Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two Enduring Truths about Our Lord's Great Commission

Church growth, Church health, The Missional church, post-modernism, the younger evangelicals, globalization, southern Christianity, multiple Jerusalems... Christians today are bombarded by countless new terms and trends. Many of them can be helpful, as long as they do not confuse or distract us.

Nevertheless, The Great Commission, Jesus’ last words to His disciples, still best expresses our Lord’s passions and priorities.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Matthew 28:18-20 KJV)

Our Lord’s words in this passage are simple and direct and still have radical implications for all of us today who choose to follow Him. His message can be summarized by two basic and enduring truths.


We are supposed to be a pilgrim people on this earth, going to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world (Acts 1:8).

A. An Incarnational Approach. Going requires an Incarnational approach, patterning our lives after our Lord’s example, Who came to earth “in the flesh.”

All believers are included and expected to obey, whether from Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, the Pacific area, the Middle East or Asia. No one is exempted. Nor has the day passed for North American missions. Those who say, “Now it’s time to focus primarily on our own nation and let Christians from other countries take our places on the mission fields,” are wrong. Yes, today our own nation is a mission field too. In addition, there are urgent needs all around the world.

Literature and media are wonderful tools to complement our endeavors. Nevertheless, connecting in “virtual reality” cannot offer a handshake and a warm embrace. Nothing can replace the multidimensional ministries that only are possible through physical presence.

B. Global Ambassadors. We are all commissioned to be “Global Ambassadors” for Jesus Christ throughout the entire not-yet-Christian world—both at home and abroad.

The whole world is a mission field.

We praise God for the growth of Christianity in the Caribbean, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia. However, the need for missionaries in those areas continues, even though their countries of origin and their ministries may need to be different.

At the same time, peoples in many unreached areas desperately need our priority attention—in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific area, and all Muslim regions.

In addition, North America and Europe are huge mission fields that also call for our focused attention.

We are not asked to choose—between staying “home” and going to “the mission field.” Instead, God's people are called to go across the street, across town, across our country, and around the world whenever and however possible.

Wherever we may temporarily “pitch our tents,” we are all supposed to have eyes, hearts and hands for the whole world. (1) When God calls us to serve Him abroad, our ministry will be authenticated by our pattern and example of reaching across the street at home. (2) And regarding ministry in North America, our witness and service across the street will be enriched and enhanced by our experience of serving our Lord abroad. This is increasingly true and possible in the globalizing world of today.


A. Physical Presence is Essential. Making disciples requires physical presence, personal relationships and holistic ministry.

The goal is that all the peoples of the earth will have contextually appropriate opportunities to be involved in worship, evangelism, teaching, fellowship, and service.

To that end, vibrant self-sustaining, self-governing, and self-propagating communities of Jesus followers are to be established among every people group.

B. We have Greater Means to go than Ever before in History. Our ability to reach peoples all around the world is greater than ever before in the history of the world. It is within our means to go regularly in person to virtually anywhere in the world, and in between we should stay in touch regularly via e-mail, Skype, blogs, web pages, and other media communications.

C. Ministry Opportunities and Resources Abound. Today the opportunities for all believers to obey our Lord’s Great Commission are limitless. There are thousands of people groups and more individuals today than ever before in all history that are still unreached. Moreover, wide varieties of partnerships to reach them are available for all believers and local churches. In addition, resources abound to help us minister in ways that are effective and help to build our Lord’s Kingdom.

So while there are many new ideas about missions in the world today, the urgency and main message of our Lord’s call is just as relevant for us as ever in history. We are all called to go to all the world and make disciples of all peoples.

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