“A royal ambassador is one who represents the person of the King at the court of another.” My memory of childhood events is sometimes hazy, and I may not have the exact quotation, but I can remember thinking how wonderful it was to be a Royal Ambassador. The R.A. program is an organization for boys that incorporates Scripture memory, missions awareness, and outdoor skills. While the sports and camping elements were a drawing element for most of us, I was deeply moved by the idea of being an ambassador for the King.
The Scripture verse shown on the organization’s emblem is 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” I understood that as an ambassador I had the privilege and duty to represent Christ. This verse motivated me to tell my friends about Him. But beyond that, the stories of missionaries serving around the world made me aware that there were entire people groups that had never heard the message that was so familiar to me.
The terms missional and missions have become so commonplace in the vocabulary of the average church member that they seem to mean everything and nothing at the same time. Some church members argue that everything they do is missional, while at the same time they fail to present the gospel to anyone in their own community and express little concern for those beyond their dwindling core.
Virtually every church began life with a missional intent; the desire was to extend the Kingdom by reaching the church’s community and beyond. Tragically many churches quickly lose their missional focus and become introverted. This inevitably leads to stagnation and decline as members begin to focus on and argue about peripheral issues of style rather than substantive issues that impact the effectiveness of the church. Soon the church is content to survive rather than to thrive for the sake of the gospel.
Since Jesus came to establish the church, died for the church, promised to send His Spirit to fill it with power, and is coming again to receive it as His pure bride, it is appropriate that we discuss the scope of the mission He envisioned for the church. In the passage that contains the first mention of the church in the New Testament, Jesus promised that He would build His church and invest it with such authority that the “gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). After Jesus’ crucifixion and mighty resurrection, He said that He had received all authority in heaven and on earth. Based on this unlimited authority He commissioned the church to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:18-20). In a final resurrection appearance He affirmed that the disciples would receive the power necessary to take the gospel “even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
An unlimited God who expressed His unlimited love by providing unlimited atonement supplies the motivation and empowerment we need to join Him in an unlimited mission, which will one day extend to all nations and people groups of the earth. Nothing should provide greater purpose and passion for every believer and every church than the privilege of participating in the expansion of God’s kingdom to every corner of the earth. While this idea is most clearly articulated in the New Testament, it is expressed clearly throughout the Old Testament as well.
Ken Hemphill, Unlimited
Good Questions Have Groups Talking are available that go along with Ken Hemphill’s book, Unlimited. They are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.