The Great Commission
Events which must occur before the end times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are detailed in the scriptures. One such event is that the gospel must be preached in all the world before the age of man can end:
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
In fact, Christians are instructed to spread the good news of the gospel to the entire world:
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 always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Many Christians call these two verses the Great Commission. The mechanism for spreading the good news of the gospel has historically been Christian missionaries. But with our wonderful worldwide communication systems of today and the Internet, many feel that the Great Commission will soon be realized and quickly followed by the Second Coming!
The Second Coming of Jesus is described in Revelation chapter 19. Therefore, the gospel message must be spread to all nations of the earth prior to Revelation chapter 19 occurring. In fact, the Great Commission is fulfilled only five chapters before the description of the Second Coming:
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. (Revelation 14:6)
Shortly before the Second Coming, God has to send an angel to fulfill this prophecy so that the age of man can end! But if an angel fulfills the Great Commission, does that mean man failed in this endeavor? Absolutely! Just as it was prophesied that the gospel would be spread throughout all the world, Revelation 14:6 foretells that man will fail at spreading the gospel to all the world! God has to send an angel to do this work which was assigned to man!
But why will man fail given that the means of worldwide communications now exist to fulfill the Great Commission? The fact is that most of our Christian evangelists do not even understand the good news of the gospel! The vast majority of mankind suffering in hellfire for eternity is definitely not good news! So Christians have generally not been spreading the true good news of the gospels! Most Christians teach that man is born as an immortal soul living within a physical body. When the body dies, the soul lives on eternally in heaven or hell. This is not the good news! The Bible states that each of us must choose between eternal life or death:
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Eternal life is not a birthright, it is your choice. Closely consider the above verse. Which life and death has God set before you? To be set before you, and for you to choose, you must already exist! Therefore, this does not refer to your present life. You had absolute no choice in your present existence. Your mother and father made the choices that produced you. So the life you are asked to choose above is not your current physical life which you already possess. You are asked to choose eternal spiritual life. It is not something you are born with, it is your choice! Likewise, the death set before you as a choice is not your first death. You had no choice in your first birth and you cannot deny death. All humans will die:
It is appointed unto men once to die... (Hebrews 9:27)
The death you are asked to choose from above is the second death described in Revelation:
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)
The choices set before you in Deuteronomy 30:19 above are thus eternal life or eternal death. The second death is an eternal death and is optional! It is your choice. One never lives again after suffering the second death. You choose eternal life by believing in Jesus. You choose the second death by rejecting Jesus. This is precisely and absolutely what the following verse states:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Perish means to be dead and gone eternally. This defines the second death. No one will suffer eternally in the lake of fire. They die quickly and that is the end of them forever!
The word "believeth" indicates making a choice. That is, you choose to believe this is or is not true. However, one cannot make a choice until he or she is given the details of what to choose from. You cannot believe or not believe in someone or some concept that is unknown to you or has never been properly explained to you. God recognizes this fact, and inspired Mark to write that before the age of man ends, the gospel must be proclaimed to everyone:
And the gospel must first be published among all nations. (Mark 13:10)
Everyone will at some time be given the true good news before making their personal choice.
Although man will not succeed in spreading the gospel to all nations, we should highly respect those who abandon the good life of our wonderful country in an effort to fulfill the Great Commission. They share the misery of third world countries while ministering to, aiding, healing, and teaching the gospel as they were taught it to desperate people. Surely these missionaries will have their good works written in books in heaven as well as having their rewards on earth.
Imagine holding a frail child in your arms. He is sick, has skinny arms and legs, with a bloated stomach from malnutrition, and stares pleadingly into your eyes. At that moment he knows you care for and love him, and you sense that. That one moment is surely worth more than the money, houses, cars, boats, and every other possession that missionary left behind. In a sense, while looking into the eyes of that helpless child, you are looking into the eyes of God:
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:37-40)
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