It is kind of fun to write a wrap-up to a message that I didn’t teach. Last night Josh Mauldin continued our series on the call to Go. The week before I taught on bearing the fragrance of Christ to the world from 2 Corinthians 2 (and then forgot to write a wrap-up to it). This time Josh took us to the consummate call to missions from Matthew 28.
As he put it, the foundation for the call to missions comes from Matthew 28:18, in which Jesus makes a massive claim, that he bears complete authority over every created thing in every created space. It is foundational to the cause of global missions for a few reasons:
- It overrides every other authority (governments, cultures, religions) that would otherwise say we cannot speak of Jesus Christ. Because all authority ultimately belongs to Him, we are free to obey Him.
- It gives us confidence even in the midst of cultural and spiritual darkness, when we find ourselves up against overwhelming odds in terms of influence, to know that ultimately no culture is supreme and no darkness is impenetrable. Christ is in control. And so we can proceed.
- It reminds us that the call to Go, Make Disciples does not come to us as a suggestion for when we get some free time or as an aspiration for only a committed few, but as a command from the Most High God to every disciple who would bear the Name of Christ or call God his father. Christians make Christians, disciples make disciples. It’s what we do; it’s who we are. Every Christian is a Great Commission Christian.
The call is big, but it is not one that we undertake alone. As crucial as Jesus’ claim to have all authority is, it is just as crucial that He promises us, “I am with you always.” He gives us His presence, so we never walk alone. He offers us His power, so we are never overwhelmed.
How great it is to connect the assertions of v.18 and v.20 that Jesus has all of the power and that He is always with us. So as we go, we go in the company of the One who is in authority in every place that we go. As the passage last week read,
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
-2 Cor 2.14
We will never go alone, and we will never go without the supply of power that we need–so we must go. We must go.
One final thought
The question came up last night, as it so often does when we talk about the Gospel, Heaven, Hell, and the nations, What about those who have never heard the Gospel?–with the implication, Will they really go to Hell?
There are two responses I want to provide to this question:
1) Yes, they really will. If we actually believe Jesus in John 14 when He says that He is the only Way to the Father, Paul in Romans 1 and Romans 3 when He tells us that every person from every nation stands guilty before God and that God will by no means compromise His justice, and God Himself through Moses in Exodus 34:7 where He says He will “by no means leave the guilty unpunished,” then yes, of course, people who do not come to saving faith in Christ really will go to Hell.
2) We have got to stop asking this question, because inside of this question is an underlying assumption that we may not always recognize. Think about the question one more time, and ask yourself what is assumed in it: Will those who never hear the Gospel really go to Hell? ==> We are assuming the existence–and the continued, perpetual future existence–of this massive chunk of people who will live and die and never have the Gospel preached to them. Does that group exist right now? It does. Does that group have to exist when our generation’s time here on earth is done? It does not. The aim of our generation by the time that we are done should be that the category of Unreached, Unengaged People Groups (UUPGs) ceases to exist.
This is how Charles Spurgeon responded to this very question: “Someone asked, ‘Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?’ It is more a question with me whether we–who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not–can be saved.”
We must go. Let’s be about Going together.