The Great Commission - Did Jesus Christ Intend The Gospel To Reach Everyone On Earth? - Christians for Truth
For universalist Christians, the so-called “Great Commission” is a direct command from Christ to literally preach the Gospels to every people in every nation on the face of the Earth. And once that has been accomplished, they believe, Christ’s return can proceed.
These universalists, however, never stop to ask themselves why 99% of the Christians obeying this command and taking the Gospels to the most remote, hostile, and savage peoples and lands in the world are of white European descent — and conversely, why virtually none of their non-White “converts” are participating in the Great Commission.
These same universalists also fail to see any significance in the fact that the Gospels had already reached all of their white European ancestors over 1,100 years ago — within a 1,000 years after the death of Christ, all of Europe — including remote Iceland. And all had heard the Gospels and converted to Christianity — and stayed converted — without the aid of mass communication, modern modes of travel, or even a modern printing press to distribute the Bible.
Yet despite all those modern amenities to help spread the Gospels today, Christian evangelists struggle to find new proselytes in the Third World — while Islam is by far the fastest growing “religion” worldwide.
Perhaps there are reasons that Christianity has largely failed in the Third World — for reasons that these Christian evangelists have completely ignored — which are spelled out right in the both the New and Old Testaments.
In a chapter from his book Is Universalism Of God?, Charles A. Wiseman addresses the supposed universalism behind the Great Commission — and makes the case that the Gospels were not, in fact, intended to reach every upright biped hominoid — every “creature” — on the face of the Earth — but rather that they were intended for only one people scattered among the nations:
Chapter 6: The Great Commission
Perhaps nothing in the New Testament has been used more often to convey the idea of a universal God, or that God has opened the door to all races to be His special people, than the so-called “great commission.” One conservative Christian stated the usual understanding of the matter this way:
“It is true that in much of the Bible God dealt only with a particular people without regard to other peoples on the earth. But all that changed with the last chapter of Matthew. Now there is concern and love for all people.”
To understand this person’s position, we need to understand the verses he is resting his doctrine upon. After Christ’s resurrection, He walked and talked with His apostles and disciples. Then, in His departing words, Christ gave them one final instruction regarding the spreading of the Gospel:
And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, 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 (Matt 28:18-20).
A parallel account of this statement by Christ is given by Mark:
And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned (Mark l6:14-16).
A similar directive is found in Acts 1:8, where, after being with the disciples for 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus states,
But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
These last words of Christ directing His followers in regards to preaching the Gospel are often referred to as “the great commission.” The statements appear to be rather universal in nature, and thus are used by Universalists and humanists to assume that God has broadened the scope of His chosen people to include every person of every race. Previous to this Christ specified to whom His disciples were to preach the word to:
Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:5-6).
Most Christians think this directive was changed with the great commission. Rather this verse was the first step or stage in the process of spreading the Gospel message to Israel. The message was first given to the Judeans — those Israelites who were still God’s people under the Old Covenant (Lk. 24:47; Rom. 1:16). They had the first opportunity to receive Christ and the Gospel — then it was to be given to the “gentiles” or nations since Israelites were scattered in many nations. So if that be the case, then the only change is one of geography — not race.
Universalists and humanist Christians say that the words of Christ are universal without restriction. To them that means that Jesus intended to have every nation and race of people preached to so they can be converted.
But the great commission was not taken literally by the disciples. First, they did not “teach all nations” the Gospel. They did not go to Greenland and teach the Eskimos, or to Japan and teach the Japanese — nor did they go to China, central Africa, Australia, or South America. They did not go to “the uttermost part of the earth,” such as the Hawaiian Islands.
Further the disciples did not “preach the gospel to every creature” — they did not preach to frogs, or horses, or elephants or kangaroos. But are they not “creatures?” If we take this instruction literally and universally, they must have been included, for Christ did say every “creature.” Since the disciples did not take these words literally, then neither should we; otherwise we have no right to claim them for our authority in evangelizing because the words were spoken to the disciples — not to us.
While Christ’s words are general or universal in nature, they obviously have a limited purpose and scope. What then was Christ’s intent, objective and reason for this directive? This cannot be obtained by only reading these words of the great commission — as that would obviously lead to confusion and erroneous conclusions. We must look at the context of the whole Bible. We need to consider all of the words of Christ to arrive at the context and what was His objective and intent behind His great commission to His disciples.
As we saw Christ wanted His disciples to go only to Israel (Matt. 10:6). He stated that “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). We also read that the New Covenant — which was instituted by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:ll-14) — was made with “the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8). Christ was to cause “many of the children of Israel to turn to the Lord their God.” (Luke 1:16). It was also prophesied that the “children of Israel shall appoint themselves one head” which is Christ (Hos. 1:11). Christ said that He was the “door” or the way only for the “sheep” — and that as the shepherd He “gives His life for the sheep” — or died on the cross for them (John 10:7,11). Only Israel were called “sheep.”
