Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 27, 1951

The Foundation Of The Commission: Its Consequences

E. C. Koltenbah, Pekin, Indiana

A discussion of the all-authority of the great commission gives rise to the question: What is further implied as to its consequences in its application? That certain consequences do arise goes without saying, but it may prove interesting and informative to examine this phase of the subject.

1. We first note that the all-authority of Christ as affirmed in the commission is all-inclusive and all-exclusive. It includes all of Christ's program for the salvation of the world, but it excludes any and all other programs. Those who devise, offer, advocate or otherwise promulgate any other program do so outside the scope of the great commission, hence outside its authority.

Since the commission is one to be preached the all-inclusive and all-exclusive character of its authority includes only that preaching exemplified by the apostles and excludes that of every other sort. This applies in particular to the matter preached. For instance, Paul made certain that he preached only "Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2) However, not even the method of the preaching ought to be overlooked. For the same apostle hastily adds, "My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." (1 Cor. 2:4) This cannot be discounted wholly on the ground that Paul was avoiding the preaching of false doctrine. He was particularly careful not to allow his manner of speech to interfere with the accurate and effective delivery of his message. Many good things may be said of the advantage presented in our modern schools for the young preacher in training himself to preach effectively, but there is one alarming trend to which attention should be called. It is that some schools seem to be spending more effort in training young men how to say a thing or deliver a sermon, i.e., with elegance, grace and extraordinary polish, rather than filling their heads with Bible truth that they may have something to say, polish or no polish! There is no substitute for Bible knowledge in preaching the gospel. Many of our perpetual ills as a body of believers may be traced directly to the ignorance and the misconceptions of those who pass as evangelists; ignorance, that is, of the Bible itself and of well established hermeneutical laws. The fact that a preacher may be able to compose some acceptable topical sermons and preach them beautifully does not of itself necessarily reveal any considerable degree of Bible knowledge. It is patent that no man can pass along knowledge that he himself does not possess. Again, he does instruct the unwitting in his own peculiar misunderstandings and misconceptions of Bible doctrine. It is very far better for a preacher to know his Bible even if his language is not so elegant than to substitute for knowledge a flow of language that better befits a declamatory contest. There is no attempt here to decry elocution, but we do point out that truth is not always verbally ornate. Young preachers in particular should be caused to give heed to the inspired injunctions, "Hold the pattern of sound words." (2 Tim. 1:13) This means more than to just preach the truth. It means to use Bible language in doing it. The pioneers of the restoration understood it and correctly paraphrased it, "Call Bible things by Bible names." To borrow the terminology of modern philosophy in attempting to preach Christ is the first step towards modernism. It is a leading step in the surrender of the simplicity that is in Christ. It may, under its suave piety, be hiding at once a lack of an accurate knowledge of the word of God and an absence of a genuine conviction of its truth.

The all-inclusive and all-exclusive character of the authority of Christ includes his terms of salvation only. It excludes all other terms including mourner's bench conversion, salvation by faith only, doing penance, and the "voice of the inner consciousness."

Finally, it excludes any other commission. Some indeed say that 2 Timothy 2:2 replaced the great commission. We ask, where is such a thing affirmed in the entire New Testament? The absurdity of such a position is evident when one recalls that Paul here actually reminds Timothy that he is under the great commission. Besides, the injunction of this reference gives direction for the training of church leadership, not the preaching of the gospel as of the great commission. It really corresponds to the "teaching them to observe all things" of the commission. Even then it is more specific in statement and application.

2. A second consequence of Christ's claim to the all-authority in the commission reflects the universal nature of that commission. It sounded the death-knell to Jewish exclusiveness. It announced God's universal provision for man. The command, "Go ye," provided for reaching the whole world. The injunction, "teaching them," provided for the instruction of all those reached. The terms of pardon effectively provided for the saving of the world. The commission is truly universal.

3. Another consequence is that of the divine will comprehended in the commission. Jesus had pointed out that that was his mission. (John 4:84, 6:40) It would indeed be strange that having spoken (c.f Luke 24:44) he would announce a commission ignoring that will. But the very announcement of this divine will meant a revocation of the previous will or wills. "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." (Heb. 10:9) Be it carefully observed that he did not establish the second in order to take away the first.

Again it is the pronouncement of eternal purpose. Cf. Eph. 8:11. The accomplishment of the redemption of man was first of all in God's eternal purpose. (Rom. 8:28-30) The gospel of the commission now sees the fulfilling of that purpose. Since this is true it follows that the enunciation of the commission was a divine necessity, not a humanly precipitated accident. What is further manifestly evident is that the commission is a proclamation of divine enactment. Man is obligated to meet its terms.

4. One other consequence in the application of the commission engages our attention, viz., the effectiveness of its operation. First, it meets the demands of man's origin, for he was created in the divine image, hence possesses the prerogative to choose. God submitted to man his will, but permits man to choose or reject it. Second, it meets the needs of man's fall, for God desired his reconciliation and restoration to his favor. Third, it meets the requirement of man's state, for he is dead in sin. (Rom. 3:25) It provides the only escape from sin. Finally, it mets the approbation of divine justice, for it extends divine favor with the blood of an effective sin offering. (Cf. Heb. 9:22, 10:12)

"Forever, 0 Jehovah, thy word is settled in heaven." Psa. 119:89.