Matthew 28:19–20, Go therefore. What were Yeshua’s final instructions to his disciples before his return to heaven? This portion of Scripture is commonly called, the Great Commission and is found in Matthew 28:19-20. Do we find here any clues to Yeshua’s view toward the Torah as to what his expectations were of his disciples? Here Yeshua instructs his disciples (that includes you and me) to:
Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Set-Apart Spirit: teaching them to observe [keep, preserve, hold fast] all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amein.
It is clear from this text that Yeshua, a Jewish rabbi (Matt 26:25, 49; Mark. 9:5; 10:51; 11:21; 14:45; John 1:38, 49; 3:2, 26, 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8), expected his disciples to follow, teach accurately and spread his teachings (the good news of the kingdom of Elohim) to the world. In the religious culture of first century, Judaism disciples (talmudim) were expected to teach exactly what their Torah teachers had taught them. This is no different in our day when students enroll in a denominational Bible college or seminary, receive ordination and are then sent out into the mission field in the name of that denomination. The students are expected to carry forth the unique teachings and doctrines of that denomination. If they do not, they will either be reprimanded and expected to realign their teachings with the denomination’s official position. If they refuse to do so, that denomination will discharge them from their duties and defrock them.
Likewise, Yeshua expected his disciples to teach the nations to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” In fact, in Acts 1:8 Yeshua said to his disciples that, “You shall be witnesses unto me” to the whole world. This was their mission and assignment. Yeshua, as did all Jews of his era, spoke Hebrew, and maybe even Aramaic. The word for “commanded” (Matt 28:20) as in “whatsoever I have commanded you …” in the Hebrew would be the word tsavah from which the word mitzvah or commandment (as in Torah commandments) derives. If Yeshua were speaking Hebrew, mitzvah or mitzvot (plural)would have been the same word used in Matthew 5:19 where Yeshua says, “whosoever breaks one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven …” (emphasis added). The word mitzvah in Hebraic religious thought is a clear reference to the Torah commandments of YHVH in the books of the Law of Moses. David uses the term mitzvah (in its plural form mitzvot) numerous times in Psalm 119 equating it with the Torah-law of Elohim as given to Moses and the children of Israel. It was these same commandments (mitzvot) that Yeshua stated in the Sermon on the Mount that he told his disciples to “think not” that he had come to destroy,, that he taught would never pass away as long as heaven and earth stood, that he said whoever would break one of the least of them and teach men so would be called least in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever would keep them and teach men so would be called the greatest in the kingdom. It was these same commandments that Yeshua commissioned his disciples to teach and observe, to keep, hold fast and preserve.
Even in his final word to his disciples before his death, Yeshua commanded his disciples to adhere to the Torah and to convey to those who would follow them the same message.
Can there be any doubt as to what Yeshua’s view of the Torah was, and what his expectations were for his disciples in this regard? How is it that the church has diverged so greatly from the fundamental teachings of Yeshua and his disciples when so many teach that he and his disciples came to “do away with the law?” It has been admitted, by even some in the church, that Christianity is not the religion of Jesus or Yeshua, but rather the religion about the Person of Jesus or Yeshua. For Christianity to be fully the religion of Yeshua and his early disciples, it would have to uphold that obedience to the Torah’s standards of righteous living is a requirement of Christians today.
The Great Commission: The ABC’s of Gospel Evangelism
Outline and Study Guide With Practical Suggestions on Witnessing
Motivation to Evangelize the Spiritually Lost
What should be our motivation to evangelize the lost?
- The Word of Elohim commands us to do so. The imperative command of Yeshua in Mark 16:11, “Go ye…!” is not “the great suggestion,” but “the great commission!” To many, it has become “the great omission.”
- Human need demands that we reach out to the lost and hurting around us. Like Yeshua, we must seek to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Like Yeshua, we must meet people at their point of need by finding the need and meeting it with the gospel message, the Word of YHVH and the love of Yeshua.
- Compassion and love for the lost should compel us to share the good news with others.
- We must have love for the lost. Pray to the Father that he give us a supernatural love for the lost as Yeshua did. Love sensitizes us to the needs of others. Love makes you want to give to and bless others. Love makes you forget about yourself and perfect love casts out fear of witnessing or fear of what others think (1 John 4–18).
- We will have an easier time sharing the gospel of Yeshua with others if we still have the joy of our salvation. If we have lost that joy, pray for it to come back as David prayed in Psalm 51:12–13. Perhaps sin, the cares of this life, fear or other things are blocking that joy.
The New Testament Model for Evangelism
A study of the Testimony of Yeshua reveals that the dominant model that Yeshua and the apostles followed when witnessing to unbelievers roughly followed the outline below:
1. Present and exalt the Father/Elohim.
2. Identify sin. Man has broken Elohim’s laws (the Torah) and fallen short of the glory man had with Elohim before he fell into sin.
3. Repentance from breaking Elohim’s laws (the Torah)/rebellion against the commands/Word of Elohim is necessary to be restored into a loving relationship with Elohim, and to have salvation and eternal life/to enter into the kingdom of Elohim.
