The Story — G2R

Brad Taylor
28 min readNov 26, 2020
Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 20:18–20) {Commonly known as The Great Commission}

Have you ever looked at your Bible and thought, the Great Commission is only three verses out of this very, very, very thick book. The Bible is a really big book. I mean a really thick book. The Great Commission is only three verses out of more than 30,000 verses in the Bible. That’s less than 0.01% of the verses in the Bible. In fact, the Great Commission is only 68 words out of more than 770,000 words in the Bible. That is less than 0.009% of the words in the Bible.

Why are people “Going” for only three verses out of the entire Bible? People are giving up everything they have, moving to distant countries, living in cultures where they don’t know the language, where they don’t know the customs, living far away from family and friends, some are even giving their very lives for less than 0.01% of the entire Bible. I don’t know about you, but when I think about it this way it makes me think what those people are doing is extremely crazy. If they’re doing these things, making these sacrifices, for only three verses out of a very thick book it just doesn’t seem logical — or even right.

Pre-Test: Remember those classes you had in school where the instructor gave you a test at the beginning of the class to see how much of the material you understood or remembered from the the previous class. Let’s take a pre-test before we begin our adventure through the Bible. Take this quick test. Finish this Bible verse, “Be still and …” Don’t cheat and look it up. Try to quote it from memory. Can you finish it? Good. We will come back to this verse at the completion of our journey through the Bible.

Now, a short language-translation lesson. The phrase “nations” in the Great Commission verses (Mt 28:18–20) comes from the Greek word “ethne”. This is the same root word from which we get our English word “ethnic.” In the Great Commission Jesus is not referring to geo-political nations such as Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia, etc. He is referring to individual groups of ethnic people. People who are linked together by language, culture, history, etc. These groups of people are commonly referred to as “people groups.” In Jesus’ day they didn’t have nations as we think about them today. They had empires and our modern day concept of nations would have been foreign to them.

Within a geo-political country there can be many people groups. For example, in the country of India there are over 2,000 different people groups. In the United States there are over 350 different people groups. The defining of where one people group ends and another people group begins is somewhat arbitrary. This can be seen in the following example. The Joshua Project has broken the world into more than 16,000 different people groups while the World Christian Data base lists over 13,000 different people groups. This variation in the number of people groups between these respected organizations points out the difficulty in determining where one people group ends and another begins. Probably the best way to think of a people group is that those inside the people group refer to themselves as “we” and those they see as being outside their people group are referred to as “they”. I agree, it’s not the most scientific definition but it does help us get a feel for what is meant by the term “people group”.

My Proposition: The Great Commandment is a Summary of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation: Could it be that the Great Commission is not just three verses out of the 30,000 verses in the Bible? Or not just 68 words out of the more 770,000 words in the Bible? Could it be that the Great Commission is not just 0.01% of the Bible but the Great Commission is a summary of the Bible story from Genesis to Revelation? That, just maybe, the Great Commission is a summary of what ties together all the Bible. All the stories, all the principles, and all the teachings found in the Bible are tied together to form One Big, Coherent Story that is summarized in the Great Commission.

The Beginning

Remember the early church, the church of the New Testament, did not have the New Testament to use as a basis for missions. Could this mean that the mission of the church is not grounded on one passage from the New Testament or even the entire New Testament itself? Could this mean that the mission of the church could be based in the Old Testament? Before quickly dismissing this possibility, please think about it with me. The New Testament church used their Scriptures, which we know as the Old Testament, and what Jesus taught as their basis for missions. At least consider the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, the mission of the church is grounded in the Old Testament.

The Apostles thought it was important to “Go” — to take the Gospel to those who had not heard. All but one died far away from Jerusalem taking the Gospel to those who had not yet heard. Remember they couldn’t travel by plane, car, or bus.

