What kind of message will we bring with us when we go out to the nations? What will be our banner? Our argument? Our plea?
We cannot present a gospel that does not include God’s sovereignty over creation. That would not be faithful to the biblical gospel. We must proclaim that God is the rightful ruler and judge over the nations, and that one day soon he will return to judge the living and the dead.
This was an essential part of the gospel that Peter preached when he went to the house of Cornelius as recorded in the book of Acts:
He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all… We ourselves are witnesses of everything He did in both the Judean country and in Jerusalem, yet they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree. God raised up this man on the third day and permitted Him to be seen, not by all the people, but by us, witnesses appointed beforehand by God, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to solemnly testify that He is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:36, 39-43 CSB, emphasis mine)
The truth of Jesus’ rule over the nations is not the entirety of the gospel. Peter declared Jesus’s death and resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, the peace we have through Christ. But Peter doesn’t forget to assert that Jesus is the rightful Lord and the righteous judge of all the earth. Peter indicates that both the behavior and message of the missionary is based on the foundational truth that Jesus is the rightful ruler over all nations of the earth. We do not carry a message that is only for one ethnic group or citizens of only one country. We have been given a commission by the rightful ruler of all the earth to go to all nations. Furthermore, we are to remind those nations that they are accountable to him, and that they will one day be properly judged by him. Those truths are rudimental to the gospel.
When Christ gave his Great Commission, he began by stating, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:18-19 CSB). So when we preach his gospel, we are to do so with his authority in every nation. And like the apostles, we must say among the nations that the Lord reigns over all the earth, he created it, and he properly judges it.