“The Great Commission” is More Than Soulwinning
By David J. Stewart | February 2009 | Updated May 2017
“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.”
The Great Commission is more than just preaching the message of Christ's death, burial and resurrection (i.e., the gospel) to the lost. The Great Commission includes four parts:
- GO YE into all the world and preach the gospel. Many churches are lazy and don't GO YE.
- MAKE DISCIPLES of every tribe (nation) the world by preaching the gospel. The world is our mission field.
- BAPTIZE converts as a public profession of their faith by total immersion in water.
TEACH converts to observe (guard against loss) Christ's example through a life of obedience and faith. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commissioned His disciples to “GO YE” and preach the gospel to all the world. The hardest part about The Great Commission is the “GO YE” part. Most churches simply don't have a concern for lost souls, plain and simple... NOTE: God calls the feet of the soul-winner “beautiful.” Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Why didn't God call the mouth or lips beautiful? Why the feet? It's because the most eloquent words from the most skilled orator are completely useless if the feet don't “GO YE” to preach the glorious gospel (glad tidings, or good news) to every creature. Thankfully, a remaining few faithful churches today still “GO YE,” preaching the gospel and making disciples of all men as the Bible commands. They have beautiful feet in God's eyes. Let me ask you my friend, does your church have spiritual gout in your feet?
Religion wants to fit us with glasses, but the Lord wants to open our eyes. We DRAW people into the CHURCH with Christ's LOVE, and then we ATTACH them to the TRUTH. If people only come to church because they've become attached to people, then they'll quit coming once they become offended toward that person or group. This is why it is important for a New Testament Church to have both, a community outreach ministry expressing genuine concern, love and care for people to DRAW them into the Church; and then also a doctrinally-sound pulpiteer, where a man of God preaches the WORD OF GOD without apology.
NOTE: There's nothing more nauseating than a Baptist church that doesn't warn people about eternal punishment in “Hell.” I'm talking about professed Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. They're having too much “FUN” and not enough “DA MENTAL.” It is apostasy! Most churches don't preach enough about the “Rapture” either. Are we not supposed to be LOOKING for our Lord's return? Yes! Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
I do not say these things to be mean nor unkind; but rather, to be helpful and steer you in the right direction as a Christian believer. If a pastor doesn't preach against gossip, there's going to be a gossip problem in the church. I met a person in one Baptist church who doubted their salvation, because the pastor wasn't teaching them how to address lingering fears, uncertainties and doubts concerning salvation. I am an expert in the area of assurance for salvation, because I struggled with the assurance of my salvation for 7 long, miserable and lonely years between the ages of 13 and 20. One of the reasons why I had doubts was because the clarity of the Gospel was obscured by adding prayer to it. Thank God that He restored my soul and gave me the sweet assurance of salvation that only knowing THE TRUTH can do. I had been woefully ignorant of how salvation works, and it terrified me until God helped me to understand.
The Gospel and Repentance Defined
There is no need to guess what the “Gospel” means, because the Bible plainly tells us what it is...
1st Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
For an excellent exegesis of this subject, please read. “WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?” by Pastor Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951).
FAITH that Christ DIED on the cross for our sins, was BURIED and bodily RESURRECTED three days later, plus or minus NOTHING is salvation. You can either pay for your own sins in Hell for all eternity, or you can receive Christ's payment for your sins instead. Christ DIED for our sins, was BURIED and RAISED UP from the dead three days later, having shed His precious blood to wash away our sins. Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” My friend, you don't have to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. If you receive the Gospel (i.e., Good News) of the Lord Jesus Christ as full-payment for your sins, then you are saved securely and eternally. Please read: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? (by Dr. Harry Ironside).
Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
FALSE REPENTANCE! Asking Jesus into one's life is not the Gospel. You don't get saved by “inviting Jesus into your heart.” Neither does a person get saved by committing their life to God or deciding to live for Jesus. Starting a relationship with the Lord is not how to be saved. You can do all these things and still end up in the Lake of Fire without Christ. Judas had a relationship with the Lord. Jesus said Judas had a devil (John 6:70). Judas even “repented” (felt sorry) for his sins (Matthew 27:3). Yet, Judas went to Hell forever. So how do you get to Heaven?
