Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Great Omission

“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

The Problem

If about two billion people call themselves Christian, why are so many Christians making so little difference? One would think that believers acting as salt and light in the world would stimulate global revival. How can meat become rotten with so much salt? Why is corruption often prevalent in countries where the church is so large? I wonder if a part of the reason is that Christ’s commission in Matthew 28: 19-20 has become the great omission. Christ commanded us to make the kind of disciples in every nation who will actually obey everything Jesus commanded. In spite of the growth of the worldwide church, we have barely begun to fulfill the real Great Commission.


The last hundred years have been marvelous for world evangelization! The Lord has worked miracles in the hearts of hundreds of millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of churches have been formed in almost every country of the world. Patrick Johnstone, the author of Operation World, challenged us with the great unfinished task of world evangelism, but he also encouraged us with news of how the Gospel has spread in the last hundred years. He estimates that only 30 million people in a world of over 6 billion people are totally without any kind of Christian witness. This means that over 99% of the people of the world live with a potential Christian witness. There are at least four billion people in the world who are not “born from above,” and we must not slow down in our efforts to bring the wonderful good news to every single person in the whole world.

Evangelism is an important and absolutely necessary task. We thank the Lord for the recent emphasis on un-reached peoples, hidden peoples, the 10/40 window and people groups. But the great commission is not primarily about evangelism and church planting, or about completing some measurable task before the year 2010. The great commission commands us to make disciples in every nation who obey everything Jesus commanded! The great commission is about helping people to be like Jesus. Just as a baby must be born before it can grow, so baby Christians must be born again before they can grow into Christlikeness.

Our Task

The purpose world missions is to glorify God by making obedient disciples of all nations. World evangelism and church planting are necessary but not sufficient for obeying Christ’s commission. Maybe our most strategic task right now is to stimulate the development of leaders, theologians and missionaries from emerging churches who are able to make the kind of disciples who obey everything Jesus commanded.

Are We Becoming Like Jesus?

It is one thing to realize that the great commission is a command to teach others to be like Jesus, but it is another thing to become like Christ ourselves. How can we claim to have a passion for missions when we ourselves are not evidencing a Christlike life? We will not be able to teach people to obey everything Jesus commanded if we ourselves are not obeying everything He commanded. It is difficult to teach others to be like Jesus if we are not ourselves growing in Christ.

God has used national evangelists and expatriate missionaries agencies to plant millions of churches with about two billion people who call themselves Christians. Our hearts overflow with praise to the Lord for such blessing. But what are we doing to help new Christians become like Jesus? Today the priority task of world missions is to equip the church make disciples at home and in all nations. Let us not be satisfied when we have a church that is merely self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. Our goal is a church that is growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If the worldwide church will catch a fresh vision of what it means to be disciples of Jesus, a great awakening will break out, the foundations of hell will be shattered, and Christ’s commission will be obeyed throughout the whole earth. Let us work and pray with every ounce of energy in us to fulfill Christ’s commission. Lord Jesus, send a revival in our own lives and in the established churches around the world, so that an awakened church may be used of You to make obedient disciples and truly fulfill Your command.

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