One more week to go after this and we will be starting on our new study. This week, we will be discussing what it means for Christ to be the Savior of the church. We are in Part V: Session 5: Good News for All Nations. Hope you’ll follow along either in the book or on the website: Multiply.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Jesus is my personal Savior”. But think about that phrase, is He really your own personal Savior? He should be your personal Savior as He does save individuals in a personal way, but He is much more than the Savior of an individual. He is the Savior of the church. He died to create a group of people to love Him and fulfill God’s will on the earth.
That means that the gospel message isn’t just for me, it’s for every one. The whole world needs a Savior, not just one or two people. Through one man, Adam, all the world fell into sin and through one man, all the whole world could be redeemed. And this good news is for all nations (Luke 2:10).
God’s Plan for the Nations
God had intended to redeem the whole from the very beginning. The Old Testament made many references to a time when Jew and Gentile would come together to worship the one true God. Remember, God promised that all nations would be blessed through Abraham (Gen. 18:18). God tells Isaiah: “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6 ESV).
When Jesus came into the world, He put confirmed God’s mission to the world. Even though He initially focused on the Jews, He had an important (and probably life changing for her) conversation with a Samaritan woman (hated by the Jews) in John 4. He also healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter because He was impressed with her faith, even though He said that would be “throwing the children’s food to the dogs” (Matt. 15:28).
Then in the Great Commission, Jesus specifically instructs the apostles to include “all nations” when preaching the good news (Matt. 28:18-20). He wanted all people to know Him.
Discussion Question #1: How should God’s heart as revealed in the Old Testament and in Jesus’s ministry affect the way we think about and relate to those people who seem “unreachable”?
A Jewish Messiah for All People
After Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the apostles for spreading the good news to the “end of the earth” (Acts 1:8), the rest of the book of Acts tells out that mission began to grow the church.
Acts 10 chronicles a very important turning point in church history. Up to this point, Jews avoided Gentiles completely. However, God specifically sends Peter (a Jew) to speak to Cornelius (a Gentile). God proved to Peter that He intended for them to include Gentiles and He solidified this point when He empowered the Gentiles in Cornelius’s household with the Holy Spirit after they received Peter’s message.
After the church began to grow, there arose a question about what was to be done with the Gentile believers. Where they to adhere to Jewish Law in order to be saved? After all, God’s redemption plan began with the Jews and Jesus Himself was a Jewish Messiah. There were some that believed that in order for the Gentiles to identify with a Jewish Messiah, they had to take on a Jewish identity themselves.
In chapter 15 of Acts, a meeting is had in Jerusalem of all the leaders of the church to determine what should be done in this matter. Eventually, James spoke their decision:
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:19-20 ESV)
Christianity does have Jewish roots, but it was decided here that being a Christian was not the same as being a Jew. Christianity is not bound by ethnicity , it is for all nations.
Discussion Question #2: Read Acts 15. How is the global aspect of God’s plan of redemption demonstrated in this passage?
An Apostle to the Gentiles
God chose Paul for a specific reason, He was to go to the Gentiles. Paul’s missionary journeys can be found in the second half of Acts. Romans 1:5 tells us that Paul believed his apostleship was given to him “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations“. He believed in his mission to bring Jesus into the places that had not heard about Him yet.
Paul was one of the biggest advocates to sharing Christ with the Gentiles, not just Jews. He argued that salvation wasn’t about being a specific ethnicity or adhering to law, all it took to be a part of God’s people was to have faith in Jesus Christ. Any gospel aside from this was a perversion (Gal. 1:8). Paul was very firm:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:28-29 ESV).
Discussion Question #3: Take a minute to meditate on Galatians 3:28–29. Why do you think Paul made such a big deal about the relationship between Jews and Gentiles?
The Missionary Church
Sharing the gospel to a fallen world needs to be our central mission, our identity. This is what being a follower of Christ means (after all He brought His message everywhere He went and He traveled a lot). After all, this is what the entire New Testament is about, bringing light into darkness.
Jesus promised to make His followers “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, Mark 1:17). Jesus was going to train them to seek people out and bring them to Christ. Jesus did teach about how to live our lives, but this was intended to ready His disciples for interaction with the world. If you want to teach people to follow Christ, you have to be able to know how to treat them in a godly manner.
In today’s world more and more people are pushing Christians to keep their beliefs to themselves, but our faith is not a private faith, it is meant to be shared. Our mission does not depend on the world’s approval of it.
Sin and death permeates all of creation. God intends to redeem it all. People may not realize how lost and broken they are, but whether they realize it or not, the world is in desperate need of redeeming. God will bring this redemption about. It is the church’s job to spread the word.
Discussion Question #4: What does it mean to be a “fisher of men”?
Discussion Question #5: Is there anything about your life that would identify you as a “fisher of men”? If so, what? If not, what can you do to grow in this area?
Each of us are called to be involved in this mission, however our roles may look different. Some will be called to the Middle East or to Africa. Some will be called to support those who go on these mission while training other disciples at home. Regardless of how we are called to carry out this mission, we all have to be a part of it.
Discussion Question #6: How would you describe your church’s attitude toward and participation in spreading the gospel to all nations? How might you encourage your church to work toward this end?
Discussion Question #7: What is your own involvement with missions? Are you at all involved in going, sending, training, supplying, praying, etc.? What changes might you need to make to this area of your life?
The Multicultural Community of the Redeemed
If you want confirmation that God intends to reach all the nations, check out Revelation. Some parts of Revelation can be cryptic at best, but it does make it clear that God will redeem people all over the earth through Jesus Christ:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (Rev. 7:9-10 ESV)
We already know that God fulfills all His promises and that all His plan succeed in one way or another, so this passage should not only give us confidence in our God but also in our mission to the world as it is bound to succeed. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)
Discussion Question #8: How does this picture of a multiethnic multitude worshipping God at the end of history affect the way you think about our task of reaching out to the nations?
Discussion Question #9: Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to give you a burning desire to see the good news of Jesus Christ embraced in every corner of the world. Ask Him to show you what part He wants you to play in seeing His name spread around the world.
May each of you have a blessed week and may you share the good news for all people.