How big is your vision? Have you ever dreamed about what God could do through you to help win the world in our generation to Jesus Christ? As Oswald Smith said, the only generation that can reach this generation is our generation.
Even though the Lord limited His own public ministry to the area stretching from Judea into Phoenicia, He came and lived and died for the whole world. After His resurrection He commissioned His disciples to “make disciples of all nations” (matthew 28:19, italics added). He sent them as His ambassadors first to Jerusalem, then to all Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to the ends of the earth (acts 1:8).
Those first-century Christians were hesitant to dream about how God would fulfill Christ’s last commands.
The apostle Paul challenged their complacency by devoting his life to traveling and proclaiming Christ.
Paul explained his vision for evangelism in Romans 15. First, he could report, “From Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ” (romans 15:19). Even his enemies admitted that Paul had saturated entire provinces with the gospel (acts 19:26).
Paul was not content to concentrate on spreading the gospel in one small area at the expense of the rest of the world. He had a strategy for reaching the entire Roman Empire. “But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions [Jerusalem to Illyricum], and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain” (romans 15:23–24).
Paul went on to explain his itinerary. In his mind he visualized every major city he would stop at on his way to Rome. He longed to win the people of this influential capital city to Christ (just as I long to see key cities around the world hear the voice of God). But beyond Rome, Paul ultimately wanted to reach the entire known world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As God’s ambassadors our vision should be to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ throughout the world. Evangelism is not an option in the Christian life. Paul admitted, “When I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 corinthians 9:16). Whether by preaching or praying, traveling around the globe or speaking to those next door, we should all have a part in winning the world to Jesus Christ.
Make Great Plans
As new Christians, we are thrilled by the promises of God. We get excited about answers to prayer. The biographies and books of great men and women of God challenge us to act on our faith. But as time goes by, we lose the joy of the Christian life and become bored. Sometimes we even become hard and cynical. We hear of something wonderful God is doing and say “Oh,” as if it’s nothing!
The Lord Jesus Christ challenges us to abandon our complacency when He says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (john 14:12).
The Lord doesn’t intend for us to sit idly by and dream of what could happen for His glory. He wants us to plan great plans so those dreams will come true!
Someone has well said, “We believe the Lord can do anything, but we expect Him to do nothing.” Often, when we have committed our life to Jesus Christ, we doubt God instead of continuing to trust Him for bigger things. We make no bigger plans.
In order for God to use us again, we need to confess this unbelief and say, “Lord Jesus, renew my vision of Your power. Renew my confidence in Your abilities. Renew my trust of Your resources.” Then dream and plan again.
Finishing the Unfinished Task
Imagine what would happen if every man, woman, and child in your area heard the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed clearly and committed their lives to Him this year. Every media outlet around the world would report on this “greatest revival of all time.”
But our work would not be finished. What about the new children? What about the future immigrants? And what about the billions of people who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel? Statistics can start to overwhelm us.
Scripture tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds, “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (matthew 9:36). We need to ask God to move our hearts with the same compassion that moves His heart.
The greatest dangers we face as Christians are cynicism and a cool detachment. “Oh, yes, billions of people don’t know Christ. That’s too bad.” We must not forget the individuals, including those we know and love, behind that vague number who live “without hope and without God in the world” (ephesians 2:12).
The Lord pointed out the urgency of our task by reminding His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (matthew 9:37). We must sense the urgency of our time.
Jesus Christ commanded His disciples: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (matthew 9:38). Our Bibles end the chapter there, but the context continues. In the next five verses the Lord gave His disciples authority and sent them out into the harvest (10:1–5). The Twelve became an answer to their own prayer.
Listen again to Jesus’ last words before His ascension: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He is the Lord of lords. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (matthew 28:18–20).
The Lord has not called us to sit around motionless. He’s called us to action! Let’s move ahead as His ambassadors and enjoy the excitement of obeying Him and inviting people to come into His kingdom.