To live a life as a disciple of Christ is to live a life of discipline and focus. We are walking in Jesus’ footsteps, and that means there are many things we need to do. After all, by his teachings and examples, Jesus wrote the book of our faith. So, what did Jesus expect from his followers regarding his gospel and a world full of unbelievers? When he ascended to heaven and gave us what is known as the Great Commission, what was he instructing? Are we responsible to get the good news of the gospel message out? Or are we responsible to get all the unbelievers in? If we are not sure of what he was instructing, how can we know if we are doing a good job?
Jesus’ Great Commission to his followers contained several directives
After revealing that the restoration of Israel as a nation under God was some time in the future, he listed them:
First was a reminder that God’s spirit would come upon them. This would give them power and direction to do God’s will beyond anything they ever knew.
Next was the instruction to be witnesses for him, beginning in Jerusalem, through Israel, to neighboring lands and all the earth. This showed the small beginnings and the expansive nature that their witness efforts were to follow. They had to begin in Jerusalem because that is where the spirit would begin to guide them.The next directive Jesus gave tends to be somewhat misrepresented.
He told them he had been given all authority, and they were to therefore, “...make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Many Christians look at this as a command to go out and convert the world, but that is not what it says. Jesus is telling his followers to find disciples from within all those nations in which they are preaching the gospel. There is a significant difference between these two interpretations. The first essentially says you need to convert the world, while the second says you need to preach throughout the world and convert as you go. We are saying it is NOT Christianity’s responsibility to convert the world to Christ now.
While this conclusion may seem radical, it does have wide scriptural support. Notwithstanding, it also creates many large-scale questions as well. Do people not need to hear the gospel in order to be saved? What about the teaching of an eternal hell? Check out our August 16, 2021 podcast, “Are Christians Supposed to Convert the World?” for more. We further examine the details of this Great Commission. We also delve into several other New Testament teachings that support the concept of not having to convert the world now. The sound biblical evidence we find directs us to a broader and inspiring understanding of the power of Jesus and the gospel. Join us for this unforgettable journey!