Purpose of the Bible

Please remember, the Bible is not a book whose primary objective is to give you answers to all of your questions. To give you a list of Do’s and Don’ts to guide your life. To make “You” the focus and main character of the story. The Bible is first and foremost a book about God. God is the main character and the primary focus of the Bible. Therefore as we go through the Bible our purpose is to “Get to Know God”. To know God’s heart. To know God’s plan. To know God’s character. To know more about Who is God. It is not to answer every question that someone can ask. Some things God reveals to us and others He doesn’t “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Our Purpose

Our purpose in learning this material is To Glorify God by Making Disciples of All Nations (1 Cor 10:31; Mt 28:18–20; Act 1:8). Our purpose is not to gain more Bible knowledge for the purpose of gaining more knowledge. Acquiring more knowledge of God does not Glorify God by Making Disciples of All Nations. Jesus does not say “If you love me you will learn more about me”. Jesus does say “If you love me you will do what I command” (Jn 14:15; Jn 14:21; Jn 14:23–24; Jn 15:10; Jn 15:14: 1 Jn 3:24; 1 Jn 5:3; 1 Pet 1:1–2).

Let’s begin our journey through the Bible by starting at the beginning. Using the same Scriptures, the same texts that the Apostles had to use. These same Apostles who traveled hundreds, sometime thousands of miles for the Gospel. Who were willing and did die for this Gospel.

Creation: (Genesis 1–2)

In the beginning God created everything (Gen 1:1). He created the Earth. He created Light. He created the Sun and the Moon and the Starts. He created the Oceans and the Land. He created the Plants. He created the Birds that fly, the Fish that swim, and the Animals that walk. And he created Man — Human Beings. He created Everything! And when He was finished He said of a All His creation — “… it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

Sin/Death: (Genesis 3–11)

(Gen 3)God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden to care for God’s creation. They were put in charge of all of God’s creation. And, they were told they could eat of every plant in the Garden except for one. Yet, Adam and Eve decided they knew best. They knew better than God. They wanted to be like God themselves and so they disobeyed God. They broke His Moral Standard — which we call “Sin”. When they ate from the tree God told them not to eat they realized they were naked, they were ashamed, and they hid from God. God provided a covering for their shame which was caused by their sin. He killed an animal to provide them with animal skin to cover their nakedness. God also removes them from the Garden of Eden and prevents them from ever having the possibility of returning to the Garden. By doing this God was showing that there is a price to be paid for breaking His Moral Standard/Law. That price is Death! Something must die to pay the price of the “sin”.

(Gen 6–9) Later we find all of mankind has become so evil that God destroys/kills with a Flood every person that was living at that time except for Noah and his family — 8 people total were saved. God was once again showing the seriousness of breaking His Moral Standard (sin).

(Gen 11) After the Flood we find the world coming together to try and build a tower that reaches to heaven for the purpose of “making a name for themselves” (Gen 11:4). To make their names great and not God’s. God makes the people speak in many different languages so that they can’t communicate and they spread out over all the world. Once again, God is showing the seriousness of breaking His Moral Standard (sin) — in this case the sin was making their own names great and not making God’s Name great.

The Promise: (Gen 12)

Now we come to Genesis 12 and a man named Abram — whose name God will change to Abraham. God makes a promise to Abraham. God says to Abraham, “Abram I am going to bless you. But I’m not going to bless you so you and your family can sit around and talk about how good God is because of all the blessings He has has given you. No! Abram I’m going to bless you so that All Nations of the World will be blessed through you” (my paraphrase) (Gen 12:1–3). God was going to bless Abram in order to bless All the World.

God then repeats this same promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Gen 26:2–5) and to Isaac’s son Jacob (Gen 28:13–15). Jacob’s name is later changed by God to Israel and he has twelve sons who become the twelve tribes of Israel.

