The Great Commission: “Come and Hear” or “Go and Tell”?

Dale Mcalpine has an anonymous quote:

The Gospel is not: “Come to our Church.”

Non-Christians are welcome in our church.  God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), and sometimes people seek (in response to the Lord’s drawing) by going to church.  But not one passage in all of Scripture tells us to invite them.

The Gospel is found here:

I Corinthians 15:3-4

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

If you invite someone to church, Bible study, or an evangelistic meeting, that’s not a bad thing.  But it isn’t giving them the Gospel and it isn’t fulfilling the Great Commission.  Many people are saved in church, but far more are led to the Lord by their friends and family members.  We sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” but neglect our soldier’s duty.

The Great Commission (Bible Version)

Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

The Great Commission (Messed Up Version)

Get them (one way or another) to come in here to hear.


About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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6 Responses to The Great Commission: “Come and Hear” or “Go and Tell”?

  1. ukfred says:

    I have heard a recording of a lecture that Steve Chalke has delivered on this subject, and one interesting point he makes is that the literal translation of the original is to preach the Gospel to every ethnic group, so that this means we need to first of all be able to communicate to our families who can then go out to others in their peer groups, so that geeks communicate the Gospel to geeks, goths to goths, punks to punks and so on. It does not mean that we have to become what we are not, but rather we need to be authentically what we are, so that the authenticity of what we say can be seen.

    The other point I would like to make is that our picture of God is very often far too small. God is infinite and we cannot comprehend His infinity. But we so often forget that he is much bigger than our fellowship or even our denomination. I personally could not care less whether Gospel is preached in the pubs and clubs, the street corners, and various other places, so long as the message gets out to those who need to hear it in a language that they can understand. We do not have to convert people. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. We just need to deliver the message and let the hearers deal with the contents of our message as they see fit, after all, they are the ones who will have to answer to their maker at some point for their response.

    • Thanks for the Hat Tip Pastor Jon my brother, and for the fellowship recently,hope all is well at home with you, your family and Church, I look forward to next time, Lord willing of course.

      ukfred, thanks also for your comments, please be careful listening to Steve Chalke, I think it is only fair to mention that he is what is known as in Biblical terms as a heretic.

      Chalke denies penal substitutionary atonement, he denies that God punished His Son for His peoples sins. This attacks the very heart of the Gospel:

      Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring;…

      As for Chalke saying “It does not mean that we have to become what we are not”

      Paul the Apostle said this :
      …I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 1Corinthians 9:19-22

      God bless you ukfred

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Hi, Dale, it was a blessing, but the things you brought were enjoyed so much that they threatened my self-control. 🙂 I’ve thought about “stealing” quotes from your blog several times before, appreciate the work you do.

        I’ll steer a wide berth around anyone who chooses to characterise the Biblical teaching of the atonement as “cosmic child abuse.” I guess I can understand someone struggling to fully accept and properly describe the magnitude of what Christ did for us on the Cross, but to blaspheme against it the way he has done….

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hi, Fred, thanks for the comment. I’ll start with your second point. I heartily concur that conversion is God’s job, not ours. He commissioned us to “be witnesses unto Him.” John 3 makes it very clear that the new birth comes by the working of the Spirit, and it is not our eloquence or skill in teaching or answering questions that saves a soul. (Side issue — I’ve become more and more persuaded that a lot of apologetics ministry drifts into a wrong focus where “knowing the right answer” has become more important than simply telling people the Gospel.)

      As to the second point, Steve Chalke has said and done a lot of good things, but with Dale, I’m very cautious about him. But to focus on the teaching rather than the person, I cited Mark 16, but he is referring to Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….” The word translated “nations” is the Greek word “ethnos” which is where the idea of ethnic groups came from. The problem is, it doesn’t just literally mean ethnic groups, even though our word “ethnic” was derived from it. It means multitude, nations, peoples, tribes, Gentiles, pagans, etc. It has a very broad range of meaning, depending on context.

      If we look at Luke’s account (Acts 1:8) and Mark’s account of the Great Commission, the sense is “everywhere and everyone” — so to talk about “all ethnic groups” would be included, but the emphasis Chalke gave isn’t really our Lord’s, and doesn’t really fit with Paul’s emphasis (see the I Cor. passage Dale cited, which is what immediately came to my mind).

      It is absolutely true that we should go to people like us, but we should also go to people who aren’t like us. And the other aspect of Chalke’s idea that concerns me is it suggests that goths should stay goths, and focus on reaching other goths, etc. There are many things in our lives and culture that should change when we become a Christian, so it is misplaced and sometimes damaging to give the idea that we should just use what we are evangelistically.

      Actually, what we should do is scrutinize what we are by Scripture, and become authentically Scriptural, even if that means a lot of changes. In the churches today we hear a lot of statements that sound good but actually, when you stop and think about them, undermine the fact that God is in the business of changing lives. This one, it seems to me, fits in that category.

      So…. I’ve spilled a lot of words to say that, while I appreciate an emphasis on the message going to all people, I don’t see his suggested mechanism as firmly rooted in Scripture. Does all that make sense, or have I just confused matters?

  2. ukfred says:

    Indeed, you are absolutely correct. We are told in Scripture to weigh the words of him who preaches against the Scriptures and I wish that many more would do so. It gets lonely when you are the only one who notices heresy when it is preached from the pulpit in church and the preacher’s response is “You must be wrong, because no-one else had said anything like that.”

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Well, Fred, never get discouraged with it. The Scriptures tell us that it was the Bereans who were noble, for they searched the Scriptures whether what they had taught was true. So even if you are the only one, keep on. The preacher is not the authority, the Scriptures are the only authority.

      If no one else noticed, there is always the possibility that you misunderstood, or that the preacher was simply unclear, but there is also the possibility that no one else was paying attention, or that others are simply so untaught that they don’t notice the errors — and if the preacher is false, that will most commonly be the case.

      The Biblical response for a preacher who is accused of error is to start by listening, not blow it off. Many sound preachers are accused of error simply because they weren’t clear on something, or the listener misunderstood. By starting with listening, you can quickly find out and clear up any misconceptions. Anyone who wants to shepherd is more focused on making sure that teaching happened clearly than he is on self-vindication.

      If it is actually a substantive disagreement over doctrine, the preacher should be prepared to show from Scripture what he is saying.

      The only time I can imagine it would be appropriate to say, “No one else said anything like that” is if there is a dispute over the words that were actually said. I would not be interested in disputing that matter, personally. If someone thinks I said something that I had no intent to say, I would simply apologise for being unclear and let them know that is not my belief or my intent. I would then check the recording, and if I had truly been unclear, I would follow up with those who were there.

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