“Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.”
The Messiah, God’s Love, and Redemption
These are three common threads in the overarching narrative of the scriptures. They’re clear throughout the law, songs, prophecies of the Old Testament, as well as each letter from the Apostles in the New.
There is a 4th that is not called out by name in our sacred text, but it’s just as prominent as those three. In fact, it is the combination of those three into a singular, life-giving, culture-transforming, God-glorifying action: Missions.
“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” Psalm 86:9
Who do we Reach?
The Genesis-to-Revelation thread of missions in the Bible is a reflection of God’s loving character to see “all peoples” (the greek “panta ta ethne” – from which we derive the word “ethnicity”) come to know him as Lord and Savior.
It begins with a promise to Abraham to bless all nations through his seed, and ends in Revelation. There in John’s vision of the throne room, we see those from “every nation, and all tribes, peoples, and languages.”
Not a few tribes.
Not some languages.
It’s those from “every” and “all.”
The question of, “To whom do we go to share the Gospel?” is somewhat easy. Reaching them, understanding them, and sharing the Gospel is often not.
Displaced Peoples and the Opportunity to Reach Them
Worldwide, there are 11,000+ people groups with distinctive cultures, religions, worldviews, and languages and 7,000 are still unreached with the Gospel. The rapid movement of peoples away from their home culture due to job opportunity in cities, poverty, war, immigration, and persecution complicates the geo-political landscape.
This is why we see 1.3M Chinese in Peru, just around the corner the Smiths and Christo El Salvador in Jicamarca. Or the largest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia just 2 hours to the north in D.C. We must pay attention to this! The trend of dispersed peoples is only growing. When you factor in modern technology and transportation, hard-to-access peoples may now be easier to reach than at any point in history.
Who should go?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
Just before Christ’s ascension into heaven, we see a commissioning for the apostles to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) With the power from the Spirit and authority from the Messiah, the day was drawing near where they would carry out the plan to reach Jew and Gentile with the Gospel.
God Spreads His Church Through Persecution
At Pentecost, we see this play out as some 3,000 Jews were saved and the church was born! Incredible! Yet, something as incredible – and eye opening – happens just a few chapters later after the stoning of Stephen. Don’t miss it.
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria…those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” Acts 8:1, 4
Though the chapter and verse numbers weren’t there in the original letters, there’s a beautiful bridge between Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1. Did you see it? Through persecution, the Lord intentionally scatters the church. Not the apostles – Followers. Jerusalem church members. And as they were scattered they euangelizō…they evangelized.
You are the Church
In a way, Jerusalem became the first sending church. So the question, “Who is called to fulfill the great commission?” has a simple answer. It’s followers of Christ in the local church. Adults, students, retirees, singles, families, pastors, etc…
We see this throughout the book of Acts:
the Gospel is spread to new areas,
disciples are made,
churches are formed,
leaders are trained,
and believers go out to new areas to continue the work cross-culturally.
The International Mission Board refers to this as the Missionary Task.
Note: It’s not the Missionary’s Task, it’s the Missionary Task of the church.
As local churches raise up missionaries, the IMB facilitates their training, life, and ministry needs by rightly channeling the resources and financial support from the 47,000 cooperating Southern Baptist churches from which those missionaries came.
But, the Great Commission wasn’t given to the IMB, Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, or others. The church has been given this incredible privilege. We have been offered a key role in the redemptive story by laboring to see new people groups come to Christ.
What’s my part?
“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?” Romans 10:14
I’ll leave you with a few questions to see if you’ve been unintentionally outsourcing the Task:
Are you living with Gospel intentionality in your friendships? Are you engaging your neighbors with the Gospel? Are you opening yourself or your home to form relationships?
Does your love for God overflow into regular, biblical generosity in support of missions?
Are you looking for people groups here? Now is not quite the time to go anywhere for a short term trip overseas. Yet, there are over 6,000 Hindi right here in Richmond. They’re at your grocery stores and your kids’ soccer games. Are you saying hello? Are you learning their customs, worldview, and religion (See Paul in Athens) as to better share and not offend?
Are you studying the scriptures to be able to share the Gospel rightly? Don’t even think about another language just yet…can you accurately tell the good news of Christ to another person in English? Can you answer their questions with clarity, context, and references?
Are you regularly connecting with and praying for a missionary family? Are you praying for their work to be successful? Are you praying for God’s will against the schemes of the enemy?
Who are you discipling? How could you expect to disciple another person across cultures if you aren’t even doing it here?
Are you called and willing to go, but planning as if you’re staying?
This is our role to play. Let us not grow weary in it.
Want to take the next step? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org