisdom, and it yields solid peace.
Our Lord preached repentance, and He commanded His apostles to preach it; and they did so constantly. Harken to Peter on the Day of Pentecost. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
And again, “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Harken to Paul also, as he stood on Mars’ Hill, at Athens: “But now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.”
So also, in his touching address to the elders of Ephesus, he says, “I kept back nothing that was profitable [blessed servant!] but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And again, in his address to King Agrippa, he says, “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”
In the face of this body of evidence, with the example of our Lord and His apostles so fully and clearly before us, may we not lawfully inquire whether there is a serious defect in much of our modern-day preaching? Do we preach repentance as we should? Do we assign to it the place it gets in the preaching of our Lord, and His early heralds? It is vanity and folly, or worse, to talk about it is being legalistic to preach repentance, saying that it tarnishes the luster of the Gospel of the grace of God to call on men dead in trespasses and sins to repent, and do works meet for repentance. Was Paul legalistic in his preaching? Did he not preach a clear, full, rich, and divine Gospel? Have we put ourselves in advance of Paul? Do we preach a clearer Gospel than he? How preposterous the notion. He preached repentance. He told his hearers that “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Does this mar the Gospel of the grace of God? Does it detract from its heavenly fullness and freeness? One might as well tell a farmer that to plough the fallow ground before sowing it would lower the quality of his grain.
No doubt it is of vital importance to preach the Gospel of the grace of God, or the Gospel of the glory, in all its fullness, clearness, and power. We are to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, declaring the whole counsel of God, presenting the righteousness of God and His salvation without limit, condition, or hindrance of any kind, publishing the good news to every creature under heaven.
We should insist on this in the strongest possible manner. But at the same time we must jealously keep to the terms of “the great commission.” We cannot depart the breadth of a hair from these without serious damage to our testimony, and to the souls of our hearers. If we fail to preach repentance, we are “keeping back something profitable.” What should we say to a farmer, if we saw him scattering his precious seed along a beaten highway? We would justly pronounce him out of his mind. The plough-share must do its work. The fallow ground must be broken up before the seed is sown; and we may rest assured that, as in the kingdom of nature, so in the kingdom of grace, the plough must precede the sowing. The ground must be duly prepared for the seed, or else the operation will prove defective. Let the Gospel be preached as God has given it to us in His Word. Let it not be stripped of one of its moral glories; let it flow forth as it comes from the deep fountain of the heart of God, through the channel of Christ’s finished work, on the authority of the Holy Spirit.
All this is not only fully admitted but peremptorily insisted on; at the same time we must never forget that our Lord and Master called on men to “repent and believe the gospel.” He strictly enjoined His holy apostles to preach repentance; and the great apostle Paul preached repentance, calling on men everywhere to repent and do works meet for repentance.
Here it may be well for us to inquire what this repentance is which occupies such a prominent place in “the great commission,” and in the preaching of our Lord and His apostles. If it be – as it most surely is – an abiding and universal necessity for man; if God commands all men everywhere to repent; if repentance is inseparably linked with remission of sins; how needful it is that we should seek to understand its true nature.
What, then, is repentance? May the Spirit instruct us by the Word of God – He alone can. We are all liable to err in our thoughts on this weighty subject. While seeking to avoid error on one side, we are in danger of falling into error on the other. We are poor, feeble, ignorant, erring creatures, whose only security is being kept continually at the feet of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. He alone can teach us what repentance is, as well as what it is not. We feel assured that the enemy of souls and truth has succeeded in giving repentance a false place in the creeds, confessions, and public teachings of man’s religious systems; and the conviction of this makes it all the more needful for us to keep close to the living teachings of Holy Scripture.
We are not aware of any formal definition of the subject furnished by the Holy Spirit. He does not tell us in so many words what repentance is; but the more we study the Word in reference to the question, the more convinced we are that true repentance involves the solemn judgment of ourselves, our condition, and our ways in the presence of God. Further, this judgment is not a transient feeling, but an abiding condition – not a certain exercise to go through as sort of a title to the remission of sins, but the deep and settled habit of the soul, giving seriousness, gravity, tenderness, brokenness, and profound humility – overlapping, underlying, and characterizing our entire course.
We doubt this aspect of the subject is sufficiently understood. We do not mean to teach that the soul should always be bowed down under the sense of unforgiven sin. Far be the thought. But we greatly fear that in running away from legality on the question of repentance, some of us have fallen into levity. This is a serious error. We may depend on this: levity is no remedy for legality. When proposed as such, we have no hesitation in pronouncing the remedy much worse than the disease. Thank God we have His sovereign remedy for levity on one hand, and legality on the other. “Truth” – insisting on “repentance,” is the remedy for the former. “Grace” – publishing “remission of sins,” is the remedy for the latter. And we cannot but believe that the more profound our repentance, the fuller will be our enjoyment of remission.
We are inclined to believe that there is a sad lack of depth and seriousness in much of our modern-day preaching. In our anxiety to make the Gospel simple, and salvation easy, we fail to press on the consciences of our hearers the holy claims of truth. If a preacher today were to call on his hearers to “repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance,” he would, in certain circles, be pronounced legal, ignorant, below the mark, and such like. And yet this was precisely what the apostle Paul did, as he himself tells us. Will any evangelist have the temerity to say that Paul was a legal or ignorant preacher? We trust not. Paul carried with him the full, clear, precious Gospel of God; the Gospel of the grace, and the Gospel of the glory. He preached the kingdom of God; unfolded the glorious mystery of the Church – a mystery especially committed to him.
We pray all preachers will remember that Paul preached repentance. He called on sinners to judge self – to repent in dust and ashes, as they should. He had learned the true meaning of repentance. He had not only judged himself once in a way, but he lived in the spirit of self-judgment. It was the habit of his soul, the attitude of his heart, and it gave a depth, solidity, seriousness and solemnity to his preaching of which modern-day preachers seem to know little. We do not believe that Paul’s repentance ended with the three days and three nights of blindness after his conversion. He was a self-judged man the rest of his life. Did this hinder his enjoyment of the grace of God or the preciousness of Christ? No, it gave depth and intensity to his enjoyment.
We are persuaded all this demands serious consideration. We greatly dread the light, airy, superficial style of much modern-day preaching. It sometimes seems to us as if the Gospel were brought into utter contempt and the sinner led to suppose that in accepting salvation he is conferring a favor on God. We solemnly protest this. It is dishonoring to God, and lowering His Gospel. Also, as might be expected, its moral effect on those who profess to be converted is deplorable. It super-induces levity, self-indulgence, worldliness, vanity, and folly. Sin is not felt to be the dreadful thing it is in the sight of God. Self is not judged. The world is not given up. The Gospel that is preached is what may be called “salvation made easy” to the flesh; the most terrible thing we can possibly conceive; terrible in its effect on the soul; terrible in its results in the life. God’s sentence on the flesh and the world gets no place in the preaching to which we refer. People are offered a salvation that leaves self and the world practically unjudged, and the consequence is those who profess to be converted by this gospel exhibit a lightness and unsubduedness that is shocking to people of serious piety.
Man must take his proper place before God, and that is the place of self-judgment, contrition of heart, real sorrow for sin, and true confession. It is here the Gospel meets him. The fullness of God always waits on an empty vessel, and a truly repentant soul is the empty vessel into which all the fullness and grace of God can flow in saving power. The Holy Spirit will make the sinner realize his real condition. It is He alone who can do so: but He uses preaching to this end. He brings the Word of God to bear on man’s conscience. The Word is His hammer, wherewith He breaks the rock in pieces – His plowshare, wherewith He breaks up the fallow ground. He makes the furrow and then casts in the incorruptible seed to germinate and fructify to the glory of God. True, no matter how deep the furrow may be, it can produce no fruit. It is the seed that produces fruit and not the furrow; but there must first be a furrow for the seed.
