The church is called to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God in every inhabited corner of the earth before Jesus returns in glory.
After his resurrection, Jesus declared that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me; therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” During his ministry, the disciples were not to preach to the Gentiles, though he did so several times in anticipation of opening the gospel to the “nations.” But initially, they were to proclaim it only to the “lost sheep of Israel.”
Once Jesus was exalted and became Lord over all things, his followers were tasked with bringing the “good news of the Kingdom of God” to all nations – To Jews and Gentiles alike. Just before his ascension, he commanded the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they “received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.” Thereafter, they were to be “his witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost part of the earth” – (Acts 1:7-9).
The last clause is derived from the second Psalm, with its vision of the anointed Son of God ruling over the earth from David’s throne. According to the New Testament, the messianic reign of Jesus began with his resurrection and ascension:
- “I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said to me: You are art my son. This day, have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for thine inheritance, And the UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH for your possession” – (Psalm 2:7-8).
As the Messiah and the heir of Abraham, Jesus inherited the earth, including all nations. Therefore, his heralds must now take his message to the ends of the earth.
The Apostle Paul wrote a lengthy letter to the churches in Rome, congregations experiencing tensions between Jewish and Gentile members. He described himself as the “apostle to the Gentiles,” the envoy of the kingdom of God to the nations. As such, gospel proclamation was his primary concern.
- “I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith for faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith” – (Romans 1:14-17).
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul declared that the “righteousness of God” is received through faith in Jesus for all who believe, both Jew and Greek, for with God, “there is no distinction.” Everyone stands or falls before Him on the same basis.
Sin is the Great Leveler. It puts every man and woman in the same desperate place – both Jew and Gentile. Because “God is one” and the Creator of all men, He offers salvation to all regardless of anyone’s ethnicity, and all on the same basis. Understanding this proposition is key to understanding the first chapters of Romans:
- (Romans 3:22-30) – “A righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all that have faith; FOR THERE IS NO DISTINCTION, for all have sinned and lack the glory of God; being declared righteous freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… Where, then, is the boasting! It is excluded. Through what kind of law? Of works? Nay, but through a law of faith. For we reckon that a man is to be declared righteous by faith apart from works of law. Or is God the God of Jews only, and not of the Gentiles also? Yea! of the Gentiles also, If, at all events, God is one, who will declare righteous the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through their faith.”
Now, “in Christ,” all men receive right-standing before God on the same basis, whether Jew or Gentile, and that from the faith of Jesus. Therefore, there is no basis for human boasting or self-confidence, “since all have sinned and lack the glory of God.” Paul appealed to his monotheistic faith to support his proposition.
- “Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one and will justify the circumcised from faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”
Thus, no individual is more advantaged or disadvantaged before God because of his or her ethnicity, social position, economic status, or gender. As Paul wrote to the church at Colossae:
- “But now do you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to another; seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all and in all.” – (Colossians 3:9-11).
In Jesus, God is creating a new humanity, one comprised of men and women from every nation and culture, and He is shaping it to conform to the image of His Son. The traditional distinctions of race, gender, social and economic status are now inappropriate. What these individuals have in common is the “faith of Jesus.”
The announcement of this glorious salvation is one message intended for all men and women; the gospel of Jesus transcends all traditional man-made walls and divisions. All believers are the “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise” – (Galatians 3:28).
The primary task of the Church is to proclaim this good news in every inhabited corner of the earth, to “all nations.” The completion of this mission is necessary before the return of Jesus in glory. National borders, cultural imperatives, and ethnic barriers will not prevent the proclamation of the “kingdom of God” from reaching its ordained consummation – (Matthew 24:14).
The day is coming when the destructive works of the Devil will vanish from the earth. Sin, Satan, disease and the “last enemy, death,” will be eliminated from the earth. This grand victory will coincide with the “arrival” of Jesus in power at the “end of the age” when he resurrects the righteous dead, vanquishes “death,” rewards his faithful followers, and ushers in the completed kingdom in all its majesty – (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
Thereafter, God’s reign will prevail unhindered throughout the Universe. In the interim, His sons and daughters are called to proclaim this Good News to all men who will hear and respond to it in faith.