One obvious question is, where is this in Scripture? Well it all begins in Genesis 12. I would argue that the overarching mission of the biblical text is the glory of God among all peoples.
Jesus promises Abraham that through him he will bless all the families of the earth. Psalm 67. Ezekiel 36:24 “…And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.” Luke 24:45-47 Jesus “opens their minds to understand the Scriptures” and he tell the disciples in this post-resurrection address two points that summarize the content of the Scriptures: 1. that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead 2. that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Acts 1:8 tells us that the church will be witnesses in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the end of the earth. Not THEN but AND. In other words their target was the end of the earth. And, of course, Jesus’ last instructions to us that is a restatement of the mission he gave Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) in Genesis 12:1-3 that is recorded in Matthew 28:16-20 “…God therefore and make disciples of all nations (panta ta ethne), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” Revelation 5:9 John see’s the scroll and the Lamb and states that “…you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Now these are just a few of the multitude of examples, and if all we had was Jesus’ in Matthew 28 that would be enough, but the fact that this is a theme running the length of the bible we should take notice for sure. I feel silly saying that, because this is so obvious.
This is the big picture of redemptive history that I was talking about in the first post. This is the big picture that must influence the details of pastoral ministry. When we do what Timothy, Titus, Peter and other passages tell us to do as elders the understanding on their part is that we are applying those things with the COMMAND TO DISCIPLE ALL NATIONS in view. Failure to maintain sound doctrine perverts the Gospel that is preached to unreached peoples, so guard it from the local tendency to do with the Gospel what seems to always happen when folks get comfortable with it, pervert it.
If we pastor churches that only think of how to grow their congregation with no eye on the nations PERSONALLY (not because we give to the cooperative program or some other mission agency and call that missions) we fail at being a pastor because the nations is, yes is, the goal mobilized from the local church. It IS our mission. The mission of any church can’t be only their town. That misses the mark of the biblical text and Jesus did not give us a local option in the Gospel alone. It must be the nations FROM the town where the church is located. Why? Because that is the mandate from the King himself. Bottom line. Missions agencies and organizations don’t exist because someone thought it was a good idea. They exist because Jesus said to do it. I believe, personally, that the best missions agency on the planet is the local church. The church in the east has recaptured that. We have allowed the local church to atrophy. We can’t imagine an organization lean and mean enough to do local ministry and facilitate reaching the nations. The church in the east does it without even thinking about it because they started with the mandate to do it.
Bob Roberts taught me a word that I use regularly: glocal. It is the local going global at the same time. The local church mobilized to do the Great Commission itself.
Oh, there is so much more. We are just getting started.