Home > Brandenburg, Evangelism > What Part of “Go” Don’t We Understand?

What Part of “Go” Don’t We Understand?

September 3, 2008

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus begins the final words in Matthew’s gospel by reminding the gathering of believers of His authority—all authority (exousia, “power”) in heaven and in earth. That would be all the authority that there is. So when He tells us to do something, there really is no authority for us to veto or debunk what He tells us to do. Why would He need to remind us of how much authority He possessed? We already know it. They already knew it. People would discourage His audience from fulfilling that goal and none of them were higher than Him in authority. When other people said “stop” and when these believers felt like stopping, they should just go ahead despite that opposition. Why? Jesus said so.

After the gigantic reminder of His authority, Jesus says, “Go” in Matthew 28:19. He also said “Go” in Mark 16:15. When you think of 1492, what do you think of? Columbus? Think the number of times that “go” is found in the King James Version. Let me give you a sample of “go.” The first time it appears in the New Testament is Matthew 2:8:

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Do you think that when Herod told men to “go,” that he meant “stay”? Does “go” ever mean, “Take a few steps and stop”? Does it ever mean, “Get up and travel to the front door and no further”? “Go” isn’t a confusing term. And yet, we have made “go” confusing. We have made it mean “lure.” “Lure ye.” “Pull people in” through advertising, marketing, and promotion. “Attract ye.”

Jesus was right in mentioning His authority because men have stopped going. I rarely meet anyone that has had a preacher come to his door and preach the gospel. I have never had one person do that with me. The Jehovah’s Witnesses go. The Mormons go—not nearly as much as the JWs—but they go. True believers have the Holy Spirit. Scripture is the Spirit’s Sword. Scripture says “go.” Do you see people, who have the Holy Spirit indwelling them and controlling them, not going? So what gives? Are they a kind of Spirit-filled non-goers?

If go is simple, Scriptural, and Spirit-filled, then why isn’t it done? What part of “go” don’t we understand? I rarely “feel” like going. I know why I don’t feel like it. I have heard others tell me why they don’t feel like it. Here is what we feel:

1. Going doesn’t work.

2. Going is scary.

3. Going will turn people off.

4. Your people won’t want to go and your church will shrink.

5. Going isn’t the only way to do it.

6. The people you go to don’t like you going to them.

7. There are more successful methods than going.

8. Going is different today than it was in Bible days.

None of the above are Scriptural, except that the Bible rejects them, puts them down, denies them.

I’m going to provide for you a Scriptural excuse for not going. Stay with me. Here goes. “Go” in Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 isn’t a verb. It’s a participle. The verb in Matthew 28:19 is “teach.” The verb in Mark 16:15 is “preach.” The grammatical understanding of “go” in Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 is “while going.” “Go” modifies “teach” and “preach.” So there we go. It doesn’t teach us to go. We’re just supposed to “teach” and “preach.”

The excuse doesn’t work though. Why? “Go” is the assumption of the two verbs. It is assumed by using the participle for “go,” that you can’t teach (make disciples) or preach the gospel without going. Here is how the assumption works. An assembly of believers needs to “go” to preach to unbelievers. The assembly is made up of believers. The assembly is assumed not to be unbelievers. Scripture teaches a regenerate, immersed church membership (Acts 2:41). You aren’t supposed to find unsaved people in the assembly. To get to unbelievers, you will have to leave the midst of the saints and go outside of the group of them to find unbelievers to preach to. “Teach” and “preach” are imperatives. The two participles, both “go,” attached to “teach” and “preach,” therefore, come with the force of a command. It is, like the King James Version translators have translated, as though “go” is a command, even more so.

Messing up on the simple “go” command has caused huge amounts of trouble for the church. Instead of recognizing our difference from the world and preaching the transforming message of the gospel, the churches have put a ton of time and energy into formulating a plan to attract unbelievers. The gospel itself doesn’t jive with this strategy, so it has been one of the casualties of the “invitation” philosophy. On top of this, unbelievers are not attracted by the same things as believers. Churches have morphed to the ways of the world to get people in. They’ve done it so long that they don’t even know they’re doing it anymore.

What damages have been done?

