“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14, ESV).
You and I have a purpose in life. We were created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10), and when Christ departed the earth, his last words included the command to teach others to obey all that he commanded (Matthew 28:20). The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question, “What is the chief end of man?” with, “…to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” How do we glorify God, enjoy him, know the good works we should do, and teach others to obey?
We grow in obedience to Christ’s commands during our days on earth, never knowing fully how to glorify God or to enjoy him, but confident that the Holy Spirit is working in us to do that very thing as we rest in Christ by faith (Hebrews 4:11). The day is coming when all will be complete, when there will be no more sin, and when all injustices will be made right. Paul calls that day “the end.” It will be evident by Christ’s return and the exposure of everything to the light. Before that day comes, however, the gospel of the kingdom of God will be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Wow, that requires much proclaiming!
Christians regularly remind one another of the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This great commission is clear and succinct. We know that we are to go, make, baptize and teach, but what is context for that work and how are we to do it? Earlier in Matthew’s account, Jesus is recorded teaching his disciples about both the context and the perseverance required in anticipation of Christ’s return.
Jesus taught that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). Christian military members understand this kind of context. Where there are nations rising, or famines and earthquakes happening, the military is usually nearby. We proclaim the good news (gospel) of God’s work through Christ Jesus within this context.
Next Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9), and that many, not a few, would fall away, betray and hate one another (Matthew 24:10-11). Reality check. Following Jesus’ commands will mean suffering, abandonment, relational pain, and the loss of close friends who appear to be part of the visible Christian church. Count the cost; enter Christian obligation with soberness; ask God for wisdom and strength to persevere. Satan cannot snatch sheep from the Father’s or the Son’s hand, yet Jesus reminds us to stand fast: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Don’t grow weary of glorifying God or enjoying him. It is hard to live our Christian obedience on earth.
Yet our good God has ordained that this is the context for the life we are to live as a testimony to all the nations. We testify using words and actions to proclaim what God has done through the incarnation (becoming human) of the Son of God. Peter declares this same gospel to the first military and Gentile converts of Cornelius’ household (Acts 10). “And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). You and I are in the lineage of Cornelius because of our union with Christ. Proclaim the gospel as a testimony to the military community (all nations). We love you!
—In hope, Hous & Tami