This article transcription on the Great Commission was transcribed from a conversation with Assemblies of God missionary Dick Brogden, a global leader of the LiveDead movement. In this part of our conversation, Dick outlines why the entire Bible is a Great Commission story, why global missions must be a non-negotiable passion for every follower of Jesus, and why the Commission’s focus of the Great Commission on unreached people groups is so important.
Dick is one of the foremost missiologists in the world today, but he doesn’t just talk about global missions philosophically; he lives it out. Dick and his wife Jennifer are based in Saudi Arabia, where they are doing the Great Commission planting the church in this most difficult of spiritual soils. I hope this short segment ignites your passion for those around the world who can be born, live, and die without ever having the chance to hear the resurrection hope of the Gospel.
May the Great Commission, the glorification of Jesus among all nations, tribes, and tongues, be the passion of our hearts.
ERIK: I’m talking today with my dear friend Dick Brogden. Dick is a missionary with Assemblies of God World Missions and one of the founders of the LiveDead movement, which seeks to reignite a Great Commission passion for unreached people groups.
Dick, you’re one of my favorite people to talk to because you challenge me intellectually and spiritually. And so, I just really appreciate you taking a few minutes to talk to me today.
DICK: My pleasure, Erik. Love you, love Stone Table, so glad to be a part.
ERIK: In the time that I’ve been blessed to spend with you, you’ve taught me a lot about UPG missiology, and I know LiveDead is driven by a missiology that says we’ve got to go to the places where the Great Commission hasn’t been yet, where the name of Jesus is not on people’s lips.
So, can you help us? If you’re talking to believers of all of all stripes here, can you help us understand why that missiology is close to God’s heart and why you have embraced it as such an important part of who you are and what you pursue? And why we should, too?
DICK: There are probably two traditions right now in our evangelical world doing the Great Commission that playfully battle back and forth with one another. One would be the Reformed movement, which tends to be really Scripture–centered, which is great. The second would be the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, which tends to be Spirit–oriented, which is great.
And I think where we are at our high–octane best is when we have this great combination of reliable Scripture and Spirit power. And when we look at the Bible and what God, the Holy Spirit, is doing in the earth, we see that unreached people groups – and missions – and the Great Commission are not optional.
It’s not the “Great Suggestion,“ as others have said. It is core to God’s heart. The Great Commission is central to the Scriptures, and it’s focused on the energizing work that the Spirit. So why is this important? Simply because God is a missionary God and the Bible is a missionary book.
Walter Kaiser, a professor of the Old Testament, said that the Bible is organized under a tripartite formula. And that just means a “three-part“ formula.
Number 1: God will be our God, and we will be his people.
Number 2: He will live amongst us, and by his presence, he’ll bless us.
Number 3: We will be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.
So, under that essential theological construct, we have all of the Scriptures. And therefore, when we talk about missions, it’s not a 2020 thing. Unreached people groups are not a “last three decades“ thing. The Great Commission is the heart of God, to have people who worship him from every tribe, tongue people and nation. The Great Commission is from Genesis to Revelation. It’s all through the Book.
The Great Commission: Call to Action
David and Goliath, right? Why does David charge against the giant? Well, he gives us the answer: so that “all the earth will know there is a God in Israel!“ Solomon dedicates the temple “so that all the nations would honor and give majesty to the Lord.“ Old Testament, New Testament, it doesn’t matter. All peoples will worship Jesus.
Therefore, the Great Commission’s operating question is: “Who doesn’t do that yet?“ Because that’s how it starts from Genesis. That’s how it ends in Revelation. This is the whole passion for “God so loved the world,“ the cosmos, the created order. Preach the Gospel to every creature, make disciples of all nations, and on and on the Scriptures go.
If we’re the people of God, we have to have mission’s hearts. God is a missionary God. The Bible is a missionary book. The Holy Spirit is the executive of missions. What must define us, energize us, and propel us forward is to see every tribe, tongue, people, and nation reached through the Great Commission.
It’s a big deal. It’s the Metanarrative.
ERIK: It’s interesting. Recently Barna came out with a study – I don’t know if you saw it – it said that 51% of Christians could not identify the Great Commission. And then, it went on to say something that was even more disturbing to me. Over half of millennial Christians – people who profess faith in Christ – think it’s morally questionable to share your faith with another person, especially in a cross-cultural setting.
DICK: Correct. I think the church is kind of at a scary point here, where we’re losing our Great Commission focus. I think that the enemy is so clever at confusing the narrative. So now, what is termed as hate and bigotry, is what the Bible describes as love.
If we are concerned about someone’s eternal future, not just focused on the now, we want them to live forever, enjoy justice, peace, truth. But what our modern times “Great Commission“ have done is told us, “well, that’s hateful, that’s bigoted,“ to have an exclusionary view of how you have eternal life and live forever.
Don’t share [the Gospel] because you’re just hating on people. It’s so bizarre because it’s absolutely the opposite. If we really love people, we will tell them how sins can be forgiven and how heaven can be gained. So, in my Spirit, I do agitate against that and say, “wow, the enemy is really good at what he does.“
Let’s not get upset at that, let’s just be really good at what we do. Let’s be so vibrant in our joyful proclamation of the Great Commission, let’s be so enthusiastic in our love for the Lord, let’s be so studious in our crossing of cultures and languages and barriers and gaps that we’re very winsome.
So, I don’t think it’s time for hand rubbing and sticking our head in the sand. Let’s just be really good at doing what God told us to do.