In the movie Mission Impossible, US government operative (Tom Cruise) becomes the prime murder suspect in a covert operation gone wrong. He recruits a hacker (Ving Rhames) to help him sneak into a heavily guarded CIA building to retrieve a confidential computer file that will prove his innocence. At the movie’s spin, Rhames turns to Cruise with a crucial question: “you really think we can do this?!” The plan is absurd. The mission is impossible.
In a previous article, we were reminded that the Great Commission, though non-negotiable, is more than a notion. Christ left his church with the task of disciple-making among every nation and generation, which man, no matter his wisdom and strategy, cannot accomplish on his own. For our mission to be anything but impossible, it cannot hang on the successes and failures of fallen humanity. Good news: it doesn’t. Christ has the mission, his mission has a church, and his church has his promise, power, and presence abiding with us to accomplish the work.
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).
The Great Commission was first delivered to the doubtful and fearful disciples. They’d seen their rabbi—the One claiming to be the Christ whose kingdom, rule, and reign are eternal—executed. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recount eleven insecure disciples who’ve become uncertain about the things of the kingdom (Mark 16:14; Matt. 28:17; Luke 24:37,41; Acts 1:6). It’s under these circumstances that the Lord appears to reassure them of his unstoppable mission to save the world.For our mission to be anything but impossible, it cannot hang on the successes and failures of fallen humanity. Good news: it doesn’t. Click To Tweet
The success of Christ’s mission rests on his eternal decree that it will be accomplished. The promise of salvation for all who believe both assures and ensures the gospel’s advancement in the world. There’s no question in our commission. We can take the command to make disciples to the ends of the earth with confidence because we can take confidence in Christ’s Word when he promises, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” For thousands of years, across thousands of miles of land and sea, and in thousands of tribes and tongues . . . everywhere Christ has been named and called on, salvation has come as the Holy Spirit gives life to those otherwise dead in sin; just as Christ promised.
This is not all the Lord has promised us. He has also guaranteed our mission’s success through the deposit of his Holy Spirit.
“I am sending the promise of my Father upon you . . . you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).
Our church is planting gospel seeds in some of the hardest soil in the US. Our region made #9 on this list not because of its poverty and crime but due largely to its prosperity and comfort. If we’re to make disciples of Jesus in this context, we need the power of God declared and demonstrated by Spirit-filled believers. What happened at Pentecost, and still happens at new birth, is the empowering of Christians to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. By the promise, power, and presence of God, we plant churches worldwide. Click To Tweet
Satan’s strongholds from post-fall to post-modernity, to a society filled with post-Christianity, are overcome by a new humanity filled with God’s Spirit and obedient to his direction. Our success with the Great Commission hinges on the Holy Ghost—whom we have as promised, and we are empowered by him to carry out. We may need to relearn what surrender and obedience to him mean, but one thing is certain: though he left us on earth, our Lord has never left his church.
“I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
It has been argued whether or not the Great Commission was for the church or for those first disciples. Doubters and skeptics—like the Millennial masses from my previous article, have been quick to pardon themselves from the command to make disciples. To this, I offer a cautionary truth I learned early on in my journey toward obedience to his calling: if you don’t take the assignment, you’d have to leave the assurance also. The promise of Jesus’s abiding presence is given to all disciples who “Go therefore!” If you’d like to drop the go, you should seriously doubt the guarantee.
But God! Jesus left us with more than a commission; he also gave us confidence. We have the abiding presence of “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).Jesus left us with more than a commission; he also gave us confidence. Click To Tweet
At Mission Impossible’s spin, Rhames asks Cruise, “you really think we can do this?!” Cruise replies, “we’re going to do it.” Planters, leaders, and members of our beloved network: by the promise, power, and presence of God, we plant churches worldwide. When doubt sets in, like it did with the first disciples, when fear comes, when confusion arises, and you’re faced with the question, “you really think we can do this?” Take courage. God is with us. We’re going to do it.