How important is The Promise given to Abraham? It is referred to more than 400 times throughout the remainder of the Bible. Peter refers to this Promise given to Abraham as the Gospel (Acts 3:24–26). Paul also refers to this Promise as the Gospel (Gal 3:8–9). This Promised Blessing is the Messiah — Jesus Christ — the Gospel — The Savior of the World (1 Cor 15:1–9)

Israel/Joseph/Slavery: (Genesis 12–50)

One of Jacob/Israel’s sons is named Joseph. Joseph is Israel’s favorite son but strongly disliked by his other brothers. The brothers sell Joseph into slavery and Joseph ends up in Egypt in prison for something he did not do. Through a series of circumstances ordered by God Joseph becomes the most powerful person in Egypt except for Pharaoh (Gen 41:30–41).

Joseph makes plans for the coming famine and begins to store food for the famine. When the famine arrives Jacob/Israel sends his sons to Egypt to get food — where they must get the food from Joseph. When they realize it’s Joseph they believe Joseph will kill them, but Joseph tells them what they intended for bad (selling him into slavery) God used for good (saving Israel during the famine).

Jacob/Israel, all of his sons, and their families move to Egypt where Joseph takes care of them during the famine. Approximately 70–80 people total now make up Israel and are living in Egypt (Gen 46:26).

Exodus: (Exodus)

Time passes. Joseph and Jacob/Israel die. There remains no leader in Egypt that remembers Joseph. The Pharaoh sees the Israelites as a threat because they are becoming so numerous. He is not exaggerating in this assessment. When Israel finally leaves Egypt they number about 2 million people (Ex 12:37). The Pharaoh makes the Israelites slaves of the Egyptians. The Israelites cry out to God to free them from their slavery. After 400 years in Egypt God chooses a man named Moses to be the leader that will free Israel.

The Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go free so God sends the Ten Plagues on the nation of Israel. After the 10th Plague — the death of the firstborn son of each Egyptian household — Pharaoh allows the Israelites (~ 2 million of them) to leave Egypt. This is what we know as the Exodus. During this Exodus from Egypt God parts the Red Sea for Israel to pass through and then closes the parted sea killing the Egyptian army. God leads the nation of Israel with a Cloud during the day and a Pillar of Fire at night.

Why did God do this? What was the purpose of the Exodus? God’s Purpose in the Exodus was to Make His Name Great! It was not to make Israel’s name great. (Deut 4:32–38; Ps 106:7–11). Nehemiah makes this clear in Nehemiah 9:9–10 which is approximately 800 years after the Exodus. God’s Name is still being made great because of what He did in taking Israel out of Egypt. The Exodus was about making God’s Name great in All the World.

The Promised Land/Israel’s Purpose: (Exodus — Ruth)

Why Did God Choose Israel? God didn’t choose Israel because they were the most numerous (Deut 7:6–9) or because they were the best or most righteous (Deut 9:4–7). In fact God calls them “a stubborn people”. God chose them because He had a purpose for them. God’s purpose for Israel was that they would be a Light to the Gentiles and make His salvation known to all the earth (Isa 49:6; Isa 42:1–4; Ps 96).

God’s purpose for Israel is for them to be “… a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.” ( Ex 19:3–6; Deut 11:26–28). Do priests minister to themselves? No! Priests serve others bringing them into the presence of God. Israel was not chosen as a kingdom of priests to minister to themselves. They were chosen as a kingdom of priests to minister to the world by introducing them to and bringing them into the presence of the One True God.

God chose Israel to make a Name for Himself in all the world because as He says “… Has any god every attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation …” (Deut 4:32–34). God was doing something that had Never been done before and by doing so He was Making His Name the Greatest in All the World.

Why the Promised Land? Because God had a purpose for Israel in the Promised Land. The Promised Land was to be a land blessed by God (Deut 6:10–12; Deut 8:6–9; Deut 11:10–12; Ezek 20:6). It was placed at the center of two major trade routes of the world (Ezek 5:5). It’s purpose was to display God’s Splendor (Ezek 16:14) so that other nations would see Israel and God’s Name would be great in All the Earth. All the people of the world would see this nation of people chosen and blessed by God and want to know who is this God that so blesses His people.