It is not that there is anything meritorious in the sinner’s repentance. To say so could only be regarded as audacious falsehood. Repentance is not a good work whereby the sinner merits the favor of God. Such a view of the subject is utterly and fatally false. True repentance is the discovery and hearty confession of our ruin and guilt. It is the finding out that our whole life has been a lie, and that we are liars. This is serious work. There is no flippancy or levity when a soul is brought to this. A penitent soul in the presence of God is a solemn reality; and we cannot but feel that were we more governed by the terms of the great commission, we would more solemnly, earnestly and constantly call on men “to repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance” – we should preach “repentance” as well as “remission of sins.”
Since writing our last essay, we have been interested in the way in which repentance is presented in the parables of Luke 15. There, in a touching and convincing manner, we learn not only the abiding and universal necessity and moral fitness in every case of true repentance – but that it is also grateful to the heart of God. In His marvelous reply to the scribes and Pharisees, our Lord declares: “there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” And again, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
This gives us an elevated view of the subject. It is one thing to see that repentance is binding on man, and another, much higher thing to see that it is grateful to God. “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
A broken heart, a contrite spirit, a repentant mind, gives joy to God.
Let us ponder this fact. The scribes and Pharisees murmured because Jesus received sinners. How little they understood Him. How little they knew of the object that brought Him down into this dark and sinful world. How little they knew of themselves. It was the “lost” that Jesus came to seek. But scribes and Pharisees did not think themselves lost. They thought they were all right. They did not want or need a Savior. They were thoroughly unbroken, unrepentant, and self-confident. Hence, they had never afforded one atom of joy in Heaven. All the learning of the scribes, and all the righteousness of the Pharisees, could not waken up a single note of joy in the presence of the angels of God. They were like the elder son in the parable who said, “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.”
Here we have a true specimen of an unbroken heart and an unrepentant spirit; a man thoroughly satisfied with himself. What a miserable object. He had never touched a chord in the Father’s heart; never drawn out the Father’s love; never felt the Father’s embrace; never received the Father's welcome. How could he? He had never felt himself lost. He was full of himself, and therefore had no room for the Father’s love. He did not feel that he owed anything, and hence he had nothing to be forgiven – it seemed to him that his father was his debtor. “Lo, these many years do I serve thee; and yet thou never gavest me a kid.” He had not received his wages.
What egregious folly. And yet it is the same with every unrepentant soul; everyone who is building on his own righteousness. He really makes God his debtor. “I have served Thee; but I have never gotten what I earned.” What a miserable notion. The man who talks about his duties, doings, sayings, and giving is insulting God. On the other hand, the man who comes with a broken heart, a contrite spirit; repentant and self-judged – that man gives joy to the heart of God.
And why? Simply because such a one feels his need of God. Here lies the moral secret of the whole matter. To apprehend this is to grasp the full truth on the great question of repentance. A God of love desires to make His way to the sinner's heart, but there is no room for Him as long as that heart is hard and impenitent. But when the sinner is brought to the end of himself, when he sees himself a helpless, hopeless wreck, when he sees the utter emptiness, hollowness and vanity of earthly things; when like the prodigal he comes to himself and feels the depth and reality of his need, then there is room in his heart for God, and – marvelous truth – God delights to come and fill it. “To this man will I look.” To whom? To the man who does his duty, keeps the law, does his best, lives up to his light? No; but “to him who is of a contrite spirit.”
Perhaps it may be said that the words just quoted apply to Israel. Primarily, they do; but morally they apply to every contrite heart on the face of the earth. And, further, it cannot be said that Luke 15 applies especially to Israel. It applies to all. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that” – What? Does his duty? No, it never says “that believeth.” No doubt believing is essential in every case; but the interesting point here is that a truly repentant sinner causes joy in Heaven. One may say, “I fear I do not believe.” Well, but do we repent? Have our eyes been opened to see our true condition before God? Have we taken our true place before God as utterly lost? If so, we are one of those over whom there is joy in Heaven.
What gave joy to the shepherd's heart? Was it the ninety and nine sheep that did not go astray? No, it was finding the lost sheep. What gave joy to the woman’s heart? Was it the nine pieces in her possession? No, it was finding the one lost piece. What gave joy to the father's heart? Was it the service and obedience of the elder son? No, it was getting back his lost son. A repentant, broken-hearted, returning sinner awakens Heaven's joy. “Let us eat and be merry.” Why? Because the elder son has been working in the fields and doing his duty? No; but “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
All this is so wonderful that if we had it not from the lips of Him who is the Truth, and on the eternal page of Divine Inspiration, we would not believe it. But, blessed be God, there it stands, and none can gainsay it. There shines the glorious truth that a poor, self-convicted, broken-hearted, penitent, hell-deserving sinner, gives joy to the heart of God. Let people talk as they will about keeping the law and doing their duty: it may go for what it is worth; but there is no such clause within the cover of God’s Volume – “There is joy in heaven over one sinner that does his duty” never dropped from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What is a sinner’s duty? “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” What is it that truly defines our duty? Surely we can all agree that it is God’s command. Well, here it is, and there is no getting over it. God’s command to all men in every place is to repent. His commandment binds them to do it; His goodness leads them to it; His judgment warns them to it; and, above all, and most marvelous of all, He assures us that our repentance gives joy to His heart. A penitent heart is an object of profoundest interest to the mind of God, because that heart is morally prepared to receive what God delights to bestow – “remission of sins” – yes, all the fullness of divine love. A man might spend millions in the cause of religion and philanthropy, and not afford one atom of joy in Heaven. What are millions of money to God? A single penitential tear is more precious to Him than all the wealth of the universe. All the offerings of an unbroken heart are an insult to God; but a single sigh from the depths of a contrite spirit goes up as a fragrant incense to His throne and to His heart.
No man can meet God on the ground of duty; but God can meet any man – the very chief of sinners – on the ground of repentance, for that is man’s true place. With all confidence, we can say that when the sinner, as he is, meets God, as He is, the whole question is settled once and forever. “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” The moment man takes his true place – the place of repentance – God meets him with a full forgiveness, a divine and everlasting righteousness. It is His joy to do so. It gratifies His heart and glorifies His name to pardon, justify and accept a penitent soul that truly believes in the faith of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-26). The moment the prophet cried, “Woe is me; for I am undone” – “Then flew one of the seraphim with a live coal from off the altar” to touch his lips, purging his sins (Is. 6:5-7).
Thus it is always. The fullness of God always waits on an empty vessel. If we are full of self, full of our own fancied goodness, our own morality, our own righteousness, we have no room for God, no room for Christ. “He filleth the hungry with good things; but the rich He hath sent empty away.” A self-emptied soul can be filled with the fullness of God; but if God sends a man away empty, where can he go to be filled? From Genesis to Revelation, all Scripture proves the blessedness as well as moral necessity of repentance. It is the grand turning-point in the soul’s history – a great moral epoch that sheds its influence over one's eternal life. It is not a transient exercise, but an abiding moral condition. We are not speaking of how repentance is produced; but of what it is according to Scripture, and of the absolute need of it for every creature under Heaven. It is the sinner’s place; and when through grace he takes it, he is met by the fullness of God’s salvation.
Here we see the lovely connection between the first and second clauses of the great commission – “repentance and remission of sins.” They are inseparably linked together. It is not that the most profound and genuine repentance forms the meritorious ground of remission of sins. To say or to think so would be to set aside the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in that alone have we the divine ground on which God can righteously forgive our sins. This we shall see more fully when we come to consider the basis of the great commission.
