Part 2 of 4
By Kevin Ross, President of Helping Hands Foreign Missions
In Part 1 of this series, we see that God has a plan to redeem the world because of His great love for us. In Part 2, we will look at how God clearly revealed His plan. To read Part 1, click here.
Jesus Christ as the Son of God is the perfect example of our definition of missions, “A follower of Christ that has been Called and Sent by God for a specific purpose at a specific time, ultimately to be a blessing.” In the four Gospels of the New Testament, Jesus was continuously emphasizing to his followers that He was sent by his Father. John 20:21 “Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."
Our Heavenly Father used His one and only son Jesus, not only to be the ultimate example and witness of His plan, but also to communicate to us the vision for what we commonly call the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, “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.” Though this is the most popular text for the Great Commission, it is not the only one. There are five Great Commission texts: Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 15:15, Luke 24:46-47, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8. From these passages, there are four common elements revealing the basics of God’s Plan to redeem the world.
1. We serve a sending God
The first of these elements reveals that we serve a sending God. Mark 15:15 says, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Throughout scripture, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we find men and women who completely surrendered their lives to go and proclaim the name of the Lord and the repentance of sin. Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Nehemiah, Isaiah, eleven of the Apostles, Stephen, and Paul are just a few examples. The significance of their response is an indication of their view of the greatness of God. They were compelled to respond by carrying forward the mission of God.
In 2007, I was personally confronted with the mission and vision of Helping Hands Foreign Missions, “To make disciples of Christ by demonstrating His love in practical ways among those with the greatest physical and spiritual needs.” My first experience with the ministry was in July of that same year on a mission trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia. I saw firsthand a powerful example of complete surrender to the call of God through the lives of Drs. Richard and Brenda Kowalske. Just a few years before I met them, Richard and Brenda had followed the Lord’s call to become full-time missionaries for the sake of the Gospel. Their commitment to Christ was exhibited in their passion and service to the Lord. God used this amazing couple to lead the way in building a large complex in Bolivia dedicated to evangelism and discipleship. Since the construction of this ministry complex, tens of thousands of people have heard and responded to the message of salvation.
Today, the ministry’s influence has expanded tremendously with direct efforts in South America and in Africa. One location in a remote region of Uganda is called The Village of Eden. This amazing place is a base of ministry reaching thousands of children and their families. I remember Richard sharing with me the vision for the Village of Eden in 2009. A place that would care for orphans and widows, but would ultimately be a lighthouse for the Gospel of Jesus. Each week hundreds of people attend church services, hundreds of children receive a Christian education, thousands are discipled, and many are treated the medical clinic. We will never be able to measure the influence of this one couple’s life who saw a vision of God and followed Him with abandon to advance His Kingdom.
2. We are to be disciple-makers
In the second element of the Great Commission, our responsibility is clear—we are to be disciple-makers. We are called to personally participate in the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. Luke 24:46-47 says, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” The process of making disciples is to teach all aspects of the teachings of Jesus. These teachings are not just information for us to know, but rather these are the very words of God for us to live by. Repentance is not merely acknowledgment of our transgressions, but also turning away from our life of sin and death. We are made alive in Christ because of His sacrifice on the cross. Once we turn to Him, we are invited to join Him in the work of discipleship. This discipleship process includes our growth as a believer, producing spiritual fruit.
“The Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation.” - D.L. Moody
“God loved you enough to swoop into your story and obliterate your sin by crushing His innocent Son, setting you free and redeeming you forever.”
- Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Movement
3. The message is for all nations
The third element of God’s Plan teaches us that this amazing message is not just for me and you—it is for all nations. The importance of this element cannot be taken lightly because according to the Joshua Project, there are 7.67 billion people in the world living in approximately 195 countries. However, for us to fully understand this passage, we must understand who Jesus is speaking about when He says, “all nations.” This phrase, all nations, has been translated from the Greek phrase “Ta Ethne” and can be better understood as “ethnic groups” or “people groups." What is a people group? A practical definition is provided by Global Frontier Missions, “a group of individuals having their own common sense of history, language, beliefs, and identity.” Research from JoshuaProject.net estimates there are approximately 17,000 people groups in our world today. This task may seem overwhelming, but we know according to Revelation that there will be a representative from all of the people groups around the throne in heaven for all of eternity.
4. The plan was not designed for us to accomplish on our own
The final element reveals that this missional plan was not designed for us to accomplish on our own. The task is impossible! However, there is never a time in scripture or in history that we see the call of God without the power and presence of God. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We can only be the witnesses of Christ when we live in His power. When you look at someone’s life who is accomplishing much for the Lord, you see someone who has learned to live a surrendered life, completely dependent on God’s power moment by moment.
“As I wander from village to village, I feel it is no idle fancy that the Master walks beside me and I hear His voice saying gently, “I am with you always, even unto the end.”
- Lottie Moon
There has never been a time in eternity when God did not have a plan. God revealed His mission to redeem all people from the very beginning. The vision for this plan was illustrated to us through His son, Jesus Christ. We are called and sent by the Heavenly Father with the message of the Gospel to make disciples of all ethnic groups through the power of Jesus. Are we willing to join Him in this great plan?
Read Part 1 - "God has a Plan"
Read Part 3 - "The Heart of the Master"