"Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:14-16).
I leave Wednesday morning traveling to Birmingham, Alabama to meet up with Bro. Wes Graff. We will fly out early Thursday morning for a nearly 24-hour flight (Birmingham-Atlanta-Detroit-Tokyo-Manila overnight-Cagyan De Oro) to the Philippines. We will serve alongside missionary and church planter Barry Carpenter and the other pastors (for more info. click here Expositors International Ministries) by teaching, preaching and evangelizing while there. As the time draws nearer, I am finding myself a bit more nervous than the past trips. There are so many things that can go wrong when you are traveling nearly 10,000 miles away from home. What if I forget my Passport? What if I leave sermon notes behind? What if I forget the books? What if I forget fill-in-the-blank? Not to mention, I have to be mindful in what I pack since it’s 20 degrees today in Tennessee and it will be 90 degrees over there. There are many factors in making a journey such as this, but in the grand scheme of things, none of that really matters in light of my command given to me as a disciple of Christ.
I was reminded of my marching orders, as I finished reading the gospel of Mark during my Bible reading this morning. Although many scholars universally agree that this section of scripture (Mark 16:9-20) was added by a second-century scribe; I still find them very weighty as I read them. The text records a very familiar scene. Jesus appears to the eleven disciples and joins them for a meal. We can see the picture of Christ communing in the presence of His disciples. It is here we are told that Jesus not only communed with His disciples, but He rebuked them for their lack of faith concerning His resurrection. After He rebukes the disciples, He leaves them with the marching orders known as "The Great Commission." Christ commanded the disciples to "go into all the world and proclaim the gospel"— literally, proclaim the good news, to "every tongue tribe and nation" (Rev.5:9-10).
As I read this imperative given by Christ, I was gripped by the seriousness of this command, as I prepare to leave for the Philippines. I was moved by the fact that there are those who are still underneath the wrath and condemnation of their sin because they have not believed (John 3:36). Paul wrote, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching (Romans 10:14)?" Therefore, I make it my aim to go into the world preaching and teaching the gospel, whereby men, women, boys, and girls may hear, repent, and believe upon Christ.
With that said, I want to state a few thoughts for such a desire to make Christ known here in my "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
1. I desire to make Christ known because He has made himself known to me.
Jesus appeared and communed with His disciples. He made himself known to them. He fellowshipped with His disciples. They loved Him because He first loved them (1 John 4:19). They enjoyed spending time with God the Son who died, was buried and rose again for their justification. When a person truly knows Christ, they will desire, long, and strive to spend time with Him. Those who truly know the forgiveness, grace, and mercy of God in Christ will want others to know the same as well.
2. I desire to make Christ known in fear of being rebuked (disciplined) by God.
I don't fear God in some sadistic manner; rather, I fear Him in reverence and love. The disciples were rebuked due to the fact that they failed to believe in what they had been told concerning His resurrection. Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief. When Christ's disciples fail to make Him known to others, they are acting in unbelief in a large sense. Therefore, we want others to know and believe upon the One who was resurrected so as not to be disciplined by our Father. I do not want to make my Father unhappy in any way. I long to keep and obey His commands, for they are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
3. I desire to make Christ known because God has His elect all over the world.
The Bible is clear: God has His elect, whom He has "chosen before the foundation of the world” to be His trophies of grace (Eph.1:3-6). When I go out to share the gospel, I am confident God will work through the proclamation of the gospel to either regenerate the elect or harden the rebel. God has people from every tongue, tribe, and nation, who, upon hearing the gospel, their spiritually dead souls will be regenerated, giving them the gifts of repentance and faith to believe upon Christ. God uses the means of gospel proclamation to bring about the end in the salvation of His elect.
4. I desire to make Christ known because God is glorified through gospel preaching.
What is the chief end in preaching? God's chief end in preaching is for His name to be glorified. The Triune God of the universe is most glorified as His characteristics of holiness, mercy, grace, love, and faithfulness are being revealed in the message of the gospel. I love Whom I preach. I love God because He first loved me and made me a new creature in Christ. God has no greater gospel. He has no greater love. He has no greater purpose than to glorify Himself through His servants proclaiming this message to others.
In closing, I would ask if the Lord brings me to your mind to please pray for me and Wes as we travel. Pray for strength to endure the flights. Pray for strength to teach, preach, and evangelize for the week and a half we will be there. Pray for our families while we will be apart. Pray for our local churches while we are away as well. SDG.