We are now occupied with the commission itself; and in it we see those two divinely settled facts: repentance and remission of sins. The holy apostles of our Lord and Savior were charged to preach among all nations – to declare in the ears of every creature under heaven “repentance and remission of sins.” Every man, Jew or Gentile, is commanded by God to repent; and every repentant soul is privileged to receive the full and everlasting remission of sins. And we may add: the deeper and more abiding the work of repentance, the deeper and more abiding will be the enjoyment of remission of sins. The contrite soul lives in the atmosphere of divine forgiveness; and as it inhales that atmosphere, it shrinks with ever increasing horror from sin in every shape and form.
Let us briefly turn to the Acts of the Apostles, and see how Christ’s ambassadors carried out the second part of His blessed commission. Hear the apostle of the circumcision addressing the Jews on the Day of Pentecost. We cannot attempt to quote all of his address; we merely give the few words of application at the close. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Here the preacher bears down upon the consciences of his hearers with the solemn fact that they had proved themselves to be at issue with God Himself about His Christ. What a tremendous fact. It was not merely that they had broken the law, rejected the prophets, refused the testimony of John the Baptist; but they had actually crucified the Lord of glory, the eternal Son of God. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness [remission] of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:36-38; NASB; emphasis added).
Here are the two parts of the great commission brought out in distinctness and power. The people are charged with the most awful sin that could be committed, the murder of the Son of God; they are then called on to repent and be baptized in the name of the One they had murdered; being assured of full remission of sins as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit. What wondrous grace shines forth in all this. The very people that had mocked and insulted the Son of God and crucified Him, even these, if truly repentant, were assured of the complete pardon of this crowning sin as well as all the rest. Such is the wondrous grace of God; such the mighty efficacy of the blood of Christ; such the clear and authoritative testimony of the Holy Spirit; such the glorious terms of the great commission.
But let us now briefly turn to Acts 3. Here, after charging his hearers with this awful act of wickedness against God, i.e., the rejection and murder of His Son, the preacher adds these remarkable words: “And now, brethren, I know that acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (vv. 17, 18, 19; NASB).
It is not possible to conceive anything higher or fuller than the grace that shines out here. It is a part of the divine response to the prayer of Christ on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This is surely royal grace. It is victorious grace – grace reigning through righteousness. It was impossible that such a prayer should fall to the ground. It was answered in part on the day of Pentecost. It will be answered in full at a future day, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 20, 21; NASB).
In Acts 3, note particularly the words, “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets . . . He has thus fulfilled” Here the preacher brings in God’s side of the matter: and this has to do with salvation. To see only man’s part in the cross would be eternal judgment. To see God’s part and to rest in it is eternal life, full remission of sins, divine righteousness, and everlasting glory.
This reminds us of the touching scene between Joseph and his brethren. There is a striking analogy between Acts 3 and Genesis 14. Joseph says, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life . . . And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.”
But when were these words uttered? Not until the guilty brethren had felt and confessed their guilt. Repentance preceded the remission. “They said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.”
At first, Joseph “spake roughly” to his brethren. He brought them through deep waters, and made them feel and confess their guilt. But when they took the ground of repentance, he took the ground of forgiveness. The penitent brethren were met by a pardoning Joseph, and the whole house of Pharaoh was made to ring with the joy that filled the heart of Joseph on getting back to his bosom the very men who had flung him into the pit.
What an illustration of “repentance and remission of sins.” It is always this way. It is the joy of the heart of God to forgive our sins. He delights in causing the full tide of His pardoning love to flow into the broken and contrite heart.
Yes, if we have been brought to feel the burden of our guilt, then be assured it is our privilege to receive a divine and everlasting remission of all our sins. The blood of Jesus Christ has settled the question of our guilt, and we are now invited to rejoice in the God of our salvation.
We now turn briefly to the ministry of the apostle to the Gentiles, and see how he fulfilled the great commission. We have already heard him on the subject of “repentance.” Let us hear him also on the great question of “remission of sins.”
Paul was not of the twelve. He did not receive his commission from Christ on earth, but, as he himself distinctly and repeatedly tells us, from Christ in heavenly glory. Some have spent considerable time and pains in laboring to prove that he was of the twelve, and that the election of Matthias in Acts 1 was a mistake. But it is labor sadly wasted, and only proves a misunderstanding of Paul’s position and ministry. He was raised up for a special object, and made the depository of a special truth that had never been made known to anyone before – the truth of the Church; the one body composed of Jew and Gentile, incorporated by the Holy Spirit, and, by His personal indwelling, linked to the risen and glorified Head in Heaven.
Paul received his special commission, of which he gives a beautiful statement in his address to Agrippa in Acts 26, “Whereupon, as I went to Damascus, with authority and commission from the chief priests [what a different commission he received before he entered Damascus] at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutes. But rise, and stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people and the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified, by faith that is in Me” (emphasis added).
What depth and fullness in these words. What a comprehensive statement of man’s condition. What a blessed presentation of the resources of divine grace. There is a remarkable harmony between this commission to Paul and that to the twelve in Luke 24. It will perhaps be said there is nothing about repentance. True, the word does not occur; but we have the moral reality and that with singular force and fullness. What is the meaning of the words, “To open their eyes”? Do they not most involve the discovery of our condition? Yes; a man who has his eyes opened is brought to the knowledge of himself, the knowledge of his condition, the knowledge of his ways; and this is true repentance. It is a wonderful moment in a man's history when his eyes are opened. It is the grand crisis, the momentous epoch, the one turning-point. Till then he is morally and spiritually blind. He cannot see a single divine object. He has no perception of anything pertaining to God, Christ, or Heaven.
This is humbling to proud human nature. Think of a clear-headed, highly educated, deeply learned, intellectual man; a profound thinker, a powerful reasoner, a thorough philosopher, who has won honors, medals, and degrees this world’s universities can bestow; yet he is blind to things spiritual, heavenly, and divine. He gropes in moral darkness. He thinks he sees, assumes the right to judge and pronounce on things, even on Scripture and on God Himself. He undertakes to decide what is fitting for God to say and do. He sets up his own mind as the measure regarding things of God. He reasons on immortality, eternal life, and eternal punishment. He deems himself competent to give judgment in reference to all these solemn and weighty matters; and all the while his eyes have never been opened. How much is his judgment worth? Nothing whatsoever. Who would take the opinion of a man who, if his eyes were only opened, would reverse that opinion in reference to everything heavenly and divine? Who would think of being guided by a blind man?
But how do we know that every man in his natural, unconverted state is blind? Because, according to Paul’s commission, the first thing the Gospel does for him is “to open his eyes.” Beyond all question, this proves that he must be blind. Paul was sent to the people and to the Gentiles – that is, to the whole human family – to open their eyes. To a divine demonstration, this proves that all are by nature blind.
But there is more. Man is not only blind, but he is in “darkness.” Suppose for a moment that a person has his eyesight; of what use is it if he is in the dark? It is the double statement regarding man's state and position. Regarding his state, he is blind. Regarding his position, he is in darkness. When his eyes are opened and divine light streams in on his soul, he then judges himself and his ways according to God. He sees his folly, guilt, rebellion; his wild, infidel reasoning, his foolish notions, the vanity of his mind, his pride and ambition, his selfishness and worldliness – all these things are judged and abhorred. He repents, and turns around to the One who has opened his eyes and poured in a flood of living light on his heart and conscience.
Further, not only is every man – Jew and Gentile alike, blind and in darkness, but, as if to give the climax of all, he is under the power of Satan. This gives a terrible idea of man’s condition. He is the slave of the devil. He does not believe this. He imagines himself free; thinks he is his own master; fancies he can go where he pleases, do what he likes, think for himself, speak and act as an independent being. But he is the bondslave of another, he is sold under sin, Satan is his lord and master. Thus Scripture speaks, and it cannot be broken. Man may refuse to believe, but that cannot in the least change the fact. A condemned criminal at the bar may refuse to believe the testimony from the witness table, the verdict from the jury-box, or the sentence from the bench; but that in no way alters his terrible condition. He is still a condemned criminal.
