The Continuing Work of Missions
The Church has been given the mandate of making disciples of Christ from all the nations of the world. Our Lord Jesus did command His followers to call the peoples of the earth to submit to His lordship. And we do this by calling everyone to repent from their rebellion against God and against His Anointed One, lest he be angry and they perish under His wrath.
This is our missionary task – to call everyone to bow down to Christ. And our message is this: God is calling everyone to be reconciled with Him through His Son, who came to save sinners.
This is not only the message of the New Testament apostles. This is also the message of the Old Testament prophets. The prophets and the apostles call everyone – kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor – to turn to God and to believe the Christ.
Everyone is forewarned. Everyone is commanded to “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for [God’s] wrath is quickly kindled.” Everyone is called to “serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” To those who believe and humble themselves and submit to the Lord, they are promised with blessings: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12b)
And this mandate is founded on the truth that Jesus is the sovereign Lord of the universe. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” says the risen Lord. Jesus is Lord over all! He’s the Lord of the heavens and the Lord over all the earth. This is the message that we proclaim to ourselves every day. And this is the message that we bring to the world.
Matthew 28:18 gives us the foundation of our missionary task. As one pastor rightly says, “The basis of any follower of Jesus telling a follower of another lord to repent and turn and follow Jesus is that Jesus has all authority in the universe.” In other words, Jesus Christ has all the right to require obedience from all peoples and tribes for God has given him this great honor.
The Scripture testifies that Jesus Christ has power and authority in the world. He has power to still the storm. He has the power to silence his enemies with his word. He has the power to heal sickness and to forgive sins. He has the power over demons and over death. Yes, he has given his life for the sake of his people, yet he has also the power to take it up again (John 10:18).
So there’s nothing and no one outside the authority of Jesus. That’s why He has the right and the power to demand allegiance from every soul that exists in this world. That’s why upon saying that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, Christ commissions His followers to go and make disciples of him from all the nations of the world.
And Christ’s commission is not only limited to the first generation of disciples. It also extends to our generation and the generations after us because the work of disciple-making lasts until the end of this age. So as long as there is time, and as long as there are nations to reach, Jesus’ demand to go and make disciples is valid. That’s why we continue to do the work of missions.