“Make disciples of all the nations.”– Matthew 28:19
In the Great Commission, Christ is clear and unapologetic—We are to make disciples of “all nations.” Some scholars have doubted that the phrase “all nations” was included in the original commission. Their argument is that if Christ had been so specific with regard to the universality of the mission then the disciples would not have been so hesitant to reach out to the Gentiles. However, this interpretation is totally unnecessary. Another, more plausible explanation exists—The disciples’ hesitancy was due to their extreme prejudice. In fact, the prejudice against the Gentiles was so ingrained in the early Jewish church that it was not until the Jerusalem Counsel that the matter was finally settled.1
The command to make disciples is always in jeopardy of being disobeyed. Even today there are forces at work to turn the church’s attention away from its global responsibility. First there is the problem of “out of sight, out of mind.” A far-away need is quickly forgotten. Second, there is the tendency toward self-centeredness, self-preoccupation, and self-preservation within individual believers and congregations alike. Thirdly, there is the powerful cultural sentiment that considers religious proselytizing to be arrogant and intolerant—a crime against humanity. Finally, there is the small but ever encroaching heresy of inclusivism. It is the idea that although Christianity may offer a superior revelation of the truth, other religions contain enough truth to lead their followers to God.
In the face of growing opposition and against all foes, the missionary must be utterly convinced of the absolute truthfulness of one of Jesus’ most radical claims: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”2 Furthermore, the missionary must believe that it is the will of God for the gospel to be preached to all creation.3 Finally, the missionary must hold unflinchingly to the truth that this will not happen unless men and women leave all to follow Christ into an unknown land:
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?4
Paul serves as the HeartCry Coordinator in Western Europe. He is currently overseeing our missionaries in Italy, Spain, and France. He is also the founder and director of the HeartCry Missionary Society. Paul lives in Radford, Virginia with his wife Charo and their four children: Ian, Evan, Rowan, and Bronwyn.More By Paul David Washer