Sunday, June 12, 2011



The final authority in all matters in our mission efforts must be the Lord Himself. He has left us the Bible as our guide, and in that Word of God is found our basis of operation. The Great Commission says "Go ye into all the World and preach the Gospel to every creature"   (Mark 16:15). No Muslim, no Hindu, no Communist, no Socialist, no Humanist, and no other breed of human being can annul that command! It came from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is in my Bible. I receive it as valid. Many say that Mark 16:9-20 is not valid, as some Bible scholars insist, because it is not found in some of the older manuscripts, especially Codex Vaticanus, (discovered in the Vatican library in 1481 AD); and Codex Sinaiticus (discovered in a trash pile of the Convent of St Catherine on Mt Sinai by German theologian Count von Tischendorf in 1844 AD) . There are still many unanswered questions regarding these older manuscripts, such as "where were they all those years that the church already had a majority text?" We won’t go into all that at this time. I’ll just state confidently that these words of Mark 16 are verified in other scripture such as Matthew 28:19, 20. The great commission is valid, and of course, is found in more than one place in the Bible. So, we have an obligation to go, or send others if we cannot go.

We are told in the Word of God that we are to respect and obey human government. (Romans 13:1) That we are to pray for those in authority, be they kings, presidents, governors, etc. (I Timothy 2:1,2) This requires us to obey the law of the land. But how far does respect and obedience to human authority go? Is this an unlimited command? Our Lord, when posed with a question regarding the tribute money (a form of taxation), said that we were to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). Worship is one of those things which are God's. No man, nor government has the right to deny freedom of worship. Nor does any government have the right to demand obedience which supersedes obedience to God. Our own United States government would do well to remember this!

Few realize today that the American patriot, Patrick Henry, who cried out during our struggle for independence, "Give me liberty or give me death", once defended successfully the right of some Baptist preachers to declare the Gospel on the public streets of America. I wonder what he would say about our present-day America? What would he say about the Christian in America being concerned about the Christians in the Communist lands, such as Cuba, North Korea and China; or Muslim lands such as Iran,  Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, who are denied basic freedoms that we take for granted? I believe he would be appalled and raise an outcry against such tyranny. This we must also do.

But one more brief look at our scriptural principle for carrying the Gospel to the “closed” world against the wishes of the government in control there. In the Book of Acts, the Apostles were thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel after a warning from the leaders. But, an angel of God released them. Not only that, but the angel commanded them, "Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life"(Acts 5:20). They certainly were not wanted there, but they did this in obedience to God. Then they were brought before the authorities who had them thrown into prison. The officers of the law brought them before the Council (the Jewish Sanhedrim) and the high priest. They were asked, "Did we not straitly {directly} command you that you should not teach in this name ? And behold you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." Their answer was, "We ought to obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:28,29). Yes, when the decision has to be made; when there has to be an "either-or" proposition; when we have to decide, either obey God or obey man, we must obey God rather than man.

Some may object and say “Why do this where you are not wanted? You are not going to be able to save all of them.” That is correct. We are not going to be able to save anybody. Almighty God must do the saving. According to scripture, it has never been God’s design to save everybody in the world. But since we do not know who the elect are, we have to obey that command of Jesus Christ who said  “All power 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. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

One brother true to this commission was George Whitefield of England. He was mightily used of God, and traveled to the new world to declare His gospel, as well as in England and Scotland. He said  “A true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ.”

J.I Packer stated something we should remember when doing witnessing and evangelism. He said “The unceasing activity of the Creator, whereby in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory.”

Realizing “We must obey God rather than man”, keep this in mind, “I ask for Scriptures and Eck offers me the Fathers. I ask for the sun and he shows me his lanterns. I ask: 'Where is your Scripture proof?' and he adduces Ambrose and Cyril...With all due respect to the Fathers I prefer the authority of the Scripture.” Wise words from Martin Luther

Hudson Taylor was one man who understood the great commission: “No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.”  From Ruth Tucker in  From Jerusalem to Irian Jawa.
Let us be about the Father’s  business. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)

Published by Charles Woodruff- email:


Marianne Lordi said...

What a great teaching, Charles! I always learn so much from your messages. Thank you for being faithful to the call of Christ on your life. I have a greater understanding about discipleship.

And, I just was reading about Hudson Taylor. He risked his life to Christ call for him to bring the gospel to the inner parts of China. He spoke with sadness of the fact that: "every day tens of thousands were passing away to Christless graves." How sad is that? I believe that our call to preach the kingdom of Christ must be done with surrender and trust and giving all fear over to God.

charles said...

I am humbled that you find such value in this little article. You are so supportive.

I totally agree regarding discipleship. Hudson Taylor is one of my faves, as is William Carey, and Amy Carmichael. It is hard to grasp how dedicated these missionaries really were. I sensed some of this when I worked with Haralan Popov, and Simion Motz, each of whom suffered for the faith. Meeting and interviewing Georgi Vins was also a highlight in my life. All these suffered under communism.