Some people believe that mission is over. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 that “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” The Gospel has indeed been preached to all the countries of the world, but Jesus is referring to the nations – the ethnic or people groups with their distinct cultures and languages. Almost half of the world’s population, representing many people groups, are yet to hear the Gospel.1 The Gospel has not been preached to them. Mission is not over, and the task of world evangelization is still in effect for the Church. But when will mission end?
Throughout the Book of Revelation, John records his vision and revives the confidence of the Churches in the certainty of the spread of the Gospel throughout all the nations. Persecutions and slaughter cannot stop the spread of the Gospel until all that dwell on earth has heard. The song of the twenty-four elders addressed to the Lamb of God celebrates the redemption of men from all nations. They are redeemed out of all peoples of God’s purpose: He has “made them a Kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). In another vision, John sees “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language” in worship before the throne of God (Rev. 7:9). Representatives of all nations will be there in heaven worshipping the Lord and thus fulfill God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. This is where history ends. God is moving all history towards the completion of world evangelization.
In Revelation 21:24, John describes his vision in heaven “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it (v. 26). The worship of God by people from every nation, tribe, people, and language will bring the highest glory to God! This should be our guiding vision of ultimate purpose, that God would be most glorified in every people by a movement of obedience and worship to Christ.
This multicultural worship in heaven will happen because this is God’s unchanging purpose on earth.
We read in Hebrews 6:17-18 the two unchanging purposes of God; (1) To bless Abraham and his descendants, and (2) To bless all peoples or nations of the earth through His descendants or seed. So, between Abraham in Genesis 12 to the worship in heaven by all the nations of the world in the Book of Revelation is mission. The worship in heaven and the completion of God’s promise to Abraham will only be realized through missions.
The Book of Revelation closes with a vision of new heaven, new earth, and the eternal city in which the Lord Himself is the Light. There once more, we meet the nations. In the new Paradise is the tree of life with leaves for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2). And so, history is complete. Mission is over. The nations, the families of the earth who have always been the object of God’s love, redeemed and preserved, have a place in God’s creation. The Lord will be their light, and they shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:5).
EFCC International Mission Director