A Message to the World Congress on Evangelism by a chaplain to the Queen of England

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Luke’s account of the Great Commission (24:44–49) differs from those of John and Matthew by appearing to be a general summary of the teaching rather than a particular utterance by Christ. John records what the risen Lord said during his first appearance to the Twelve on Easter Day itself. Matthew records his words on a later occasion when he met his disciples on a Galilean mountainside. That Luke summarizes what Jesus said on the overall subject is apparent; these six verses represent the sum of Christ’s teaching between the day of his resurrection (24:36–43) and the day of his ascension (vv. 50–53). If we had only Luke’s Gospel, we might get the impression that Luke thought the ascension followed the resurrection almost at once. But since he says in Acts 1:3 that forty days elapsed between the two events, we must conclude that he deliberately gives only a brief digest of the Risen Lord’s teaching about the Church’s worldwide mission.

In the account in Luke’s Gospel, the verb in verse 47 points to the nature of the Great Commission. This verb, translated “preached” in most versions, is in fact the Greek word kēruchthēnai, “to be heralded.” It stands first in the Greek sentence, and so receives the chief emphasis. Christ’s will and purpose are “that there should be preached” a certain message throughout the world. He made his Church the herald of his Gospel, to publish it abroad to the ends of the earth.

The commission of the Church, therefore, is not to reform society but to preach the Gospel. Certainly, Christ’s disciples who have embraced the Gospel and are being transformed by it are intended to be the salt of the earth and ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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