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Our Global Missions Mandate

By Anthony English, Aug 15, 2023

The one true God—revealed in creation, our conscience, and the Scriptures—is a God of missions. As His people, we are called to be like Him (Ephesians 5:1). This means as His heart beats for global missions, so our hearts must beat for global missions. As His focus is on the nations coming to Christ, so our focus must be on the nations coming to Christ. As our Savior went to seek and to save the lost, so we should be focused on seeking the lost so that they too may find salvation in Jesus Christ. Throughout the Bible, we see our missions mandate given many times. Two of the main places we see this is in the Abrahamic Covenant and the Great Commission.

The Missions Mandate in the Abrahamic Covenant

While there are many places we can turn to in the Old Testament to see God’s missions mandate given to His people, let’s consider the Abrahamic Covenant found in Genesis 12:1-3, which is the core of the missions mandate in the Old Testament: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on Earth will be blessed through you.’” This covenant with Abram began to find partial fulfillment in the story of his physical descendants, the nation of Israel.

Although there were times when Israel did indeed partially fulfill this calling to be a light to the surrounding pagan nations (Deuteronomy 4:5-8; 1 Kings 4:29-34), they never fully lived up to this calling. However, God had something even more grand in mind regarding the fulfilment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Verse 3 is the key to the Abrahamic Covenant as we see why God chose Abram and the nation of Israel. He chose them to bless others. And the greatest blessing a fallen sinner can receive is to be brought into a right relationship with their Creator which only happens through Abraham’s ultimate descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16)! Jesus is the central fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and it is through Him alone that all the peoples on Earth receive the blessing of eternal salvation.

The Missions Mandate in the Great Commission

How do the peoples of the world learn about this blessing? This is where global missions most clearly comes into focus. They learn about God’s free gift of salvation through His Church, through us! In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul makes it clear that God calls the elect to Himself by the Spirit through the gospel that we share and proclaim to those who are spiritually lost. God not only ordains the end (the salvation of the elect) but the means as well (local and global evangelism). God uses us in global missions to call His people home to Himself.

In Matthew 28:16- 20, which the Church calls “The Great Commission,” the Apostle Matthew wrote, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” This is where we find the core of the missions mandate in the New Testament. Because Jesus is the one who has received all authority in heaven and earth due to His accomplishing the work of redemption, He commands us as His Church to go to all nations with His gospel of salvation, which points us back to the Abrahamic Covenant. The Great Commission is the primary outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant as the nations on Earth hear and receive the blessing of eternal salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus alone.

All the Nations?

The word “nations” in Matthew 28:19 should draw our attention back to the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12:1-3. In Matthew 28:19, the word for “nations” in the Greek is translated to “ethnos” which is ethnic or people groups bound together by cultural, physical, or geographic ties. In other words, God tells Abraham that all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through Him. And in the Great Commission, Jesus tells His disciples (and the rest of the Church by extension) to go to all the nations, all the people groups, with the gospel of blessing! Jesus continues to bless all the peoples on Earth through His Church obeying His Great Commission.

Our Response

Will we take the missions mandate given to us by our Lord seriously? My prayer is that we would. If we want to see people across the street and across the sea come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then we must pray, give, and go. May the Holy Spirit empower us for this great work!

Scripture references throughout are from the New International Version 1984.

Anthony English
Anthony English is the assistant director of Mission to the World’s West Coast Hub and national diversity mobilizer. He is currently enrolled at Birmingham Theological Seminary where he's pursuing a Master of Arts in public theology. He has a heart for evangelism and apologetics as well as helping Christians of color find their place in what God is doing among the nations. Anthony and his wife live in Northern California with their three boys and are members at New City Fellowship of Sacramento.
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