The only way to be saved is by faith in THE GOSPEL. Christ died, was buried and resurrected after three days. That's the gospel message according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. If you ADD or SUBTRACT from the gospel, you've corrupted the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ and are not saved (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4). Notice that Mark 1:15 simply commands us to “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
There is a common heresy being circulated in many evangelical churches today called, “Lordship Salvation.” The falsehood is taught in many forms, but the basic errant teaching is that believing on the Lord isn't enough to get saved. They also require “feeling sorry” for one's sins to be saved, but as we just learned from the tragic life of Judas, feeling sorry for one's sins is not genuine repentance unto salvation.
Biblical repentance is “a change of mind,” where a person simply acknowledges that they are as guilty as God has declared them to be in His holy Word. Biblical repentance unto salvation is the admission of one's SINNERSHIP.
May I quote the words of Harry A. Ironside once again...
"Repentance is the very opposite of meritorious experience. It is the confession that one is utterly without merit, and if he is ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'who gave himself a ransom for all.' Here is firm footing for the soul who realizes that all self-effort is but sinking sand. Christ alone is the Rock of our salvation."
SOURCE: Harry A. Ironside; Except Ye Repent, pg. 36)
Clearly, Ironside taught a Free Grace view of the Gospel. Dr. Ironside correctly recognized repentance as the confession that “one is utterly without merit” and that if one is “ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Salvation is without works of self-righteousness. Romans 4:5 plainly teaches that a man's faith is COUNTED for righteousness, i.e., the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to one's heavenly record by faith.
"Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word."SOURCE: Except Ye Repent, by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3
Amen and amen! Hence, a person DOESN'T have to “turn from sin” to be saved in the sense of forsaking a sinful lifestyle or turning over a new leaf. The person who comes to Jesus to be saved HAS turned their back on sin. The very fact that they are coming to Jesus for salvation is plain evidence that there has been some degree of sincere repentance in their heart.
1st Corinthians 9:16, “...woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
One of the most prized possessions in my life is a collection of 1,628 MP3 sermons and Bible studies by Pastor Jack Hyles. These sermons and Bible studies are worth more to me than all the gold and wealth in the world. Although Brother Hyles graduated from this earthly life into Heaven's glory on February 6, 2001, his voice is still alive!!! Hallelujah! I am one of thousands of fired-up preacher boys who are continuing the work which Brother Hyles begun. IMPERFECT PEOPLE IN HEAVEN (we owe it to those gone before us into Heaven to continue their work for Christ).
PREACHING! PREACHING! PREACHING!
Every believer needs preaching!!! You'll never grow in the Lord the way God wants you to if you rely upon the Sunday pulpit to keep you spiritual. One of the great woes in churches today is that believers look to the pulpit to keep them spiritual. That's ok if you are blessed to have a man of God for a pastor and preacher who feeds the flock. Unfortunately, most churches these days are DEAD, lacking a genuine man of God who is zealous over THE TRUTH. The average church today is like a brown grass lawn. The grass isn't dead yet, but it hasn't been nourished and; therefore, has become unhealthy. The truth ought to burn within every preacher's breast like a fire, compelling him to PREACH THE WORD. Jeremiah said that God's Word did BURN in his heart LIKE A FIRE...
Jeremiah 20:9, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
The word “minister” means “a servant.” Most ministers today serve themselves more than anybody else. You cannot truly serve people unless you PREACH THE WORD, edifying (building up) their souls in the faith. The average church is more interested in methods than truth. Preaching the gospel (soul-winning) is a command, not a method. The Great Commission is not The Great Omission; yet few churches obey our Lord's command in Matthew 28:19-20 to make disciples of all men, and then disciple them to follow the Lord in obedient faith...
Matthew 28:19-20, “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.”
The purpose of the Church is not to EDUCATE people; but rather, to DISCIPLE them. How can you truly disciple people if you are lackadaisical concerning THE TRUTH. The Church is not a social club, nor a state-licensed 501c3 business nor a music concert; but rather, the Church is the vehicle by which God chose to carry out The Great Commission.
The Ordinance of Water Baptism by Immersion
Water baptism has absolutely NOTHING to do with getting saved. In fact, if you get water baptized “just in case,” you will go to Hell because you perverted the gospel. Never ADD nor SUBTRACT anything to the gospel. Also, water baptism is an ordinance and NOT a sacrament. Some false teachers recognize the ordinance of water baptism as having some special efficacy (grace or power). However, you're just getting wet, or getting a much needed bath if you haven't bathed for a while.
