From God’s “GO!” to Abraham in Genesis 12:1, to God’s “GO!” dispatching Jonah to the city of Nineveh, from Christ’s “GO!” to the seventy in Luke 10:3, to the great “GO THEREFORE” of Matthew 28:19, the Scriptures reveal a God always active in mission.
Mission begins in the heart of God and expresses his great love for the world. It is the Lord’s gracious initiative and ongoing activity to save a world incapable of saving itself.
Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
Scripture portrays this active, searching, enfolding love of God (Ezekiel 34, Luke 15) from the first promise of the Savior to Adam and Eve in the garden to the promise of Christ’s second coming in the book of Revelation. From beginning to end the mission is God’s, as he acts according to his eternal plan (Ephesians 1) to restore his fallen creation to himself. The Bible demonstrates clearly that God
. . . desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the trut (1 Timothy 2:4).
God will bring his mission to completion on the day Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead and to gather all believers to himself. In loving patience our Lord delays the time of the end so that the Gospel might be preached to all nations (Matthew 24:14).
The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
God fervently desires that the day of judgment may be for all not a day of terror but one of unspeakable joy and thanksgiving, as every tongue joins in confessing
. . . that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11).
The mission will end as it began—in the heart of the Lord.
From: A Theological Statement of Mission, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Prepared by The Commission on Theology and Church Relations, November 1991, p. 5.