Who would teach that the great commission is not for the church? This teaching, though strange and clearly false, is alive and well on mainstream evangelical television programs. To say this teaching hinders evangelism is an understatement. I am sad to say that it has made it’s way into the hearts of some of our beloved family members.
Dispensational error has many faces and it can be difficult to clearly describe the maze of false doctrines contained therein. But today I would like to focus on one … dispensationalism and evangelism. Years ago I was reading a book on doctrine and one of the first things I read was that doctrine determines behavior. So true.
Some, not all, but some dispensationalists have embraced the false doctrine that tells us that the Jewish people do not need to be evangelized because it is not necessary for a Jewish person to believe in Jesus in order to be saved. This obviously cuts at the very heart of evangelism and the true gospel.
But there is also another teaching within dispensationalism called ultradispensationalism and that teaching tells us that the great commission in Matthew chapter 28 is not for the church. Even those who hold dispensational doctrine themselves have come against ultradispensational teaching as did H.A. Ironside …
People who have never investigated Bullingerism (another word for ultradispensationalism) and its kindred systems will hardly believe me when I say that even the great commission upon which the Church has acted for 1900 years, and which is still our authority for world-wide missions, is, according to these teachers, a commission with which we have nothing whatever to do, that has no reference to the Church at all, …
‘Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen’ (Matthew 28: 16-20).
According to the Bullingeristic interpretation of this passage, we should have to paraphrase it somewhat as follows:
‘Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth, and after two entire dispensations have rolled by, I command that the remnant of Israel who shall be living two thousand or more years later, shall go out and teach the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them in that day to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, but from which I absolve all believers between the present hour and that coming age, and lo, I will be with that remnant until the close of Daniel’s seventieth week.”
Can anything be more absurd, more grotesque-and I might add, more wicked-than thus to twist and misuse the words of our Lord Jesus Christ?
In view of all this, may I direct my reader’s careful attention to the solemn statement of the apostle Paul, which is found in I Timothy, chapter 6. After having given a great many practical exhortations to Timothy as to the instruction he was to give to the churches for their guidance during all the present age, the apostle says,
“If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ’ and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Tim. 6:3-5).
So here where we read that our Lord said, ‘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’ (Mark 16: 15,16), which would seem to indicate world-wide evangelism, looking out to the proclamation of the glad glorious Gospel of God to lost men everywhere, this commission must nevertheless be gotten rid of somehow.
Doctrine determines behavior. False doctrine tells us not to evangelize. And this is what we are dealing with in these last days. May the Lord have mercy upon us all.