Even the Temple that Israel built in the Promised Land was so that All Nations would come and worship Him at the Temple (2 Chron 6:32–33; Isa 56:3–7).

Why? Because of The Vision of what God intends:

A People for the Display of His Glory that will attract All Nations to Himself to Worship Him.

Captivity (1 Samuel — 2 Chronicles & Isaiah — Zepheniah)

How did Israel do at fulfilling their Mission? They did fairly well for a time. David was called “a man after God’s own heart” and enjoyed the favor of God (Acts 7:45–46; Acts 13:22). He had a few hiccups along the way. But overall David understood the mission to reach the Nations. His Psalms are filled with references to the nations.

David’s son, Solomon, follows in his father David’s footsteps and starts out very strong. God makes Solomon the richest and wisest king in the world. The nations of the world wanted to come and talk with him — remember the Queen of Sheeba (1 Kings 10:23–24). They wanted to see who is this God of Israel that could so bless a nation and a king. Thus, making God’s Name great in the World.

However, eventually Solomon begins to drift away from the mission. He begins to take wives from other nations. Something forbidden by God. To appease these wives Solomon built altars to these false gods. He, his wives, and Israel begin to worship these false gods along with the One True God (1 Kings 10:26–11:11).

Israel is eventually divided into two nations. The northern 10 tribes being known as Israel and the southern 2 tribe (Benjamin and Judah) being known as Judah. They had corrupted the worship of the One True God with the worship of false gods. Now, when the nations of the world looked at Israel they couldn’t distinguish between the One True God and the false gods. Israel was not fulfilling God’s mission of being a Light to the Nation to point them to the One True God. Making His Name great and His Salvation known among the Nations.

God sends those Old Testament prophets to Israel — those many times difficult to understand books. The prophets come to Israel and Judah with a message from God telling them “Return to the mission I gave you Israel. Stop the idolatry! Now, when the nations look at you they don’t see Me. Because you, Israel, have mixed the worship of Me together with the worship of false gods. When the nations look at you they don’t know Who I Am.”

Israel refuses to listen to the warnings of the prophets sent by God. So, God sends them into captivity and destroys Jerusalem because of their idolatry. The northern ten tribes (now called Israel) are taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Later the southern two tribes (now called Judah) are taken into captivity by the Babylonians.

Even with Israel now in Exile God was still about making His Name great among the nations and His Glory known in all the earth. Think about what God did through Israel during the Exile.

1st Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream twice (two different dreams) and the king sends out a statement to his empire proclaiming the greatness of Daniel’s God (Dan 2:46–49; Dan 4:34–35).

2nd Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo are thrown into the fiery furnace. When they come out unhurt King Nebuchadnezzar sends out word to his entire kingdom that their God is the True God (Dan 3:28–29).

3rd Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den at the order of King Darius. When Daniel exits the lion’s den unharmed King Darius sends word to his kingdom that Daniel serves the One True God (Dan 6:25–27).

Even with His people in exile/captivity God is still about His Primary Mission: Making His Name Great in All the World!

Rebuilding: (Ezra — Esther & Haggai — Malachi)

Eventually God brings Israel back to the Jerusalem that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. God has Israel rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the city itself. Why does God have them rebuild Jerusalem? Is it for Israel? Hopefully, by now you are starting to catch on to the common theme: God is about Making His Name Great in All the World! God has Israel return and rebuild Jerusalem for His own joy, praise, and honor before All the Nations of the earth. God has Israel do this for Himself. So that His Name would be made great in All the Earth (Jer 33:6–9; Ezek 36:16–36).

What is God’s Purpose in All He Has Done to This Point?

