Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)
Preaching the gospel has always been at the forefront of God’s will. Jesus sent the twelve apostles to spread the message of God’s grace accompanied by the working of miracles. He gave them power and authority over the demon world, exercising dominion over Satan. The working of miracles and healing diseases confirmed the word as from the mouth of God. When the apostles entered a city and began to preach Jesus, crowds would gather and listen intently to the preaching. If necessary, the apostles would heal those who were sick, receiving a similar response when Jesus healed the multitudes. The people recognized that no man but someone from God could do the miracles He did. Likewise, the apostles confirmed the word by miracles that astonished the crowds. Lepers were cleansed, the blind made to see, and the lame were given new life. The apostles could cast out demons from the possessed and raise the dead. These miracles, wonders, and signs were to confirm the word.
Jesus gave the twelve power to perform miracles, but the purpose of their mission was to preach the gospel. A man who was healed of leprosy was not saved from sin; he was saved from a terrible disease. His greatest disease remained. Sin was the need of the hour, and miraculous powers did not save a man. The commission of Jesus was for the apostles to preach God’s word to lost souls so they could be cured of the disease of sin. With all the sicknesses and illnesses the apostles encountered, nothing was as great as the hope found in the word of God. The gospel was the focus, the primary purpose, and the drive of the commission. During the early days of the church, men had the power to perform miracles, signs, and wonders, but it remained the purpose of the church to preach the gospel. Paul would tell the Corinthians that he would rather speak five words of the gospel to teach others than to have 10,000 words in a foreign language. Speaking in tongues may impress someone but preaching the gospel will save them.
The commission of Jesus fundamentally remains the same. Two thousand years have passed since the days of miracles, and no one can heal illnesses, cast out demons, raise the dead, or miraculously speaking a foreign language. When the perfection of the word of God came, those things done in part were done away with. What remains today is the fully revealed word of God that contains all truth. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Revelation, the gospel of Jesus Christ is declared. The church’s commission is as clear today as when Jesus sent out the twelve: preach the gospel. Anything less than the gospel is not the work of the church.
The religious world is enamored with the social gospel trappings seeking to appeal to hearts through excitement, recreation, and popularity. Churches have become social institutions that build Family Life Centers to fill the needs of the world. Worship services are concerts of praise worship that appeal to the carnal hearts of the masses. Services must be fun, exciting, filled with lights, cameras, and lots of action. The veneer of religion is just thick enough to make people feel like they have a relationship with God, but like miracles in the apostles’ days, it will not save the soul. Preaching the gospel is the commission, and anything less will have no lasting value to the soul. It may not be the most popular venue the church offers, but it is the only means where eternity is measured. Healing a blind man brings joy to the eyes. Taking away sin from a darkened heart brings eternal joy. Preach the word.