WILLS POINT, TX – K.P. Yohannan, founder and director of GFA World (Gospel for Asia), whose heart to love and help the poor has inspired numerous charities like Gospel for Asia Canada, and Metropolitan of Believers Eastern Church, to serve the deprived and downcast worldwide — shares inspiring and challenging reflections on Ascension day and the Great Commission.
Some weeks have passed since Easter Sunday, and many of us have returned to the million things that cry out for our attention.
The truth is most of us have moved on! But the 40 days after Resurrection Sunday are a critical time in the history of our faith. In fact, in the calendar of the ancient Holy Church, Easter is not just a Sunday but a feast that sprawls all the way until Ascension Day! This is a season of continued celebration of the triumph of Christ and His living presence in our midst. It is the day of Christ’s triumphant return to Heaven! It is also the day that we, the Church, received what we call the Great Commission, some of Christ’s final words to us:
”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 things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The Gospel’s Epicenter: Where the News Starts
My friend, the news of Easter was never meant to be contained. Not contained to our Easter service, not contained to our sanctuary. This news was meant to be celebrated and told—and we have been charged with the telling.
While standing on trial before Pilate, Christ stated His ultimate purpose “… For this purpose I was born, and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness about the truth.” (John 18:37b)
In the very first verse of the Acts of the Apostles, we read, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1, emphasis mine). Jesus is our model. His purpose in life was “to seek and to save that which was lost” (St. Luke 19:10). He came to earth to redeem and to conform us into His image. No matter how you look at it, the one word that explains the faith of the Apostles, the Church Fathers, and the timeless Church was and is Jesus. Jesus is the core of our faith.
When from the Cross Christ uttered “It is finished,” He knew He had done what was always planned. He had made the Father known, and fulfilled His mission. He was love incarnate, and had demonstrated to all the world the nature of the Father. He came that we might know, and that all who could call on Him may have life everlasting, life abundant.
Picture it with me! After His Resurrection, sin and death now conquered, the risen Lord returns to His Twelve. His work now accomplished, He entrusts them with theirs, and He breathes into them the life of the Holy Spirit.
From here, we see the Great Commission, the Ascension, Pentecost and all that follows as these few apostles turn the world upside down!
Gospel Reverberations: The Good News Continues to Spread
Let’s follow the action: Christ Himself appears to His disciples. Then we see the word spread, as evidenced by the conversation recorded on the Road to Emmaus. Before long, more than 500 people have witnessed the return of Christ!
In these short weeks the disciples spend with their Risen Lord, He was preparing for that final separation: He would leave to prepare a place for us, ascending to the right hand of God the Father, and upon His return—Lo we will be with Him always! (1 Thess. 4:17).
Yet before His ascension, He would give His disciples one final command—and promise them the power to fulfill it through the Holy Spirit.
Our Easter Mandate: Until the Gospel Hope Resounds Throughout the World
But, my friend, even as we celebrate, I remind you that broken multitudes continue to grieve, continue to under the weight of hopelessness. Hundreds of thousands of communities remain where the hymns of resurrected life remain unknown and unsung. For half the world today, the news of Easter still has not been told. He sent the disciples out as witnesses into Jerusalem, Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)—yet we haven’t fully carried out this assignment.
You and I have, with Christ’s disciples, inherited the command of The Great Commission. Having made the Father known, taking on the form of a servant, obedient unto death on the Cross, and defeating death that we might live—He who is the Resurrection and the Life has given us the role of proclaiming His Good News.
We are told to live as Christ lived, so if we say we are Christians then we must walk as He walked.
If anyone says they are a follower of Christ and does not obey Christ’s command to go or send, to rescue the perishing, then our words in worship are inadequate and incomplete.
Just as He came and laid His life down, giving all in order that God’s plan might be accomplished, may we follow in His footsteps and willingly carry on the gospel work.
And just as when He came to earth 2,000 years ago, He is still looking today for men and women who will give Him first place in their lives. Nothing less than an absolute unconditional surrender to his Lordship is a worthy response to His sacrifice at Calvary.
In Light of Ascension Day, We Must Act Today!
“Why do you stand gazing up into heaven,” the angels asked after Christ had ascended. “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:12)
Had I stood there among his disciples that day, I think I too would have been in awe, would have stood staring at the sky and yearning for His return. And this is good to long for. But let’s not wait passively, but be active in faith, actively engaged in carrying out His great mission.
What is one small thing you can commit to do today? Here’s what I suggest—and urge all of my leaders in the Church! Read and re-read the book of Acts! Observe and learn from the faith and life of the early followers of Christ. See this as the practical manual to building His Holy Church, working with the Holy Spirit so we can continue to do “all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” (Acts 1:1)
My friend, today many thousands will perish without even one time hearing the name of Jesus Christ. The charge to “go into all the world and tell” is still our command today! We can listen to sermons all day long, commit the Great Commission to memory, but unless we convert our understanding into action, it does not make a difference.
In light of this, what will you do? Will you take up your cross and go? Will you lay down your plans and give? Will you send laborers to those who’ve never heard (Romans 10:14-15)? Make a decision today: What next step will you take in obedience to Christ’s command?
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the foot of those who preach the good news!” –Romans 10:14-16
K.P. Yohannan, founder and director of GFA World (Gospel for Asia) and Metropolitan of Believers Eastern Church (BEC), has written more than 250 books, including Revolution in World Missions, an international bestseller with more than 4 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based global mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and sharing the love of God. In a typical year, this includes thousands of community development projects that benefit downtrodden families and their children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and teaching to provide hope and encouragement in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. GFA World has launched programs in Africa, starting with compassion projects in Rwanda. For all our latest news, visit our Press Room at https://gfanews.org/news.
Find out more about Gospel for Asia in the video “A Year in Review with K.P. Yohannan.”
Keep encouraged and get your regular dose of challenge through other articles on Patheos by KP Yohannan Metropolitan, or on his blog at kpyohannan.org.
You can learn more about K.P. Yohannan Metropolitan by clicking here.
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