The third significant area of study regarding the Gospel is its EXTENT
This will answer the questions where, when, to whom, for how long, how and by whom. Let me begin by elaborating, Scripturally, on the first three questions: Lk.20:1 "temple courts"; Ac.8:25 "Samaritan villages"; Lk.9:6 "village to village"; Ac.8:40 "all towns"; Lk.9:6 "people everywhere"; Col.1:6 "all over the world"; Mk.14:9 "throughout the world". . . . So the answers to the first three questions, WHERE, WHEN and TO WHOM are WHEREVER, WHENEVER and TO WHOMEVER. Thus far, one thing is clear: THE GOSPEL IS NOT JUST A SUNDAY EVENT ! ! ! A proper understanding of the portion of Scripture commonly called "The Great Commission" will make this even more evident. After Jesus resurrected from the dead, he appeared to the eleven disciples and said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore GO and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Mt.28:18-20). The simple translation "GO" of the Greek word "poreuomai" is weak and misleading. It gives the impression that the "going" is occasional and might entail being sent "away" somewhere. While that is also true, a better appreciation can be had if we analyse some other Scriptures. In sending out the twelve, Jesus said: "As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near . . ." (Mt.10:7). Mark's version of the same occurrence informs that they "went out and preached that people should repent" (Mk.6:12). Luke says "they set out and went from village to village PREACHING THE GOSPEL . . ." (Lk.9:6). The first lesson to be learned is that preaching "the kingdom", preaching "repentance" and preaching "the Gospel" are all equated. That's a good lesson in itself but the primary thing I would like you to see is the phrase "AS YOU GO" in Mt.10:7. This is the same Greek word as translated in the Mt. 28 passage as "GO" (poreuomai). It is clearer now that the direction given is not in the sense of being sent somewhere but wherever they were. Two other supporting Scriptures are: Lk.13:22 "Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his WAY to Jerusalem". Also, Jas.1:11: ". . . In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he GOES ABOUT HIS BUSINESS". "WAY" and "GOES ABOUT HIS BUSINESS" are the same Greek word "poreuomai". So it is amply clear that the "GOING" in relation to preaching the Gospel is an all day, every day event, wherever, whenever and to whomever.
The fourth question to be answered regarding Gospel Extent is FOR HOW LONG. A couple of Scriptures should help us in our understanding. Paul wrote: ". . . So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have FULLY proclaimed the Gospel of Christ" (Rom.15:19). The Greek word translated "fully" is "pleroo", a word which really means FULFILLED. What Paul is saying is that he proclaimed the Gospel "until the purpose was fulfilled" or in the vernacular "until the job was done". So those are the answers to the question in the micro sense or in the individual case. Much more significant is the answer in the macro sense or long term (multi-generational) case. Jesus, Himself, provides the answer. His disciples had asked the questions: ". . . what will be the sign of your coming and of THE END OF THE AGE?"
(Mt.24:3). Jesus gave a lengthy reply including: ". . . And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a TESTIMONY TO ALL NATIONS, and then the end will come" (Mt.24:14). The clear answer to FOR HOW LONG is UNTIL THE END or UNTIL CHRIST COMES AGAIN.
PERHAPS YOU CAN SEE HERE THE STATED PURPOSE OF THIS WEBSITE. TO PRAY FOR THE NATIONS AND TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS UNTIL CHRIST COMES AGAIN. IT MAY NOT HAPPEN IN OUR GENERATION BUT WE MUST PROMPT HIS COMING BY DOING OUR PART WHICH ONE DAY WILL MOVE ETERNITY FROM CONTEMPLATION TO CONSUMMATION.
The fifth question to be answered regarding Gospel Extent is HOW. There are two ways described in Scriptures: Verbally and By Actions. In either case we must be be enabled by the Holy Spirit. As Paul said to the Romans: "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God BY WHAT I HAVE SAID AND DONE . . . THROUGH THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT . . ."
(Rom.15:18-19). By what we (God's called people) say and do, we can inspire hope. As the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds: "I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy that will be FOR ALL THE PEOPLE" (Lk.2:10). Exactly how might we instill this hope? We make it plain to everyone that:
1. THERE IS A WAY OUT. No matter what the circumstance, the good news for all mankind is that there is a way out (Scripturally, it can be shown that the way out is REPENTANCE).
2. THERE IS A WAY IN. There would not be much sense in coming out of some place if there was no place to go into (Of course, the place we go into is the Kingdom of God and of His Christ and the way in is BAPTISM).
