The Great Commission: By the Power of the Holy Spirit
We celebrated Mission Sunday last week and had the opportunity to highlight the many ways that we as a congregation at St. Philip's are “doing mission,” or reaching out to others with the love of God in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mission is an integral part of what God calls us to do as Christ-followers.
While the Great Commission is commonly thought to be the Bible’s one mandate to mission, if we read scripture carefully, we will hear God’s heart for the world woven powerfully throughout all of the Bible. Jesus’ command that we take the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it was not simply an afterthought at the end of his earthly ministry. It was a continuation of the message we find consistently throughout Scripture: God loves us. Despite our rebellion, He went to unfathomable lengths to make it possible for us to know Him and His great love for us and for us to be with Him for all eternity.
If you want to see how consistent, how thorough, how gracious God is in this message of love, take a look at just a few verses that illustrate this … from beginning of Scripture to end:
The Old Testament tells of God’s love for the world by his plan to make Israel a great nation, and through Israel, bless all the world through Jesus.
The Lord had said to Abram … I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing …and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:1-2)
A God who loves so greatly deserves worship. The Psalms are full of proclamations of God’s greatness to all the world:
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:2-3)
The prophets tell us that God’s love extends to all nations and that He welcomes all nations into His house:
… for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:7)
In the New Testament, we see God reaching out to the world in a whole new way. He sends His Son Jesus as a missionary from Heaven to earth to show us His great love for us. John puts it this way: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14)
And the Great Commission, where we often think first of mission in Scripture:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
In Acts, we see the living out of that Great Commission. We have story after story of the disciples taking the good news of God’s love in Jesus to those who have not heard.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
The Epistles also continue to show that God’s heart is for all people. He wants everyone to know and love Him.
… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10, 11)
And finally, the culmination of God’s heart, His love for the world––the great gathering of people from all nations around the throne of heaven worshipping the One who loved us even in our sinfulness and made a way for us to be with Him forever.
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9)
Each Sunday we pray for our World Mission Partners:
Haitian Island Ministries––La Gonave, Haiti
Honduran Medical Mission––Honduras
Suzy McCall––Tegucigalpa, Honduras
LAMB Institute––Tegucigalpa, Honduras
The Dufatanye Organization––Rwanda
Water Mission––in 55 Countries around the globe
The 10/40 Tribal Commission––India
Open Doors––Working for the Persecuted Church
We at St. Philip's are taking part in God’s call to reach out to the nations with His love. If you would like to play an active role in this work, please contact Gerry McCord (firstname.lastname@example.org), who leads our World Missions Committee. We’d love to have you join in!
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