We find a concise summary in the last book of the Old Testament — Malachi — where God says:

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting My Name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My Name, and a pure offering. For My Name will be great among the nations.” (Malachi 1:11) (bold and capitalization added for emphasis)

God does all these things so His Name will be great among the nations so that people from all over the earth will worship Him. That’s why He’s doing all this. The phrases “nations, all nations, all the world, all the earth, all peoples, etc” appear more that 2,000 times in the Bible. This book, the Bible, from the beginning is about people from all the nations (ethnic groups) of the world worshipping God.

Jesus’ Birth/Early Life: (Matthew — John)

In the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament (Matt 1:1) Jesus is traced back to Abraham. Tying Jesus to The Promise given to Abraham of being The Blessing through which all nations will be blessed. We are further told that Jesus will be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us”. (Matt 1:23).

We see John the Baptist crying out to Israel regarding Jesus saying, “Israel, wake up! Here He is, ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.’ (Jn 1:29) Here is the promised blessing given to our father Abraham. The one through whom all the world will be blessed. He is here walking among us”.

Jesus’ Ministry/Purpose: (Matthew — John)

Jesus tells us He came to “seek and to save what was lost” and this was foretold in the Old Testament (Luke 19:10; Ezekiel 34:11–16). Why was Jesus doing this? Surely you know the answer by now. Just in case you’re not sure Jesus tells us. Jesus is speaking the night He would be arrested and says:

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27–28)

Jesus came so that the Father’s Name would be glorified and to do the Father’s Will not His own will (John 17:4, Jn 5:30, Jn 6:38). Even our own salvation is for the Glory of God. The Name of God. The Image of God. The Renown of God. As God makes clear to us when He says (Eph 1;4–6;; Isa 43:25; Isa 26:8; Psalms 25:11; Rms 1:4–5)

“… your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)

Jesus’ Death/Burial/Resurrection: (Matt 26ff; Mark 14ff; Luke 22ff; Jn 13ff; Acts 1:1–8)

At the end of Jesus’ time on earth He is arrested, tried, convicted, crucified, buried, and then He rises from the dead and interacts with His followers for forty days. Just as it was predicted of Him hundreds of years before in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1–9; Luke 24:44–48). This is the Blessing for All Nations that God spoke about with Abraham. That the Nations (ethnic groups) of the World could participate in The Promise through Faith. And this Blessing (Jesus) is the Only Way to the Father (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 10:9–10).

The Great Commission: (Matthew — Acts)

At the end of the forty days Jesus gave His followers His last words and then was taken up to heaven before their eyes. Think about it. If you knew you had only a few minutes remaining on this earth with those closest to you what would you say to them? What would you tell them? My guess is you would want to tell them what you believe is the most important thing for them to remember. I doubt it would be something new. Something you hadn’t told them before. No, you would want to reemphasize the most important thing you have been trying to teach them. In the same way Jesus’ last words to His followers must be important. What are His last words to His followers? They are:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses to Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Act 1:8)

He gives them what we refer to as the Great Commission. This wasn’t some new concept they had never known or heard about. This was simply a reminder of what Jesus’ mission on this earth was all about. And, now, what their mission on this earth was all about — Making God’s Name great in All the World. Taking His Salvation to all groups of people.

Think about it. When Jesus called His followers what did He say to them? He said, “Come follow me … and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). The purpose of Jesus’ three year training program for His followers was to make them “Fishers of Men”. Not to make them great theologians, some super spiritual band of followers, or the “chosen group” with special privileges. No!

The training program was to make them “Fishers of Men”. With His last words Jesus is reminding them, commissioning them, letting them know that now they have completed the training program. When the Holy Spirit comes on them they will be ready to begin the mission God has for them (Luke 24:47–49; Act 1:6–8). He is telling His followers it is now time to “Go”.

