Bible Reading: Matthew 24.14

I wanted to take this first week of the New Year and share with you verses that have stirred my mind and hearts for years and have impacted my life greatly.  Jerry

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.  Matthew 24.14

I remember the first time this verse landed on my heart.  I was in college and it stirred my heart to begin to pray for the nations daily through the book “Pray for The World”.  Then along with reading, “Let The Nations Be Glad” by John Piper God begin to stir my heart even more with this verse.  This led to many trips to Mexico in the 90’s and early into the first few years of the new millennium.  I also have been blessed to go to Peru, Israel, India and Africa.  It has been a joy and a blessing to share the gospel in these different places. 

It is often asked though about this verse, How will we know when all the nations have been reached with the gospel of the kingdom?  “God alone knows the definition of terms.  I cannot precisely define who all the nations are, but I do not need to know.  I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore, the task is not yet done.  When it is done, Christ will come.  Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task.  So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone.  Let us get busy and complete our mission.” (George Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 137)

Such a statement in light of the text bids us to ask:

What are we doing to finish the task?
Who are we faithfully praying for by name to come unto salvation?

So, Jesus calls His disciples of the first century and the twenty first century to endure and persevere until Jesus returns as faithful proclaimers of the gospel throughout the world.  For the disciples and we see this especially with Paul, they saw the world as the Roman world, that is all they knew and they faithfully did this work, but we know that the world includes more than that, but they are an example to us of the faithfulness to see this task out, so that the end will come.  Jesus says to His disciples later, after His resurrection, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.18-20).

So, may we persevere by the power of Christ and faithfully and passionately share the gospel at school, work, in our neighborhoods and the different spheres of influence we have.  This is not left as an option for disciples, so let this call to proclaim the gospel sink in and let’s truly ask:

What keeps us from sharing our faith with others?
Could it be that we don’t believe the gospel?
Could it be that our love has grown cold for God and others?
Could it be that we are afraid and let concern for self and reputation matter more than the name and reputation of Christ?
Could it be that we don’t fully understand the absolute reality of Hell?
Could it be that we don’t face persecution because we are not faithfully sharing the gospel?

God wants us to have a heart for the nations.  This does not mean all will go to places outside the US, but God does want us to be His missionaries right where we are at.  Many of the nations have come to us.  This verse should encourage us to pray for the nations and for those in our own circles that they would come to faith in Christ and that God would use us to share that hope with them.  For some it may mean praying about joining God’s work in the nations outside our borders whether it be short-term or long-term.  Let us all pray to have a heart for the nations.