The Meaning of Life: We Are Here to Spread the Gospel

In our investigation of the meaning of life and the question, why are we here, one of our answers is to obey the God who gave us life, both physical and spiritual. One of the most important commands Jesus gave his followers was the Great Commission. From Matthew 28:18–20 (NLT):

GreatCommission18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This means we go out. We do not sit home. We take the gospel to others, or support others who go out. It means some of those who hear the good news that Christ died for us and rose again will believe. They must be brought into churches where they will be baptized. It also means we need to teach these new disciples what Jesus taught—all of of what he taught, not just some of it. And all of it must occur in the context of a local church. That is how we obey the Great Commission.

And why should we obey? We who are believers have been given an incredible gift, the best present anyone could ever receive—eternal life. Once we comprehend the magnitude of this, and understand the great cost Christ paid to leave his heavenly throne, come to earth, live out a finite number of days in a physical body, and then submit to an earthly death by crucifixion—all for our sakes—we should be overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. That’s why we obey.

But joy at our salvation must be tempered. As we look around us, both in our community and in the world, we see countless billions who do not know the love of Christ. Ralph Winter estimates that only about 10% of the world’s population can be counted as Bible-believing Christians. For the rest, at the end of their days, when they stand in judgment before a perfectly holy God, a God who cannot tolerate sin, they will no one to intercede for them. Because they do not know Christ. This means that if nothing changes, over 6.2 billion souls will be eternally separated from God. This is a terrible thing to contemplate.

David Platt, in his book Radical, put it this way:

“…I stood atop a mountain in the heart of Hyderabad, India. This high point in the city housed a temple for Hindu gods. I smelled the offerings that had been given to the wooden gods behind me. I saw teeming masses in front of me. Every direction I turned, I glimpsed an urban center filled with millions upon millions of people.

“And then it hit me. The overwhelming majority of these people had never even heard the gospel. They offer religious sacrifices day in and day out because no one has told them that, in Christ, the final sacrifice has already been offered on their behalf. As a result they live without Christ, and if nothing changes, they will die without him as well.

“As I stood on that mountain, God gripped my heart and flooded my mind with two resounding words: ‘Wake up.’ Wake up and realize that there are infinitely more important things in your life than football and a 401(k). Wake up and realize there are real battles to be fought, so different from the superficial, meaningless ‘battles’ you focus on. Wake up to the countless multitudes who are currently destined for a Christless eternity.”

So we obey the Great Commission because, first, we need to respond to the gift of eternal life, and in so doing show God our love. And second, because our hearts should break for the eternal fates of those who don’t know Christ.

How do we do that? By taking the gospel to our friend, family, and coworkers. And by supporting foreign missionaries with prayer, funds, and care.

Next week we’ll look at a major component of missions for both local and foreign—why is its important to plant churches?