A Heart for the Nations BY DR. TODD KINZER
G od’s heart is for the nations! One of my first realizations of this truth was when I attended Word of Life Bible Institute as an 18-year-old student. It was there that God began to deepen my understanding of His love for me and for the world. As a young student of the Bible, I began to see that God’s heart for the lost on a global scale is a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul emphasizes God’s global focus in his description of the Fall in Romans 5, where he writes that sin entered the world in a localized way (through one man) but that the implications of sin spread to the whole world (global). Thus, if God’s purpose in history is to glorify Himself by redeeming that which was lost (Luke 19:10), His focus must not be on one person, country, or people group but on the world globally. This global focus of God’s redemptive plan is on full display when God called Abraham and announced not only that he would be the father of a great nation but that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). This global theme continues to develop through the key figure of Abraham and his children early in the Exodus narratives. As the Hebrews left Egypt following the miraculous plagues, a “mixed multitude” left with them (Exodus 12:38). No doubt these were Gentile Egyptians who had become convinced that Yahweh was indeed the true God. One of the primary roles of the emerging Jewish nation in the years to follow was to function as a light to the Gentile nations. According to the prophet, Isaiah, this function would find its perfect expression in the Messiah Himself, “The Servant,” who would serve as a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6). This similar phrasing occurs later in Isaiah, when the prophet writes, “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved one
of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:6). It was this very passage that Paul and Barnabus quoted in Acts 13 during their first missionary journey. The gospel was making major inroads in Antioch in Pisidia, so much so, that Luke observes that the whole city came to hear Paul preach the gospel! However, the jealous response of the Jews and the opposition to the gospel that resulted led Paul to cite this passage from Isaiah and to announce that the light of their gospel ministry would shift from the Jews to the Gentiles. This paradigm change not only marks a key transition in the Book of Acts but also gave Paul’s ministry a much more global impact in the years that followed. The ultimate fulfillment of God’s global focus emerges in the brilliant worship scene in heaven in Revelation 5. The four living creatures and twenty-four elders worship the Lamb by proclaiming, “You are worthy to open the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation . . . .” This profound expression of worship is affirmed by believers numbering “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands.” Truly God’s heart for the nations and the beauty of the gospel will be on full display on that day! These events naturally invite believers in the church today to evaluate the focus of their lives. Whether we’re a Bible teacher, a plumber, a housewife, or an engineer, do we share the same global focus as the Scriptures? Does our heart for the nations mirror that of God Himself? Is this reflected in our time, priorities, and finances? My prayer is that these comments will challenge, equip, and encourage us to live a life of global impact, a life that prioritizes the spread of the gospel . . . to the nations!
Dr. Todd Kinzer (‘98-99)
Dean of Students at the Word of Life Bible Institute New York Campus & Assistant Professor B.S. Baptist Bible College (2001) M.Div. Capital Bible Seminary (2004) Th.M. Capital Bible Seminary (2006) Ph.D. Dallas Theological Seminary (2017)
Executive Dean and Professor of Global Campuses Mark Strout (‘82)
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