The Lord had risen and the disciples were gathered together, dubious about the reports of His resurrection. Quite suddenly the Risen One appeared in their midst and rightly “upbraided” them for their unbelief. It was fundamental for these men to maintain implicit confidence both in the Scriptures they knew and in the words of the Lord Himself. Presently, adapting His tone of voice in a manner perfectly suited to the subject in hand, He commanded them: “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.”
Familiarity with these words will not “breed contempt” in the heart of the God-fearing believer, but it could diminish in his thinking the uniqueness and tremendous weight of the statement made. No one knew as the Lord did, just what conditions would be encountered as country by country would be penetrated by the heralds of the gospel. Yet the message was clear: “Preach the gospel to every creature.”
There was to be no conciliation
While in Acts, as was fitting, the gospel was preached to the Jew first. The message was to be kept pure from the legal Jewish order which, although it was the preparation for the message, had now been forever superseded. The intention of the Holy Spirit is made clear in Acts 15:28. Gentile converts were not to be burdened with the rites of the ancient system.
As the message penetrated Samaritan territory we read that they “preached the gospel” (8:25). The Samaritan temple no longer stood on Mount Gerizim. Nevertheless, the system was perpetuated but none of its erroneous concepts were in any way allowed to infiltrate the gospel message.
Also, in Samaria the heralds of the gospel met with Simon the sorcerer (8:18-24). His practices and tenets were diametrically opposed to the gospel. Other servants were yet to meet with a different demonized fortune teller in Philippi (16:16-18). Her supportive propaganda was in no way countenanced and the expulsion of the demon resulted in severe persecution. This total incompatibility between the gospel and these sinister evil powers was further demonstrated in the work in Ephesus (19:13-20). The onward march of the gospel meets with gross idolatry in Athens, but it is utterly repudiated through the weighty words of the Apostle Paul (17:22-31).
The gospel is opposed to any form of ecumenism. To dilute it is to neutralize it, for then it ceases to be the gospel.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” There is not, nor ever can be, any suggestion that some sinner in a distant shore might believe and, for some undiscovered reason, the saving operation fails. No. The degree of efficiency in the saving work will be absolute – 100% perfect.
No cases too difficult
This sovereign commission will never encounter such extremes of barbarism that salvation would be too difficult, and thus fail. The Risen Savior announces God’s perfect and universal answer to man’s sin and need – no matter how deep the degree of degradation.
Never man spake like this Man
The same may be said over the words of Matthew 28:18-20: “All power (authority – Newberry) is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 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 (the completion of the age – Newberry).”
Matthew 28 presents the conflict between the power of God and power of the evil one. While not underestimating the evil power, we view the quaking keepers of the sepulcher almost with pity as they shake before the majestic and mighty movements of the descending angel. His message is to “the women” and proclaims that “He is risen from the dead.” Taking account of the detailed amplification of the statement in Ephesians 1:19-23, we can safely conclude the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest display of the power of God that ever has been or ever will be displayed in the universe. However, evil forces continue to manifest themselves in the ongoing account in Matthew 28. The chief priests in assembly with the elders took counsel and gave “large money” to the soldiers bidding them to say: “His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept.” The anti-resurrection campaign had begun. It continues until this day, having gathered considerable momentum over the last 100 years. Large money is likely still involved in the selling of the lie.
We turn away to hear once again His commission of a very different order: “All authority is given unto Me … Go ye therefore.” What a mind-boggling statement! Doubtless it establishes an authority that is His as a result of the matchless accomplishments of His death. We sense that we have moved onto holy ground. We leave far behind, and far below, the lies and the large money of the enemy’s servants. We may not be able to grasp all that is involved in this majestic authority. However, assuredly, once a sinner turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in trust, there is not a power in the universe that can hinder the bestowal of eternal life. Neither can there exist a source of authority that can sever this saved one from his Lord. How rich the “terms and conditions” of God’s great salvation!
This commission, unlike that of the chief priests and their associates, has nothing whatever to say about large money. Of course, the large money was to satisfy greed and covetousness. Those who obey the Risen Lord’s commission would be men whose motives were completely above monetary interests. The lust for financial gain has no place in this sphere. When the Lord says: “I am with you alway (all the days), even unto the end of the world,” not only is all need, including financial need, taken into account, but the presence of the unfailing source, the Risen Lord, is a day to day reality. Truly never man spake like this Man.