The Commission


Elder Mark Green

“I. N. Penick, from his debate with Elder C. H. Cayce in 1907”

Penick: “He (Elder Cayce) replies, as I understand him, that we are not under the commission; if at all, not in the sense the apostles were. So you are trying to do business in this world with the Lord not giving you any orders at all. Now that is consistency. Where is the man going to for his authority? Where is he getting any authority to preach, or to baptize?”

This is an old argument against the position that Primitive Baptists have held regarding the commission recorded in Matthew Chapter 28 and Mark Chapter 16. Our position has been that this commission was given to the apostles and was fulfilled by them, and that it was not given to the church. as the Missionaries maintain. Our opponents have maintained that if the commission was not given to the church, then we have no authority for what we do: but that is far from being the truth.

The Great Commission is not the only command in the Bible that was given to preachers relative to the gospel. "Preach the word," the apostle Paul commanded Timothy. Here is full authority for every gospel preacher to preach whatever is commanded in the Bible, now and for as long as the world shall stand. Preach it - affirm it, contend for it, proclaim it as the truth to the waiting congregation.

Paul gave that instruction to a gospel preacher, and it is incumbent upon all gospel preachers today.

"And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tm. 2.2). What are gospel ministers to teach and preach? the same things that Paul taught Timothy. That is the only thing that ministers are authorized to teach. We do not get our authority to preach directly from Christ personally, as did the apostles. We do not get the subject matter of our preaching directly from Christ personally. Both the truth we preach and our authority to preach it have been passed down through the generations of the church. In the Great Commission, Jesus gave a personal command to particular individuals: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Jesus taught the Eleven, and commanded them to teach what He had taught them - personally, face to face. What He taught them is the only thing we have authority to teach. Some man might rise up saying that Jesus appeared to him personally and taught him all sorts of new things. but no man today has the authority to say that. We have no commission to preach what Jesus supposedly taught us, but only what He taught the apostles. Then, we are to commit "the same" truths to younger men so that those truths may be taught in future generations. Furthermore, we have no authority whatsoever to vary from those teachings.

With regard to the ordinances, the church was in an infantile state when the Lord gave them to the apostles. Not one verse of the New Testament had been written at that time. No gospel preacher in those days had a New Testament from which he could preach. Even the office of deacon had not yet been instituted. God committed the ordinances to the apostles, and then they, in turn, delivered them to the church to be kept by the church as long as time shall last. - Keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you,- Brother Paul commanded the Corinthians.

Now the apostles are gone, and the ordinances are in our care and keeping, to be maintained in a pure condition until the Lord returns. At the time the Lord initially gave them, however, the church was not yet full-grown, nor in a position to assume that great responsibility; so the Lord wisely gave the ordinances, which were to be for us, into the personal supervision of the apostles, to be delivered in time to the church when she was prepared and fitted to fulfill that duty.

Courtesy “The Primitive Baptist, Christian Pathway, and Gospel Appeal"   May 2019