The mission of the church between now and the return of Jesus is to announce the Good News of his Kingdom to all nations.
The New Testament summarizes the message proclaimed by Jesus as the “good news of the Kingdom of God.” In Christ, God’s final rule over all creation is being established, although in unexpected and paradoxical ways. By the time he arrives in glory, he will have established the total sovereignty of his Father over the Cosmos and overthrown all His enemies, and above all, Death.
All men are summoned to respond decisively to his offer of life while the opportunity remains. The day is approaching when it will be too late to respond positively to the gospel. And embracing his message requires a complete reorientation of life. Nothing is more vital than how we respond to the call to believe the “good news.”
By his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated all forces that were hostile to God, including Satan, Death, and sin. His resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit signaled the commencement of the “last days” – the reign of the Son at the “right hand of God” – just as Yahweh promised in the Hebrew Bible – (Psalm 2:2-8, 110:1).
His victory on Golgotha means that the “ends of the ages have arrived.” 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. Already, Jesus reigns on the “throne of David” at the right hand of God – (1 Corinthians 7:29-31, 2 Corinthians 5:16-18).
Satan’s defeat was achieved on Calvary. Since then, the Son of God has been putting down all powers and regimes opposed to his rule until all that will remain is the unopposed reign of the Almighty throughout the Cosmos – (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Hebrews 1:5-14, Revelation 1:4-6).
Consequently, the Church has been tasked with proclaiming the “gospel of the Kingdom to all nations” until the very final moment of his return in glory. And since he now reigns, it is imperative that his followers herald his victory throughout the earth – “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 his “witnesses,” the envoys of King Jesus sent to summon all men to enter his kingdom, to preach “repentance and remission of sins in his name among all nations.” At his ascension, he commanded the disciples to tarry until “they received power after the Holy Spirit came upon them” and thereby become his “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” – to men and women from every nation – (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:45-48, Acts 1:7-9, 3:19-21).
That mission must continue until the “end,” to the very day and hour when he appears “on the clouds of heaven.” Nowhere did Jesus order his disciples to engage in the social, economic, or political reformation of the existing world order. Instead, he tasked them with preparing a people for everlasting life in the “age to come.”
The present order and institutions of this age have been judged already on the Cross; even now, they are in the process of “passing away.” To spend time and effort reforming the things that have been judged and sentenced to disappear is pointless. “Why work for the meat that perishes?”
When Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, the disciples asked when it would occur, and what would be the “sign” of the “coming of the Son of Man.” To the first question, he responded, before the termination of the generation that was contemporary with him. To the second, he warned, no one EXCEPT GOD ALONE knows the hour, day, “season,” “seasons” or “times” of his return. But there is one factor on the earth that will determine “when” he will appear:
- “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, Acts 1:6-8).
The completion of that mission is THE “sign” of the “end,” for 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; therefore, all who wait anxiously for his “arrival” must, above all else, preach the Gospel!