Before he ascended, Jesus tasked his disciples with proclaiming the gospel to all nations, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.” But he did not leave them powerless in this endeavor.
    Not only does he now possess “all authority in heaven and on the earth,” but he has granted his followers the gift of the Spirit to empower them to be his witnesses. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
    Moreover, completing this mission will determine when he returns. On the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of the consummation of the age?” His response included the declaration – “And THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole habitable earth for a testimony to all the nations, and THEN the end will come.” In the Greek sentence, the demonstrative pronoun “THIS” is emphatic, and presumably, he meant the very same gospel preached by him and his apostles.
    His statement is clear, and its logic is circular, and probably deliberately so. I mean, how can we quantify the many possible factors to determine if the job is done? Because the gospel has been preached in all 195 nations of the earth, or at least the name of Jesus has crossed every national boundary? In fact, based on Christ’s logic, we know with certainty that the task remains incomplete BECAUSE the “end” has not yet arrived. If the church had finished its assignment, Jesus would have appeared “on the clouds” and brought this present age to its “consummation.” In short, rather than attempt to calculate the date or the nearness of the end, get busy preaching the gospel.
    [Sunset Sea - Photo by Gontran Isnard on Unsplash]
    In his second letter, Peter makes a related point. Scoffers were pointing to the apparent “delay” in the arrival of the “Day of the Lord.” However, there has been no delay. God is not bound by man’s timetables, and He does not operate according to our expectations. In his long-suffering… Not willing that any should perish,” He has granted all men the opportunity to repent while time remains, and that is why so many years have passed since Christ’s ascension.
    In the same paragraph, Peter exhorts believers to “hasten” the Day of the Lord through “holy living and godliness,” which, presumably, includes being witnesses for Jesus. And the Greek verb rendered “hasten” means exactly that – to speed things along. This is a short but quite radical statement in its implications. Is God waiting for us?
    Yes, the “Father alone” knows the timing of that day, but that does not mean it is set in concrete and there is nothing we can do about it. Perhaps God is waiting for us to do our job; perhaps that is the explanation for the two-thousand-year “delay” in Christ’s return. Again, if we had completed our task Jesus would have arrived in power and glory already. Either that or his words do not mean what they plainly do.
    So, what am I saying? Perhaps instead of fixating on reforming a fallen society and correcting a sin-dominated culture and corrupt political system, and otherwise working for “perishing meat,” the church needs to get busy with the Master’s business by proclaiming his gospel to all nations. And that begins by witnessing for Jesus at your next opportunity to share the word with whoever crosses your path. Perhaps the “uttermost part of the earth” is at your neighbor’s house.
    [You may read my posts at kingdom-disciples.org]