Author: Ron Graham
Necessity is Laid Upon Me
—The great commission
Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel! ...A dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
These words belong to the apostle Paul, and were written long ago to the church at Corinth (1Corinthians 9:16-17). Paul was committed with the dispensing of the gospel. He had a commission: go preach the gospel. Woe to him if he did not! Necessity...
That is how Paul regarded the fulfilling of his great commission. It was a must that he preach the gospel. A great deal of theorising and many strange doctrines have been draped around Paul's commission, but I submit that it was the same commission that was given to the eleven at Christ's ascension; the very same commission that is handed on to us with the same urgent necessity.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16)
Paul's commission had a gentile emphasis, it is true, but he was still to preach to every creature. "He is a chosen vessel unto me," said Jesus of Paul, "to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15)
The Eleven’s Commission
The eleven were given the same commission, but with a Jewish emphasis. Jesus said to them, "Ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
We have this great commission too. It is our responsibility to preach the gospel to every creature in all nations of the world. Necessity is laid upon us that we do this.
Our World Vision
It may be very well that we put an emphasis upon Nigeria or Ethiopia, Singapore or Australia, or some other place; constrained and compelled by a modern Macedonian call (Acts 16:9-10).
On the contrary, we may emphasise the need in our own country. But whatever we do, wherever we go, we must not lose our world vision; for Jesus said, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Paul kept this commission as an absolute necessity. The disciples to whom Jesus was speaking when he gave it kept it also. We must keep it too... we must! Jesus said, "Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." This commission to preach the gospel was included in that "whatsoever I have commanded you"
The commission is handed on from disciple to disciple, until the end of time. "I am with you always, to the end of time" Jesus promised (NEB). We believe the commission is to the end of time as well as the promise.
Why the Necessity?
Having established that we are under the same commission as Paul, and that like him we have necessity laid upon us, shall we examine more closely the reasons for the necessity?
1 The Gravity and Greatness of the Commission
Firstly, a burden less than necessity itself would be unequal to the gravity and greatness of the commission.
The Limited Commission
Comparison with another, but limited commission, found in Matthew 10:5-7, will demonstrate how great the great commission is:
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10:5-7)
- A limited number was sent: twelve.
- Their field of labour was limited: Israel only.
- Their message was limited: "The kingdom is at hand".
- Limited duration: until the Son of Man came in his kingdom (Matthew 10:23, compare 16:28)
The Great Commission
Now do you see why we call the great commission great?
- Number sent: all disciples.
- Their field of labour: all the world.
- Their message: "The kingdom has come!".
- Duration: until the end of time when the Son of Man comes in the glory of His Person.
2 The Commission is a Commandment of Christ
Secondly necessity is laid upon us by Christ's commandment for the very reason that it is his commandment; for he said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
"Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments , is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected" (1John 2:3-5).
It is a necessity that we personally keep the great commission given by the Lord's command, because it is essential to the glorious knowledge that we are personally in truth, in love and in Christ.
3 The Commission is a Means of Grace
Thirdly, the Bible clearly shows that preachers must be sent in order that others might hear their preaching, believe, and obey the gospel (Romans 10:13-15).
God has done his part. He has made available abundant saving grace, and he has sent us by the great commission. If we do not keep this commission, no one can be saved, because they will not have heard.
The damned die every day, while others doze their lives away with the gospel in their pockets. God has done his grand part, but man's small part is vital and essential, a "necessity". Go, preach.