  • Loss of Worship (man’s pleasure elevated above God’s)
  • Loss of a Pure Gospel
  • Epidemic False Professions especially among Young People
  • Lack of Church Discipline
  • Perverted View of the Church
  • Loss of Church Purity
  • Change in Preaching (types of sermons and depth of sermons)
  • Loss of Biblical Ministry
  • Massive Loss of Discernment
  • Weakening of the Faith
  • Wrong View of Sanctification

I could list more. I think it is the single greatest problem in the church today. It is doing the most to destroy the gospel than any other issue in the church today. It is something that today is being done by evangelicals, fundamentalists, conservatives, independents, and denominationalists.  All of this should matter to you.

We have made the Great Commission a Bad Option or a Mediocre Suggestion. That’s not what it is. It is a command and one with all the authority in the universe behind it. You disobey it at your own peril.

Categories: Brandenburg, Evangelism
  1. Mike Marshall
    September 4, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    We “Go” as a church on Thursdays. Last Thursday, I did not want to “Go”. I was just not in the mood. I know, we are supposed to be spiritual all the time right? But I went anyway, because the commandment was not “Go when you feel like it”. I had three of the best calls on door to door visitation I have had in a long time. Usually, we are lucky to catch three people home that will answer the door, but to have three intense conversations in one night, that was something!

  2. September 4, 2008 at 10:15 pm


    Good to hear. I like what you are saying. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Bobby
    September 5, 2008 at 6:24 am

    The problem is not a matter of not understanding. It is a matter of not obeying.

    People don’t “go” because they don’t want to. When they don’t want to they’ll find an excuse.

    I’m glad we GET to go. What a privilege!

    Thanks for the good article.

  4. September 5, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Great article.

    I believe one reason some don’t go is because they have been taught the way to witness is the salesman approach where you get the person to agree to 4 points and pray a prayer and they are not confident in their sales ability.

    It is much easier to go when your confidence is in God and his message rather than your own ability to manipulate someone.

  5. September 5, 2008 at 9:49 am

    How true Pastor. We have made church the first step in the Great Commission instead of the last. We are to Go see them saved and then brought into the church. Instead, we go to get them in church so the preacher can save them. I am all for people getting saved in the church, but that is not the purpose of church. Because of this philosophy, we have geared church for the lost: their music, all ‘feel good’, non offensive preaching, an acceptance of sin, etc. Great Commission takes commitment and work, and that is the root of many of our problems in our churches today..from pastor down.

  6. September 5, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Well put Pastor Burke. Gordy, I agree. Good point. Bobby, I get to go too. When it is love, it isn’t burdensome, I John 5:3.

  7. reglerjoe
    September 12, 2008 at 9:08 pm


    I would be interested in hearing how you present the Gospel in your door-to-door “going”. Do you use a certain method…certain opening/closing statements and verses? Do you prefer a certain Gospel tract? Is most of your evangelism door-to-door or is it more street preaching? Do you teach your people to memorize a soul winning presentation?

  8. September 12, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I use and teach a basic presentation of the gospel that gets right to the point with people, much like I see John the Baptist and others do in the NT. However, we stress spiritual warfare, using more and more of the Bible as we grow in Christ, being able diagnose the particular stronghold in the mind that is pulled down using the spiritual weapon, God’s Word through His Spirit.

    I show how to turn a conversation into evangelism. We use our own tract, which is about 8 small pages. We use some longer tracts. We attempt to get someone involved in our five week evangelistic Bible study. We do both door-to-door and street preaching. We regularly door-to-door, but we also have other types of evangelism occurring, what we call salt-and-light evangelism, so we don’t neglect those in our extended church family—relatives, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

    Since I am equipping saints for the work of the ministry and the ministry in a technical sense is evangelism, I teach them to evangelize by giving them a base presentation that will allow them to preach a complete gospel with all the necessary Scriptural components.

    Thanks for asking, Joe.

    By the way, I have listened to the “soulwinning” explanation of Jack Hyles and Curtis Hutson on tape about 21 years ago. Our approach isn’t like those in a number of different ways. I spent a whole year in our church on Sunday morning preaching great salvation texts of Scripture so that our people would understand the gospel according to the New Testament. That gospel has many differences from the Hyles and Hutson version.

  9. Jack
    September 22, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I just started reading jackhammr after enjoying your personal blog for some time. Thanks for this article. I am looking forwarding to reading the rest of the articles on evangelism. Amen!

  1. October 3, 2008 at 10:13 am
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