I first wrote this post for a christian articles thing I was doing with two others in Mandurah, but it is good for me to revisit this now. If it were not obvious, I have quite an interest in mission and I can personally see my life heading down that path; sitting in Cambodia and rewriting this now, I feel it is more and more likely I will end here sometime in the future for the long term. But whether you are called to mission or not, my intention is for this post to be relevant to us all, whether we are called abroad or not.
If I were to subtitle this post, I would use “the status of the Great Commission”. This commission, which we should all know well, can be found in Matthew 28:18-20:
“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.””
First we have the qualifier: “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me”. Because Jesus has justified Himself with the qualifier and because all authority is His, He gives the command: “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.” Third and finally, we have the promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The reality is, we are faced with a task that is unfinished. If it were not, Jesus would have returned already. Matthew 24:14 tells us that “… this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The scope of the task ahead of us is massive and the needs of the nations are many, not only abroad but also here at home.
There are an estimated 2 – 3 billion people living today who are considered to be unreached. That means they have no access to a Christian, no access to a local church, bible or resources and have likely never heard the name of Jesus even once. The Christian population of such a group is <2% and not large enough to effectively evangelise their ethnic group. This and other statistics have kept me up at night and is the driving force for what propels me forward to nations elsewhere.
That ‘unreached’ number doesn’t even account for the 3 billion or so individuals who have access to a Christian, a church and the bible in their language, nor does it account for our next door neighbours, family and friends; the people who just don’t believe, although they have heard.
Whether we are here or abroad, whether we are called to stay or to go; as children of God, under the power of the Holy Spirit and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb we are all called to the same commission. It wasn’t just for the apostles, it wasn’t just for Paul – it is for us all. We are all given the same task and that task is to share the gospel with a world who needs it, discipling, baptising and teaching to obey all that Christ has commanded.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
~ Romans 1:16
This good news, the truth about Christ and what it is He has done through the cross and through His resurrection is the power of God for salvation. General revelation of deity is not enough and in fact Romans 1 tells us it only serves to condemn. There is a need for the specific truth that we profess with our lives and with our tongues. People need to hear a truth that neither the Himalayas of Nepal, nor the Amazon Forest nor the Swiss Alps can attest to – that Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
~ Romans 10:14-15
To make use of the words of David Platt, “every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell”. The eternal destinies of 5 billion people are at stake, people whom God loves just as much as you and me and people whom Jesus died for and people to whom Jesus is sending us as a testimony to His name. Remember our qualifier and our command? “All authority is given to me; therefore, go!”
My question for us all is this: how are we going to respond to the commission of our heavenly King?
I believe its simple: whether here in Australia or abroad elsewhere, share the gospel, the good news about what Jesus has done for us and for all of humanity.
In the Spirit, God Himself in us, we find the promise of Jesus; “I will be with you always, to the very end of the age”. The truth is, we have all we need to finish the mission. I genuinely believe that we could see the Great Commission completed in our lifetime, with the gospel known in every ethnic group, and the image of Revelation 7:9 ever before us: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne of the Lamb.”
Sure, we may be scared. Sure, we may be nervous. Sure, we may not have the words to say or the courage to say them. But we can be sure of this, church. I don’t believe we were given the Holy Spirit to sit idly by while countless untold billions of people drift into the darkness of eternity. The Holy Spirit grants us words when we’re lacking, courage when we’re fearful and enables us to live as ambassadors to the name of Christ and the household of God while we walk this earth. If the mission is to be finished, it will require the Spirit-led disciples of Christ stepping out of our comfort zones and speaking up for the sake of this world.