Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.…
— Matthew 28:19
…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
— Mark 16:15
Today I want to talk to you about the commission Jesus gave to the Church to go into all the world to preach the Gospel. In the two verses listed above, Jesus explicitly gave the directive for believers to traverse the globe to “teach all nations” the Gospel (Matthew 28:19) and to take the saving message of Jesus Christ “into all the world” (Mark 16:15). But did Jesus really expect every believer to uproot his family, leave his nation, and move to the other side of the world to fulfill this command?
By studying Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15, we discover that different Greek words are used in these two texts to accentuate the different parts of the world we are to reach with the Gospel. Let’s look at the two words “nations” and “world” today, for in these two words we find that we needn’t go far from home to fulfill the Great Commission!
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First, let’s look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….” The word “nations” is the Greek word ethnos. It is where we get the word ethnic. In Greek, this word always describes Gentile nations. However, it doesn’t just refer to nations that are geographically located distant from us; it also expresses the idea of different customs, cultures, and civilizations. This unquestionably means the Gospel is to be taken to people from every culture, custom, civilization, race, color, or ethnicity in the world.
The Gospel is meant for all the ethnos — in other words, for all the various races and colors of human flesh, all the cultures of the world, all the civilizations that exist worldwide. One man has translated Matthew 28:19 to read, “Go ye therefore and teach all ethnic groups, invading every race, every skin color, and every nation with its different customs and culture — ultimately taking this Gospel into every civilization that exists in the world.” I personally like this translation because it tells us the Gospel is for the entire human race!
Here is the good news for you today! Because the mixture of nations has so dramatically changed in the past fifty years, you don’t have to go too far from home to find different ethnic groups, skin colors, cultures, or customs. The nations are now a mixture of different cultures and customs. Just leave your house and drive down the street to a different neighborhood. You’ll soon find a culture very different from your own!
Rather than shun the people from these other cultures because they are different, you need to be brave enough to go to them. Build a relationship with them so you can bring them the message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are a part of your mission field!
But in Mark 16:15, Jesus used a different word to tell us who we are to “target” with the Gospel message. He said, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The word “world” in this verse is from the Greek word kosmos. This is very significant, for the word kosmos describes anything that is ordered. In Greek it is often used to denote a particular political system; a system of fashion; a system found in any part of society, such as a circle of friends; or any sphere where you live and have influence.
The apostle Paul used the word kosmos when he wrote that Satan was the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Paul wasn’t speaking of the physical earth in that verse; he was telling us that Satan operates in world systems, including (but not exclusive to) some of the areas mentioned above. These world systems (kosmos) are the spheres Satan has invaded and where he exerts his greatest influence.
Now Jesus tells us that we are to go into all the kosmos. Just as Satan attempts to manipulate, dominate, and control the world through such systems, we are ordered by Jesus to go “into all the world,” or into all the kosmos — which happens to be the very same systems through which Satan tries to control the human race. The people who live in those systems are lost, blinded by the god of this world. They need the Gospel message!
An example of these world systems may be the place where you work. “Going into all the world” may mean going to the fellow workers you see and talk to every day. The system Jesus is sending you to may be the school you attend and the circle of friends you have there. Perhaps Jesus is telling you to take the Gospel into the special clubs or societies to which you belong. Or maybe He is calling you to invade your circle of friends whom you cherish and enjoy with the saving message of the Cross. Any of these examples could be your personal kosmos — the place where you live, function, and have influence in other people’s lives.
What does all this mean for you? It means you don’t have to move to the other side of the world to preach the Gospel. Jesus never expected all believers to uproot their families and to move to foreign nations. But He does expect you to take the Gospel to the different ethnic groups, cultures, and civilizations that are in your city. He does expect you to invade every sphere where you have influence and to use your influence to declare the Gospel to people who live, work, and function in those places.
So where is your closest mission field? Your mission field is right down your street or on the other side of your city in a neighborhood where the culture and customs are different than your own. Your mission field is to every person whose skin color is different than yours. You are to take the Gospel to every culture, civilization, and ethnic group in the community where you live.
Whom are you called to reach? Your specific assignment is to reach every person in every group where you have influence. This means you needn’t buy a plane ticket and fly to the other side of the world to do this job. Mission trips are great experiences, but you have a mission field right where you work, where you attend school, where you purchase your groceries every day — in every place where you have some level of personal influence.
Open your eyes and look around you! Jesus told the disciples that the fields of people all around them were “white already to harvest” (John 4:35). If you’ll look around you, you will see that the fields around you are white unto harvest as well. People near you are struggling through life, just wishing someone would help them. They are waiting for you to come to them with the saving message of Jesus Christ, and you are the missionary God wants to send them.
Why does God want to use you to reach these people in your life? Because you already have a relationship with them. You have influence with them. They will listen to you when you tell them the Good News! So open your heart and mind today to the Holy Spirit, and let Him use you to bring eternal change to the lost people who literally encompass your life!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to use me to reach my city and the people who are in my sphere of influence. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that missions work only happens on the other side of the world and have therefore missed the vast mission field that surrounds my life every day. Now that I know You are calling me to invade every culture and ethnic group, give me the power and courage to start reaching them with the Good News. And now that I know I am to invade every sphere where I have influence, help me see myself as Your missionary, sent to these people whom I know so well. I surrender to the call — and today I acknowledge that I am Your missionary to my world.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am God’s missionary to my city and to the people I interact with in every area of life. Jesus expects me to take the Gospel to the different ethnic groups, cultures, and civilizations that are in my city and neighborhood. He expects me to invade every sphere where I have influence and to use that influence to share the Gospel with the people who live, work, and function in those places. My mission field is right down my street, and my assignment is to reach every person in every group where I have influence. So I choose this day to invest my time and energy into fulfilling that divine assignment to the glory of God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. How long has it been since you moved out of your comfortable life to reach people who are outside your culture, custom, skin color, or ethnic group? Have you been limited in your thinking to reach only people who look, think, and live like you?
2. Can you think of someone you know who doesn’t know Jesus? It could be your hairdresser, your neighbor, the ladies at the local daycare, the men at the bowling alley, the people you work with every day, or the other students with whom you attend school. Since these are the types of places where you have influence, don’t you think you ought to use that influential connection to bring people to Jesus?
3. Why don’t you write down a list of five different people or groups to whom you can reach out with the saving message of Jesus Christ? Remember, God is expecting you to be His missionary, so think this through. After writing down your answer, pray over it and then formulate a plan you can begin to execute.