The great commission is not simply an evangelical mandate, but is an apostolic assignment. It is not just to save souls, but to disciple the nations. Salvation of souls does not lie in our hands, but in the realm of the Spirit of God as He draws them into His Kingdom.
Let the evangelical work of reaching souls continue even as we understand the commission that it is essentially apostolic in nature. The commission is for those who are sent “apostello”, the Church.
The goal of the Church is to make disciples of all nations and establish the Kingdom of God in the earth. This apostolic work of maturing the saints brings unity in the faith.
The Church has a prophetic destiny and apostolic purpose. Restoration of the apostolic dimension will refocus the Church on the great commission.
The goal of God has always been the conversion of the nations to His rule and government in the earth. The gospel of the Kingdom is the apokalupsis (revelation) of God. All the nations must be reached and receive divine impartation.
There are keys to the harvest of the Lord in the nations:
Compassion: God will not give a vision for the nations until there is compassion for the people of the nations.
Ambition for the nations will not obligate the Lord of the harvest. Some leaders do not have compassion for the people but seek selfish ambition and gain. The church cries, “Come, Lord Jesus!” This expression from the Church disregards the salvation of many yet to come into the Kingdom.
At times, underdeveloped nations are deprived of opportunities to hear the gospel of the Kingdom because of this attitude. However, a deep hunger abides in the hearts of those in underdeveloped nations and their receptiveness to the gospel is evident.
True vision is birthed out of a heart of compassion. This is the primary key to the Lord’s harvest.
“….when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them,…” (Matthew 9:36).
The motivating force of Jesus’ passion even to crucifixion was compassion, to see humanity redeemed from its fall.
It is not permissible for us to live without passion for God’s people and His purpose.
“And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.” (Mark 1:38)
The passion and consuming goal of Jesus was to preach the Kingdom of God to every town and city. This was His purpose.
Relationship: Relationship is one of the most dynamic keys to the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the nations. Relationship with local ministries and leaders is a strategic instrument. It is wise to carefully develop and nurture right relationships that will advance the purpose of God. It is also wise to reject relationships based on selfish ambition or gain, and refuse any relationship used as an instrument of control and domination.
The process of building relationship requires both work and commitment. The effectiveness of ministry in the nations will be determined by the level of relationship with the indigenous people in the nations. An established principle is to identify an indigenous leader or ministry that has an open heart for the gospel of the Kingdom and to build covenant relationship. Covenant relationship is based on trust and commitment. When there is a compassionate heart, and a covenant relationship established, the Church will affect the nations.
Relationship is costly. Consider the scenario of the house of Saul and the house of David. Jonathan discovered that the future kingdom of Israel was not to be shepherded by the house of Saul, but by the house of David. Likewise, the future Church is not to be shepherded by mere officials, but by the five-fold ministry gifts. Jonathan pursued the establishment of a covenant with David. So too, the Church is to sincerely pursue covenant relationship for Kingdom purpose.
Resources: Despite the demand for, and the apparent lack of financial resources, God is sufficient to accomplish the work of the harvest and His Kingdom purpose.
There are two areas of concern:
1. Resources – finances are in the hands of those who are not advancing the Kingdom of God. Redirection of resources into churches, leaders and ministries committed to the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the nations is vital.
2. The challenge is not a “money test”, but a “heart test”. It is His ministry, His Church, His work and His vision. God will provide the means to accomplish His work. When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, the goal was the Promised Land. In between was the wilderness experience.
God brought about three million people out of Egypt with divine favour (Exodus 12:36). They were rich in silver and gold and there was not one person feeble (Psalm 105:37). In the midst of the wilderness, God tested their hearts and required an offering to build His sanctuary (Exodus 25:1-9). God’s intent was that the people knew the Promised Land as a relational place. The wilderness had its purpose and the hearts of the people were prepared (Deuteronomy 8:1-3).
As we respond to Him in relationship, God will prepare the heart of His Church to become an instrument of provision and access for the nations of the earth.
Be Prepared to Embrace the Challenges of the Nations: The western nations are different to the third world or underdeveloped nations in heart, towards the message of the Kingdom and in challenges faced. It is important to acquaint ourselves with the culture and needs of the people to relate effectively and reach them for Kingdom purpose. The strategies implemented in Asia will be different to those in Africa and other continents. Seek to hear and discern the voice of God for each city and nation.
Team Work: There is urgency in that which God wants to accomplish in the nations of the earth. Independent ministry is unbiblical and God is raising up team ministry to operate by grace, under an apostolic covering. The fullness of the harvest will be attained through vision, understanding and commitment to team ministry. Apostolic teams are pioneers in the nations that seek the establishment of God’s purpose in the earth.
The Tool: The Church is the tool in the hand of God to accomplish His purpose in the earth. The Church is to be equipped by the five-fold ministry gifts. Understanding of the function of these gifts and room for their operation in the Body of Christ brings maturity. The present move of the apostolic and prophetic ministry, is a dispensational ministry to usher in the reign of the King and the establishment of His Kingdom. The restoration of the apostolic and prophetic ministry, as well as the pastors, evangelists and teachers are a means to the end. According to Ephesians 4:13, the five-fold ministry gifts to the Church is an “until ministry”. The principle focus is on the Kingdom. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
The Church is experiencing a leader-shift into the apostolic that will result in a change in the harvest. May the Church receive these ministry gifts, and mature to fulfill the great commission.
The Message: God’s passion is to recover and restore His Kingdom in the earth, yet the Church lacks understanding of the message. The Church has proclaimed the gospel of salvation with a focus on getting the people to heaven rather than bringing heaven to earth. The message is key to accomplishing God’s purpose (see Luke 4:42-43 and Revelation 11:15).
The gathering of leaders alone will not establish Kingdom purpose, and the Church is not called to make decisions but to make disciples. The onus upon each believer and local assembly is to network to reach those in each city and nation with the gospel of the Kingdom. The Church has been prepared in the word and it is time to implement what has been received.
The mandate of the Church is to preach the message (gospel) of the Kingdom for a witness in the world and then the end shall come (Matthew 25:14). The responsibility of the great commission is an apostolic charge. Apostolic strategies will be revealed and implemented. These will produce reformation in the Church and establish the Kingdom of God in the earth.
The trumpet of God is sounding and the mysteries of God are being unveiled. With a sense of urgency, the call from the heavens awakens the Church to complete the mandate. The Church must receive grace and revelation to fulfill the commission and God’s purpose in the earth.
“….that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:6-7)
“….”There will be no more waiting! In the days when the seventh angel is ready to blow his trumpet, God’s secret will be finished. This secret is the Good News God told to his servants, the prophets.” (Revelation 10:6-7 – New Century Translation).
Prayer: This is another key strategy that must be applied to enable the Church to invade the nations for the Kingdom of God. Effective apostolic strategies for Kingdom reformation are birthed in prayer. Prayer causes God to release His power in full measure. When we are in prayer that is the time to seek and find God’s will as He reveals to us His vision for the nations.
by Israel Onoriobe