“To All The Nations”: The Great Commission Passages In The Gospels And Acts -- By: Chuck Lawless

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:2 (Summer 2011)
Article: “To All The Nations”: The Great Commission Passages In The Gospels And Acts
Author: Chuck Lawless

“To All The Nations”: The Great Commission Passages In The Gospels And Acts

Chuck Lawless

Chuck Lawless serves as Vice President for Global Theological Advance at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Prior to this, Dr. Lawless was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to numerous scholarly essays and articles, Dr. Lawless is the author of several books, including Membership Matters: Insights from Effective Churches on New Member Classes and Assimilation (Zondervan, 2005), and Discipled Warriors: Growing Healthy Churches That Are Equipped for Spiritual Warfare (Kregel, 2002).

Editor’s Note (Electronic Edition): The original footnote numbering has been maintained within the individual footnotes since they were not consecutively numbered (36 and above) in the printed edition.

The words of Charles Spurgeon often cause me to halt whatever I am doing, think seriously about my responsibility and repent of my apathy. Seldom are the words as gripping, though, as these words spoken to his Pastor’s College Annual Conference in 1874:

I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this? Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish? Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, other nations are being damned?1

This masterful nineteenth-century English preacher was a wordsmith like few others, especially when speaking about the Great Commission. Spurgeon stated these words almost 150 years ago, but they remain relevant and challenging today. Rarely has the church seen the opportunity we have today to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

If Spurgeon’s words grip us, however, those words pale when compared to the words of the Lord Jesus. When he speaks, our response should be humble gratitude and unquestioned obedience simply because he is the Son of God. It was he, the one in whom “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9), who uttered the mandate that is the focus of this article—the command commonly known as the “Great Commission” (Matt 28:16-20;

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