THE COMMISSION

“And He said unto them. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15,16.

It is a matter of deep interest and pleasing contemplation that the great Jehovah has, in the plentitude of his goodness and mercy, ordained that the gospel of his grace should be proclaimed unto any of the guilty sons of men; and especially that apostles and other ministers of the word should be raised up and qualified to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. When we remember the fallen state that the whole human family was plunged into by our transgression of the law of our Creator, it truly seems astonishing to us that instead of the rich provisions of grace and mercy displayed in the gift of God’s dear Son and the way of life and salvation through the abounding grace of God that we were not consigned to the perdition of ungodly men, and made as miserable as we had become sinful before our God. But instead of vengeance justly due to our transgressions, the eternal purpose of grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, is revealed from heaven, and a commission is given to the apostles of the Lamb, and to all others to whom it has been the pleasure of our God to apply that commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Christ had made his advent to our guilty world, had done and suffered all that was written of him in the law and in the prophets; and bearing all the sins of all his people in his own body on the tree, had suffered bled and died, the just for the unjust, to redeem his people unto God.- He had risen from the dead and was about to ascend in triumph to the skies; but before he left the little band of his disciples he had one more solemn charge to give them, and one more lesson of instruction to impart to them. This he prepared them for by breathing upon them, saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”; thus signifying that without an unction of the Holy Spirit no man can be qualified to preach the gospel. He then informed them that “All power in heaven and in earth” was vested in him; and that no less than all the power of both worlds was indispensable to give validity to a gospel commission. No set of ecclesiastical dignitaries, however learned or celebrated for wisdom and piety, can without presumptuous arrogance pretend to direct, commission, or send forth missionaries to proclaim his gospel. All power in heaven and in earth was, and still is, necessary to defend and prosper the ministry of the gospel. Now risen from the dead, and seated upon his Mediatorial throne, his arm was mighty to rule for him. His power was over all flesh that he might give eternal life to as many as the Father had given unto him. “And he said unto them, Go ye,” etc.

But unto whom did he say, “Go ye”? The popular missionists of our day contend that this commission was given to all the church, and some of them contend that it was given to all men; but we learn from the connection, as well as from the words of the commission that it was given only to chosen disciples of our Lord; to those on whom Christ has breathed, -those whom he had instructed and qualified for the work. Unto these he said, “Go ye!” But he did not say unto them, “Send others”; but “Go ye”’ and he possessed all power, his word is as effectual in sending them forth as it was when he said, “Let there be light, and there was light”; for we are informed in the 20th verse that they went forth and preached, etc., as they were commanded. Jesus is the King of saints, and where the word of a king is, there is power. He speaks the word, and it stands fast; he commands and it is done; none can stay his hand, or prevent the accomplishment of his decrees. But where did he commission these, his apostles, to go? Just where we understand he commissions all his ministers since the apostolic age to go; namely, into all the world. Circumscribed by no parish lines, to be restricted by no barriers that men can raise; the whole world opens before the called, qualified and commissioned servants of the Lord as the appointed field of their labors, wherever God, In his providence, shall open a door for them. Before the crucifixion and resurrection these disciples, and the seventy also, were forbidden to go in the way of the Gentiles, or into any city of the Samaritans, but they were to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But now the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles was thrown down, the hand-writing of ordinances by which Israel was distinguished and the Gentiles excluded, was nailed to the cross, the enmity, even the law of commandments taken out of the way, and the whole world presented under the dominion of him unto whom the Father has given the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, that he might break them with a rod of iron, and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. Psa. 11.8,9. Now therefore the time had come for the enlargement of the commission. Therefore He said unto them, “Go ye into all the world.” No more confine your ministry to the cities of Judea, or to the people of a fleshly circumcision, but into every nation, kindred and tongue he bade them go; for this gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Having learned where, we will now enquire unto whom the ministers of Christ are commissioned to preach his gospel. This question is met and settled by the words of the commission. They are commanded to preach It to every creature. To preach the gospel, be it remembered, is to proclaim in Christ’s name and by his authority, that perfect, finished and complete salvation which is in Christ Jesus. It is not the reading of Moses, or the setting forth the demands or curses of the law; neither is it the calling on men to save themselves, nor commanding them to repent or to believe, or to exercise faith, nor is it to tell them that they are free agents, and have all power in their hands to make their peace with God. Christ has given no man or set of men authority to preach in that manner to the children of men; for such preaching is false, and a perversion of the gospel of our blessed Redeemer. There is much said by will-worshippers and arminians at this day about preaching the gospel to sinners; and they charge that we Old Baptists do not preach to sinners. And why do they thus charge us? Simply because we do not apply the promises and blessings of the new covenant to unregenerate men, - because we do not say to them what Christ said only to his disciples, “Seek and ye shall find: knock and It shall be opened unto you; ask and it shall be given unto you, “etc. And while they proclaim the doctrine of freewill and human agency in the salvation of sinners and offer Christ and salvation conditionally to the ungodly, they claim that they are fulfilling the commission and are preaching the gospel to every creature. The truth is, they preach the gospel to nobody, neither to saints nor sinners; for they know nothing of the gospel themselves. They are blind leaders of the blind, and they shall all fall into the ditch together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. To preach the gospel is to preach the Word. It is to preach Christ and to proclaim to Jews and Gentiles, to saints and sinners, that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no man cometh unto the Father but by him: - that all that the Father giveth him shall come unto him, and he that cometh unto him he will in no wise cast out. And also, “No man can come unto me except my Father which has sent me draw him; and I will raise him up again at the last day.” It Is to preach repentance and remission of sins in his name, that He is exalted a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance unto Israel and the forgiveness of sins; -that repentance is as truly and exclusively the gift of the exalted Prince and Savior as is the forgiveness of sins. We speak of that repentance which is unto life. To preach that Salvation is of the Lord: He is God, and beside him there is no Savior. Neither is there salvation in any other name. Will our opponents deny that Paul preached the gospel when he proclaimed among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and when in so preaching Christ he affirmed that God had blessed his people with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as he had chosen them in him before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love. - That God had saved and called them with a holy calling, not according to their works but according to his own purpose and grace which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. - That whom he did foreknow, them he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified. And when he declared that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion; and whom he will, he hardeneth; that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that sheweth mercy. Also when he proclaimed to the saints which were a Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus saying, “And you hath he quickened which were dead in trespasses and sins.” “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it Is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast; for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that we should walk in them.”

