An Unfinished Mission!
As we wrap up the fourfold Gospel blog series today, you might be asking yourself, wait this is the fifth blog post, aren’t there only four parts to the fourfold Gospel? And the answer is yes. There are only four parts; Jesus is our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. But the Alliance added an element to their logo in 1999 reminding the world what the mission of not just the Christian and Missionary Alliance, but the global Body of Christ is suppose to be since Jesus' death and resurrection. That mission, to take the Gospel of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
In 1999, the uncompleted globe is a visual reminder that the task Jesus gave to the early disciples in Matthew 28 has not been completed; the Gospel of Jesus has not reach every people group in the world. A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance had a heart to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus and that is how the Alliance started as a missionary movement. People from all different denominations would gather to pray and support missionaries. The Alliance’s desire to reach the world for Jesus is still the primary motivation. So why does the Alliance take spreading the Gospel of Jesus to the world so seriously? To understand this, we need to look at Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples.
During Jesus’ final hours, before He would be arrested, tried, and crucified, Jesus spent time talking with His disciples. This conversation is found in John 13-17 and is sometimes referred to as the “Upper Room Discourse.” Within this last conversation we see Jesus preparing His disciples for the events to come. He gives them an example of how to love each other; by being a servant. He spends time explaining to them that He is about to leave, which is a good thing, but He will not leave them as orphans. Another Helper, or the Spirit of Truth will come and be with them (John 14:15-18). At the end of the conversation, Jesus then prays for His disciples in John 17. Jesus prays that God would keep them, so that they would be one as Jesus and the Father are one (John 17:11). But in John 17:15, Jesus asks the Father to not take His followers out of this world. Well why? Why does Jesus desire a person to live in this world after they put their faith in Jesus? After a person experiences salvation from their sins, why leave them here on this earth and not just take them right to heaven? Jesus goes on in verse 18 saying, “Just as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world…” Jesus sent His disciples and Jesus sends us into the world for the important task of being His witnesses; to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the entire world. This task is not to be done by a few select individuals, but by everyone who is a disciple, or follower of Jesus. As Paul says in Romans 10:14, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Jesus has given us, His followers, a task to be those “preachers” of the Gospel of Jesus and the reason why this task is so important is because Jesus wants everyone to come to a place of repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But what are people suppose to repent from? In order for us to answer this question, we have to understand that every single person in this world is lost and needs to repent from their sin.
In Genesis 1, we read how God created the heavens and the earth. God reveals in Genesis 1 and 2 that He is the creator God, that everything on this earth was created by Him (the sky, land, stars, moon, sun, plants, animals, etc.). Everything was created by Him including the first people. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God decides to make man in His own image. God created man to have dominion or rule over all of creation. Man was unique in all of creation in that God molded man from the dust of the earth and gave man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). No other creature, no other part of creation could say that God molded it or gave it the breath of life. Only man could, making people unique from all of creation. Human beings, men and women, were created in the image of God and only they can have a relationship with their Creator.
In Genesis 2, God gives Adam, the Hebrew word for man, some commands and places Adam in a garden that God made for him. He tells Adam that he can eat from all the trees in the entire garden, except for the one, in the center of the garden, the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If Adam ate from this tree then he would die (Genesis 2:17). Adam and his wife Eve enjoyed a perfect relationship with God and with each other. But everything was about to change in their relationships.
In Genesis 3 we have the scene of the serpent, which is identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9. He tries to cause Adam and Eve to doubt God’s Word and is successful. Eve sees that the forbidden fruit looks good to eat, that the fruit would make them wise and she eats the fruit. Then Adam eats the fruit and their eyes are opened (Genesis 3:7). Their relationship towards each other had changed, which is why they tried to cover their nakedness from each other with fig leaves, and their relationship with God had changed, which is why they hid from God and were afraid of God. Their relationship with God had been broken and God demonstrates this to them in that not only will they now experience physical death and they will return back to dust, but they also will experience spiritual death. We see how God shows them this spiritual death by the fact that God sends them out of the garden away from His presence (Genesis 3:23).
Adam and Eve were disobedient to God, they had broken God’s command and because of this one act, sin now entered the world. This is why Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 that sin entered the world through this one man, Adam, and now all people die because everyone has sinned. Paul spends Romans 1-3 telling the believers in Rome that everybody on the face of this planet is a sinner, that they have broken God’s standard. Paul tells them that it does not matter who a person is, a pagan person (1:18-32), a moral person (2:1-16), or a Jewish person (2:17-29), every single one of them are without excuse. In Romans 3:22b-23 Paul tells us that there is no difference between a Jewish person and a non-Jewish person, but every single person is a sinner and has fallen short of the glory of God.
