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Our Lord Jesus Christ divested Himself of all glory and visited the planet earth to undertake a great and serious task assigned Him by the father – John 17. After three and a half years Christ had to leave the earth physically but it was imperative that the work He left behind continues. He therefore commanded His disciples, prior to His crucifixion, to await Him in Galilee where He would meet and commission them after His resurrection.
Although God is able to speak to His people directly and save them, He chose not to continue using that method as time went by and instead raised people through whom His word could reach those He intended to save – Hebrews 1:1-3. In the Old Testament, the Lord called various personalities and sent them to preach the gospel, warning others of judgement due to their rebellion. He called and empowered the likes of the prophet Isaiah, who was fearful and reluctant – Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah, who was young and fearful – Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Ezekiel, who was a priest among the captives in Babylon – Ezekiel 1, to go and warn the people of the impending divine indignation following their obstinacy.
The Lord who sent the prophets of old to preach His word did the same in the New Testament through the person of the Lord Jesus before He left the world to reside in His eternal habitation, that is, heaven from where He will come again to judge the living and the dead using His word. Christ commanded His disciples to go out into all parts of the world and proclaim the gospel so that those whom He had ordained to salvation from the foundation of the world would hear, believe and be saved (Acts 13:48). It was not an easy task for the disciples and so Christ strengthened them through the Holy Spirit who came on the day of Pentecost, not to initiate the preaching of the gospel but to officially declare that the gospel would now go into all parts of the world. This was necessary because the gospel had, initially, been confined to the Mediterranean region – Acts 2.
As the apostles preached the gospel, Jesus encouraged them through miracles such as physical healing which were performed by some of them. Genuine performance of signs and wonders alongside the declaration of the word decreased gradually and it is believed, in conservative Christian circles, to have been taken away when the bible was completed. This is likely to have been the case because God had alluded to the end of signs and wonders even in the Old Testament – Deuteronomy 13:1-5. Our lord Jesus warned in the New Testament that those who were more interested in signs rather than the spiritual implication behind them were damned – Matthew 12:38-40.
The apostle Paul too put it plainly that in order for salvation to come to a people, there must be others sent to preach to them because ‘’faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God’’ – Romans 10:14-17. Once we have heard the gospel and believed on Jesus, we are expected to share it with others – 2 Timothy 4:2. The writer to the Hebrews challenges believers not just to be on the receiving end but to teach the word of God to others so that they too may come to faith in Christ – Hebrews 5:12. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us as true believers to seek opportunities wherever we are, in the church, at home, school or work and share the gospel with all who care to listen.