The Great Commission
by Derren Liang
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
… For we are God's fellow workers.” (1 Cor 3:6,9)
Like Paul, we are God’s fellow workers for He has
entrusted us with the great commission to preach the gospel to the world. In
order to work with God as effective evangelists, we must first be fully
remolded spiritually (1 Thess 1:5). What does this mean?
Working With God
Firstly, the foundation for
fulfilling the Lord’s great commission is to know, imitate and follow
Him. Jesus’ disciples hailed from widely-varying backgrounds. The Lord
spent three years training and remolding them. He used the Old Testament to teach
His disciples about Himself (Lk 24:44); and asked them to deny themselves, bear
the cross, and follow Him. In return, He promised they would receive a
hundredfold in this life and eternal life in the age to come (Mk 10:30).
Indeed, after Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples put the teachings and
their knowledge of Jesus to good use. They preached the gospel everywhere. In
return, the Lord worked with them and confirmed the good news of salvation
through accompanying miracles.
During his conversion,
Paul asked two questions: “Who are you, Lord?” and “What shall I do, Lord?”
These questions reflected his intense desire to know Jesus and his
conviction to follow Him. Paul served faithfully, even giving up his
life to complete the ministry that God had entrusted to him. As God’s fellow
worker, he fulfilled the Lord’s great commission, preaching the gospel to the
Gentiles in three missionary trips.
Secondly, effective evangelism hinges
on close teamwork at various levels. Paul famously wrote - “I planted, Apollos watered” – reminding us that
there must be collaboration between workers with different gifts (1 Cor 3:5).
Next, workers with different cultural backgrounds must collaborate to share the
gospel in different communities (Gal 2:8). This is clearly God’s will since He
who worked effectively in Peter as the apostle to the circumcised also worked
effectively in Paul toward the Gentiles. Last but not least, workers of
different generations – e.g. Paul and Timothy – must collaborate. This ensures
that the pattern of sound words is passed on (2 Tim 1:13).
Work of the
As with all other work, we may
encounter hiccups and hindrances while evangelizing. At such times, we must not
lose heart. Instead, critically remember that evangelism is the work of the
Holy Spirit. By the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the gospel can smash
through racial and geographical boundaries (Acts 10, 16). We just need to work
with the Lord by rendering our support through prayer and participation.
and Work Await Us
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does
not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:16).
Today, there are still many places
in this world that have not yet received the complete gospel of salvation.
Christians are called to love and serve. Fulfilling the great commission is the
most fundamental way to love others. The gospel helps man to solve his greatest
problem—death; and brings the greatest blessing to the world—eternal life.
Moreover, through the gospel, the kingdom of God has come with righteousness,
peace, and joy (Rom 14:17). When we proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
God will heal the brokenhearted, liberate the captives, and give sight to the
blind (Lk 4:18).
In short, evangelism
brings God’s grace to others, makes the church grow, and enables us to live a
dynamic and meaningful life. The writers of this issue’s theme section share
about the blessings, joy and grace as well as the pains and obstacles
encountered while preaching the gospel and pastoring the flock in various
pioneering areas around the world. They also share what motivated them to join
missionary work and how it has helped them to grow in faith. Last but not
least, they give us a glimpse into the church’s situation in various pioneering
regions and point to the need for more volunteers in the mission field.
The Lord is waiting in the field
to work with us to grow the seeds of His gospel. Are we ready to plant and