When I need to get a message to a lot of people, it's easiest to send a group text or email. Before I send it, I check and recheck to make sure every person who needs the message is on the list. I don't want to miss anybody. I need to get the message to all of them.
In Mark 16:15 we read, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Those are Jesus’ words. That’s a big commandment. So big it seems impossible to accomplish. When you consider that the word “all” means the whole quantity of something, the entire thing in totality, leaving nothing out, it really seems impossible.
This world is a very big place, and “all the world” is every nook and cranny, every tribe, every nation, every island…all of it! Yet Jesus tells us to go there.
My cousin lives in Colorado, but goes out from there to countries around the world, training them in the Word so they can continue teaching others after he returns home. He also leaves books in their own languages that he has written to further teach them the Word of God. That extends his reach. He can’t be everywhere, but he can reach those the Lord opens the door for him to reach, then they can take the gospel to others. Can he fulfill the great commission by himself? No…and neither can we.
We can’t all go to all the nations and to all the people. So we need to find out what part of that “all” is ours as an individual. God will show us step by step, and we must follow step by step.
If we are of the mindset that only those who are ordained ministers of a denomination are called to share the gospel, we conveniently dismiss ourselves from Jesus’ commandment. But He gave it to all of us. Every born again believer is called to share the gospel. No one is called to just sit on the sidelines.
Jesus’ commandment to ‘go’ is no different for you and me than it is for an evangelist or missionary. Where we go and how we go, is where we are all different. We can’t be everywhere, but we can be somewhere. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. We need to find our somewhere and something and get busy doing God’s work before it’s too late.
Jesus said He would equip us to carry out His plan to reach the world. In Acts 1:8 He said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That was not just for His disciples on that day. But that is a promise and a command for every disciple from that day forward, which includes us!
The Holy Spirit empowers us to do the work, so He can certainly let us know what we are supposed to do. He did it for the disciples in the early church and He will do it for us if we will listen. For example, Phillip was in Samaria in a great revival. The Lord was using him mightily there. Many were being saved, healed, discipled, and signs and wonders being seen. In the middle of it all, the Lord told him to go out to a certain road in the desert. He told Phillip the exact place. That doesn’t seem to make sense! Why should he leave a wonderful revival to go to the desert? How many of us would follow the Spirit’s leading?
Thankfully, Phillip did. When he got there, he saw an Ethiopian in a chariot reading the Old Testament Scriptures that foretold Jesus’ coming. The Spirit told Phillip to join the man. Phillip obeyed, and asked him if he understood what he was reading. The man didn’t, so Phillip explained that what he was reading in the Scripture had been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. He told him about salvation through Jesus and the man believed and was baptized.
It just so happened that this Ethiopian man had great authority in Ethiopia and was a court official of Candace, the queen of Ethiopia. He was in charge of all her treasure. After he had received the gospel and was baptized, he went back to Ethiopia. Can you guess what he took with him? The Spirit of God and the gospel message. Now God’s leading makes perfect sense! Phillip was in Samaria and that’s good. But someone needed to share the message in Ethiopia. Phillip was chosen to start that process. Sometimes our words may go to the uttermost part of the earth even if our bodies don’t. The words of the gospel spoken by Phillip went to Ethiopia through a brand new convert.
Here’s another example. On one occasion Paul was “forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia”. Then when he wanted to go to Bithynia, the Spirit told him not to go there. That night Paul had a dream about a man from Macedonia asking him to “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” He knew then where he was supposed to go and share the gospel.
First, we have to listen, then make the decision to follow Jesus. Sometimes we don’t hear Him because we are not listening. Sometimes we don’t follow because we are scared. It can be frightening to leave our comfort zone to follow the direction God leads us. Each of us has to make our own decision to “go” and fulfill our “all”. That’s how the big, all-encompassing “all” can be achieved; each person doing their specific part.
Jesus has called us to work alongside Him in the work of HIS Kingdom. Not our own work. Not our little kingdom. Not for our own notoriety. But to the glory of God and for the salvation of others.
The disciples’ ministry was in Jerusalem for the most part, because that’s where they were when the Holy Ghost was poured out. That’s where the church began with 3000 salvations on the first day. But there was also a Judaea, Samaria and uttermost part of the earth that needed to hear the gospel. God was about to disperse them to the other areas.
In Acts 8, we are told, “And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles…Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
When we experience the best of times, the church tends to get comfortable and become more of a social organization rather than the vibrant, living organism God designed us to be. We all need one another, and we need to come together for encouragement, teaching and worship. But the church wasn’t called just to group together and enjoy one another’s company, but to “go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel.” Persecution of the church dispersed them to various places rather than all being clustered in Jerusalem. But they took the Spirit of God and the Word of God with them wherever they went. So the church grew and the Word spread.
Sometimes God makes us uncomfortable where we are so we will move to our next assignment instead of settling down in comfort and propagating our own agenda instead of His. In these last days, the winds of persecution may scatter us across the world. But the wind of God’s Spirit will carry His people and place them in strategic places by His direction.
We need to begin asking God in earnest, “What do You want me to do now? What is my part in this “all”? Being anchored to Jesus is a must. If you are a “casual Christian”, you won’t step out and do your part. But this “go ye into all the world” was spoken to you and me as surely as it was to those who heard the voice of Jesus that day.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”An ambassador is a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, but ambassadors to this world. We have been sent by God to live in this world and represent Him. We have no business becoming part of this world, because we don’t represent this world. We represent the King of kings and Lord of lords. That’s why we should represent Him well. We are to represent the Father the same way Jesus did when He was in the world. The Father’s will took priority over everything else. Proclaiming the gospel took precedence over His earthly comforts. He came to show us the Father and glorify the Father. He came to give His life to bring us salvation. We should have the same priorities.
The prophet Isaiah saw a vision of God on His throne. Then he heard the Lord ask, “Whom shall I send and who will go for me?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I Lord; send me.” Do you hear God asking? It’s time to release the things we’re holding onto and the dreams that revolve around us and ask God what He has for us to do. When He tells us, it’s time to obey.
In Ephesians 4:1 we read these words from the apostle Paul. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Our vocation is to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Paul had been faithful to do his “all”, and was in prison because of it. Yet he still counted himself blessed to be able to serve Jesus and obey His command to ‘go’.
Have you found your part in this commandment of Jesus to go into all the world?
Have you received the promise of power that accompanies the command?