Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Call: To the Lost, the Last and the Least (Part 2)

God's Word in Matthew 28:18 to 20 commands us to reach the lost. It is in the heart of God that as we are going about, we should be in the business of making disciples of all the nations. This is a mandate to the church. It is a personal command not to the "missionary" but to the average, everyday follower of Jesus.

But God's Word also commands us to go to the last of the lost as well. This is a command to every Christian as well but to the church as a whole. Second Peter 3:9 tells us that it is God's will that none should perish. Expounding on Matthew 28:19, we are commanded again to make disciples of "all nations" or the "panta ta ethne". This would be better said as making disciples of all people groups.

What is a people group? It is group of people often defined by language and culture. It is sometimes defined by geographical location as well. But the best Biblical definition of a people group is the largest group of people that the gospel can flow without encountering a significant barrier.

For example, we lived and worked in the Philippines for a number of years. We worked among tribal people groups helping with their livelihood and physical needs as well as sharing the gospel. We would see a lot of fruit of our work among a certain people. We would assume that that good work would spill over to other tribal people groups (there were about 60 tribal groups on our island). Over and over again, we saw that there needed to be a catalyst, an intentional plan, or a "jump start" to see the gospel "jump" people groups.

At best count, there are almost 12,000 distinct people groups in the world today. Over half of them, about 6,800, are unreached or less than 2% evangelical Christian. Out of this 6,800 "unreached", there are about 3,600 unengaged and unreached people groups. While those living in places deemed "reached" like the USA have a great opportunity to hear the gospel multiple times in their life, those living in unreached areas have a very small percentage chance to encounter a follower of Jesus and even smaller percent chance of hearing the gospel clearly in their own heart language.

Now, think about the 3,600 unengaged and unreached people groups. These are places and peoples in the world that no one is trying to engage with the gospel. They live in areas of the world that for some reason - political, geographical, religion related, inaccessible, etc. - that they will be born, live their lives and pass into eternity without ever having the chance to even hear the name of Jesus. This is "the last of the lost."

Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 24:14, "And this good news will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come."

I am not suggesting that our global evangelism efforts in any way will slow, hasten or change the Father's timetable for Jesus' return. I am saying that God is inviting even commanding us to be about His business of making His name known among the "panta ta ethne" or "nations."

Question. If you are a follower of Jesus, I surmise that you like I are looking forward to his second coming? However, my heart cries out, "How can we celebrate His second coming when there are so many who have never heard about His first coming?"

To the lost...and to the last.

But there is a third category. To the least....

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