1. The foundation.The work is founded on the death and resurrection of Christ, as prophesied in the Old Testament (vv 44-46). This is the essential basis: what God has done in Christ, in this world and in our history. Without this, there is no work and no mission.
2. The work itself.The work is the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name (v 47). There are three facets here.
· The work is one of proclamation. Mission work is essentially the heralding of a message. Many other things also need to be done,no doubt, but if there is little or no announcing, the work of mission is not being carried out.
· Two things are to be proclaimed: repentance and forgiveness. This means that topics such as the law of God, our sinfulness and judgment to come cannot possibly be omitted. Without them, repentance and forgiveness make no sense. There must be a call to repent, as well as the announcement of forgiveness. And all of this is based on Christ’s death and resurrection and so those great events inevitably form a central part of the message.
· The work is to be done ‘in the name’ of Christ. This means that it is done on his authority. The workers are simply heralds, proclaiming a message given them by another. They have no authority to change it: they are simply to pass it on, depending upon their Lord for the outcome.
3. The beneficiaries.The message is to be preached ‘to all nations’ (v 47). This is clear: no racial or colour bar, no linguistic or ethnic exclusion. There are no exceptions of any kind – the message is for everyone throughout the whole world.
That is the work. Is that what we are doing, or are we distracted?
Bradford on Avon Baptist Church and former lecturer in Church History at the School of Biblical Studies in Welwyn