3. THERE IS A WAY BACKWARDS. We no sooner get moving in a positive direction than the devil begins to keep us from moving forward (maturing). He does this by finding a way to put us back under the LAW.
4. THERE IS A WAY FORWARDS. This is the way of maturity - - - The way of LOVE.
It is CRITICAL that we make it known that CHRIST IS THE ONLY
PROVISION: "There is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Ac.4:12). Paul wrote to Timothy: "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my GOSPEL
. . ." (2Tim.2:8). Raised from the dead as PROOF OF HIS AUTHORITY, descended from David as PROOF OF HIS IDENTITY. . . . . . BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT - - - - WE WILL COME UNDER GREAT CHALLENGES AND PERSECUTIONS. As Paul continued to Timothy: ". . . this is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal"
(2Tim.2:9). It is reported in the Book of Acts that Jesus, Himself, after His resurrection "showed himself to these men (apostles) and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive" (Ac.1:3). We, too, at all costs, show that Jesus is alive. This is clearly NOT AN EASY CHORE and impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray that he might FEARLESSLY make known the gospel (Eph.6:19-20). The nature of our prayer might be that we be enabled to FEARLESSLY AND EFFECTIVELY Preach (Demonstrate) the gospel. We have one more question to answer: BY WHOM. The link between HOW AND BY WHOM is evident. In order to fulfill the HOW, we must be the BY WHOM.
The sixth and final question to be answered regarding Gospel Extent is BY WHOM. The best answer is THOSE CALLED. Now it is important to remember that there are two manifestations of this "calling": One is a calling to the demonstration of a Godly life IN SUPPORT OF spreading the gospel and one is to the additional responsibility of PREACHING the gospel. This is best verified in Rom.10:13-15 ". . . Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent"? The "SENDERS" are those called who demonstrate Godly and supportive lives. Paul writes to the Thessalonians: "You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. . . . encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God who CALLS you into his kingdom and glory
(1Thes.2:10-12). He writes to Titus: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'NO' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - - - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Tit.2:11-13). Peter confirms: ". . . what kind of people ought you to be? you ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2Peter 3:11-12). Paul called the process "a partnership in the gospel" (Phil.1:5). AND THAT IS WHAT IT IS ! ! ! Jesus said: ". . . whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it . . ." (Mark 8:35). In addition to the SENDERS, there are the GOERS (keep in mind the teaching on the Great Commission where "going" actually means "as you go on your way" or "as you go about your business". The goers are the preachers and have giftings as apostles, prophets and evangelists. These have an anointing to PREACH THE GOSPEL. As Peter revealed: "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For PROPHECY NEVER HAD ITS ORIGIN IN THE WILL OF MAN BUT MEN SPOKE FROM GOD AS THEY WERE CARRIED ALONG BY THE HOLY SPIRIT" (2Peter 1:20-21). It is so today . . . men speak from God as they are carried along by the Holy Spirit, being diligent in identifying USURPERS who preach a different (2Cor.11:4) or perverted (Gal.1:6-7) gospel. Paul confirmed: "The gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I RECEIVED IT BY REVELATION FROM JESUS CHRIST" (Gal.1:11-12). Again, Peter correlated Old Testament prophecy and New Testament preaching by: "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST IN THEM was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told to you BY THOSE WHO HAVE PREACHED THE GOSPEL TO YOU BY THE HOLY SPIRIT SENT FROM HEAVEN" (1Peter 1:10-12). . . . . So we see that there is an ELECT (Please make one clear distinction: When we speak of ELECT we do not mean ELITE. Elect simply means God's sovereign choice) by whom God entrusts the preaching and demonstration of the gospel. As Paul relates:
". . . with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. . . . we speak as MEN APPROVED BY GOD TO BE ENTRUSTED WITH THE GOSPEL. WE ARE NOT TRYING TO PLEASE MEN BUT GOD" (1Thes.2:2-4). That concludes the presentation on gospel extent which also concludes the overall teaching on gospel. Before leaving I want to encourage you as follows. It is apparent that we will have to take a stand against many "professing" Christians. BUT NOTE THIS ! ! ! IT WILL ONLY BE IN THE SHORT TERM AND PRIMARILY FOR THEIR BENEFIT. Jesus said to Peter: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. AND WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED BACK, STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS" (Lk.22:31-32). In the vernacular: "When you got it right, then you can truly help your brothers." LET'S GET IT RIGHT SO THAT WE CAN HELP STRENGTHEN OUR BROTHERS.
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