If every example of preaching in the first century was done in person by mouth to those that could hear, and the direct command was to go and preach, where is your Bible authority to preach on the Internet?
Here is an example of artificially restricting a command. Communicating by writing is a form of going and preaching the Gospel. The apostles used both verbal and written communications to spread the Gospel. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle" (II Thessalonians 2:2). Therefore, to claim that spreading the gospel required a person's physical presence is false. The Internet is merely a modern form of written communication.
OK, to me it's still not the same because the writing was either to brethren or the church at ... or an individual. I understand that in the first century it was expedient to spread and confirm the gospel quickly and it was, for the most part. So why, say for instance, when the apostles went into a city to go preach the word and they were not accepted, they were to "shake the dust off their feet" and go on to another. It would seem expedient to leave behind tablets in public places or writings in the public libraries or signs on walls or along the road just in case any who happened by could read the truth. In all instances of public preaching to alien sinners (as far as I know) it was at a specific location to a specific group of people (those within earshot) and usually addressed to them (on a mountian, in a synagogue, jail, etc.)
Jesus himself had the ability to miraculously send parchments to every house in every city at once if he so chose. But instead, he went. For example, when preaching he healed a man of leprosy and told him to tell no one. Well, the man went and blabbed it all over town and Jesus ended up bypassing preaching to that city at that time. There's no indication that he used any media of that day to preach in his absence. To me, the command go and preach means go! Now go on a donkey, camel, wagon, car, 747 jetliners, whatever you choose, but you physically go.
If the command "go" can be used loosely, then do I still have to physically go down into the watery grave of baptism? I am not saying in all of this that I am right and you are wrong. I am simply trying to find the truth. Do I have to go to the assembly of the saints? If I build a small robot on wheels and program it with my voice to preach and put every address in my town in it and send it out, maybe even with a camera in it so I can see through it. Say in three months it makes the rounds, then I croak. Upon answering to God I say "Lord, Lord look at this wonderful thing I did in your name. I went to every household preaching your word". I imagine he would say. " YOU" did nothing! a machine did it for you! What part of go did you not understand?"
Furthermore, let's ask Stephen here if he understood go wrongly and was stoned for naught. Let us ask Paul why he was beaten so much for being there in-person professing with his mouth? Will all the saints that were martyred for going and preaching the word marvel at our safer method of going?
My friend I hope I am wrong but seems to me that the only mass preaching done in the first century was in person (excluding letters to the saints or churches). I so appreciate your time and look forward to your response.
God has consistently said not to change His Word -- not adding new things to it or taking away what He allows.
Matthew's gospel was written to convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. Mark's gospel was written to the Romans to convince them that Jesus was the Son of God. Luke, though written to Theophilus, was written with a Greek audience in mind. Acts follows up with the early history of the church and shows examples of how people became Christians. Even though each book has a target audience, it is known that the books were to be circulated because the information contained in them was for more than just those addressed. The idea that the message of the New Testament was only written to Christians is false because it is this same set of books that tell us to teach the non-believer. "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). Just as the apostles taught both in-person and through their writings, it is no different today.
According to your claims, it would be wrong for a preacher to write articles for bulletins and magazines or produce tracts to be distributed. You act as if those who write do nothing else. Every preacher I know, including myself, uses a variety of methods to reach the lost. Some of my contacts come from a person initially reading something I wrote and then contacting me for more explanation. Teaching through writing is not used exclusively. Nor is the teaching on the Internet solely addressed to non-Christians.
You are incorrect in stating that all conversion only began with someone preaching. The Ethiopian Eunuch's first exposure to the gospel was reading a prophecy of the Messiah recorded in Isaiah. It was from his interest in that account that led him to talk with Philip about Jesus. For that matter, Cornelius was already a follower of God prior to Peter teaching him the gospel. It would be reasonable to say that he knew about God from what was written.
In making your arguments, you mix events that occurred while Jesus was on the earth and before the gospel was recorded in written form at his direction with the events that happened afterward. Arguments about what Jesus could have done in your view do not constitute proof that Jesus did not want other things done. That Jesus told a man not to tell about his miraculous cure does not mean Jesus did not want him to write. Your imagination at what Jesus would say to the teaching of the gospel by some means is also not an argument. Your imagination is not evidence that something is approved or not approved.
Your own ending defeats your own arguments. You admit that the writing was used as a way of communicating the gospel. You want to dismiss it, but it remains there. Since it is just one means of making people aware of the gospel, the claim that it is safer because it removes all direct contact is false. Therefore, yes, you are wrong.
"For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end" (II Corinthians 1:13).
"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe" (Philippians 3:1).
"And these things we write to you that your joy may be full" (I John 1:4).
"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin" (I John 2:1).
Even the early church used writings to reach people they could not reach in person: "They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law" --to whom we gave no such commandment ..." (Acts 15:23-24).
Thanks for taking the time to read what I wanted to discuss in this matter. Through this, I realize my confusion on the matter, and I have a better understanding now. I don't know why the matter came into my head as it did, but I felt like I needed to discuss it. I was up till 2 am this morning reading Scriptures and just wasn't piecing it together right. Now I feel somewhat silly.