Of All The Nations

The vast scope of the mission of the church of Jesus Christ is found in the Great Commission; “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).  Consider those three words, “all the nations”. “All” is in contrast to some, or as the disciples might have been tempted to think, one nation, the nation of Israel.   “The” is a definite article emphasizing the nations!   “Nations” comes from the Greek word, “ethnos” and takes us back to Genesis 10-12. It was at the Tower of Babel that mankind was separated by God into nations and therefore ethnic groups. “All the nations” paints the grand scope of the Lord’s plan for His church. It is not just about one ethnic group, nor is it about some ethnic groups, but rather the scope is for the church to carry the gospel message to the entire world. This is reinforced in Acts 1:8 when the Lord commanded the apostles, “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

So what is the heartbeat of a healthy church? The other day, I was teaching some of my children a science lesson regarding the heart.   When a heart is beating properly, it will be in “Sinus Rhythm”. The most common abnormal heart rhythm is called A-Fib, short for Atrial fibrillation. A church is unhealthy and in A-fib when it loses sight not only of the mission (make disciples), but also of the scope of the mission (of all the nations). A church is in “Sinus Rhythm” when it is seeking to make disciples in their own Jerusalem, and when that desire overflows to all the nations. The heartbeat of a healthy church desires the gospel to be preached in all the nations and will therefore use its strength and resources in advancing world missions.

It is important for churches to do a regular checkup on the state of their heart. At First Baptist Church of Hamburg, we have a rich history of a strong heartbeat for world missions with a special emphasis on Brazil. Back in 1949, Harold Reiner arrived in Brazil as he was sent out from FBC Hamburg. He was later joined in Brazil by his brother Ray. Some of Harold and Ray’s children also followed the Lord in missionary service in Northeast Brazil. Bob and Esther Howder and Dr. Link and Lenore Nelson were also sent out from FBC Hamburg in the mid 1900’s. Their ministries were focused around the Pacific-rim of Asia.   More recently in 2006, FBC Hamburg sent Filipe and Marina Niel to Caldas Novas, Brazil where the Lord has used them to establish a sound, gospel preaching church. The Lord has blessed FBC Hamburg with a strong heartbeat for world missions over the years. Heaven is going to be a wonderful time of rejoicing as we recount how Christ built His church using faithful disciples who were passionate about the gospel going forth to the ends of the earth.

May the Lord continue to help us be in rhythm with the scope of the Great Commission.   We must beware of the possibility for a person or church to have a healthy heart in one season and be out of rhythm in another. Consider two indicators of a healthy rhythm in a local church regarding the scope of the Great Commission. First, a healthy local church serves those who are sent. Romans 10:15 asks the rhetorical question, “how shall they preach unless they are sent?” The very first missionary team was “sent” by the church of Antioch.  A healthy sending church desires to send out their missionaries well-supported for the mission that they are undertaking. Prayer support, personal encouragement and communication, and financial support are all part of the serving as senders. This February 22nd, eight of us will have the privilege of supporting and serving Filipe and Marina as we take a 2-week missions trip to Brazil. A second indicator of a healthy rhythm is when our prayers and our lives are in accordance to what the Lord encouraged his disciples to pray in Matthew 9:37-38.  “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” A healthy church will not only serve those who are sent out, but they will be praying and desiring more laborers to be sent out. A healthy member would be obedient to leave his comfort zone and be sent at the Lord’s command, because his heart is in rhythm with the scope of the mission, which is to “all the nations.”
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