So with man as a sinner; he may refuse the plain testimony of Scripture, but that testimony still remains. Even if the mega millions of people on this globe continue to deny the truth of God’s Word, that Word still stands unmoved. Scripture does not depend on man’s belief for its truth. It is true whether he believes it or not. Blessed forever is the man who believes; doomed forever is the man who refuses to believe; but the Word of God is settled forever in Heaven – it is to be received on its own authority, apart from all human thoughts for or against it.
This is a grand fact, demanding the profound attention of every soul. Everything depends on it. The Word of God claims our belief because it is His Word. If we seek any authority to confirm the truth of God’s Word, we are in reality rejecting God’s Word altogether, and resting on man's word. One may say, “How do I know that the Bible is the Word of God?” To which we reply, “It carries its own divine credentials.” If these credentials do not convince, all the human authority under the sun is worthless. If the whole population of earth stood before us, and assured us of the truth of God’s Word, and that we were to believe based on their authority, it would not be saving faith. It would be faith in men and not faith in God; but the faith that saves is the faith that believes what God says simply because God says it.
It is not that we undervalue human testimony, or reject what are called the external evidences of the truth of Holy Scripture. All these things must go for what they are worth; and by no means are they essential in laying the foundation of saving faith. We are sure that all genuine history, all true science, all sound human evidence, establishes the divine authenticity of the Bible; but we do not rest our faith on them, but on the Scriptures to which they bear witness. If all human evidence, all science, and every page of history, were to speak against Scripture, we would reject them; and reverently and implicitly believe God’s Holy Word. Some might say this is narrow. Then so be it. It is the blessed narrowness in which we gladly find our peace and portion forever. It is the narrowness that refuses to admit the weight of a feather as an addition to the Word of God. If this is narrowness, let it be ours forever.
If we must look to man for confirmation of the truth of God’s Word, in order to be broad, then away with broadness. After all, it is the broad way that leads straight to hell. No, our life, our salvation, our everlasting peace, blessedness and glory, depend on our taking God at His Word, and believing what He says because He says it. This is living, saving, precious faith. May we possess it.
God’s Word, then, most distinctly declares that man in his natural, unrenewed, unconverted state is Satan’s bondslave. It speaks of Satan as “the god of this world,” as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” It speaks of man as “led captive by the devil at his will.” Hence, in Paul’s commission, the third thing the Gospel is to do is turn man from “the power of Satan to God.” Thus his eyes are opened; divine light comes streaming in; the power of Satan is broken, and the delivered one finds himself, peacefully and happily in the presence of God. Like the demoniac in Mark 5, he is delivered from his ruthless tyrant, his cruel master; his chains are broken and gone; he is clothed and in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.
What a glorious deliverance. It is worthy of God in every aspect and in all its results. The blind slave, led captive by the devil, is set free; and not only so, but he is brought to God, pardoned, accepted, and endowed with an eternal inheritance among the sanctified. And all this is by faith, through grace. It is proclaimed in the Gospel of God to every creature under heaven – not one is excluded. The great commission, whether we read it in Luke 24 or in Acts 26, assures us that this precious, glorious salvation is unto all.
Briefly consider our apostle discharging his commission in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia. Notice his powerful appeal at the end. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man [Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and glorified] is preached [not promised in the future, but preached now, announced as a present reality – is preached] unto you the remission of sins. And by Him all who believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (emphasis added).
In the clearest possible manner, we learn from these words that every soul in that synagogue was called on to receive into his heart the blessed message that fell from the preacher’s lips. Not one was excluded. “Unto you is the word of this salvation sent.” If anyone had asked the apostle if the message was intended for him, what would have been the reply? “Unto you is the word of this salvation sent.” Were there any preliminary questions to be settled? No; not one. All the preliminaries had been settled at the cross. Was there a question pertaining to election or predestination? Not a syllable about either in the whole range of this magnificent and comprehensive discourse.
Is there no such question? Not in that great commission whereof we speak. Election is spoken of on the pages of Holy Inspiration and should be studied by children of God. But its proper and divinely appointed place is not in evangelistic preaching. When the apostle sits down to instruct believers, we hear such words as these: “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate . . .” And again: “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”
When standing up as an ambassador of Christ, the herald of salvation, he proclaims in the most absolute and unqualified manner a present, personal, perfect salvation to every creature under heaven; and everyone who heard him was responsible to believe. And everyone who reads him now is equally responsible to believe. If anyone had presumed to tell the preacher that his hearers were not responsible, that they were powerless, and could not believe; that it was only deceiving them to call on them to believe; what would have been his reply? We think we are justified in saying that a full and overwhelming reply to this, and every such preposterous objection, is wrapped up in the solemn appeal with which the apostle closes his address, “Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe though a man declare it unto you.”
Having dwelt a little in former essays on the terms of the great commission, we shall now, in dependence on divine teaching, seek to unfold the truth pertaining to the basis.
It is important to have a clear understanding of the solid ground on which “repentance and remission of sins” are announced to every creature under heaven. This we have distinctly laid down in our Lord’s own words, “It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”
Here, in its impregnable strength, lies the foundation of the glorious commission whereof we speak. God has been pleased to set before us with all possible clearness the moral ground on which He commands all men everywhere to repent, and the righteous ground on which He can proclaim to every repentant soul the perfect remission of sins.
As already mentioned, it is a false notion that assumes any amount of repentance on the part of the sinner could possibly form the meritorious ground of forgiveness. But, because some may not be well grounded regarding the foundations of the Gospel, we feel bound to put things in the simplest possible form, so that all may better understand. We know how prone the human heart is to build on something of our own – if not on good works, at least on our penitential exercises. Hence, it becomes our duty to set forth the precious truth of the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ as the only righteous foundation and ground of the forgiveness of sins.
True, all men are commanded to repent. It is necessary and right that they should. How could it be otherwise? How can we look at that accursed tree on which the Son of God bore the judgment of sin and not see the absolute necessity of repentance? How can we harken to that solemn cry breaking forth from amid the shadows of Calvary, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” and not, from the deepest depths of our moral being, lay hold of the moral fitness of repentance?
If indeed sin is so terrible, so absolutely hateful to God, so perfectly intolerable to His holy nature, that He had to bruise His beloved and only begotten Son on the cross in order to put it away, does it not become the sinner to judge himself, and repent in dust and ashes? How can we not be broken, self-judged and subdued on account of our sins, when the blessed Lord had to endure the hiding of God’s countenance because of our sins? Shall we with impenitent heart hear the glad tidings of full and free forgiveness of sins – a forgiveness that cost nothing less than the unutterable horrors and agonies of the cross? Shall we, with flippant tongue, profess to have peace – a peace purchased by the ineffable sufferings of the Son of God? If it was absolutely necessary that Christ should suffer for our sins, is it not morally fitting that we should repent of them?
This is not all. It is not merely that it becomes us to repent. There is far more than this. The spirit of self-judgment, genuine contrition and true humility must characterize everyone who enters into the profound mystery of the sufferings of Christ. It is only as we contemplate and deeply ponder those sufferings that we can form anything approaching to a just estimate of the hatefulness of sin on one hand, and the divine fullness and perfectness of remission on the other. Such was the hatefulness of sin; that it was absolutely necessary that Christ should suffer. The sufferings of Christ were of such magnitude that God can forgive our sins according to the infinite value He attaches to those sufferings. Both go together; and, we may add, from first to last both exert a formative influence on the Christian character under the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our sins are all forgiven; but “it behoved Christ to suffer”; and hence, while our peace flows like a river, we must never forget the soul-subduing fact that the basis of our peace was laid in the ineffable sufferings of the Son of God.
