A Practice Run for the Great Commission :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Matthew 10:1-5, Mark 6:7-13, 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Summary: Jesus sent His apostles to the local towns and areas to proclaim the Gospel message, heal the sick, and cast out demons. They put what they had been taught by Him into action. We need to do the same if we’re serious about our faith.

As we continue our journey through Mark’s gospel, we come to an episode that could be described as a “trial run” of what the apostles and those after them will be doing in fulfilling Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to every living creature (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8-11). Jesus has spent valuable time and effort to train these roughhewn fishermen and manual laborers to be the forthcoming leaders and teachers of what will become the church. The church was born on the Day of Pentecost (Acts Chapter 2) and will spread around the world and imbed itself in the annals of civilization as well as eternity (Matthew 16:18).

Now the apostles will put what they have learned into practice, but their beginning missionary journey will be limited to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The chosen people of God need to hear the Good News of the grace and mercy of God He gave in the Scriptures and to receive the blessings He promised to them. The Gospel was to be given to the Jewish people first (Romans1:16-18) and then to the remainder of the world. The Lord Jesus told the woman at the well that salvation was of the Jews (John 4:22), and they had the right to hear it first.

As Jesus gives them their assignments and responsibilities, we obtain principles of the method of authentic, Christ-centered evangelism that seems to be missing today and needs to be reinstated if the last days church is to fulfill its assignment of telling others about the Lord Jesus and His power to redeem us from our sins.

These principles are:

1) Synergy– defined as “the principle of working together to produce an effect greater than the sum of individual efforts.” This simply means that two or more people working together for the same cause can do more than one person working alone. How is this relevant to evangelism? The Scriptures say that Jesus sent out His disciples in pairs of two to help and encourage one another. The Scriptures teach that two witnesses are more credible than one person (Deuteronomy 17:6). Teams of Christian workers can reach more people and cover more territory for the Lord’s cause. It’s a product of God-given common sense as well as His grace.

2) Support – The apostles were to depend upon one another as well as those who would provide for them while they were traveling around the region with the Gospel message. This practice was also supported by Paul when he was on the road with his ministry colleagues (1 Corinthians 9:4-14). The elders of the churches were to give hospitality to traveling missionaries and were being encouraged by the aged John in one of his final letters to fellow believers (1 Timothy 5:17-18; 3 John 1:5-8).

This type of hospitality and support for Christian workers is in effect today, with pastors being compensated for their work as they teach and preach the Word, but it is never to be seen or used as a means to gain wealth. Churches also provide support for local and international missions to spread the Gospel and care for those who are on the field.

3) Selection – Go where the people are, and stay there if they are willing to listen. However, if a city or town would not receive either the apostles or the Gospel message, they were to leave that area and “shake the dust of that place from off of their feet” (6:11). Do not cast the pearls of salvation before swine, who will trample the message of Christ under their feet (Matthew 7:6).

You will come across people to whom witnessing to them is a waste of time and effort. Excuse yourself and leave them to God, who will convict them at the Last Judgment if they do not repent beforehand. Paul did the same thing, preaching to anyone who was interested, curious, or willing to hear him out (Acts 13:42-44, 17:22-34), but he left when rejected (13:45-46). We are to tell people the Gospel message and leave the results to the work of the Holy Spirit. God is not helpless and can transform hearts at His discretion and for His glory when the seed is planted (Romans 10:14-15).

4) Subject – The apostles were given the foundational message for all people who heard the Gospel to repent (6:12) and receive the message of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 10:7). This message was not complicated. The main topic of any witnessing venture is to present the truth of the Word (Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-5).

We are to avoid trivial topics and unnecessary arguments over man’s ideas or anything that takes out focus off the Gospel. In the pulpits of America and the world, true preachers of God’s Word are to teach the Scriptures to their congregations through exposition; that is, going through books of the Bible as the Spirit directs them so that the people know and practice the teachings and keep themselves protected from both deceiving spirits and false teachers. Paul stuck to the Scriptures and preached nothing but “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). We are to do the same and not get sidetracked with worldly issues and meaningless subjects.

These principles worked then and work now; they do not need to be set aside for the newest trend or cause that has no bearing on the Gospel message. No pastor or church needs to concern itself with contemporary worldly issues and organizations that demand rights and laws but refuse to bow before the King of Kings and submit to His will and a transformed life on His terms. No church, agency, mission board, Christian school or college, nor any man called to preach the Word without apology or compromise should ever bow and submit to anyone but the Father, the Sovereign LORD God of Creation, in the name of the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Never settle for anything less, and keep focused on Him, no matter where He plants you or how He uses you.

If you have come across this message and others and you know you are not right with God, I ask you this day to surrender your life to Jesus, ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to save you, and to obey Him from this day on. This offer has been good since 33 A.D., but time is running out. Don’t put it off.



Join me for “The Reality City Daily Review” weekday mornings at 10:00 CST on YouTube (USA). It will then be posted on Facebook and on my website. My main area of discussion will be on the basics of the Christian faith but will also deal with prophetic issues and other topics as the Lord impresses upon me to handle.