A common question we have heard over the years goes something like this, “Why are you going over there? There are plenty of people here in the United States who need to hear the gospel.” That is an honest question deserving of a well thought out and honest answer. In an attempt to provide such an answer, we will turn to our authoritative source, the Bible. There are many Scriptures that could be referenced explaining why anybody goes to a different land and\or people group, but here are the foundational Scriptures for us.
In Genesis chapter 12 we meet Abram, later to change his name to Abraham. God speaks to Abraham and tells him to leave his country and go to another land that God will reveal to him when he gets there. In a sense we’re already ahead of the game since we at least know where we are going. In the first three verses God makes a covenant agreement with Abraham in the form of promises. God promises to make Abraham the father of a great nation with multitudes of descendants, in addition to giving him the land. But there is a purpose statement, God didn’t do this just because He could-God promises to do all of this for Abraham so that Abraham would then be a blessing to the other nations. Being a blessing meant that Abraham would help the other nations, and more importantly, that Abraham and the nation of Israel would draw the other nations to the Living God. That was always the purpose for the nation of Israel, to show others what it meant to have a covenant relationship with God so that they would desire to then have the same covenant relationship. God’s plan from the very beginning was to include all the nations. This is our purpose too. In Galatians 3:6-9 Paul explains that Christians, by faith, are included in this Old Testament covenant.
“Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham, the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”
The Great Commission In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus commissioned all believers to communicate the gospel every person everywhere in the world. There are many more in-depth applications than we can’t go into here but here is a short analysis. First, Jesus has been given all authority on the basis of His death and resurrection. On His authority we are to go. And it is to be understood as going to a location different from the one in which we have lived. Then He gives us specifics of what we are to do when we get there; we are to make disciples of all the nations by baptizing them and teaching them to observe Jesus’ commands. This process is much more than imparting factual knowledge. We must live with and demonstrate the kind of life Jesus lived. This is what will draw people to Him. It requires time, it requires relationships. It is more than a classroom experience. This leads us to the Great Commandment.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Steven Hawthorne summarizes how these work together, “We cannot evangelize the peoples without excelling in love. And we cannot consider our evangelization complete unless people are growing in love for God and obeying Him by loving their neighbors.”
The Covenant, the Great Commission, and the Great Commandment; by faith, through Christ we are in a covenant relationship with God; based on Jesus’ full authority we have a mandate to go, teach and baptize, making disciples of the nations, and we are commanded to do it simply by loving God and loving others. Why? To bring God the glory and worship He deserves as the Sovereign Creator of the universe.