This is most needful, because of the excessive levity of our hearts. We are ready enough to receive the truth of the remission of sins, and then go on in an easy, self-indulgent, world-loving spirit, thus proving how feebly we enter into the sufferings of our blessed Lord, or into the real nature of sin. All this is deplorable, and calls for the deepest exercise of soul.
There is a sad lack among us of that real brokenness of spirit that should characterize those who owe their present peace and everlasting felicity and glory to the sufferings of Christ. We are light, frivolous, and self-willed. We avail ourselves of the death of Christ to save us from the consequences of our sins, but our ways do not exhibit the practical effect of that death in its application to ourselves. We do not walk as those who are dead with Christ; who have crucified the affections and lust of the flesh; who are delivered from this present evil world. In other words, our Christianity is sadly deficient in depth of tone; it is shallow, feeble, and stunted. We profess to know a great deal of truth; but it is to be feared that it is too much in theory – therefore not turned to practical account as it should be.
It may perhaps be asked, “What has all this to do with the great commission?” It has to do with it in an intimate way. We are deeply impressed with a sense of the superficial way in which the work of evangelization is carried on in this age. Not only are the terms of the great commission overlooked, but the basis seems to be little understood. The sufferings of Christ are not duly dwelt on and unfolded. The atoning work of Christ is presented in its sufficiency for the sinner’s need – and no doubt this is a wonderful mercy. We have to be profoundly thankful when preachers and writers hold up the precious blood of Christ as the sinner’s only plea, instead of preaching rites, ceremonies, sacraments, good works (falsely so-called), creeds, churches, religious ordinances, and such-like delusions.
Still, we must express our conviction that much of our modern evangelical preaching is extremely shallow and bald; and the result of that preaching is seen in the light, airy, flippant style of many so-called converts. Some of us seem so intensely anxious to make everything so easy and simple for the sinner that the preaching becomes one-sided.
Thanks be to God, He has made all easy and simple for the needy, broken-hearted, penitent sinner. He has left him nothing to do, nothing to give. It is “to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly.” It is not possible for any evangelist to go too far in stating this side of the question. No one can go beyond Romans 4:5 in setting forth salvation by free grace, through obedient faith, without works of man.
But, we must remember that the blessed apostle Paul – the greatest evangelist that ever lived, except for his divine Master – did not confine himself to this one side; and neither should we. He pressed the claims of divine holiness. He called on sinners to judge self, and he called on true believers to subdue and deny self. He did not preach a Gospel that left people at ease in the world, satisfied with self, and occupied with earthly things. He did not tell people that they were saved from the flames of hell and were therefore free to enjoy the follies of earth.
This was not Paul’s Gospel. He preached a Gospel which, while it fully met the sinner’s deepest need, also maintained God’s glory – a Gospel which, while it came down to the lowest point of the sinner’s condition, did not leave him there. Paul’s Gospel not only set forth a full, clear unqualified, unconditional, present forgiveness of sins, but also, just as fully and clearly, the condemnation of sin, and the believer’s deliverance from this present evil world. In Paul’s Gospel, the death of Christ not only assured the soul of complete deliverance from the just consequences of sins, as seen in the judgment of God in the lake of fire, but also, with magnificent fullness and clearness, it set forth the complete snapping of every link with the world, and deliverance from the present power and rule of sin.
Here is precisely where the lamentable deficiency and culpable one-sidedness of modern-day preaching are so painfully manifest. The Gospel that one often hears in this age is a carnal, earthly, worldly gospel, offering a kind of ease – a fleshly, worldly ease. It gives a carnal confidence, not the confidence of faith. It is not a delivering Gospel. It leaves people in the world, instead of bringing them to God.
What must be the result of all this? We can hardly bear to contemplate it. We greatly fear that, should our Lord tarry, the fruit of much of what is going on around us will be a terrible combination of the highest profession with the lowest practice. It cannot be otherwise. High truth taken up in a light, carnal spirit tends to lull the conscience and quash all godly exercise of soul regarding our habits and ways in daily life. In this way people escape from legality only to plunge into levity, and truly the last state is worse than the first.
We earnestly hope and pray that children of God may not feel unduly depressed by the perusal of these lines. God knows we would not pen a line to discourage the feeblest lamb in the precious flock of Christ. We desire to write in the divine presence. We have entreated the Lord that every line of this essay, and of all other essays and data on StudyJesus.com, should come from and be based only on the Holy Word of God.
Therefore, we must faithfully and affectionately ask the reader to ponder what is here put before him. We cannot hide the fact that we are seriously impressed with the condition of things around us. We feel that the tone and aspect of the so-called religious world in this age awaken the gravest apprehension in the mind of thoughtful observers. We perceive a terribly rapid development of the features of the last days, as detailed by the pen of inspiration. “This know also that, in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
What an appalling picture. How solemn to find the same evils that characterize heathen, as recorded in Romans 1, reproduced in connection with those having “a form of godliness” – man’s systems of religion. Should not the thought of this awaken serious apprehensions in the mind of every Christian? Should it not lead all among us who are engaged in the holy service of preaching and teaching to examine themselves closely regarding the tone and character of their ministry, and regarding their private walk and ways? We long for, seek, and desire a more searching style of ministry on the part of evangelists and teachers. There is a lack of hortatory and prophetic ministry. By prophetic ministry we mean that which brings the conscience into the immediate presence of God (See 1 Cor. 14:1-3, 23-26).
In this we are lamentably deficient. There is a vast amount of objective truth in circulation among us – perhaps more than since the days of the apostles. Books, periodicals, and tracks by the hundreds, thousands, and millions, are sent forth annually.
Do we object to this? No; but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that by far the largest proportion of this mass of literature is addressed to the intelligence, and not enough to the heart and conscience. Now, while it is right to enlighten the understanding, it is wrong to neglect the heart and conscience. We feel it to be a serious thing to allow intelligence to outstrip conscience – to have more truth in the head than in the heart – to profess principles that do not govern the practice. Nothing can be more dangerous. It tends to place us directly in the hands of Satan. If the conscience is not kept tender, if the heart is not governed by the fear of God, if a broken and contrite spirit is not cultivated, there is no telling what depths we may plunge into. When the conscience is kept in a sound condition, when the heart is humble and true, then every fresh ray of light that shines in on understanding will minister strength to the soul, elevating and sanctifying our whole moral being.
This is what every earnest spirit must crave. All true believers must long for increased personal holiness, more likeness to Christ, more genuine devotedness of heart, a deepening, strengthening and expanding of the kingdom of God in the soul – that kingdom which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
May all of us have grace to seek after these divine realities. May we diligently cultivate them in our private lives, and in every possible way seek to promote them in those with whom we come in contact. Only then, in some measure, can we expect to stem the tide of hollow profession around us, and be a living testimony against the powerless form of godliness so sadly dominant in this age.
Is this truly our thought and feeling? If so, then let us earnestly entreat one another to join in earnest prayer to God that He will graciously raise our spiritual tone by drawing us closer to Him, filling our hearts with love to Him, and with earnest desire for the promotion of His glory, the progress of His cause, and the prosperity of His people.
In handling our subject, we have yet to consider the authority and sphere of the great commission; but before proceeding to these we must dwell a little longer on the basis. The commission is truly great and needs a solid foundation on which to rest; and it has such in the atoning death of His Son. Nothing less than this could sustain such a magnificent fabric; but the grace that planned the commission has also laid the foundation; so that a full remission of sins can be preached among all nations, because in the death of Christ God has been glorified regarding the entire question of sin.
This is a grand point for us to seize. It lies at the very foundation of the Christian system. It is the keystone of the arch of divine revelation. God has been glorified regarding sin. His judgment has been executed on it. The claims of His throne have been vindicated pertaining to it. The insult offered to His divine majesty has been flung back in the enemy’s face. If the sweet story of remission of sins had never fallen on a human ear or entered a human heart, the divine glory would none the less have been perfectly maintained.
