And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. (Mark 16:15-20)
Jesus And The New Testament Church
Following His resurrection from the dead, Jesus spent forty days with the eleven and His disciples teaching them the things pertaining the kingdom of God. The church would be established on the Day of Pentecost and from there the message of salvation would spread to every corner of the globe. Twelve men would take the lead in establishing the church. Many disciples would be involved in the formation, planning and execution of the early church in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and uttermost parts of the world. Peter would be instrumental in teaching many of the first Christians. Paul the former persecutor of the Way would give his life in service to the Lord spreading the gospel throughout the Roman Empire establishing churches wherever he went. People like Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy, Titus, Epaphras, Barnabas, Luke, Andronicus and Junia and thousands of unnamed souls would take up the banner of truth and share the good news of Jesus Christ in a world of darkness. The mission of every Christian was based on the commission of the Lord before He ascended to the Father when He told the eleven the simple plan of the church. From its beginning the church was on the move. Jesus told the eleven to go into all the world and that is what they did. Beginning in Jerusalem, they began fanning out into the nearby lands of Judea and Samaria. After some time the gospel spread further until a day came when there were saints of God in Caesar’s household. Paul had a desire to go to Spain and preach the gospel and it is unlikely he was ever permitted by the Holy Spirit to go but that is how far reaching the early disciples spread the grace of God. As the early disciples went from place to place they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Jews were the first recipients but then men like Cornelius were converted and the gospel spread to all men as far away as Ethiopia. There was no respecting of persons to receive the saving grace of God because Jesus died for all men from all walks of life, in every nation and from every tongue. Color of skin was not a factor, education, wealth, age or gender was not considered. Preaching the kingdom of God was taken to everyone.
What makes the New Testament church unique is the message of its followers. Jesus told the eleven to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature. They did this with great vigor. What made their message different than what most people hear today is the instructions of Jesus concerning the means of salvation. Speaking for the Father and with all authority, the Son of God told the eleven preaching the gospel of Christ is contained within the command of God’s will. When a person believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ and when they are baptized into water they will receive the remission of sins. This is a very plain formula, teaching, instruction and pattern to show when a person becomes a Christian. Salvation comes after baptism; not before. Baptism is a result of believing the gospel preached to every creature in all the world. No one in the New Testament church became a Christian by accepting Christ as their personal Savior. There is not one single example of any man or woman obeying the gospel by faith alone. The reason is because this was not the will of the Father. Jesus tells the eleven salvation occurs when a man believes the gospel and is baptized. If a man hears the teaching of the apostles and does not believe in the hope of salvation in Christ, they will have no desire to be baptized for the remission of their sins and will be eternally lost. Why? Because they do not believe. Baptism comes from a heart that believes in the will of the Father. Without exception, every example of conversion in the early church was consummated in the waters of baptism when the sins of the individuals were washed away by the blood of Jesus. This is what Jesus taught the eleven to share with the world.
The final exhortation of Jesus to the eleven is the proof what they were teaching for the first time to humanity was blessed by the authority of Jesus Christ. Signs would follow these men as they took the gospel to all the world. There would be many things the early disciples would witness at the hands of the apostles and others as miracles confirmed the word. Casting out demons, speaking in languages without having to learn the speech, taking up serpents like what happened to Paul in Malta and showing the power of God through signs, wonders and miracles would confirm the word of truth as from the Father. Jesus would prove He was the Son of God by signs and miracles. Now the world would see that same power confirm the word of these men as the early church began. After Jesus was taken to His Father, the eleven went out and did exactly what the Lord had commanded them to do: they went everywhere preaching the word. They taught the resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the means of immersion in water the blood of God’s Son would take away their sins. The Lord worked through them confirming what they taught as the only truth through the accompanying signs. And the church spread throughout all the world. Jesus instructed the eleven of the nature of the early church and upon that promise men today find the truth of salvation. The miracles are gone because the word of God is completed and there is no use for miracles. Sins are washed away in the waters of baptism when men believe in the message of Jesus Christ. What Jesus declared two thousand years ago remains true today and all men must follow the pattern of the New Testament church and commission of the Lord to be saved.