SYNOPSIS: The mission of the church between now and the return of Jesus is to preach the Gospel to all nations – Matthew 24:14.
The message proclaimed by Jesus is summarized by the New Testament as, the “Good News of the Kingdom of God.” In Jesus, the final rule of God over all creation is being established, although often in unexpected and paradoxical ways. This process will consummate with the absolute and total sovereignty of God over the Cosmos and the defeat of all His enemies.
All this will occur by the time Jesus returns in glory, including the cessation of Death. Therefore, all men and women are summoned to respond decisively while there is still time. Among other things, this means a complete reorientation of life. Nothing is more vital than how one responds to the call to repent and believe the “good news” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
(Mark 1:14-15) – “And after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the glad-message of God, 15 [and saying]—The season is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God hath drawn near,—Repent ye, and have faith in the glad-message.” – (The Emphasized Bible – Compare Matthew 3:2, 4:17).
In his Death and Resurrection, Jesus defeated all the forces that are hostile to God, including Satan, death, and sin. His resurrection signaled the commencement of the “last days” and the exaltation of the Son to reign from the “right hand of God,” just as Yahweh promised in the Hebrew Bible:
(Psalm 2:2-8) – “The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against Yahweh, and against his anointed…I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
(Psalm 110:1) – “Yahweh saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
(Acts 4:23-28) – “And being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said unto them. And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David thy servant, didst say, Why did the Gentiles rage, And the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, And the rulers were gathered together, Against the Lord, and against his Anointed: for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.”
(Hebrews 1:1-3) – “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and pholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
All this means that the “ends of the ages have arrived” upon the followers of Jesus, his disciples. Even now, 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 already been achieved on the Cross of Christ; already, Jesus reigns from the right hand of God (1Corinthians 7:29-31, 2 Corinthians 5:16-18).
The final overthrow of Satan is based on the past Death and Resurrection of Jesus. In the interim, the Son of God is in the process of putting down all powers and regimes opposed to his rule, until all that remains is God’s unopposed reign (Hebrews 1:5-14, Revelation 1:4-6).
Consequently, the Church is tasked by Jesus to proclaim, the “Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations,” from now until the present age is consummated. Christians must, therefore, “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.” Believers are the “witnesses” and envoys of Christ sent to summon all men so that the “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:45-48).
At his ascension, Jesus commanded the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until “they received power after the Holy Spirit came upon them.” Afterward, they would become his witnesses, “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:7-9).
Jesus tasked his people to proclaim repentance to men and women from every nation, “for the blotting out of their sins; to the end, there may come seasons of refreshing from the face of the Lord, and he may send forth him who had been appointed for you, Christ Jesus, unto whom heaven must needs to give welcome until the times of the due establishment of all things” (Acts 3:19-21).
This mission must continue until the very end. Nowhere did Jesus order his people to engage in the social, economic, or political reformation of the fallen world order. Instead, they are to call out and prepare people for life in the “age to come.” The present order has already been judged on Calvary and, even now, is in the process of “passing away”; to expend effort to fix or reform it is pointless (1 Corinthians 7:29-31, 15:24-28).
When Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the disciples asked when that event would occur, as well as what would be the sign of the end of the age and the arrival of Christ in glory (Matthew 24:1-3).
To the first question, Jesus responded – Before the passing of the generation contemporary with him. To the second question, he warned – No one EXCEPT GOD ALONE knows the hour, day, “season,” “seasons” or “times” of the coming of the Son of Man and the consummation of the kingdom. There is one factor on the earth that determines “when” he will return – “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).
The completion of this mission is the “sign” of the end, not the rebuilding of a physical temple in Jerusalem, nuclear war, earthquakes, famines, or celestial events. The end of this age cannot come until the task of gospel proclamation is completed. The very fact that the “end” has not arrived is irrefutable evidence that the church’s mission remains incomplete.
A logical inference from this prediction is that the Church will remain on the earth to carry out its mission until the very end; otherwise, no one will remain to bear witness to the nations. And the present state is to continue “until the full number of the nations is gathered,” the full harvest of souls (Romans 11:25-26, Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9).
The spread of Christianity cannot be used to calculate the proximity of the end. However, since the end has not yet arrived, the task of the church remains unfinished. And all who wait anxiously for his arrival preach the Gospel (2 Timothy 4:8)!!