So it is clear that the context of the New Testament tells us that God — through Christ — is still dealing with Israel. From Genesis up to this point in time, the concern is with this specific race of people. The rules of logic lead us to the conclusion that Christ’s great commission was intended to reach Israelites — unless the contrary is clearly indicated. As Jesus said, “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold” — that is, not in Judea, which Christ must bring to Himself (John 10:16). Christ was going to bring these other sheep to Him by having His disciples preach the Word to all nations, i.e., by the great commission.
That reaching Israelites was the objective of Christ’s “great commission” can be further understood by what Christ said about this thing we call “Christianity.” In John 6, Jesus revealed that belief in Him is not that much of a free choice as most like to think. The Christians at that time were eager to follow God’s ways, as they asked Christ, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (v. 28) Christ told them that the work of God was that they believe in Christ (v. 29). When they asked for a sign that they might believe, Jesus told them about the “bread from heaven” which if they eat will give them life (v.33). They thus asked Jesus to give them this bread so they could eat it, but He told them:
I am the bread of life; he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
Most Christians today think coming to Christ or being in Christ is some voluntary act that they can undertake on their own. That is what Christ’s disciples thought as well. They wanted to eat of the bread of life, but did not understand it was not up to them. Christ told them that only those whom God gives to Christ will partake of the bread of life or be in Christ:
All that the Father gives me shall come to me (v’ 37)….No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him (v.44).
Only those people that God draws or gives to Christ would be true believers and followers of Christ. Obviously God did not want or intend for all people on the planet to be Christ’s sheep.
Even though these people Christ spoke to were His disciples who followed Him and had seen His miracles, they did not believe Him about the process for being a Christian. They continued to question Him and said, “this is a hard saying, who can hear it?” Thus Christ reiterated the bottom line of Christianity for them:
There are some of you that believe not. . . .Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father (John 6:64,65).
The eating and drinking of the spiritual flesh and blood of Christ does not take place through the medium of faith, as commonly thought. Instead, when God causes people to consume these things, they are led to believe and have faith. Christians erroneously think that if you believe, you get the Spirit — whereas Jesus said if God gives you the Spirit, you get belief.
Faith is the result of having this new Spirit — it is not the catalyst that causes God to give this spiritual quickening. Like being born again, it is something God causes (1 Pet. 1:3). Thus, you can’t be a believer in Christ and have Christ in you unless God chooses to give you His Spirit. This message was so offensive and ludicrous to Christ’s own disciples, that most of them left Him on that day:
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, WilI you also go away? (John 6:66-67).
Christ lost all of His followers (except the apostles) when He told them that Christianity was not like all the other religions of the world in which the people choose their own god. Some people will choose Baal or Molech as their god, others will choose Zeus, Mohammed, Buddha or Allah.
But with Christianity, God chooses the people He will have follow Him and be His people. All religions of the world are based upon a chosen god concept — whereas Christianity, like Hebraism, is based upon a chosen people concept. Yet Christians today, just like the first followers of Christ, find this chosen people concept to be horrible and offensive. Most Christians today have fallen to the ways of humanism, and the humanistic mind is in sharp conflict with the ways of God.
It is ironic that Christians today don’t realize that they, as white European people are Israelites, racially and physically, and that is why they are Christians and believers. But they can never accept that belief in Christ is based upon the chosen people concept and not just a matter of personal choice.
Christ said that there will be those who will have chosen Him, who call Him “Lord,” and make an effort to do good works in His name, but Christ will say to them, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Religions which are based upon a chosen god concept allow for universalism, since whosoever wishes to be involved may do so. But a religion based upon a chosen people concept is exclusive and not adaptable to Universalism.
Scripture makes it plain that the Gospel was not intended for everyone. Christ often spoke in parables so certain people could not understand (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11,l2; Luke 8:10). In Mark 16:16 Jesus stated that when the disciples go to other nations, some will believe and some will not. Why? Because some were chosen or led by God to believe and others were not.
We also find that there were certain cities and provinces in Asia which the Holy spirit prevented Paul and Silas from going to and preaching the Gospel (Acts 16:6,7). This is another indication that the Gospel was not universal to all people. Paul told the Philippians that “unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ….to believe on him” (Phil. l:29). Belief was not totally a free choice with them — but rather God gave them the inclination to believe. Christ told Peter to “feed My sheep” (John 2l:16,17) — He did not say to feed the goats or the dogs.