This, together with all that Paul and all the other apostles preached, comes to us under the high authority of divine inspiration, as the gospel of Christ. And if any angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than that which was preached by the apostles, let him be accursed. This is the gospel of the kingdom, and it is to be preached in all the world, wherever God shall send his ministers, and to every creature; that is, to Gentiles as well as Jews, to sinners and to saints, and never to be withheld. God’s ministers are not to shun to declare this glorious gospel on all suitable occasions, and as they preach, “Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” All who are born of God love this gospel, as far as they understand it, they rejoice in it; it is their meat and their drink; while on the other hand, all who hate God and love sin will as certainly hate his truth. Hence this gospel of the kingdom is a witness, discriminating between the quickened and the unregenerated sons of men. Those who can understand what the gospel in reality is will readily perceive that the thousands who in this day boast of their missionary spirit, and of their zeal in causing what they call the gospel to be preached throughout the world, would be among the very first, if they had the power, to stop the mouths of every minister of Jesus who faithfully proclaims the gospel to every creature. The gospel which Christ commissioned his apostles to preach in the power of God, through faith unto salvation to every one that believes. But the gospel which ungodly men admire, and which they are ever ready to embrace and support is, in its theory, the power of men, through works, means, and instrumentalities, unto what, in their delusions, they regard as salvation. Let us not mistake, as some have, and conclude the preaching is the power of God unto salvation. The preaching is one thing and the thing preached is quite another, and the excellency of this power is of God, and not of the preacher. Men may, and often do, hear gospel preaching, but they always remain strangers to the gospel until God applies its power to their hearts, unto salvation. But we must pass.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Certainly not as a reward for believing or being baptized; for then would salvation be by works and conditional, which the scriptures quoted above fully prove to us in not the case; for if it be of works, then it is no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work; and if it be by grace, it is no more of works. It cannot be of both, for if of the one, then it Is not of the other, and we have proved beyond all successful contradiction that it is of grace, and equally positively that is not of works. That faith by which we believe the gospel of Christ is the gift of God, the fruit of the spirit, and Christ is himself both the author and the finisher of it. Hence we are told that “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” And Paul said to the Thessalonian saints, “We are bound to give thanks unto God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation through sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth.” Baptism is indeed an act of the believer, in obedience of a divine command, which command is given only to believers. “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” So said Philip to the Eunuch. As therefore we cannot possess saving faith until born of that spirit of which faith is the fruit, so neither can any man obey Christ in being baptized until he has become a regenerated person, a believer in Christ. The faith and obedience of the children of God are not the cause but the evidence and effects of their salvation. And thus they are given in the commission, as the essential marks or evidences by which all of Christ’s commissioned apostles and ministers shall also recognize them as his saved people, and by which they shall also recognize each other. But what are they to believe? They are to believe the truth as it is in Jesus; for they who believe that which is not truth are deluded, and they to whom strong delusions are sent, as we are informed, believe a lie, that they all many be damned. To believe that we are able to save ourselves by our own works, or that there is salvation in an anxious bench, or in anything short of the person, blood, and righteousness of God our Savior, is a delusion, and all who are suffered to live and die in that delusion shall be damned; for so the scriptures positively affirm. As these were the evidences of a regenerated state when the gospel commission was given, so they continue to be down to this day. We fairly infer therefore that none but Baptists, of the old apostolic school, or order, can exhibit the full and clear evidence that they are regenerated and born of God. Neither faith nor baptism is regeneration; but both are evidences of a regenerated state. He that believeth and is baptized is, of course, a baptized believer, and as in the mouth of two witnesses, under the ceremonial economy every word was required to be established, so now under the gospel dispensation a profession of faith alone, however satisfactory it may be as far as it goes, does not entitle a person to the privileges of the house of God. That faith, if genuine, must be expressed by obedience as well as by words; and when these two witnesses are presented, they are all that we have a right to ask by way of testimony that they who give them are of that people whom God has saved with an everlasting salvation. Where these evidences are given, and they who present them, continue to walk in all the ordinances of the house of God blamelessly, so long they are entitled to all the privileges of the church of God, and to the fellowship of all the saints.

Middletown, N.Y.,
March 1, 1854.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times
Republished: Volume 160, No. 11
November 1992