Your Part in the Grand Story
A challenge to complete the Great Commission.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit...
– Matthew 28:19
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
– Mark 16:15
...repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
– Luke 24:47
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.
– Matthew 24:14
And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
– Mark 13:10
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
– 2 Peter 3:9
Observe & Consider
In the previous lesson we considered the final goal of God’s grand story as it has been revealed to man: “That God might be worshipped with white–hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”1 (Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:9). From 1 Corinthians 2:9, we saw that what God has prepared for those who love Him is too wonderful for us to even comprehend. We also saw that those who love God will dwell in a new heaven and a new earth where they will reign with Him and glorify Him forever! (Revelation 22:5, Psalm 86:12).
But when will these things take place? If you recall from Lesson 60, we read that just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave his followers some final instructions. These instructions are commonly known as the Great Commission and may be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (They are listed at the beginning of this lesson.) Notice from Matthew 24:14 that “the end” (the final goal of God’s grand story) will not come until the gospel is “preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations.”
Recall from Lesson 25 that a nation, in the Biblical sense of the word, is not simply a geographic country, but rather a people group that is distinct from other people groups by virtue of language, culture, tribal affiliation, etc. Immediately after God’s judgment at Babel, 70 nations were born. In our world today there are thousands of nations. Many of them have yet to be reached with the Gospel. And until they are reached, the end (or the beginning depending on how you see it) will not come.
Now consider 2 Peter 3:9 (above). The “promise” in this verse is the promise that Jesus made to return, ushering in all He has planned for His followers. From this verse, we see that Jesus is not slow about His promise, but that He doesn’t want anyone to perish. As bad as this world may be, as much suffering as there is, Jesus loves people so much that He is willing to delay the end so that someone might come to Him in faith, for when He returns it will be too late.
Matthew 24:14 and 2 Peter 3:9 define the breadth and depth of the Great Commission, showing us that Jesus has a passion for nations and individuals. So when will He return? Jesus said, “no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32). That day is hidden from us, but we know it will not come until: 1) every nation has received a witness of the Gospel and 2) the last person who will trust in Jesus has done so.
In the past decade, the Church has made unprecedented progress in taking the Gospel to the unreached nations of our world. But there are still those who have not yet heard. God longs for the day that He will pour out His blessing on those who long for Him (Isaiah 30:18). But that day will not come until the Great Commission is fulfilled.
Ask & Reflect
- Do you long for the day when Jesus will return to fulfill what He has promised for those who love Him? Do you long for Him?
- What are you doing to help complete the Great Commission?
Decide & Do
Let’s close our study by revisiting the words of John Piper on the subject of the Great Commission, or to use his term, missions. According to Piper,
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. The glory of God is the ultimate goal of the church – because it’s the ultimate goal of God. The final goal of all things is that God might be worshipped with white–hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. When the kingdom finally comes in glory, missions will cease. Missions is penultimate, worship is ultimate. If we forget this and reverse their roles the passion and the power for both diminish.”2
Worship then is the motivation for missions, and the worship God intends will not be complete until the Great Commission is completed. Every follower of Jesus is called to help complete the Great Commission, not just “professionals” like pastors or missionaries. You may not be called to go to an unreached nation, but you can and should support and pray for others who are called to go. And you can certainly share Jesus with those in your sphere of influence. We don’t know the last nation to be reached before His return. Nor do we know the last person to be reached. That person could live in a distant land, or in your own neighborhood.
Find out what you can do to help fulfill the Great Commission in your sphere of influence and around the world. Ask God to open your eyes to works that are reaching the nations with the Gospel. Finally, consider making a list of ten people in your sphere of influence who need to know Jesus. Start praying regularly for the salvation of each person on that list. Pray also that God would orchestrate the time and place for you to share your faith in Jesus with each person.
You will grow in your relationship with God as you participate with Him in what He is doing in the world. If you choose not to participate, He will still get the job done by raising up someone else. As we have seen in our study of The HOPE, He is sovereign and His plan will not be thwarted. But as we have also seen in our study, the one who is willing to say yes to God is truly blessed. Remember as you go with God, you will grow in God. May God bless you so that you may be a blessing to Him and to the world around you!
For Further Study
- Joshua Project. (© Joshua Project, A Ministry of the U. S. Center for World Missions, 2006). (http://www.joshuaproject.net/). Retrieved December 11, 2006. The mission and passion of Joshua Project is to identify and highlight the people groups of the world that have the least exposure to the Gospel and the least Christian presence in their midst.
- The Traveling Team at http://www.thetravelingteam.org/. This website, although targeting college students, is a great place to check out the Biblical basis of missions, as well as to walk one through God’s heart for the world from Genesis to Revelation – a wealth of mission related resources. Retrieved December 11, 2006.
- Finish the Job (VHS). © Mars Hill Productions, 1998. “A missionary doctor’s passionate plea to trust God to do whatever it takes to complete the task of taking the gospel to every tongue, tribe and nation.”
- The Great Commission – The Great Adventure. (© AllAboutJesusChrist.org, 2002–2006). (http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/the-great-commission.htm). Retrieved December 11, 2006.
- John Piper, Tell How Much the Lord Has Done for You! (© Desiring God Ministries, 2006). (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/tell-how-much-the-lord-has-done-for-you). Retrieved December 11, 2006.
1John Piper, There Is No Greater Satisfaction: A God–centered Motivation for World Missions. (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/there-is-no-greater-satisfaction). (© Mission Frontiers, January–February, 1998) Retrieved December 11, 2006.