The importance of Jesus giving them the Great Commission is driven home by the fact that it is recorded in all four Gospels and the book of Acts (Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–20; Luke 24:45–53; John 20:21; Acts 1:6–8). We don’t have much recorded of what Jesus said between His resurrection and return to the Father. We have the following topics recorded:

  • Chastising His followers for doubting His resurrection — 3 times (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:13–35; John 20:24–29))
  • Talking with the women at the empty tomb — 2 times (Matthew 28:9–10; John 20:11–18)
  • Talking with Peter — 1 time (John 21:15–23)
  • Breakfast with the Disciples — 1 time (John 21:1–14)
  • Blessing His followers — 1 time (Luke 24:50–52)

But the Great Commission is recorded 5 times and is given by Jesus in at least three different locations (possibly four different locations -the location in Mark is difficult to pinpoint):

1. The mountain in Galilee (Matt 28:18–20)

2. Sunday evening in a room in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36–49; Mark 16:15–20; John 20:19–23)

3. Mount of Olives before His ascension (Acts 1:6–9; Mark 16:15–20)

{4} Possible additional location around a table (Mark 16:15–20)

The Church: (Acts — Jude)

What about us — today? That was way back then and this is now. Does any of this even apply to us today? Paul tells us that we, as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, are now participants in that Blessing promised to Abraham. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that one becomes a child of Abraham through the Promise (Galatians 3:6–9; Galatians 3:14; Galatians 3:26–29; Romans 4:9–12; Romans 9:6–7). Just as Abraham was blessed to be a blessing to all people we are blessed through this same promise to be a blessing to all people. Abraham wasn’t blessed by God so he and his family could sit around, talk about how good God had been to them, and keep the blessing to themselves. In the same way, we are not “blessed through the Promise” so we can sit around, talk about how good God is to us, and keep the blessing to ourselves.

God told Israel they were to be a “Kingdom of Priests” (Exodus 19:5–6). The function of Priests being to serve others bringing them into the presence of God. Look at what God says about us — the church?

“… because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:15b-16)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession …” (1 Peter 2:9a). We are now “Priests” and for what purpose?

“… that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9b).

In the same way as Abraham and Israel, we (as the church — the Body of Christ) are to take God’s message of Salvation to all the world for God’s Name and Glory. We, the church, are “Priests” chosen by God (Revelation 1:4–6; Revelation 5:9–10). We are to be Priests who do not serve ourselves, but to be “Priests” for The World — All the Nations — All the Groups of People (Isaiah 49:6).

We, as the Church (the Body of Christ), are now tasked with the mission of joining God in His worldwide operation of making His Name great among all the people of the earth.

God’s Plan: (Revelation)

What is God’s Purpose in doing all this? What is His ultimate objective? It is what I like to call the Great Party. Heaven is going to be the biggest party you can possible imagine. A party that never will end. It’s not going to be endless harp recitals or angels flying overhead in formation as we all clap. It’s going to be one big, awesome, amazing, indescribable party.

What will this party look like? It will have people from every tribe, people, language, and nation in heaven worshipping God. That is the ultimate objective of God’s worldwide mission. That there will be people from every tribe, people, language, and nation worshipping God (Revelation 5:9–12; Revelation 7:9–10).

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, …” (Revelation 7:9)

Because there are not people from every tribe, people, language, and nation in heaven worshipping God the mission (God’s worldwide operation) continues. The mission of making God’s Name great among the nations and His salvation known among all the earth. We, as members of God’s family, have the privilege of being part of what God is doing so that:

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting My Name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My Name, and a pure offering. For My Name will be great among the nations.” (Malachi 1:11) (bold and capitalization added for emphasis)

The Great Party (2 Conditions):

Do you want to go to The Great Party — Heaven? Are you ready to die? No, you’re not ready to die? Then what is your plan for getting to The Great Party? There is another option for getting to The Great Party. Two conditions that must be satisfied before The Great Party begins:

1st And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

You want to go to The Party. Then you should be a part of taking the Gospel to all the world so that the end of this world as we know it will come.

