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What is The Duty and Responsibility of Christians Toward The Non-Christian?

AND JESUS CAME AND SAID TO THEM, “ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH

HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME. GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS,

BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY

SPIRIT, TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. AND

BEHOLD, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, TO THE END OF THE AGE.” (Matthew 28:18 – 20)

 

Introduction

 

What is the duty and responsibility of Christians toward the non-Christian? While many

Christians seem to be confused as to what they should say to the non-Christian, including Jews,

Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, and those who professed to be agnostic, the answer to

this question – the only answer – is found in scripture. Scripture is our only rule of faith and

practice. Sadly, a sizable number of “professing Christians" are taking their duty or their

responsibility from contemporary culture rather than the Holy Scriptures.

 

In the passage of scripture at the caption, Jesus reveals to His disciples their duty and

responsibility. This duty and this responsibility is the same for Christians today. This passage of

scripture, which is frequently referred to as The Great Commission, tells us clearly what our duty

is. It is important to note what it does not say. It does not say that we are to “join with those who

are non-Christians"; it does not say that we are to become “kindred spirits" with those who are

non-Christians; it does not say that we are to hate those who are non-Christians; rather, in

short, we are to tell them of Jesus who is mighty to save! That necessitates going to them,

including all nations, and preaching and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus

has commanded. Where one is obedient to this command, Jesus told his disciples, "I'm with you

always, even unto the end of the world”. Amen! Jesus told His disciples, including us, that He

has “all power in heaven and in earth". Therefore, clearly implied, is they and we need not fear.

We are to go and tell everyone the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptize them in the

name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Those that the Father has given to

the Son will come and none will be left out.

 

Here we learn that we cannot, and must not, attempt to become “kindred spirits" with any

of them, for, as we will see in scripture, the non-Christian is dead in his trespasses and sins. Oh,

they may be alive physically, but spiritually they are dead (Ephesians 2:1-4) Obviously then, in

order to receive anything, they must first be made alive. This sovereign act of creation is a work

of God alone. The Holy Spirit of the Lord God "quickens" those “whom He will"! And the Apostle

Paul tells us in Romans Chapter one in verse 16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for

it is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (or

Gentile) (Romans 1:16) This includes all people. Everyone fits into one of these categories.

Therefore, that is what we are to teach them and trust the Lord God to change their hearts. We

cannot do it! This should be so plain, however it is frequently missed. We cannot “market"

someone into the Kingdom of God. One must be born again, according to the Lord Jesus Christ,

or he will never see the Kingdom of Heaven. This means, at least, that we are not to try to

“understand them" for the Bible tells us their condition. We are not to become “kindred spirits"

with them for light and darkness can have no fellowship period; but it does not mean that we

cannot be kind, considerate, compassionate, and teach them “all things whatsoever Jesus has

commanded us". Indeed, we are to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus has

commanded us. To observe means to hear and do. In other words we are to be doers of God's

Word and not hearers only. A few specific examples from Holy Scripture may aid us in

understanding this great commission.

I . JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL.

 

We know from scripture and from history that at that time the Jews had no dealings with

the Samaritans. As Jesus passed through Samaria, He came to a town called Sychar which

was near the field that Jacob had given to Joseph. Jesus was weary and went to Jacob’s well.

When the Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus asked her to “give me a drink." (verse

7) When the Samaritan woman, knowing that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, asked of

Jesus, “how is it that you, a Jew, asked for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria," Jesus went

to the main point and answered her. Notice that Jesus does not attempt to explain that He had

been traveling all day, or give any other human reason for why He was asking her for water.