Although the intent of the great commission was to reach Israelites, why did Christ use words that were so general in nature? Did Christ with these verses have His disciples and others to go to people that were non-Israelites? The answer is yes, He did. The commission would have them preaching and teaching to those who were not Israelites. Jesus never said to go only to the lost sheep of Israel because the disciples did not know who they all were.
For many centuries Israel migrated and was scattered throughout the nations, and were now part of those nations. Most were not known as Israelites or descendants of Abraham; instead they were known as Romans, Greeks, Carthaginians, Scythians, Galatians, Laodiceans, Macedonians, Corinthians, Gauls, Goths, Parthians, and Hibernians.
The command of Jesus to preach to all nations was general or universal not for the purpose of converting all people and races, but so as to convert all Israelites, no matter where they lived or by what name they were called. Jesus never specified Israelites in His commission because the majority of Israelites in the world then had lost track or their heritage and identity as Israelites. When Christ had His disciples evangelize in their home territory, He specified that they were to go only to Israel because they knew who were Israelites and who were not.
In other nations, however, the disciples did not know in all cases who were the sheep (Israelites) and who were the goats. They did not need to know. They were to preach the word “to every creature” and the Holy Spirit would do the rest by selecting and guiding the true Israel people to Christ and the Bible. And what have been the results of the great commission? The white European people have embraced and adopted Christianity and the Bible while it has been ignored or rejected by all other races.
The New Covenant was instrumental in gathering the sheep to Christ. With this Covenant God said, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb. 8:10). By placing His law in their hearts and minds the Israel people would be compelled to follow God, the Bible and Jesus Christ. Only one people has exhibited this drive and motivation to follow Christ and the word of God — the Europeans.
The early European people had been entrenched in pagan ways and had pagan gods just like most people of the world. But when they heard the word of God and the Gospel, they quickly forsook their pagan ways and gods and accepted the Gospel and Christ. Although the Gospel has been preached to every nation and race since the first century, the white, European people are the only ones who responded to the great commission. As Christ said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine….My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14,27). Only the sheep — Israelites — would hear and follow Christ.
For centuries missionaries have tried to bring the Gospel and Christianity to India, Africa, Egypt, Arabia, China, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, and American Indians. However, they have failed miserably in their efforts. It is only by duress or temptations of material necessities (food, clothing, money, farming equipment, building supplies, etc.) that the white man has been able to get even a small percentage of other races to go along with Christianity. In Mexico, the people follow a corrupted form of Catholicism which is entrenched in superstitions and pagan traditions, some of which were introduced by Spanish Jews. It is not at all Christianity.
In America the white colonists from the very beginning attempted to convert the native Indians to Christianity. Many of the founding documents specifically stated that one of the aims of settlement was for the “conversion of the poor ignorant Indian natives;” or “for the propagation of the Christian faith amongst the barbarous and ignorant Indians.” Missionaries in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries continued to try to teach the Bible and Christianity to every Indian tribe, but after four centuries the concept of a Christian Indian is practically unheard of. It is clear that God did not draw the Indians to Christ
[See: Declaration of the Lord Proprietor of Carolina, 1663; The Charter of New England, 1620; Charter of Rhode Island, 1663; Charter of Virginia, 1606 & 1611; Charter of Massachusetts Bay, 1629, et. al.]
Many other races, such as the blacks and many Hispanics, find an emotional fulfillment in following the rudiments of the Bible and Christianity. For them it is essentially a release of emotions — the shouting, dancing, laughter and feeling good. This is what attracts them to Christianity.
The small degree to which the colored races of the world have followed the Bible and Christianity is primarily because they are driven to do so by materialistic desires and needs, superstitions, or emotional stimuli. The white race on the other hand are spiritually driven — or rather drawn by the Holy Spirit — to the Bible and Christ. The colored races are following religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam. It is Islam which is the largest and fastest growing religion in the world — not Christianity.
The Christian missionaries took the great commission literally, and brought the Word of God to every corner of the globe and every person they could find. There was, however, nothing wrong in their doing so — they were actually doing what God wanted them to do but not for the reasons God intended.
The Christian missionaries thought the purpose of the great commission was to convert everyone to God’s ways and Christian living which was a big mistake, as attested by the lessons of history. God had a two-fold purpose behind the universal implementation of the great commission: 1) It would result in God’s Word reaching all Israelites, and thus converting the great mass of them; and 2) By including every nation and race, it would prove who are His chosen people and who are not.
This is not to say that the ways of God are not for all races of the earth — since the laws of God and biblical principles can benefit any people. It is just that they will never possess and follow God’s ways by evangelizing and preaching to them. This as been tried for nearly 2,000 years — and the results are self-evident. However, God’s people can use their material blessings to help guide and direct other people to the ways of God.