I’ve got a secret—and you probably have one, too. But it’s no longer a secret. It’s been revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was hidden for a long time, Paul said, but at just the right time it was opened to the world.
The gospel is “the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him” (Romans 16:25).
God had a mystery—a secret plan—a plan for all nations to be given eternal life in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament prophets wrote about God’s plan, but very few people back then understood it.
An Old Testament secret
God whispered the secret to Abraham when he called him out of Mesopotamia. “Go to the land I will show you,” God said, “and I will bless you … and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3). The blessing of Abraham extends not just to the Jewish people, but to people everywhere around the globe. Genesis says very little about it. It doesn’t even say that the blessing would involve eternal life. It was still a secret.
Centuries later, when God brought Israel out of Egypt, he whispered again that his plan was bigger than the tribes of Israel. The plagues on Egypt were not just to punish Egypt or to impress Israel—they were also designed so that “the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 7:5).
The plan went farther than Egypt, too. God told Pharaoh that he would show his power in Egypt so that “my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). Apparently some of the Egyptians learned about the secret—there were “many other people” who left with the Israelites Exodus 12:38).
When Israel was at Mount Sinai, God offered that they could become “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). They would help other nations come to God. Israel seems to have neglected the offer, though, and we do not hear of it again until the New Testament. But God’s plan remained he was still determined to bring all nations to learn about what he could do for them.
When Joshua led the people across the Jordan River, was it just for Israel? No—Joshua said that God’s plan was that “all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful” (Joshua 4:24). The shepherd boy David had an inkling of what God was doing, too. He told Goliath that “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46).
Singing about salvation
Many of the psalms are about God’s plan for all nations. Psalm 2 speaks to the Son of God: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (verse 8). “Kiss the Son,” the nations are advised. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (verse 12).
“Let all the earth fear the Lord,” Psalm 33:8 says. “Let all the people of the world revere him.” O, that everyone would know his goodness. “Shout with joy to God, all the earth!” (Psalm 66:1) “Come and see what God has done,” the psalmist says to everyone. “Praise our God, O peoples… Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (verses 8, 16).
The mission of the church is not based on a single scripture at the end of Matthew—it is based on what God has promised from the beginning. Although the Old Testament is focused on Israel, various passages here and there remind us that God has a lot more than Israel in mind.
God sent his own Son into another culture in order to reach people. When we are involved in mission, when we are sharing the blessing he has given us, we are taking part in God’s plan to bless all nations through the Seed of Abraham.
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth…. Proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations” (Psalm 96:1-2). “The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations…. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth” (Psalm 98:2-4).
Everyone is involved
God wants everyone to come to a knowledge of salvation—to hear the gospel (1 Timothy 2:4). When our hearts are like the heart of God, we too want to see the salvation of all peoples, and we’ll do our part spreading his good news to others. Some of us will go to our own city to share the gospel. Others will travel within one nation, and some will go to other nations. Others will support them in prayer and finances and hospitality.
I encourage you to share the gospel, and to pray for those who share the gospel. I encourage each congregation to train people in evangelism, encourage people in evangelism, and allocate part of their budget for evangelism. It can be done by supporting churches in other nations, or by supporting new churches in the next neighborhood.
The Great Commission is our mission, and that is why our financial structure includes support for mission developers in other nations. Through this denominational initiative, every congregation has at least an indirect role in supporting overseas missions. Some choose to have more direct involvement, too, through “sister church” arrangements or other partnerships that can help churches share the good news of salvation.
We may help in different ways, but for each of us, the call is there: Go, preach the gospel, make disciples of all nations, and teach them to do the same thing (Matthew 29:19-20). The secret is simply too good to keep to ourselves.