All the Nations
Working with a large evangelical parachurch ministry in college and after college, I often heard talks and sermons about God’s heart for the nations. The plan of the Gospel is a global plan. I listened to so many inspiring messages that encouraged me to be radical and risk it all for the Gospel. I wanted to charge the gates of Hell with a squirt gun. There is so much truth to this.
If you read through the Bible, you will see from Genesis to Revelation that God’s heart is for all nations. The scattering of the nations at Babel (Gen. 11) is symbolically reversed in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). The promise made to Abraham (Gen 12) is that not only Abraham’s family, but “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The prophecy given to Isaiah was that God’s coming Servant would be a “light for the nations” (Isa. 42:6). The promise is that “the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations” (Isa 62:2). Jeremiah was appointed to be a prophet “to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). The Gospels proclaim that the nations will be gathered together before Christ (Matt. 25:32). The house of the Lord will be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). And the consummated vision of eternity is of “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’” (Rev 7:9, 10). I dare say, if you went through your Bible from cover to cover highlighting every passage that deals with God calling the nations to repentance and faith in Christ, you’d run out of highlighter before you’d run out of Bible. The call of the Gospel is a global call.
This should motivate us to be involved with the global call of the Gospel. It is a central and crucial theme to the whole of the Scriptures. There is clearly an obligation for every Christian to be involved in the global mission of the Gospel. But how is the average Christian supposed to respond to this obligation? Is everyone supposed to go? Is everyone supposed to travel to the farthest corners of the globe to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard? Or can you be a faithful Christian without actually going? What role should we play in global preaching of the Gospel?
Jesus gives us some answers at the end of Luke’s Gospel. After the resurrection Jesus appears to his disciples and explains from the whole of the Scriptures that his life, death, and resurrection was the point of the Scriptures. He explains that repentance of sin and faith in Christ is necessary for redemption. He also explained that the scope of this Gospel message is to go to “all nations” (Luke 24:47). Every land. Every nation. Every place. Every people. None are exempted from the obligation to repent and believe. None are excluded from the inestimable benefits of Jesus Christ.
But the scope of this message is bigger than any person. How does the average Christian mom, high school student, or businessman respond to this call? Along with the message and the scope of the Gospel, Jesus also explains the power of the Gospel. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you” (Luke 24:49). The promise of the Father is granted to believers in the giving of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian is empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit. The very presence of God dwells within every believer. This power means that you have ability to share this message right now. And Jesus instructs that empowered with the Holy Spirit and equipped with the message of the Gospel, you can begin to reach the world by starting where you are right now. He tells the disciples, “beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). They were to just start where they were.
Don’t let the scope of the promise of the Gospel intimidate you. There will be those who tell you that you must be radical. You must model the path of the apostle Paul. You should be the next William Carey or CT Studd. You don’t. Jesus gives us a message. He gives us the power. And then he tells us to start where we are. Look at where you are right now. Look at your present circumstances. Take the first step. Share the message of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit where you are. Teach your kids. Talk with classmates. Share with your colleagues. Take one step. If God is calling you to go to the farthest corners of the world, he’ll direct your steps that way. We earnestly pray that some of our covenant children will. But most of you will not be led that way. So instead of crumbling under the weight of being some super apostle, take one step and be faithful.