4. Salvation/redemption from sin’s death penalty is only available through Yeshua the Messiah.
Helpful Pointers on Being an Effective Gospel Witness
- Live it; tell it. Obey the Bible, and be willing to share your personal testimony of how following the Word of Elohim has blessed you. You may not be a biblical scholar, but you have a testimony of what YHVH has done in your life, so share it. People can argue theology, doctrine or the Bible all day long, but no one can argue with your personal testimony.
- YHVH isn’t looking for capability; he’s looking for availability. You may not think that you’re capable of witnessing. That’s okay. Just do it in faith, and YHVH’s Spirit will give you the words to say to others. The more you do it, the bolder and more capable you will become.
- You need the baptism of the Spirit of Elohim for divine empowerment to witness. This follows Yeshua’s instructions to his disciples in Acts 1:4–8 resulting in empowerment on the day of Pentecost with 3000 people being baptized.
- Meet people at their point of need. When you do this, you open the door either to share the gospel with them, or at least to plant a spiritual seed. If they’re hungry, feed them. Naked, cloth them. Sick, heal them.
- Be a spiritual seed planter—a spiritual Johnny Appleseed. Everywhere you go, plant seeds. Leave it up to YHVH to water the seed and to bring someone else to harvest the fruit.
- Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with others. Pray that the Spirit will order your steps (Ps 37:4–5,7,23–24) and bring divine appointments to you. Then be on the look out for those everyday opportunities as Yeshua did when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:15–16) to witness to others. Be opportunistic. Don’t just wait for opportunities to smack you in the face. When being a fisher of men, don’t wait for the fish to come to you; go to the fish. We’re commanded to go into the world, not the world come to us (Mark 16:15). Meet your neighbors. Get involved in community activities. Look for opportunities to minister to people wherever you go.
- When being a sower of seed, don’t wait until you find the perfect ground in which to sow the seed. Scatter it far and wide. The problem isn’t that there is a lack of good ground to sow the seed into, but that the seed never gets out of the barn!
- When witnessing, don’t share too much too quickly. Don’t choke someone on the meat of the Word when they can only handle the milk of the Word (1 Cor 3:1–2). Give a person only what they’re ready for. Listen intently to their heart and need, then try to say the right words that will meet that need, and say little more. Meet those needs with the message of the gospel. Don’t feel compelled to give them the whole Bible message. Salt their oats, leave them with some unanswered questions so they’ll want to come back for more.
- Find areas of common interest with others and on that basis build a common rapport with them, and then use that as a springboard to build a relationships so that you can witness to them. Yeshua did this when talking to the woman at the well in John 4. They both were thirsty for water.
- Share the gospel message with passion and conviction. View yourself as a spiritual salesman. Be earnest and believable. Don’t pretend to have all the answers, but you know who does! Be yourself. Be real. When witnessing, don’t try to be someone else.
- Be careful about using Christian or biblical lingo that may cause a language barrier that the unsaved may not understand. Define your terms.
- Slow down. Stop and talk to people. Get to know them. Look for opportunities to plant spiritual seeds. Steer the conversation toward spiritual issues. Troll for the fish, bait the hook carefully and when they bite begin to reel in the fish.
- Develop the habit of conversing with strangers and casual acquaintances about the Bible and Yeshua. This make you feel comfortable discussing biblical things with people you don’t know well. Use them as a practice for developing your own natural style. This will prepare you for witnessing to total strangers when the opportunities come along.
Practical Things You Can Do to Share the Gospel With Others
- Place bumper stickers or vanity plates on your vehicle that have Scripture verses on them.
- On your telephone answering machine or voice mail, greet everyone with a quick gospel-related Bible.
- Carry gospel tracts with you and look for opportunities to distribute them. Place them in fun and exciting conspicuous and inconspicuous places in rest rooms, the grocery store, the library, bus stops, rest areas, or restaurants. Place your phone number on the back of the tract. Prepare for action!
- Remember that your actions speak louder than your words. Your life may be the only Bible that some people read! So be careful what you do/how you act. Be a good witness to your neighbors.
- Wear biblical apparel such as t-shirts with provocative and challenging Bible messages printed on them.
- Email tag lines with Bible verses on them.
- Print scriptures verses on your checks, and hand out business or name cards with Scriptures on them.
- Send a letter to a lost friend with the purpose of sharing your testimony and/or the gospel, or invite a lost friend to Shabbat services.
- Take time to call a lost friend, give them words of encouragement, invite them to church, and take time to witness to them. Give them a devotional book or a Bible as a gift. Mark the Bible with the plan of salvation.
- Put a gospel tract in the drive-thru bank tellers drawer, or in the window of the next fast food restaurant you visit, or give a tract with the money you give to a store clerk.
Other Ways to Support Evangelistic Efforts
- Intercession for the lost. Give prayer support to those who are actively evangelizing (Ezek 22:30).
- Giving financially to support those who are actively evangelizing.
- Sharing with those who are actively evangelizing. Support them in any way possible.