What’s the end result of humanity? When a person experiences that physical death that was brought into the world because of Adam’s disobedience, they also get to experience a second death, separated from God for all of eternity (Revelation 20:11-15). This is the fate of all of humanity because all people are sinners. Jesus gives us a picture of what this eternal place of torment looks like in Luke 16:19-31. Jesus tells us about two men; the first man was a poor man and when he died he entered into Abraham’s bosom. The second man was named Lazarus and when he died, he entered into a place of eternal torment. Mark 9:44 tells us that this place of torment, or hell, is a place where “[the] worm does not die, [a]nd the fire is not quenched.” Lazarus experienced this place of torment and called out to Abraham for help to relieve his pain and suffering, but Abraham tells Lazarus that this cannot happen. Once a person dies physically, their fate is sealed for all eternity (Luke 16:26). Every single person has broken God’s laws. They have disobeyed God and when men and women die physically, they will also experience an eternal spiritual death, where they will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.
This is the fate that everyone looks forward to, if God had not step in with a plan to redeem lost humanity. That plan, to send Jesus to pay the penalty of sin and to conquer death through His resurrection. In John 1:12 we are told, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This gift of salvation, is the best news ever, which is why it is called the Gospel of Jesus. The word “gospel” means good news.” It is this message that those who have experienced this salvation are to proclaim to the world. Just as God sent Jesus, Jesus sends His followers into the world with this message of hope.
When a person puts their faith in God, and become a child of God they desire other people to become children of God as well. As Jesus is about to return to His Father in heaven, Jesus gives some last minute instructions to His followers. The two main passages are Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:8.
In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus tells his disciples that they have a very important task to do; that task was to make disciples of all nations. The word “nations” does not mean political nations, but refers to a “body of people united by kinship, culture, and common traditions.” Jesus wasn’t commanding them “to go,” because He assumed that they would desire to tell all the peoples throughout the entire world, what they had just witness. What Jesus commanded His disciples to do, was to “make disciples.” How were they supposed to do that? Within these verses, Jesus tells them how they are to make disciples of Him. First they are to baptize people in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the early church, baptism was that public declaration that a person has turned from their sinful lifestyle and have turned to Jesus (Acts 2:38). They were to baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; declaring publicly that they are new creations in Christ and their identity is in Christ (2 Corinthians 5). But Jesus also tells them to do something else with the nations, besides just bringing people to the point of publicly saying that they now are followers of Jesus. Jesus also tells them to teach them to keep His commands (Matthew 28:20). Jesus wanted His disciples to help these new believers to live lives of obedience to His commands. To help these new believers become mature followers of Jesus, lacking nothing (James 1).
The other passage of scripture that gives us Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples is Acts 1:8. Jesus again is meeting with His disciples and tells His disciples to not leave Jerusalem until you are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Jesus then explains the task that He has given to His followers. Jesus says that after the Holy Spirit comes upon them, they will receive power and they will be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). His followers were going to be the ones proclaiming: what they saw and experienced as they were with Jesus over these last several years, what they saw and experienced over the last forty days, with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the meaning of all these events. For those who believe in Jesus, they will become a child of God and experience this great gift of salvation.
But Jesus also gave them instructions on where they were to go as His witnesses. They were to start in Jerusalem. This made sense, because that was where they were located. Jesus told them to begin there. But Jesus also told them to not just stop there, but to also go throughout all of Judea. When the Romans ruled over the nation of Israel, they divided Israel up into three main geographical divisions which were Galilee, Samaria and Judea. Judea was the southern part of Israel where the city of Jerusalem was located along with other cities like Bethlehem, Bethany, etc.
Jesus continued by telling His disciples to not stop in Judea, but to move out into Samaria. This would have been difficult for the disciples to hear because of the Jewish mindset against the Samaritans. The Jewish people did not like the Samaritans and wanted nothing to do with them. But His followers should have realized that Jesus’ mentality towards the Samaritans was totally different. Jesus spent time in Samaria and revealed His true identity to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Jesus tells His disciples that they are to not discriminate against people when they are His witnesses. Even if it is culturally unacceptable, even if they are considered outcasts and people want nothing to do with them, Jesus still wants His followers to go to them and to tell them about Him.
Then finally, Jesus says to keep going “to the point of the farthest boundary of the earth.” This is my personal translation of the ending of Acts 1:8. In other words, Jesus tells His disciples to keep on going until you have reached the entire world with what you have seen and experienced as My disciples. The amazing thing is that Jesus’ disciples did just that. Not only did the eleven disciples hear these words and did just as Jesus said, but other people like Silas, Paul, Barnabas, Mark, Philip, Priscilla and Aquila, etc. traveled all over the known world telling people about the Gospel of Jesus. The early church turned their world upside down for the Gospel of Jesus. Those individuals who responded to their message, they were baptized and taught to keep Jesus’ commands. But this task that Jesus gave to His disciples two thousand years ago has not been completed. Even though the early church took the Gospel to places like modern day Russia, India, Northern Africa, and Great Britain many people have still not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. According to the Joshua Project’s website (https://joshuaproject.net/), there are still 42.4% of the world’s 7.93 Billion people who are considered unreached. Followers of Jesus, what are we doing? With all the modern-day technology and resources at our disposal, why are there so many people yet to hear. It would seem, in my opinion that the early church with less technology and fewer resources were more effective in taking the Gospel to the farthest parts of the known world at that time then we are today.
