The Unfinished Task
Nick Mauer, Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism
When a person knows they are about to speak their last words, they tend to be very careful and thoughtful about what they say. The final words of Jesus, before He ascended to heaven, were no different:
1. When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, He gave it not as a suggestion, but as a command.
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, said as much: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” The heart of that command concerns making disciples (followers) of Jesus among all the nations by taking a message.
2. When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, He embedded in it both prophecy and promise.
The power of the Great Commission is this trifecta—it is command, but it is also prophecy and promise.
3. Jesus’ command has not been fully obeyed and His prophecies have not been fully realized.
This ought to be obvious. There are a lot of things left undone. And yet it’s interesting because the unfulfilled-ness of the command and prophecies contrasts with the utter and complete fulfillment of Jesus’ promises. He has kept His promise. Did the Spirit come? Has Jesus been with us—all the days—till now? Yes and yes.
But we are still—2,000 years later—slowly picking away at our command. Have we taken the gospel—the light-infusing, life-giving, darkness-rending, Jesus-exalting, hell-stopping, heaven-opening, God-glorifying gospel to every tribe? To every tongue? To all the nations? No. And I want to demonstrate that to you.
Look at just one of the passages we have discussed: Acts 1:8 – Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. What is the uttermost part of the earth? Literally, the text says, “and until the last [place] of the earth.” So let me rephrase the question: Is there anywhere that the Gospel has—as yet—not gone? The answer to that question is a resounding: YES.
4. Jesus’ commission places several specific demands on all of us.
First, we must go.
Now, “go” is a very flexible verb. It can be used of a long distance: “Go to China.” It can be used of a short, yet considerable, distance: “Go across the state.” It can be used of a very short distance: “Go to the basement.” It can even be used of distances so small that others wouldn’t even realize that you had gone anywhere: “Go to the other side of the room.” One thing it cannot mean, however is this: “Stay.” It always involves motion. It cannot mean “Get comfortable” or “Relax” or “Live in your bubble.” None of these things can square with, or be interpreted as obedience to, Jesus’ “Go” in the Great Commission. One way that we go collectively as a church is by sending others. We ought to have a heart to extend the Gospel beyond the regions we can reach individually. Two major ways we do this are through prayer (Matt 9:38) and giving (Phil 4:15-17).
Second, we must speak.
The Great Commission is more than a call to go show Jesus’ love. Francis of Assisi is famous for his quip: “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.” Witty, yet there is no true fulfillment of the Great Commission independent of the verbal proclamation of Jesus Christ as crucified, dead, buried, raised, and exalted to be Lord of all the nations. The most basic form of speaking is witness—telling about one’s own personal experience of Jesus. All of us can do that. And all of us—today, beginning now--must do that.
Third, we must think about this more.
Don’t let the words of the Son of God pass through your ears and leave you unchanged. This is a brief and insignificant blog post, but the words of God it contains are a commission from the King of kings.
Your Great Commission
How are you working right now—today—to obey Jesus’ final words on this earth? Are you going? Maybe for you, going is a matter of crossing an ocean, but maybe it’s only a matter of crossing your back yard…or picking up the phone…or turning in your airplane seat. Whether you are reaching those in Asia who have never heard of Jesus or reaching unbelievers in your home town, you have a command to go. This is your commission. The task is not optional; Jesus has provided all of the power you need by sending the Holy Spirit; the task is unfinished. So let’s go.
Statistics on unreached/unengaged people groups cited from www.joshuaproject.net and public.imb.org/globalresearch
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.