2nd “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had born. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.” (Revelation 6:9–11)

We must understand that as we “GO” with the purpose of making God’s Name great in all the world that some of us will be killed for the Word of God and for our Witness for Him. Apparently there is a pre-determined number of believers that must be martyred before The Great Party will begin. It is not our decision as to who these will be — or will not be (Act 12:1–19). It is God’s decision as to who will be included in completing this “number of their fellow servants”. This means you, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your loved ones, your friends may be some of those included in this number of martyrs as they “GO”. We must understand and accept this truth.

When we see Death as a Reward then we will be willing to Go, Suffer, and Die (if need be) for the Gospel and God’s Great Worldwide Operation!

The Great Commission Revisited: (Mt 28:18–20; Mk 16:15–20; Lk 24:45–53; Jn 20:21; Acts 1:6–8)

With this background it places The Great Commission in a different light. The Great Commission is not just three verses out of the Bible. It is not simply 0.01% of the Bible. The Great Commission is a summary of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It is the common theme from the beginning to the end of God making His Name great among the nations. God revealing His Glory to all People. Of God making His Salvation known in all the earth.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 20:18–20)

People are not “Going” for three verses out of the Bible. People are “Going” for the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The Great Commission is now seen as a brief summary of the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. A better understanding of the word “Go” in The Great Commission may be “As You Go” or simply “Going”. The early church never considered the fact there was a possibility of not going. The early church never considered the possibility of not going and keeping the Blessing to themselves. The operative adjective to describe the early church was “Go” or “Going”. It wasn’t “Hang-on” or “Wait and Debate what does Go really mean”. They went. In the same way the operative adjective of the church today (of which we are a part) should be the same word “Go”. It should not be “Wait and debate the real meaning of the word Go”.

Your Life’s Purpose: (1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8)

From Genesis to Revelation we have seen God is a Missionary God whose heart is to reach all peoples of the world with His Glory and Salvation. To make His Name Great in All the World so that He will be worshipped from the rising to the setting of the sun.

If this is God’s heart AND God says if we love Him we will obey Him — do what He commands (Jn 14:15; Jn 14:21; Jn 14:23–24; Jn 15:10; Jn 15:14: 1 Jn 3:24; 1 Jn 5:3; 1 Pet 1:1–2). Then it seems we have no choice. We must be active participants in God’s worldwide operation of “Missions” in reaching All Peoples of the World with His message of Salvation — The Gospel.

Summing All This Up:

What Is Your Purpose in Life? Your purpose in life is: “To Glorify God by Making Disciples of All Nations”. That’s It! You were not created and saved to have a nice job, have a nice house, drive a nice car, get a college degree, have a nice comfortable and convenient life, etc. Just as Jesus set the example for us saying He came to do His Father’s will and not His own (John 6:37–40). And, on the night He was arrested He asked the Father “If there is anyway I don’t have to go through this please let me out of this. But, Father, your will be done — not Mine. Father Glorify Your Name.” (my paraphrase of Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Lk 22:42; John 12:27–28). It is not about you, your goals, your dreams, your plans, or your desires. Once you become a Believer God owns you and He sets your goals, your dreams, your plans, and your desires. Not You!

You were saved for God and His Name/Image/Glory/Reputation/Renown (Ephesians 1:4–6; Psalm 25:11, 1 John 2:12; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 26:8; Romans 1:4–5). We as a group of saved people form the church whose purpose is that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesian 3:10). How do we do this? By showing our love to God through our obedience to what He says/commands and living our lives “To Glorify God by Making Disciples of All Nations”. This is why throughout church history people have been obedient to Christ’s command to “Go” and be His witnesses to All the World. We should do the Same!

