by Wye Huxford
In Matthew's account of the final words of Jesus before He ascended, followers of Jesus are commissioned to be disciple makers and teachers "to the end of the age." Luke talks about this event in the opening pages of Acts; we are to be His witnesses "to the end of the earth."
Matthew's expression "end of age" appears five times in his account of Jesus' life (13:39, 13:40, 13:49; 24:3, and 28:20) and seems to suggest something like "the consummation of the age of the kingdom of God on earth." The phrase is used only one other time in the New Testament - in Hebrews 9:26 - where the author of Hebrews uses it to describe the "once and for all" sacrifices of Christ in taking away sin.
Luke's expression, "to the end of the earth" appears to describe whatever part of the world that lies beyond "Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria." Most of the book of Acts tells the beginning of how the gospel would impact "the end of the earth." There are some exciting stories of what happens when the Jesus story is told in a variety of cultural contexts.
When you start thinking about all of this together, it makes you think that until, in God's sense of time, "the consummation of the age" and "the end of the earth" somehow cross paths, the mission to disciple, to teach, and to bear witness to the Jesus story remains in place. To say that more bluntly, what Jesus began when He came to deal with the problem of sin once and for all (Hebrews 9), continues to be the basis of our disciple making, our teaching, and our witness to the world.
Despite the proclivity of the television preachers to know more about when "the end of the age" and the "end of the earth" will actually cross paths than Jesus did (see Mark 13:32, 32), our mission continues. Living "in between" the time of His coming to rescue the world from the power of sin and death and His glorious reappearing at the end of the age and the end of the earth, we have been "transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son..." (Colossians 1:13). Surely that rescue and transfer was not for us just to sit around and keep a secret.
The work God has blessed us with the privilege of participating in remains unfinished. Until we reach the end of the earth and until God decides that it is time for the consummation of the Kingdom on earth, we have a mission. It is a mission that is characterized by disciple making, by teaching, and by bearing witness. It is an invitation to be part of what God is doing through the body of Christ, even to this day. When Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that "we are ambassadors for Christ," he did so with the reminder that "God is making His appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The "embassy" is still open, and our task as ambassadors is still unfinished! In August 2000 I was in Albania teaching a group of believers on behalf of Seminary of the Nations. A friend I made in Albania was driving me around, showing me his country. We drove by the United States Embassy, and as he told me what the building was, I couldn't help but notice that it was boarded up. When I inquired about that, he replied, "It's not safe for Americans to be here right now!" That was a bit of a sobering moment, but I like living on the edge a bit.
It makes me wonder if sometimes it doesn't appear that out of fear of our surroundings the church has "boarded up the embassy" and called the "ambassadors" home. Corralled up in our little safe havens, we dare not venture too far beyond the safety of the wrought iron fence and we require the right ID card at the gate.
Until "the end of the earth" and "the end of the age" cross paths, the embassy needs to be open - our mission is yet unfinished. God's appeal can't be heard through boarded-up embassies.
Walker Lecture Breakfast - July 11
The annual Walker Lecture Breakfast presented by the European Evangelistic Society (EES) in cooperation with TCM with be held on Thursday morning, July 11, 2013, at 7:30 a.m. Bob Russell will be the guest lecturer speaking on "Developing International Disciple Makers." Tickets for the breakfast are $15.00. For information about the breakfast and to purchase tickets, please contact Debbie Poer firstname.lastname@example.org or call the TCM office at (317) 299-0333.
Plan to join TCM and EES at the NACC in Louisville, Kentucky at the Kentucky International Convention Center, July 9-12, 2013. The TCM/EES Booth is 817 in the Exhibit Hall, and the TCM/EES Mini Experience will be in the Trackside Lobby. Please come by to visit with us.