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The Truncated Gospel

The gospel of our Lord is a message of salvation but is it limited to salvation from an eternity in Hell? Is there no aspect of salvation in this life as well as in eternity? Yes, there is the peace of God which passes understanding and keeps the hearts and minds of believers (Phil 4:7) but what about the world at large? Has it been left to the Devil and his angels? Is there no salvation for the rest of the world? Will the Christian faith be limited to a small remnant and the great majority of the world’s population be destined to hell fire?

Back at the beginning of history God separated the world into two populations, believers and unbelievers, the seed of the woman (Christ and all true Christians) and the seed of the serpent (all unbelievers) (Gen. 3:15). He said there that the woman’s seed would crush the serpent’s head. Christians will overcome unbelief in this world. They will crush every form of unbelief, not by physical conquest but by the gospel. The day will come when all unbelievers will either have been converted or have died off; the serpent’s head will have been crushed and the world will be a Christian world.

Jesus confirmed this intent when he gave the Great Commission to His disciples and to all Christians (the seed of the Woman). He told them that He had all authority over heaven and earth and that they were to put that authority into effect by teaching the nations to obey all His commandments. This has been played down to be no more than a call to preach the gospel but Jesus’ words were, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, … to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 18-20). Jesus first asserted His authority to dictate and govern the nations of the world (see also Psalm 2:6-12). He then directed His disciples to put His authority into effect and instruct the nations so as to bring them into full obedience to His commands. This is nothing less than a command to make this world a Christian world.

The gospel message is central to this effort but is not the entirety of it. It is much more and goes far beyond the preaching of the gospel. It is a task that requires the efforts of all Christians, not just pastors and missionaries. Obedience to Jesus’ commandments cannot be realized without major cultural changes, changes affecting every aspect of life of all the peoples of the world. This Great Commission needs to be seen as a life mission that Jesus gave to all His followers. It should be the heart felt desire, the overriding priority, in the life of every true believer. It should be seen as more important than even the basic necessities of life (Matt. 6:33).

Sadly, this message has not been propagated through the churches. The Commission has been truncated, reduced from actually converting to just preaching, and generally limited to the work of the clergy. The work of the churches in teaching Christians their responsibilities as individuals and families has been of great benefit but the full exposition of Jesus’ commission is essential to the fulfillment of God’s plan for history. The Serpent’s head will not be crushed and the world will not be converted to Christ until Christians come to understand and then take up their responsibilities in the Great Commission.