By His most precious death, the Lord Jesus Christ wiped off the stain that the enemy sought to cast on the eternal glory of God. In the cross a testimony has been given to all created intelligence regarding God’s thoughts about sin. There it can be seen, with all possible clearness, that not a single trace of sin can ever enter the precincts of the divine presence. God is of purer eyes than to behold evil – He cannot look on iniquity. Wherever found, sin must be met by divine judgment.
Where does all this most fully and forcibly come out? Assuredly in the cross. Harken to that solemn and mysterious cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” What does this wondrous inquiry mean? Who is the speaker? Is he one of Adam’s fallen posterity? Is he a sinner? Surely not; for were he such, there would be no moral force whatever in the question. There never was a sinner on the face of this earth who did not deserve to be forsaken by a holy, sin-hating God. This we must never forget. Some people entertain foolish notions regarding this point. In their vain imagination, they have invented a god to suit themselves; one who will not punish sin; one who is so tender, so kind, and so benevolent, that he will connive with evil, passing it by as though it were nothing.
Nothing is more certain than this: the god of human imagination is a false one, just as false as any other idol. The God of the Bible, the God of Christianity, the God whom we see at the cross, is not like this. Men may reason as they will; but sin must be condemned – it must be met by the just and inflexible judgment of a sin-hating God.
We repeat the question, “Who uttered those words at the opening of Psalm 22?” If not a sinner, who was He? Wonderful to declare, He was the only spotless, perfectly holy, pure and sinless Man that ever trod this earth. He was more. He was the eternal Son of the Father, the Object of God’s ineffable delight, who had dwelt in His bosom from all eternity, “the brightness of His glory and the exact expression of His substance.”
Yet He was forsaken of God. Yes, that holy and perfect One, who knew no sin, whose human nature was absolutely free from every taint, who never had a single thought, never uttered a single word, never did a single act that was not in harmony with the mind of God; whose whole life, from Bethlehem to Calvary, was a sacrifice of sweetest odor presented to the heart of God. Again and again we see Heaven opening on Him, and the voice of the Father is heard giving expression to His infinite complacency in the Son of His bosom. And yet, He it is whose voice is heard in that bitter cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Marvelous question; it stands alone in the annals of eternity. No such question had ever been asked before; no such question has ever been asked since; and no such question can ever be asked again. Whether we consider the One who asked the question, the One of whom it was asked, or the answer, we must admit that it is unique. The most profound and marvelous mystery that could possibly engage the attention of men or angels is that God should forsake such a One. Human reason cannot fathom its depths. No created intelligence can comprehend its mighty compass.
Yet, there it stands, a stupendous fact before the eye of faith. Our blessed Lord Himself assures us that it was absolutely necessary. “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer.” But why was it necessary? Why should the only perfect, sinless, spotless Man have to suffer? Why should He be forsaken of God? The glory of God, the eternal counsels of redeeming love, man's guilty, ruined, helpless condition – all these things rendered it indispensable that Christ should suffer. There was no other way in which the divine glory could be maintained; no other way in which the claims of the throne of God could be answered; no other way in which Heaven’s majesty could be vindicated; no other way in which the eternal purposes of love could be made good; no other way in which sin could be fully atoned for, and finally taken away from God’s creation; no other way in which sins could be forgiven; no other way in which Satan and all the powers of darkness could be thoroughly vanquished; no other way in which God could be just, and yet the Justifier of any poor ungodly sinner; no other way in which death could be deprived of its sting, or the grave of its victory; no other way in which any or all of these grand results could be reached except by the sufferings and death of our adorable Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
But He went through it all. He went down under the heavy billows and waves of God’s righteous wrath against sin. He took the sinner’s place, stood in his stead, sustained the judgment, paid the penalty, died the death, answered every question, met every demand, vanquished every foe; and having done all, He ascended into the heavens and took His seat on the throne of God, where He is now crowned with glory and honor as the divine and all-glorious Accomplisher of the entire work of man's redemption.
Such is the basis of the great commission whereof we speak. Need we wonder at the terms, when we contemplate the basis? Can there be anything too good, anything too great or too glorious for the God of all grace to bestow on us poor sinners, seeing He has been so fully glorified in the death of Christ? That most precious death furnishes a divinely righteous ground on which our God can indulge the deep and everlasting love of His heart in the remission of our sins. It has removed every barrier to the full flood-tide of redeeming love so it can now flow through a perfectly righteous channel to the vilest sinner that truly repents and believes in Jesus.
A Savior-God can now publish a full and immediate remission of sins to every creature under heaven. There is positively no hindrance. God has been glorified regarding the question of sin; and the time is coming when every trace of sin shall forever be obliterated from His fair creation, and those words of John the Baptist shall have their full accomplishment, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Meanwhile, the heralds of salvation are commanded to go forth to the ends of the earth and without limitation, publish remission of sins to every soul that truly believes. It is the joy of God’s heart to pardon sins; and it is due to the One who bore the judgment of sin on the cross that in His name forgiveness of sins should be freely published, fully received, and abidingly enjoyed.
But what of those who reject this glorious message; who shut their ears against it and turn their hearts away from it? This is the solemn question. Who can answer it? Who can attempt to set forth the eternal destiny of those who die in their sins, as all must who refuse God’s only basis of remission? Men may reason and argue as they will; but all the reasoning and argument in the world cannot set aside the Word of God, which assures us in manifold places and in terms so plain that no possible ground is left for questioning, that all who die in their sins – all who die out of Christ – must inevitably perish eternally; must bear the consequences of their sins, in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
To quote all the passages in proof of the solemn truth of eternal punishment would require a small volume. We cannot attempt it here; nor is it necessary, because we have gone into the subject again and again in other places.
There is a natural question arising from our present essay – was Christ judged, bruised, and forsaken on the cross – did God visit His only begotten and well beloved Son with the full weight of His righteous wrath against sin – and shall impenitent sinners escape? We press this question on all whom it may concern. Some believe and teach that it is inconsistent with the idea of divine goodness, tenderness and compassion for God to send any of His creatures to hell. We reply, “Who is to be the judge? Is man competent to decide what is morally fitting for God to do? What is to be the standard of judgment? Anything that human reason can grasp?” Absolutely not. So what then? The cross, on which the Son of God died, the Just for the unjust, is the only great standard by which to judge the question regarding the outcome of sin.
Who can harken to that bitter cry emanating from the broken heart of the Son of God, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” and question the eternal punishment of all who die in their sins? Talk of tenderness, goodness, and compassion. Where do these shine out most brightly and blessedly? Surely in the great commission that publishes full and free forgiveness of sins to every creature under heaven. But would it be just, good, or compassionate to allow a rejecter of Christ to escape? To see the goodness, kindness, mercy and deep compassion of God, we must look at the cross. “He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.” “It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him. He hath put Him to grief.” “He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
If men reject all this and continue in their sins, rebellion, infidel reasoning and impious speculations – what then? If men maintain that suffering for sin is not necessary, and that there is another and better way of disposing of the matter – what then? Our Lord declared in the ears of His apostles: “it was necessary that Christ should suffer” – that there was no other way by which the great question could be settled. Whom are we to believe? Was the death of Christ gratuitous? Was His heart broken for nothing? Was the cross a work of supererogation? Did Jehovah bruise His Son and put Him to grief for an end that might be gained some other way?
How monstrous the reasoning or rather the ravings of infidelity. They begin by throwing the Word of God overboard – that peerless and perfect revelation; and then, when they have deprived us of our divine guide, with singular audacity, they present themselves and undertake to point out for us a more excellent way; and when we inquire what that way is, we are met by a thousand and one fine-spun theories, no two of which agree in anything save in shutting out God and His Word.