The ordinance of water baptism is important because it is our public confession of faith in the Lord. Baptism by immersion symbolizes the the gospel. We are SAVED by trusting Jesus. Water baptism is NOT necessary or required to go to Heaven, anymore than a wedding ring is required to validate a person's marriage, or a policeman's badge is necessary to validate his sworn duty to uphold the law. If a woman doesn't wear her ring, she is still legally married to her husband. If a policeman misplaces his badge, or removes it, he is still a cop. And likewise we learn that baptism is not necessary for eternal life from the example of the dying thief on the cross, who trusted Jesus but he was never water baptized. Baptism is merely symbolic of Christ's death, burial and resurrection.
For an excellent understanding of the SAVED life verses the CRUCIFIED life, please listen to Dr. Jack Hyles' classic sermon...
The Saved, Crucified, Resurrected And Ascended Life
(awesome MP3 sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles - Read Article)
So we learn that The Great Commission also includes teaching converts to follow through with believer's baptism. Please read, A BIBLICAL EXAMINATION OF BAPTISM (by Dr. Max D. Younce). Here's a .PDF format.
Also, death can only be properly represented by complete IMMERSION under water. Baptism by sprinkling is unbiblical. Going under the water is symbolic of being buried in the grave. Hence, Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The Lord died and then He was buried in a tomb. The significance of Christ's burial was to officiate His death, lest His enemies claim that Jesus never actually died. Jesus was physically DEAD for three days and nights. Then by God's power Jesus miraculously arose!!!
Please be warned that heretics like Martin Luther taught that water baptism is a sacrament, and that it is required for salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most Baptist preachers today revere martin Luther because they haven't looked closer at his beliefs (.PDF file).
Mentoring New Converts
The Great Commission is more than just soulwinning, it is also discipling our converts by TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE everything the Spirit of Christ has taught us through His Word, primarily to win more souls to Christ. Jesus plainly stated in John 15:5 . . . “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” The gospel is intended to PERPETUATE from generation to generation, from one believer to the next believer. Someone led me to the Lord with the gospel when I was 13-years-old. I was taught to lead others to the Lord, which by God's grace I have been doing ever since. I was taught to teach others how to win a soul to Christ, which is why I published this soul-winning website. I want you to get saved, go get others saved, and then train them to do likewise! Amen!
The Great Commission is more than just going soul-winning. It is also water baptizing our converts (which is their public profession of faith). And then we are commanded to mentor them and teach them how to win others to Christ. This is God's plan! Soul-winning is not a method, it is a command. There is no call to be a soul-winner; but rather, every believer is commanded to share the gospel. This is The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. The fact that the Lord commanded His disciples to teach others to do likewise is proof that The Great Commission is for all Christianity of all generations to follow and not just the apostles. Clearly, the Lord's intent was for the gospel to perpetuate from one convert to another, and another, and still yet another, that the Father's house may be filled in the Kingdom of God.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said in Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Whether we teach it or preach it, we are commanded to share the gospel. The gospel according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 is that Christ DIED, was BURIED and RESURRECTED after three days.
Much religious work is done in the flesh these days, and the Lord is forgotten, and the Word of God is not a priority. This is especially true of apostate ecumenical ministries nowadays which promote love and unity at all cost, even at the expense of the Doctrine of Christ; but the Bible plainly warns . . . “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2nd John 1:9). Martin Luther King Jr., who is praised much in religious circles these days, DIDN'T abide in the Doctrine of Christ. King denied the Deity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth and the Bodily Resurrection of Christ. Such religious work that is done in the flesh without abiding in Christ is of the Devil.
Jesus plainly taught for believers to Preach the Word to the lost, get them saved, and then teach them to “GO YE” and win more souls. This is THE GREAT COMMISSION, intended by God to perpetuate the soulwinner's efforts in the Lord. Many churches today are faithful to preach the Gospel and win souls; but they foolishly fail to train new converts to be soulwinners. If the world is to be reached for Jesus Christ with the Gospel, then we must teach our converts in the Lord to become faithful soulwinners.
Pastor Dwight L. Moody was a mighty man of God, but by not water baptizing converts he never truly fulfilled The Great Commission. Baptism is still valid today and every church ought to baptize new converts as soon as possible. Truly, the way we view ETERNITY determines how we live in TIME.
How to Teach Converts to Be Soulwinners
Biblical Evidence of Eternal Punishment
“Soul winning is not a method; it is a command. We are supposed to go soul winning and do soul winning if our churches grow or if our churches decrease in attendance.”
SOURCE: Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001), from chapter 10 of the book titled, ENEMIES OF SOULWINNING.
Remember: The World Is Our Mission Field!