Jesus said “if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a drink’, you

would have asked Him and He would have given you living water". Note that Jesus begins the

dialogue actually speaking of Himself. He is Truth. He is the glorious Gospel. He clearly got her

attention and piqued her interest by stating if you knew the gift of God and, in effect, who I am,

you would have asked of me and I would give you ”living water"! Clearly, in her heart she

immediately wanted to know. She even pointed out to Him that He didn't even have a bucket,

that the well was deep, therefore how can He get at that living water? Note Jesus’ dialogue with

her by telling her truth. Everybody that drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but “whoever

drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again". He told her “the water that I will

give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." So Jesus turns the

conversation, while using the means at hand, the well and the water, to spiritual eternal life.

Clearly that made an impact on the woman, for she said, “give me this water so that I will not be

thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

 

From the scripture it appears as if the woman was more interested in the physical aspect

of not having to come draw water again than she was of eternal life, however, having gotten her

attention, Jesus then talked to her about her moral condition, to wit, that she had had five

husbands and “the one she now had was not her husband”. In other words, Jesus was telling

her that she was living in sin, to which the woman said, “sir, I perceive you are a prophet." The

Messiah confronted her and told her that she was worshiping what “she did not know, but we

worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews”. Jesus told her that the “hour is coming,

and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the

Father is seeking such people to worship Him.” He told her that “God is spirit, and those who

worship God, must worship him in spirit and truth." It is clear that now the woman understood

this message, for her next response was, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called

Christ) and when He comes, He will tell us of all things." Jesus, who now had her attention and

knew her heart and her life said to her, “I who speak to you am He." Jesus was presenting the

Gospel of Christ to her. He was the one who had come down from above. He was and is the

Messiah, God become flesh. He was doing His Father's will. The result was that many

Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony and many more

believed because of His Word. They confessed that “we have heard for ourselves and we know

that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

 

Thus, the example that Jesus gives to us in this passage of scripture is to tell people of

Christ, the Messiah, Jesus, the God Man, He who gives living water! The result was that God

granted the increase,the hearts of many were changed, and they believed in the Lord Jesus

Christ, the savior of the world. That is our mission! Notice Jesus did not try to understand the

Samaritans. He did not try to be “kindred spirits” with them. He gave them the message of

Jesus, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. He told them who He was according to scripture,

and what He had done according to scripture, and what He could do for them according to

scripture. He knew they did not know what they were worshiping; He knew that they were dead

in their trespasses and sins; he knew that only God could open their hearts and make them a

new creation. Our conduct, indeed, our absolute duty is the same. We are to make disciples of

all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are to

teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded us. We are to give them

Jesus who is mighty to save. They cannot receive the things of the spirit until they are made

alive for these things are spiritually discerned. Thus, we see Jesus, who gave us The Great

Commission, giving us a real example of how to fulfill this command!

 

Let's look next at the Apostle Paul, who is referred to on many occasions as the Apostle

to the Gentiles; a man who actually persecuted Christians. He killed Christians. He thought he

was doing God a favor by killing them. After the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the

road to Damascus, Jesus Himself taught Paul the Holy Truths which Paul was to teach others.

Let's look at an example of Paul's actions and teachings in a pagan society.

 

II. PAUL IN ATHENS

 

After Paul left Philippi on his second missionary journey, we find in Acts Chapter 17 that

Paul waited for Silas and Timothy to come to Athens after leaving Berea. In Acts Chapter 17,

we’re told that while he was waiting for them at Athens “his spirit was provoked within him as he

saw that the city was full of idols". In other words, Athens was a pagan city. There were some

Jews and devout persons in Athens, but most of the Athenians and the farmers who lived there

spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. Paul knew this. He went to

stand in the middle of the Areopagus and preached. He said “men of Athens, I perceive that in

every way you are religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I

found also an altar with this inscription: ‘to the unknown God’. What therefore you worship as

unknown, this I proclaim to you”.