True, they talk plausibly about a god; but it is a god of their own imagination – one who will connive with sin – who will allow them to indulge in their lusts, passions, pleasures, and then take them to a heaven of which they know nothing. They talk of mercy, kindness, and goodness; but they reject the only channel through which these can flow – the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not speak of righteousness, holiness, truth, and judgment to come. They would have us believe that God put Himself to needless cost in delivering up His Son. They ignore the marvelous transaction that stands alone in the entire history of the ways of God – the atoning death of His Son. In one word, the grand object of the devil, in all the skeptical, rationalistic and infidel theories that have ever been propounded in this world is to completely shut out the Word of God, the Christ of God, and God Himself.
We especially call on our young friends to ponder this. It is our deep and thorough conviction that harboring a single infidel suggestion is the first step on that inclined plane leading straight down to the dark and terrible abyss of atheism – down to the blackness of darkness forever.
We will have occasion to recur to the foregoing line of thought when we consider the authority on which the great commission comes to us. We have been drawn into it by the sad fact that in every direction, and on every subject, we are assailed by the contemptible reasoning of infidelity; and we feel imperatively called on to warn all with whom we come in contact against infidel books, infidel lectures, infidel theories in every shape and form. May the inspired Word of God be more and more precious to our hearts. May we walk in its light, feel its sacred power, bow to its divine authority, hide it in our hearts, feed on its treasures, honor its absolute supremacy, confess its all-sufficiency, and utterly reject any teaching that dares to touch the integrity of Holy Scriptures.
We have seen that the basis of the great commission is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This we must never lose sight of. “It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” It is a risen Christ that sends forth His heralds to preach “repentance and remission of sins.” The incarnation and crucifixion are great cardinal truths of Christianity; but it is only in resurrection they are made available. Incarnation – precious and priceless mystery though it is – could not form the groundwork of remission of sins, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). We are justified by the blood, and reconciled by the death of Christ.
But it is in resurrection that all this is made good to us. Christ was delivered for our offences, and raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25; 5:9-10). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
Therefore, it is very important for all who would carry out our Lord’s commission, to know in their own souls, and to set forth in their preaching, the grand truth of resurrection. The most cursory glance at the preaching of the earliest heralds of the Gospel will suffice to show the prominent place they gave to this glorious fact.
Harken to Peter on the Day of Pentecost, or rather to the Holy Spirit; just come down from the risen, ascended and glorified Savior. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it . . . This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2).
So also in Acts 3: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses . . . Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities . . . And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
Their preaching was characterized by the prominent place it assigned to the glorious, powerful and telling fact of resurrection. True, with the great moral bearings of these facts, there was the full and clear statement of incarnation and crucifixion. How could it be otherwise? The Son of God had to become a man to die; in order that by death He might glorify God regarding the entire question of sin; destroy the power of Satan; rob death of its sting, and the grave of its victory; put away forever the sins of His people, and associate them with Himself in the power of eternal life in the new creation, where all things are of God, and where a single trace of sin or sorrow can never enter. Eternal and universal homage and adoration to His peerless name.
Let all preachers remember the place resurrection holds in apostolic preaching and teaching. “With great power gave the apostles witness.” Of what? Incarnation or crucifixion merely? No; but “of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” This was the stupendous fact that glorified God and His Son Jesus Christ. It was this that attested, in view of all created intelligences, the divine complacency in the work of redemption. It was this that demonstrated, in the most marvelous way, the complete and eternal overthrow of the kingdom of Satan and all the powers of darkness. It was this that declared the full and everlasting deliverance of all who truly believe in Jesus – their deliverance, not only from all the consequences of their sins, but from this present evil world, and from every link that bound them to that old creation which lies under the power of evil.
There is therefore no marvel if the apostles, filled as they were with the Holy Spirit, persistently and powerfully presented the magnificent truth of resurrection. Hear them again before the council – a council composed of the great religious leaders and guides of the people. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree.” They were at issue with God on the all-important question regarding His Son. They had slain Him, but God raised Him from the dead – “Hath God exalted with His right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.”
So also in Peter’s address to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, he says, “Whom they slew, and hanged on a tree, Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly: not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, to us who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.”
The Holy Spirit is careful to set forth the weighty fact that “God raised up His Son Jesus.” This fact has a double bearing. It proves that God is at issue with the world, seeing He has raised, exalted and glorified the very One whom they slew and hanged on a tree. But it proves that He has found eternal rest and satisfaction regarding us, and all that was or could be against us, seeing He has raised up the very One who took our place and stood charged with all our sin and guilt.
But all this will come out more fully as we proceed with our proofs.
Let us now briefly listen to Paul’s address in the synagogue at Antioch. “Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead. And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore He saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He whom God raised again saw no corruption.”
Then follows the powerful appeal which though not bearing on our present line of argument, we cannot omit in this place. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you” (Acts 13:26-41).
We close our series of proofs from the Acts of the Apostles by a brief quotation from Paul’s address at Athens. “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God overlooked; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17).
This is a remarkable and solemn passage. The proof that God is going to judge the world in righteousness – a proof offered to all – is that He has raised His ordained Man from the dead. He does not here name the Man; but at verse 18 we are told that some of the Athenians thought the apostle was setting forth strange gods, “because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.”
From all this it is plain that in all his preaching the Apostle Paul gave a prominent place to the glorious truth of resurrection. Whether he addresses a congregation of Jews in the synagogue at Antioch, or an assembly of Gentiles on Mars Hill at Athens, he presents a risen Christ. In other words, he was characterized by the fact that he preached not only the incarnation and the crucifixion, but the resurrection; and this in all its moral bearings – its bearing on man in his individual state and destiny; its bearing on the world as a whole, in its history in the past, its moral condition in the present, and its certain doom in the future; in its bearing on the believer, proving his absolute, complete and eternal justification before God, and his thorough deliverance from this present evil world.
We must remember that in apostolic preaching the resurrection was not presented as merely a doctrine, but as a living, telling, mighty moral fact – a fact, the magnitude of which is beyond all power of human utterance or thought. In carrying out the great commission of their Lord, the apostles pressed the stupendous fact that God had raised Jesus from the dead – had raised the Man who was nailed to the cross and buried in the grave. In short, they preached a resurrection Gospel. Their preaching was governed by these words, “It was necessary that Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead the third day.”
We now briefly turn to the Epistles, and see the wondrous way the Holy Spirit unfolds and applies the fact of resurrection. But before doing so we call attention to a passage that is often misunderstood and misapplied. In writing to the Corinthians, the apostle says, “We preach Christ crucified.” These words are continually quoted for the purpose of casting a damper on those who earnestly desire to advance in the knowledge of divine things. But a moment’s serious attention to the context would be sufficient to show the true meaning of the apostle. Did he confine himself to the fact of the crucifixion? In the face of the body of Scripture quoted, the bare idea is simply absurd. The fact is, the glorious truth of resurrection shines out in all his discourses.
What, then, does the apostle mean when he declares, “We preach Christ crucified”? Simply this: the Christ whom he preached was the One whom the world crucified. He was a rejected, outcast Christ – assigned by the world to a malefactor’s gibbet. What a fact for the Corinthians, so full of vanity and love for this world’s wisdom. A crucified Christ was the One whom Paul preached, “To the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but to those that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Remarkable words – divinely suited to people prone to boast in the so-called wisdom and greatness of this world; the vain, perishable reasoning and imaginations of the human mind. All the wisdom of God, all His power, all His greatness, all His glory, and all He is comes out in a crucified Christ. The cross confounds the world, vanquishes Satan and all the powers of darkness, saves all who truly believe, and forms the solid foundation of the everlasting and universal glory of God.
We now briefly turn to a passage in Romans 4, setting forth the subject of resurrection in a most edifying way. Speaking of Abraham, the inspired writer says, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, [which is always sure to stagger] but was strong in faith, giving glory to God [as faith always does]; and being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness” (emphasis added).
