The Mandate for Missions (Matthew 28:19-20, Psalm 67:1-2)
There is a fundamental, life-transforming truth that we cannot miss as Christ-followers: We were created to impact all nations for the glory of Christ. The testimony of Scripture from Genesis to Revelations is that we were created to enjoy god's grace in relationship to him so that we may extend his glory to the ends of the earth. Matthew 28:19 commands and commissions us to "go and make disciples of all nations.." Sadly, we have often disconnected the blessings of God from the purpose of God. This has resulted in self-centered distortion of biblical Christianity where we know the first part of Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God," but fail to follow with the second part of the verse: "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth." The purpose behind God's blessing of his people is seen clearly in Psalm 67:1-2, "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations."
The Ultimate Goal of Mission (Genesis 12:1-3, Matthew 24:14, Revelation 5:9-10)
But what is the ultimate goal of mission? In order to answer this question, we must first understand what the phrase all nations means. The Greek is "panta ta ethne." This is where we get our English word, "ethnic." Another way to say this is the gospel will be preached to all the ethnic peoples or people groups of the world. So then, what is a people group? A people group is the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers to understanding and acceptance.
When we were in school, the world map was divided into countries and each country was a color. Maybe Pakistan was gree, China yellow, and India purple. India to us as school children was a single concept, a country or a nation in the way that we use the term "United Nations." However, the concept of a country as a geopolitical unit did not even develop fully until the fifteenth century in Europe. If you know a bit more about India, you know that it is a complex mosaic of different people groups with separate languages, customs, and religions.
Why is this significant? Because based on the biblical term "nations," this is how God sees the world. Now this makes the world much more complex. Three are approximately 11,690 people groups worldwide. But this is God's plan for the sake of his name: that the gospel would be preached to all people groups worldwide. God receives the greatest glory when all the people groups of the world glorify Him. Matthew 24:14 says, "This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
Throughout redemptive history, God has been calling out a people for himself from every nation to make a new people: the Bride of Christ, his Church. Revelation 5:9-10 says, "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open it's seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom of priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth.'"
God is creating new people for himself from every tribe, language, people, and nation. The ultimate goal of mission is a people from every nation that glorifies God. The ultimate goal of mission is God's glory extended to each and every people group.
The Church Is the Agent for Mission (Ephesians 1:22-23, Acts 1:8, 1 Corinthians 12)
The Church is the primary agent empowered by the Holy Spirit under the authority of Jesus to accomplish the great commission. We must partner with other churches and organizations, but not abdicate the centrality of the local church in global mission.
This is a paradigm shift away from "Which missionaries or mission agencies do we support? toward what specific role are we as a Church going to take in global mission?" We need to take responsibility for a specific part of the task to make disciples of all nations. We have made missions a spectator sport. Most of us sit in the stands watching the players do their own thing on the field and let the missionaries and mission organizations do the work of mission. Often we have sub-contracted our role in God's mission of making disciples of all nations. But the Church is the Bride and Body of Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, "And he put all things under his feet and gave hi as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." In Acts 1:8 we see the church empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness to the ends of the earth. In 1 Corinthians 12 we see each believer gifted for ministry and a necessary part of the body. Every believer is called to embrace God's mission and fulfill the role God designed for him or her in the Kingdom. The whole church must be released for the mission of making disciples of all nations.