 

A brief analysis of this passage of scripture shows us that Paul realized and knew that

he was in a city full of idols. He realized that they were nearly all pagans, but he realized that

they were “religious". The entire world is “religious"! They are religious about something. They

are religious about Buddha, about Hinduism, about Islam, about the misconception and

misunderstanding of Judaism. Even atheists are religious. Therefore, Paul seizes the

opportunity and tells those who are gathered in the Areopagus that he sees that they have an

altar “to the unknown God." So Paul seizes that opportunity to tell them of “the God who made

the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, and that he does not live in

temples made by man." (Acts 17:24) Paul continues to tell them the truth of God's Holy

Scripture and Holy Word. Paul told them that God had made from one man every nation of

mankind to live on the face of the earth and had determined and allotted periods and the

boundaries of the dwelling places. The Apostle Paul does not waste time arguing about whether

Adam and Eve were real. He tells the Athenians truth – they are real! Every nation and man and

woman on earth came from them for Eve was the mother of all living. He also tells them that

God set boundaries for their dwelling places. Paul concludes that they should “seek God and

perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him”, although Paul points out, “He is not actually

far from each of us.” (Acts 17:25-27)

 

After telling them that they are “God's offspring”, Paul tells them that they “ought not to

think that God is like gold or silver or stone or an image formed by the art and imagination of

man”. He tells them the reason. In times past, God had overlooked ignorance and then he

makes the startling statement to them, “but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom

he has appointed and that he has given assurance to everyone by raising him from the dead."

(Acts 17:29-31) In other words, Paul does what Jesus did for the woman at the well; he tells

them of Jesus who is mighty to save. He tells them of the resurrection of Christ and that

judgment day is coming! He talks to them of their own immorality and ungodliness and tells

them they need to repent! He tells them to stop worshiping idols and place their trust in Christ

alone for their salvation because judgment day is coming and the only way that they will be

saved is by receiving and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ! This, of course, takes the

sovereign act of God. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed

away, behold all things are becoming new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus gave the same message

to Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Simply put, this is to be our message and our conduct. We are to tell men and women of

Jesus who is mighty to save. There can be no salvation any other way. Jesus said, “I am the

way the truth and the life and no man comes unto the Father but by Me." (John 14:6) We cannot

entertain men and women into the Kingdom of God. We cannot market men and women into the

Kingdom of God. We cannot be kindred spirits with those who are dead in their trespasses and

sins. We must tell them the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ who is mighty to save and is the

power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek or

Gentile. Paul says that his message is, “we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling

block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ

is the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:23-24) What about the Apostle

Peter? What was his message?

 

III. PETERS SERMON AT PENTECOST

 

When the day of Pentecost had come, the Holy Spirit came and all of those who were

together in one place were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the

spirit gave them utterance. There were others there dwelling in Jerusalem; Jews, Parthians,

Medes, residents of Mesopotamia, Pontus and Asia among others, and they heard these men in

their own language and in their own tongues speak of the mighty works of God. While some

were amazed and puzzled, others mocked them and said they are filled with “new wine”.(Acts

2:1-13) Peter, however, lifted up his voice and spoke to them: first he told them they “were not

drunk” and then he said that what was occurring was the fulfillment of the prophecy by the

prophet Joel:

 

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh,

and your son's and your daughter's shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and

your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days

I will pour out my spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above

and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the Sun shall be turned to

darkness and the Moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent

day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be

saved." (Acts 2:17-21)

 

Peter then gives an exposition of these words and tells them, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man

attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in

your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and

foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up,

loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." (Acts 2:22- 24)

Notice that in Peter's exposition and sermon he tells these men the truth. He doesn't

water it down, he doesn't do anything other than tell them the truth! Jesus is God's Holy Word

and he is truth itself. Note first Peter tells them that it was the plan of God to deliver Jesus to

crucifixion. He tells them also that they were the ones that crucified him and killed him by

lawless hands! Then he says God raised him up. He was resurrected. Death could not hold

