And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, (Matt. 28:18-20 NKJV).
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age
How much plainer could it be? Here is Jesus, the resurrected Jesus, the Jesus whom they worshiped (Matt. 28:17), giving His people, in even the earliest days of the church, their calling and mission: make disciples in every nation of the world. Period.
It’s not hard, either, to see the link between these words, spoken to the eleven in Galilee, and the words spoken to John on the island of Patmos years later:
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth-to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people-saying with a loud voice,
Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water (Rev. 14:6-7, NKJV, see also Rev. 17:8-12)
One could say that the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 are the Great Commission contextualized for the last days of earth’s history.
No question: God has told His church, His people, to reach out and spread the gospel to the entire world. It’s what we have been called to do. Spreading the truth about Jesus and what He has done for us (John 3:16), what He is doing now for us (Rom. 8:34), and what He will do for us in the future (1 Thess. 4:16) is, truly, our mission.
The word mission itself means
a sending or being sent to perform a service. That is, people go away in order to do something. In the case of the Great Commission, what they do is to spread the gospel to the world.
This quarter we will look at mission first and foremost as God’s means for communicating the gospel to those who don’t know it. Mission is a core part of God’s sovereign activity in the process of redeeming humanity. Thus, we will study how God’s eternal purpose has been accomplished in the lives of individuals in the Bible whom He has used to be missionaries to the lost.
In the end, the Christian mission is God’s mission, not ours. It originated in the heart of God. It is based on the love of God. And it is accomplished by the will of God.
To better understand God’s mission commitment and involvement, this quarter’s lessons are based on the following model of salvation history:
At its most basic level, mission is letting the whole world know about Jesus and about what He has done for each of us and about what He promises to do for us, now and for eternity. In short, we who know about those promises have been called to tell others about them, as well.
Børge Schantz, PhD (Fuller), was a professor at Loma Linda University. He and his wife, Iris, served for 14 years as missionaries in Africa and the Middle East. He passed away in December 2014. Co-contributor Steven Wayne Thompson, before retiring, was president (1984-1990) at Newbold College in England, and then dean of theology faculty and a lecturer at Avondale College, Australia (1991-2008).