What is the Church’s mission? – March 3, 2024

Acts 1:1-11

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The Church’s purpose is to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The Church is God’s chosen group of people through whom He makes His Word and will known in the world. In fulfilling that purpose, Jesus Christ has given His people a very specific mission of heralding that truth all over the world. He has sent His people into the world with the message of the gospel and God’s revelation of Himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

What is the Church’s mission? Jesus lays it out very plainly in a passage we know as the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The Church is to “Go” and “teach all nations.” The word “teach” (Greek matheteuo) means “make disciples.” The Church does this by “baptizing,” and calling people to repentance, faith, and public profession of that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They also do this by “teaching” people “to observe all things” that He has “commanded.”

How is the Church to carry out this mission? Luke records Jesus’s final instructions for the disciples just prior to His ascension. In Acts 1:1-11, we learn three things about how the Church is to carry out its mission of making disciples of all nations.

The first thing we learn about fulfilling this mission is how Christ has made it possible for us to do it. Verses 1-5 remind that we are to go in His power. The great thing about the Christian life is that we have not been left alone to live it. God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower, guide, and teach us. Jesus showed Himself over the course of 40 days and confirmed without a doubt that He had died and risen again. Now, He reminds them of the promise that He would leave them a helper (John 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:7) and baptize them in the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, just ten days later, the Holy Spirit would come and the disciples would be emboldened and empowered to faithfully testify about Jesus (Acts 2:1+). If we are going to carry out the mission that God has given us, we must not rely on our own strength and wisdom, but on God’s through the Holy Spirit that He has given to us.


The second thing we learn about our mission is that we are called to go to all people. God is not “a respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and the gospel is meant for all people. God could have chosen any means He wanted to take the gospel to all people, but He has chosen to use His Church to do so. The disciples asked Jesus about restoring the kingdom to Israel and Jesus tells them that God will accomplish that in His time. However, their concern was to be “witnesses” for Him. This mission began in Jerusalem, then moved to Judea and Samaria, but would ultimately go to “the uttermost part of the earth.” God has called us to take the message of salvation to all people. Christ died for the whole world (1 John 2:2) and desires the salvation of all people (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). He has ordained it to be such that we are the vessels He uses to bring the only message that can bring them salvation (Romans 10:14-17).

Lastly, we learn about the duration of this mission. We are to go and preach the gospel until Jesus returns. As the disciples watch Jesus ascend up in a cloud, two angels stand by and instruct the disciples that Jesus will return in like manner. Revelation 1:7 tells us, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” The amazing thing about His ascension is that His return will be to the exact same place. He ascended from the Mount of Olives (Olivet) and Zechariah 14:4 tells us that He will return there at His Second Coming. The reality is that the lost world around us will inevitably stand before Him in judgment one day (Revelation 20:11-15; John 5:25-29). Additionally, believers will give an account of our faithfulness to Him (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). He is coming again to judge the world in righteousness.

We now live in a time when we can no longer take for granted that everyone around us in America has heard or understands the gospel. We must be faithful to go and preach like never before. How faithful have we been in carrying out the mission God has given to us? Are we faithfully making disciples and being witnesses for Jesus? Are there people around us who need the saving message of the gospel?