When a person puts their faith in Jesus and becomes a child of God, it is only natural for them to want to tell other people about this decision and the change that took place in their life; they were dead and now are alive. A healthy, growing, mature follower of Jesus desires to see people come to know Jesus and experience that new life because this is what Jesus desires. Jesus desires everyone in this world to come to that place of repenting of their sins and turning to follow Him (2 Peter 3:9). When a local church, which is a gathering of people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, is made of up healthy, growing, mature followers of Jesus, the local church naturally desires to be those witnesses for Jesus. If a local gathering of believers have no desire to see people come to know Jesus, then something is drastically wrong. A local gathering of believers that have no desire to see people come to know Jesus, have lost sight of what really is important to Jesus. Their desires are not God’s desires and their thoughts are not God’s thoughts. But there is hope for local gatherings like this through prayer; asking God to restore the joy of their salvation, that God would remind them how they received the Gospel of Jesus and by repenting of their attitude towards lost people. When a local gathering does this, God begins to relight that desire to see people come to know Jesus.
First and foremost, we are to be His witnesses at the location we currently find ourselves. For the disciples it was Jerusalem. For me, it is Bedford. I am to be a witness for Jesus in my town. But we are not suppose to stop there, we are to be His witnesses in the surrounding areas, taking the Gospel of Jesus to people, including the people that are the social outcasts, the people that nobody likes, like the Samaritans were to the Jews. We are not to show favoritism (James 2) but are to be like the farmer in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 13) who sowed the seed without worrying where the seed was falling. Jesus calls us to be His witnesses, making known the Gospel of Jesus to everyone no matter who they are, or where they come from, or what they are like.
But local gatherings of believers also need to be active in being His witnesses all the way to the farthest boundaries of the world. How is a local gathering of believers supposed to do this? Acts 13 gives us an example. There in the city of Antioch, we find a local gathering of believers. We are told previously in Acts 11:19-21 that because of persecution people traveled up to the city of Antioch and preached the Gospel of Jesus. People responded and they began to gather together. Barnabas came to investigate these reports of believers in Antioch. In Acts 13, we now have Barnabas and Saul meeting with the believers and during their meeting, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). The believers listened and they sent them away. This was the start of Saul (aka Paul) and Barnabas’ travels, being witnesses for Jesus throughout the entire region of Galatia. The local gathering of believers sent them away to fulfill the task that God had called them to do, which was to travel and take the Gospel to even more places throughout the Roman Empire.
This is the example local gatherings need to follow. Believers need to be listening to the Holy Spirit and local gatherings of believers need to be sending people out that God has called to be His witnesses beyond their location. As Romans 10:14-15 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?...” The local gatherings of believers are to send people, whom God has called to be His witnesses to the farthest boundaries of the world.
Our task, the one Jesus gave to His followers two thousand years ago, is not complete. We are to be Jesus’ witnesses. May God empower us to tell people about Him. May God break our hearts for the people in our communities and around the world that do not know Jesus as their Savior.
As we come to the end of the fourfold Gospel blogs, my we desire to be more like Jesus and to tell people about Jesus. A.B. Simpson wrote many songs during his lifetime. One of them was entitled “A Missionary Cry." I believe this song is a good reminder for us, as well as what motivates the Alliance as a worldwide movement. We, the Alliance, want to see people respond to the Gospel of Jesus and we will not stop until the entire world hears and then Jesus, our King will return.
A hundred thousand souls a day
Are passing one by one away
In Christless guilt and gloom;
Without one ray of hope or light,
With future dark as endless night,
They’re passing to their doom
They’re passing to their doom.
O Holy Ghost, Thy people move,
Baptize their hearts with faith and love
And consecrate their gold.
At Jesus' feet their millions pour,
And all their ranks unite once more,
As in the days of old,
As in the days of old.
The Master's coming draweth near;
The Son of Man will soon appear;
His kingdom is at hand.
But ere that glorious day can be,
This gospel of the kingdom we
Must preach in every land,
Must preach in every land.
Oh, let us then His coming haste,
Oh, let us end this awful waste
Of souls that never die.
A thousand millions still are lost;
A Savior's blood has paid the cost,
Oh, hear their dying cry,
Oh, hear their dying cry.
They're passing, passing fast away,
A hundred thousand souls a day
In Christless guilt and gloom.
O Church of Christ, what wilt thou say
When, in the awful judgment day,
They charge thee with their doom,
They charge thee with their doom?