By Zachary Grimm
The responsibility to take the Gospel to every creature rests on the shoulders of every born again child of God. Although the thought of taking the Gospel to “the ends of the earth” may be overwhelming, it is not an impossibility. Where God guides, He provides.
Here in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we find Paul and Barnabas preaching in Antioch, a city that was located in what is now known as Turkey.
“And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:44). To give you a little background, the previous sabbath, Paul preached in the synagogue on the history of Israel and showed in the Scriptures Who Jesus was. After the congregation had dismissed, the Gentiles asked Paul to preach again the next sabbath.
Now we come to the passage before us. It is here that we find the details in going to “the ends of the earth.”
A Rejection of the Truth
As every one assembled into the synagogue to hear Paul preach, the Jews became very upset. Verse 44 says that “almost the whole city” had gathered to hear this man of God. It is amazing to me to see one group of people respond positively to the preaching of the word of God, while another group rejects it altogether.
Verse 45 says, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy.” Who were the Jews? They were God’s chosen people. The Jews believed they were on a higher plain than every one else. So they became envious of the large crowd that Paul had attracted. But this envy didn’t stay inside; they began speaking wrongfully about these missionaries. “And spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” (vs. 45).
Isn’t it strange how “religious” people are often the first to reject the truth? The Jews had religion, but they didn’t have Jesus, and they certainly didn’t want someone telling them that the One they crucified had come to save the world. So the Jews rejected God’s message and messengers.
Paul and Barnabas were not discouraged by the Jews action; they were ready to defend their God-given responsibility to proclaim the truth. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). These Jews behaved in a similar fashion as the scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus said, in Matthew 23:13, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” They heard the truth, but they didn’t do anything about it. Now they are keeping others from hearing the Gospel.
No matter where we are witnessing, there will always be those who will reject the Gospel and oppose its messengers. This is how they treated Paul and Barnabas, and we should not expect anything different.
A Grave Command
You would think that Paul and Barnabas would be discouraged at these circumstances; however, they had a constraining force higher than any criticism from the Jews. We would have given up, but “Paul and Barnabas waxed bold.” The reason for their boldness can be found in verse 47, “For so hath the Lord commanded us.” The Lord’s command increased the apostles’ boldness. When we come to the place where we realize the command is given to us by our Lord, we will not be concerned with what people say to us or about us.
Second Corinthians 5:14-15 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” The love that Christ has given us should cause us to live for Him. We should be willing to do anything for our dear Saviour. No matter what it may be, whatever the Lord commands us to do, we should do it without hesitation. After all, He gave His all for us; why should we give any less?
Verse 20 states, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” The love of Christ causes us to accept our responsibility as ambassadors to this lost world. It is our duty as Christians to proclaim the Gospel to all people, whether they accept it or not.
The Lord’s command to Paul was “that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Most certainly, the apostles were not disobedient in this endeavor, for we read in Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” It is apparent that they took this command very seriously.
What if every Christian were as devoted to witnessing as they are to their “hobbies”? What if they handled their responsibility to give out the Gospel like they handle their responsibilities at their job? What if they treated the Gospel message like they treat their personal possessions? I dare say we would see more people brought to the Saviour, more young Christians being discipled, and more indigenous, New Testament churches started all around the world.
A Glad Reception
When we follow God’s plan for our lives, the results are always better than if we had went our own way. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord” (Acts 13:48). Though the Jews rejected the apostles’ message, the Gentiles received it.
In Acts chapter 8, Philip preached in Samaria, and healed many who had infirmities. “And there was great joy in that city” (vs. 8). I believe these folks were not only joyous about the healings, but also that they had been saved. The apostle Paul said, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” It is a joyous thing to see someone brought to the Saviour. But how can someone believe on a Saviour they have never heard of before? And how can they hear about Him if no one tells them? And if we as Christians don’t tell them, who will?
As I read the word of God, it becomes very apparent that God wants everyone to be saved. It is His will that the Gospel reach unto “the ends of the earth.”
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” — Isaiah 45:22
“The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” —Isaiah 52:10
There are two passages in the Revelation that bring both gladness and soberness.
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” — Revelation 5:9-10
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” — Revelation 7:9-10
These passages bring joy when we think of all the people who will spend eternity in Heaven with our dear Lord and Saviour. However, these also bring a soberness to our minds when we think of the untold billions whose fate is the flames of Hell. It also brings soberness in thinking about our responsibility to take the Gospel to “the ends of the earth.”
These passages tell of people from every kindred, tongue (language), and nation. I ask you this question: who will reach these people? Who will take the Gospel to them? Someone has to do it. Will it be you?
It is a joyful experience telling others of the Saviour and seeing them accept Him with gladness, but oh the solemnity and soberness brought to the soul when we think of standing before the Lord to give an account of our service to Him, and having to answer for not telling others of the Saviour!
These verses in Revelation speak of millions of souls from every kindred, tongue, and nation. How will these people be saved? How will they hear the story of Jesus? Who will tell them of the Saviour? Who will take the Gospel to “the ends of the earth”? Who will reach these people? Will you?
Why are there less missionaries now than there were fifty years ago? Why are there countries and languages with no Bibles? Why are there virtually no missionaries in such places as Greenland, North Korea, and New Caledonia? What about the Canary Islands, Finland, and Liechtenstein? Who will reach these people? Will you?
If the responsibility to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “the ends of the earth” is to every Christian (and it is), what part are you doing? Will you obey God, and go to “the ends of the earth”?