Jesus charged his followers to announce the same message to every nation that he preached, which he summarized as the “Good News of the Kingdom of God.” Through the Risen Christ and his Assembly, God’s rule is being established but in unexpected and paradoxical ways. By the moment of his return, he will establish his complete sovereignty over the nations and subdue all his “enemies,” including “Death.” Until then, his disciples must proclaim his message to the “uttermost parts of the Earth.”
All men are invited to accept his offer of life and salvation while the door remains open. The day will come when it will be too late. At that time, everyone who has refused his gracious gift will find that his or her name is NOT “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
|[Photo by Matthew Rumph on Unsplash]
Embracing his message requires a complete reorientation of life. The level of commitment required to be his disciple is absolute. Nothing is more important than responding to his call to believe the “Good News,” take up the cross, and follow him “wherever he leads.”
Through his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated all the forces that were hostile to God, including Satan, death, the “powers and principalities,” and sin. His resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost signaled the commencement of the “Last Days” during which the Son reigns from the “right hand of God” - (Psalm 2:2-8, 110:1).
His victory over God’s enemies meant the arrival of the “ends of the ages.” Already, the “forms of this age are in the process of passing away.” Sin and death may continue for a time, but the decisive victory has been achieved on Calvary, and the possession of the Gift of the Spirit by the saints is irrefutable evidence of this.
The defeat of Satan was secured on the Roman Cross and validated when God raised Jesus from the Dead. Ever since the Son of God has been putting down all the “powers and principalities” that oppose him and oppress his people. He will continue to do so until all that remains is the unopposed rule of God - (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Hebrews 1:5-14, Revelation 1:4-6).
Consequently, Jesus has summoned his Assembly to proclaim the “Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations” until the moment of his arrival “on the clouds of Heaven.” Since he now reigns, his followers must herald his victory and sovereignty throughout the Earth, providing every man and woman the opportunity to repent and receive life and salvation:
- “Go and teach all nations…to observe all things whatever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you even unto the end of the age.”
His disciples are his “witnesses,” envoys commissioned by him to call all men to enter his Kingdom, and to preach “repentance and the remission of sins in his name among all the nations.”
Just before he ascended to Heaven, Jesus commanded HIS disciples to wait until “they received power after the Holy Spirit came upon them.” Thereafter, they would be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” - (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:45-48, Acts 1:7-9, 3:19-21).
This mission will continue until the “end” when he appears. His followers must announce his salvation and help others prepare for life in the coming age, teaching them to be his disciples. Sin and death may persist in this life, but death will not have the final word.
None of this means that his Assembly is to disengage from the world. Far from it! But HIS disciples are called to engage humanity by preaching the Gospel and living cruciform lives in service to others. Without his salvation, the world will remain forever in darkness and without hope.
Before his death, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. In response, the disciples asked when that would occur, and what would be the “sign” of the “coming of the Son of Man.”
To the first question, he replied - Before the termination of the generation contemporary with him. To the second, he warned - No one EXCEPT GOD ALONE knows the hour, day, “season,” “seasons” or “times” of his return - (also, Mark 13:30-33, Acts 1:6-9).
The one factor that will determine “when” he will return is the completion of the Gospel mission by the Assembly:
- “This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole habitable earth for a testimony for all nations, and then shall the end come” - (Matthew 24:14, 24:36, Acts 1:6-8).
|[Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash]
Finishing this task is THE “sign” of the “end” since the end of this age cannot come until this mission is complete. It is not optional but pivotal to the consummation of all things, the redemption of humanity and creation.
Based on the logic of his words, the very fact that the “end” has not arrived is indisputable evidence that the mission remains incomplete. He will not return until his message has reached the furthest corners of the Earth, “as a testimony.” Therefore, all who wait anxiously for his “arrival” must, above all else, preach the Gospel!
- The Final Harvest - (The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost fulfilled what the feast symbolized and marked the start of the Final Harvest)
- Spirit and Mission - (Jesus now dispenses the gift of the Spirit to his people, and it empowers them to carry out gospel proclamation to all nations)
- To the Ends of the Earth - (The Gospel of the Kingdom announced by Jesus offers salvation and life to all men and women of every nation and people)