Him. Peter goes on to tell them in this second Chapter of Acts that everyone should know, the

entire House of Israel, with a certainty, that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, and this

is the same Jesus whom they had crucified. What was the result? Notice that they did not argue

with him. They did not try to kill Him. They did not attempt to silence Him. God caused them to

be “cut to the heart” and they responded with the same question that the Philippian jailer had,

that the woman at the well had, that many of those in Athens had. What shall we do [to be

saved]?​ Peter told them! Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ

for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2: 38) Peter

tells them sound theology when he says, “for the promise is for you and for your children and for

all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." (Acts 2: 39) Peter is telling

them the truth that Jesus had taught him, "all that the Father gives Me will come to Me [Jesus]

and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven,

not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. This is the will of the Father who sent

me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And

this is the will of Him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may

have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:37-41)

 

So when Peter said to those gathered on the day of Pentecost that the promise “is for

you and for your children and all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to

himself," He is telling them that which Jesus had taught him and all of the other disciples.

Peter does not soft peddle the message. He does not omit the fact that God is the author

of salvation. Only those whom the Lord our God calls to himself and gives to the Son, the Lord

Jesus Christ, will be saved. Even those who killed the Lord Jesus can be forgiven when the

Lord our God calls them to Himself!

 

When the true gospel is preached, we see that there is a call to “save yourself from this

crooked generation" and the results were that “so those who received his word were baptized,

and there were added that day about 3000 souls." (Acts 2:40 – 41) This is the work of God

alone! It is also important to note what they did after they became believers. They “devoted

themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.

And we see that the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”. (Acts

2:42 and Acts 2:47) Thus, we see that both Paul and Peter were obeying and fulfilling the great

commission given by Jesus.

 

IV. FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The Apostle Paul in writing to his young protégé Timothy in the very first chapter of his

first epistle to Timothy, tells Timothy that “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,

that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

There is no other means to save sinners. Jesus alone saves sinners. “There is no other name

under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ( Acts 4:12) Thus, the Holy

Scripture, which is our only rule of faith and practice, makes it clear how we are to treat, and

what is our duty toward the non-Christian. We are called to fulfill the great commission. We

should tell them of Jesus who is mighty to save. We should call them to repentance from their

sin for God has set judgment day which is coming. We should tell them that Jesus is the savior

of the world, telling them the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, trusting in God alone to cause

them to be born-again, for all that the Father has given to the Son shall come, but He has

designated the manner in which they shall come. He has also designated the way in which they

shall come which is by Grace alone which comes from God, through faith alone which also

comes from God, in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. There is no other way. The non-Christian, the

pagan, the atheist, cannot be marketed, cannot be manipulated, and cannot be brought into the

Kingdom of God by anything that is man's doing. Becoming a kindred spirit with an unbeliever;

trying to understand a pagan; trying to market a Jew or a Gentile into the Kingdom of God

cannot occur! The glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, Christ crucified, is a stumbling block to the

Jew and foolishness to the Gentile. Only the Lord God can cause one to be born-again. Listen

to what Paul says in the 4th Chapter of Ephesians beginning with the 17th verse, “now this I say

and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their

minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the

ignorance that is in them, due to the hardness of their heart. They have become callous and

have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of sin." (Ephesians

4:17-19)

 

Therefore, we are not to try to use the tactics of a Gentile. We are not to walk as the

Gentiles walk because they are walking in the futility of their own minds. Their understanding is

darkened and they are alienated from the life of God because of the blindness of their heart.

They are ignorant of the things of God and cannot receive the things of God for they are at

enmity with God. Their heart is hard. They need a new heart and only God can give them a new

heart. They have given themselves over to sensuality and they are greedy to practice every kind

of impurity. They need to be born-again according to the Lord Jesus Christ, who says that they

can never see the Kingdom of God unless they are born-again. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ

causes them to be born-again. And only those whom the Father has given to the Son will be

born-again! This is a message that cannot be argued with; it is simply the truth, and it tells us

how to pray and how to fulfill the great commission. It is my prayer that we will all be humble,

bold, and diligent to fulfill The Great Commission.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that

great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect

and every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight

through Jesus Christ our Lord to whom the glory for ever and ever amen!