And then, lest any should say that all this applied only to Abraham, who was such a devoted, holy, remarkable man, the inspiring Spirit adds, with singular grace and sweetness, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that [what? Gave His Son? Bruised His Son on the cross? Not merely this, but] raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (emphasis added).
Here lies the grand point of the apostle’s blessed and powerful argument. To have settled peace, we must believe in God as the One who raised up Jesus from the dead, and Who in so doing proved Himself friendly to us, and also proved His infinite satisfaction in the work of the cross. Having been “delivered for our offences,” Jesus could not be where He now is if a single one of these offences remained unatoned. But blessed forever be the God of all grace, He raised from among the dead the One who had been delivered for our offences; and to all who believe in Him righteousness shall be reckoned. “It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” Notice how this glorious theme, the basis of the great commission, expands under our gaze as we pursue our study of it.
One more brief quotation shall close this essay. In Hebrews 13 we read, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”
This is uncommonly fine. The God of judgment met the Sin-bearer at the cross, and there with Him entered thoroughly into and definitively settled the question of sin. Then, in glorious proof that all was done – sin atoned for; guilt put away; Satan silenced; God glorified; all divinely accomplished – “the God of peace” entered the scene, and raised from the dead our Lord Jesus, that “great Shepherd of the sheep.”
How glorious is all this; how enfranchising to all who truly believe – Jesus is risen. His sufferings are over forever. God has exalted Him. Eternal Justice has wreathed His blessed brow with a diadem of glory; and, wondrous fact, that very diadem is the eternal demonstration that all who truly believe are justified, and accepted in a risen and glorified Christ. Eternal and universal hallelujahs to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
We now consider the important subject of the authority on which the great commissionproceeds. This is presented to us in that one commanding and comprehensive sentence, “It is written” – a sentence that should be engraved in deep and broad characters on the tablet of every Christian’s heart.
Nothing can possibly be more interesting or edifying than to note the way in which our blessed Lord on all occasions and under all circumstances exalts the Holy Scriptures. Though God over all, blessed forever, and the Author of all Scripture, yet, having taken His place as man on earth, He plainly sets forth the duty of every man – to be absolutely, completely and abidingly governed by the authority of Scripture. See Him in conflict with Satan. How does He meet him? Simply as each one of us should meet him – by the written Word. It would have been no example to us had Jesus vanquished him by putting forth divine power. Of course, there and then He could have consigned him to the bottomless pit or the lake of fire, but that would have been no example for us, because we could not so overcome. But on the other hand, when we find the blessed One referring to Holy Scripture, when we find Him appealing again and again to that divine authority, when we find Him putting the adversary to flight simply by the written Word, we learn in the most impressive manner the place, value and authority of the Holy Scriptures.
It is unquestionably important in this age for us to learn and apply this lesson. If ever there was a moment in the history of the Lord’s church when it behooved Christians to bow down their whole moral being to this lesson, it is the moment through which we are now passing. On every hand the divine authority, integrity, plenary inspiration and all-sufficiency of Holy Scripture are called in question. The Word of God is openly insulted and flung aside. Its integrity is called in question, even in quarters where we would least expect it. At colleges and universities our youth are continually assailed by infidel attacks on the blessed Word of God. Men who are in total spiritual blindness, who cannot possibly know anything whatsoever about divine things, who are utterly incompetent to give an opinion on the subject of Holy Scripture, have the audacity to insult the Sacred Volume, for instance pronouncing the five books of Moses an imposture, asserting that Moses never wrote them.
The opinion of such men is not worth the weight of a feather. Surely no one in his senses would think of going to a man who was born in a coal mine, and had never see the sun, to get his judgment regarding the properties of light, or the effect of the sun’s beams on the human constitution? Surely no one in his senses would think of going to one who was born blind to get his opinion on colors, or the effect of light and shade? With much more moral force we ask, would anyone in his right senses think of going to an unconverted man – a man dead in trespasses and sins; a man spiritually blind, wholly ignorant of things divine, spiritual, and heavenly. Who would think for a moment of going to such a one for a judgment on the weighty question of Holy Scripture? And if, in ignorant self-confidence, such a one were audacious enough to offer an opinion on such a subject, what man in his sober senses would think of giving the slightest heed?
It may be said, “The illustration does not apply.” Why not? We admit it fails somewhat in force, but certainly not in its moral application. No doubt, it is not a commonly received axiom among us that no man has any right to give an opinion on a subject of which he is totally ignorant. What does the apostle say regarding the unconverted man?
We quote the whole context. It is morally grand, and its interest and value are unspeakable. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith [mark these words] should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit [otherwise they could not possibly be known] for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we [all true believers, all God’s children] have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [or, communicating spiritual things through a spiritual medium]. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them [be he ever so wise and learned] because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:1-16; emphasis added).
We dare not offer an apology for giving so lengthened an extract from the Word of God. We deem it invaluable, not only because it proves that it is only by divine teaching that divine things can be understood, but also because it completely withers up all man’s pretensions to give judgment regarding Scripture. If the natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God, then it is plain that all infidel attacks on the Word of God are absolutely unworthy of the smallest attention. In fact, all infidel writers, be they ever so clever, ever so wise, ever so learned, are put out of court; they are not to be listened to for a moment. The judgment of an unconverted man in reference to the Holy Scriptures is more worthless than the judgment of an uneducated plowman pertaining to the use of the differential calculus, or the truth of the Copernican system. To each we can safely say he knows nothing about the matter. Therefore, his thoughts on the subject are absolutely good for nothing.
But how delightful and refreshing to turn from man’s worthless notions, and see the way in which our blessed Lord Jesus Christ prized and used the Holy Scriptures. In His conflict with Satan, He appeals three times to the book of Deuteronomy. “It is written” is His one simple and unanswerable reply to the suggestions of the enemy. He does not reason. He does not argue or explain. He does not refer to His own personal feelings, evidences, or experiences. He does not argue from the great facts of the opened heavens, the descending Spirit, the voice of the Father – precious and real as all these things were. He simply takes His stand on the divine and eternal authority of the Holy Scriptures, and of that portion of the Scriptures in particular which modern-day infidels have audaciously attacked. He uses as His authority that which they are unafraid to pronounce an imposture. How dreadful for them. What will be their end, unless they repent?
Not only did the Son of God – Himself, as God, the Author of every line of Holy Scripture – use the Word of God as His only weapon against the enemy, but He made it also the basis and material of His public ministry. When His conflict in the wilderness was over, “He returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
His custom was to read the Scriptures publicly. “And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias.” Here He puts His seal on the prophet Isaiah, as before on the law of Moses. “And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4).
© 2006-2018 Fanpop, Inc., All Rights Reserved. A Member of Townsquare Entertainment News
write an article
The Great Commission Essay
Once the Holy Spirit came at the Pentecost, the Apostles were now full of strength to do what Jesus told them. First, Peter healed a crippled beggar in the name of Jesus. Everyone was really surprised, but Peter told them not to be. Then he said that they should ask for forgiveness because they had killed Jesus. Peter and John were then sent to the Sanhedrin—that is, the ancient Jewish council—and they were very upset. However, they did not know what to do, as they had done a kind act; everyone else now believed in the resurrection of Jesus. So they let them go.
Like the Apostles, I try to do good deeds. Sometimes I share God with my sister, flipping randomly through the Bible and reading together. Other times—this one I struggle with—I try to hold my tongue as she insists she’s right; hoping I won’t start an argument. And as I go and check my online profile, and I see everyone believing and wanting gay rights, I stand alone and vote against it, typing gently but firmly how I know it is wrong. They may talk bad against me, but I don’t need their opinion. I have God’s, just as the Apostles did.
Read more articles from AbbieCoast
Login with Facebook
Join Fanpop - It's Free!
Already have an account?
Sign In to Fanpop