“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
The above words were among the last spoken by the Savior before his ascension to the Father. It is wonderful to behold the perfect order in which the Lord has done all things past, and with which he is now accomplishing his purposes in the earth, among kings and rulers as well as among the most humble of mankind. There were reasons why the words of our text could not possibly have been spoken before, hence the order of God. Sometimes it has seemed almost impossible to convince churches that everything should be done “decently and in order,” Order seems, in the minds of some, “too much like other people,” yet when we think soberly about it the world has never, with all its advancement and attainments, been able to compare any part of its order, or systematic movements, with that which God has ever governed all things.
When the Lord called Abraham he blessed him, and made promise to him that he would multiply him; that his children should be as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the seashore for multitudes, and that in his seed all nations should be blessed. While by faith Abraham saw the day of Christ and was glad, it scarcely seems credible to think that he conceived the vastness of God’s promise and purpose in the salvation of an innumerable host unto eternal blessedness in the realms of glory. However, the promise was made and the purpose purposed in himself, and every detail thereof was carried out in perfect harmony. To Abraham was born Isaac, and to Isaac Jacob, and to Jacob the twelve patriarchs, and to these the twelve tribes. Beginning with Abraham, the Lord dealt with man as never before, and this dealing was confined to Abraham and his descendants. To them was given the land of Canaan; they had the best land of Egypt, Goshen, during the time they were “strangers in a strange land,” they were not affected by the plagues visited upon Egypt, were delivered from bondage across the Red Sea, were blessed and provided for during the forty years journey in the wilderness, crossed the Jordan (judgment) in safety and inhabited their land that flowed with milk and honey. To these children of Abraham the Lord sent prophets declaring his Word, renewing his promise, telling them to wait for it, it was for an appointed time and should surely come, and at the appointment of God a virgin conceived and the child Jesus was born for the redemption of Israel. Be it remembered that the Lord was still dealing with the children of Abraham, hence Jesus called Peter, James, John and others, all Jews, to be his followers and ministers. These he sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, positively commanding them to go not in the way of the Gentiles, nor into any city of the Samaritans. Their labor being confined to the Jews, they preached to them the kingdom of God, cast out devils and healed the sick, Jesus having given them the power. In the promise to Abraham the death of Jesus was embraced, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, and when the appointed time came he was found at the appointed place, “for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” Now while the dealings of the Lord, the ministry of Jesus and his disciples had been confined to the Jews, let us not forget the fact that the salvation of the Gentiles was also embraced in the promise made to Abraham: “In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.” Therefore in some wonderful way these opposing nations, Jews and Gentiles, must be made one, the lamb and the lion feed and lie down (rest) together. The handwriting of ordinances, which pertained only to the Jews, must be taken out of the way. The wall of partition which separated between Jews and Gentiles must be removed. In the death of Christ the handwriting of ordinances was forever removed and the Gentiles “blessed “ equally with the Jews in the promised Seed of Abraham, so that now we are one in Christ, no longer under the law, but all under grace.
In the beginning of this article we said there were reasons why the words of the text could not possibly have been spoken before the time uttered by our crucified and risen Lord and Savior. The first reason is the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile must absolutely first be removed. Second, the apostles had to tarry in Jerusalem until visited from on high by the Holy Ghost and endued with power, light and understanding regarding God’s promise to Abraham embracing all nations in the salvation of Jesus Christ. This all having been done, Jesus appeared into his disciples forty days after his resurrection from the dead, and just before his ascension, and gave them the command embodied in our text. Now, instead of being confined in their labors to the Jews and the Roman Empire, they were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, men and women, of every nation, kindred and tongue, declaring the gracious promise of God and the fulfillment of it through Jesus Christ. From that day to the present this same Jesus has been preached from the housetops, openly, publicly, and such will continue until time shall be no more. To establish the fact that the command of Jesus to his apostles: to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, was obeyed, we call attention to Col. i. 23: “Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven.” Learned men of to-day, as well as those of the past, for some cause fail to see and declare that the apostle spake of this matter in the past tense. How vain therefore for men in this age of the world to try to accomplish that which was done nearly two thousand years ago; yet they do make the attempt, saying, Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” In this Scripture Jesus foretold what should be, then in our text commanded his apostles to do it: preach the gospel to every creature, or all nations, and as quoted above, Paul declared it had been accomplished. The “end” referred to by the Savior was not the end of time or of this material world, but of the legal world, or law dispensation, and the destruction of Jerusalem was the end of all things pertaining to the law. Now instead of the Jews only worshiping God at Jerusalem in rites, forms and ceremonies, all nations worship him in “his holy mountain “ in spirit and in truth. Wherever the gospel is preached it finds believers, these having been baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire, which, as John the Baptist declared, is verily the work of Jesus. These, both men and women, were also baptized by the apostles by immersion, which was right then and is right now. All unbelievers were then condemned, not eternally lost, set aside as not suitable subjects for the church of God. But then, as now, a man might rail on Jesus one hour and the next call on him for mercy. This the thief on the cross did. No man can say Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost, hence until operated upon by the Spirit of God all men are unbelievers. Such was the state of all of us when in nature’s darkness, but having been washed, having been called with an holy calling, we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God. K.
Elder H. C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 6
March 15, 1914