A Letter to Those who Love Eschatology: Finish the Great Commission


BY BRITTON GAIL (@BRITTON_GAIL)


“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed
throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come.”[1]

More than many other events in the last hundred years, the reinstitution of the state of Israel has earmarked modern Christianity. When the prophesied re-establishment of the Jewish state took place in 1948, eschatological speculation took on a new intensity.[2] Should Jesus tarry another hundred years, dispensationalist theologians may well name a new dispensation: the illumination of eschatology—the theology dealing with the end times. Even a casual observer can enter a Western bookstore and see that they are lined with literature covering a range of subjects from amillennialism, postmillennialism, to premillenialism; from pre-tribulation to post-tribulation; and, of course, from blood moons to every conceivable conspiracy theory. While this author holds a specific (post-tribulation, historical premillennialism, for those interested) eschatological conviction, my intent is to show that finishing the Great Commission as the most pertinent response concerning Jesus’ second advent

George Eldon Ladd wrote an excellent little book called, The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture. Anyone who takes seriously the Word of God should read it. The following is a compelling excerpt with Ladd’s focus on Matthew 24:14: 

"The one great mission of the Church is to evangelize the world. This is not a theory, this is a fact. Jesus gave the Church its marching orders to go and make disciples of all nations; and in carrying out the task, He promised to be with them even unto the end of the age (Matt. 28:19, 20). Matthew 24:14 conveys the same thought. The good news about the kingdom of God must be carried into the whole world for a witness to all nations. This is the divinely appointed task of the Church. The Church is not to save the world; it is not to Christianize the world; it is not to transform the world so that it becomes the kingdom of God. This will be accomplished only by the glorious second coming of Christ. Until Christ comes, this age remains an evil age (Gal. 1:4) under the influence of Satan (II Cor. 4:4). The Church’s task must ever be carried out in frank recognition of the character of the age. Nevertheless, it has a task which is divinely given and in which the Church must be victorious: world-wide evangelization and the gathering of the saved into the body of Christ. Only when this commission has been completed will Christ return. Those who “love His appearing” are those who should have the greatest concern for the evangelization of the world. Christ is tarrying until the Church has completed its task. When Matthew 24:14 has been fulfilled, then Christ will come. There is no more notable “sign of the times” than the fact that the greatest impetus in world-wide evangelization since apostolic times has taken place in the preceding century. The world is nearly evangelized; any generation which is really dedicated to the task can complete the mission. The Lord can come in our own generation, in our life-time—if we stir ourselves and finish our task. Let us not be dissipating our energies in differences over the Rapture and the Tribulation. Rather let every believer who cherishes the Blessed Hope give himself in unstinted measure to the prosecution of world-evangelization; for then Christ will come."[3]

Ladd’s The Blessed Hope was published in 1956. Imagine how much more relevant and capable this generation is toward completing the evangelization of the world. Rather than focusing on this goal, though, American Christianity “dissipates its energies” with end-times speculation. Conferences, books, movies, television: secular and Christian alike recognize fascinations, fears, and concerns which pulsate in current cultural trends. Yet, while money burns in the lucrative end-time industry, many still fail to see that, in light of the imminent return of Christ, they are required to obey Christ’s commands in this life. Prophetic passages, such as Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 21:8, should motivate and redefine Christian perspective toward living a blessed life in Christ rather than distract from it. While there are many nuanced responsibilities for the end-time believer, if the return of Christ is relevant and real, finishing the Great Commission should be the Church’s top priority. [4] 

Though all Christians have been called to hasten the Day of the Lord, if the evangelization of the whole world does not fit into one’s "hastening method," the method is broken—meaning every believer and disciple of Jesus must reckon with the burden and responsibility mandated to the Body that is the “Great Commission.”[5] Our generation stands at the gates of the completion of Jesus’ great task—the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophetic declaration; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” This task was preeminent in Christ’ heart—above any other prophetic sign of His coming or any other prophetic mandate. Satan will rage, kingdoms will clash, and the cost is staggering! The whole creation is not waiting and longing for the sons of God to have perfectly outlined eschatological theology—no! Creation is longing for the revelation of the sons of God because then God’s children will embrace and love His commandments. By finishing the Great Commission, Jesus’ disciples will hasten the Day of the Lord, and usher in the consummation of this age and the restoration of all created things. All who love His coming, love not your lives even unto death.[6] Pick up your cross and follow the Lamb into unknown and unreached terrain. Let us finish the Great Commission together, and then the Lord will come. 


Britton Gail and his family give leadership to an FAI outpost in a Muslim-majority country, living to give a witness of Jesus to the unreached and unengaged. Britton is a contributing writer to FAI Publishing, endeavoring to encourage those with access to the Gospel to share their treasure with those who don’t. He can be reached at britton@faimission.org.



 

 

_______________

[1] Matthew 24:14
[2] Matthew 24:15
[3] Ladd, George Eldon. The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956. Print. pp. 147, 148.
[4] Matthew 24:14; 28:18-28
[5] 2 Peter 3:12
[6] Revelation 12:11