The Post-Test: “Be Still and Know …”

Remember the pre-test. Could you finish quoting the verse? Most people quote it like this:

“Be still and know that I am God.” Did you know that is only part of the verse. The complete verse is:

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Even this verse, that many of us have quoted frequently, is about God being exalted in all the earth and among all the nations. It’s about God’s Name and His Glory being made known in all the earth among all peoples of the earth. Even this verse is a missionary verse.

God Is a Missionary God:

From the very beginning we have seen that God is a missionary God by His very nature. He is a “sending” God that calls people to Himself and then “sends” them out to the nations. He sends them to be a Light to the Nations, to make His Salvation known among all peoples of the earth, to be Priests to the world to bring people to Himself. Why? For His Name’s Sake and for His Glory. Now, His Church is His missionary community through which He works for His Name, His Glory, His Reputation, His Image. Why does He do this? So that there will be people from every nation, tribe, language, and ethnic/people group worshipping Him.

We, as God’s elect, must learn the lesson from Israel who was also God’s elect. God’s election is not a call to privilege and self-focus. Rather, God’s election is a call to service. A call to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him (Matt 16:24–27; Lk 9:23–26; Lk 12:25–33). It is a call to come and die. It is a call to service in God’s army joining His worldwide operation in the mission of Making His Name Great among the Nations and His Glory revealed among all Peoples. If that means hardship, struggle, and persecution then so be it. If that means physical death then so be it. The decision is not ours as to how God chooses to use our lives and physical bodies to make His Name Great and His Salvation known in All the World (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Nor is it our decision how God chooses to use the lives and bodies of our spouses, children, grandchildren, or loved ones to make His Name Great and His Salvation known in All the World. Israel forgot this, lost focus on the mission for which God elected them, became focused on self, and paid the price.

By “Missions” I do not mean sharing the Gospel with your neighbor who doesn’t attend church. We have watered down the concept of missions to the point that we now believe talking about God with our neighbor is considered being a missionary. Yes, that is evangelism but that is not Missions. Missions is taking the Gospel where it is not (Romans 15:20). This modern day watered down understanding of Missions and what it means to be a Missionary has resulted in a church that refuses to hear God’s command to “Go”. It has produced a church that becomes angry, hostile, and defiant when presented with Christ’s clear command to “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations”.

Missions is not another ministry of the church. Another program to be given the same status, attention, emphasis, and exposure as other church programs. Missions is not something that must compete with other church programs for time, manpower, and funding. Missions is the heart of God and every program in our churches should have as its primary function/objective the furthering of this mission. The mission of making God’s Name great and His Glory revealed in all the world so that people from every ethnic group will worship Him.

Missions is not something we talk about in our churches once or twice a year. It’s not something where we can have our yearly “missions” day or week and think we are doing our part in God’s worldwide operation. Missions is not something we add on as another church program. Missions is God’s heart from Genesis to Revelation. From Abraham to Israel to Jesus to the early Church to the present day Church to us — as members of that Church. When we come together as a Body of believers it is not only to worship God but to be active participants in God’s worldwide operation — what we call “Missions”.

Instead of measuring the success of a church by how many people attend maybe we should measure the success of a church by how many people it has “Sent Out” to those that have never heard. Try this the next time you are talking to someone about their church, don’t ask “How big is your church?” Instead ask “How many people has your church Sent Out to those that have never heard? What percentage of your church members has your church Sent Out?” The next time you are talking with someone at your own church ask them “How many people has our church Sent Out to those that have never heard? What percentage of our church members have we Sent Out?” Maybe, just maybe, if we begin to ask this question of churches, of our own church, of ourselves then the church (that is us — you and me) will begin to seriously get onboard with God’s worldwide operation of making His Name Great in All the World. Instead of just talking and making excuses as to why we are not commanded by God to “GO”. Maybe. Just Maybe!

“The question for us to answer is not, Am I called to the foreign field? But, Can I show sufficient cause for not going?”

Robert Speer, 1867–1947

Head of American Presbyterian Missions

Cofounder of the Student Volunteer Movement

Until All Hear,