“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”
Mark 16:15 (ESV)
These words of Jesus provide the church with her mission. Thus, Christians do not have the right to take them or leave them. They are not simply a suggestion. They are not indicating a hobby that Christians should consider pursuing. They are a direct command. And the command is not unclear. No one can say, “I don’t understand what we should be doing.” Proclaim the Gospel. This is the mission of the church and this mission is to be carried out throughout the whole creation. Proclaim the Gospel.
Frequently people don’t like to receive commands, but this is not so in the case of Jesus’ followers. Jesus’ apostles, in the face of persecution, imprisonment and great hardship joyfully proclaimed the Gospel. They knew that “… it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes …” (Rom. 1:16 ESV). They had witnessed Jesus’ death and now understood its significance: By the shedding of His blood He had washed away all sin. They were witnesses of His resurrection and they now understood its significance – because He has risen and lives forever, those who believe in Him will rise from death and live forever. They lived with joy in the knowledge of their salvation and the confidence that their proclamation would save many others. Far from Jesus’ command being a burden to them, the apostle Peter would exclaim, “…we cannot but speak what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20 ESV).
And so it is for you, alumni. Many of you have experienced hardship in your ministry, probably all of you. Many of you have been persecuted or mocked or demeaned because of your proclamation of the Gospel. But you have continued to preach it with joy because you know what God accomplishes through His precious Word. His command to proclaim the Gospel is not a burden to you but a precious privilege! You gave yourself to this ministry of proclamation out of conviction and with joy.
Here at Concordia Seminary, it is our intention to multiply this work that you have been doing, to form pastors, deaconesses, missionaries and teachers who will go out into the church and the world with the same conviction you have and, even more importantly, with the same proclamation: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16 ESV). They, too will willingly and with eagerness embrace the command of Jesus to proclaim the news that forgiveness and eternal life belong to all who believe in Him.
Thank you for your support of the work we do to prepare those who will continue the work you do. We are happy to carry out the command of Jesus and we know that you are happy to support us in carrying out His command.
- Lord, Your words are waters living / When my thirsting spirit pleads.
- Lord, Your words are bread life-giving; / On your words my spirit feeds.
- Lord, Your words will be my light / Through death’s cold and dreary night;
- Yes, they are my sword prevailing / And my cup of joy unfailing!
- (Lutheran Service Book 589, 3)
Dr. Daniel Preus
Interim President, Concordia Seminary