There are two leading passages that speak of this programme. You remember that during the last week of His life Jesus told His disciples of the fall of Jerusalem. They came earnestly asking for fuller information regarding the future events. They asked when the present period of time would come to an end. And in answering He said—and the answer became a pivotal passage around which much else swings—that the Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony unto all nations. And then the end of the present age or period of time would come (Mat_24:14).
The first council of the Christian Church was held as a result of the remarkable success attending the beginning of world-wide evangelization. It was held in Jerusalem to consider the serious question of what to do with the great multitude of foreign or Gentile converts.
The Church had been practically a Jewish church. But Paul had commenced his remarkable series of world-wide preaching-tours. Great numbers of the outside peoples had accepted Christ, and been organized into Christian churches. Some of the Jewish Church in Jerusalem thought that all of these should become Jewish in their observance of the old Mosaic requirements. Both Paul and Peter, the two great church leaders, object to this.
It is at the close of the conference that James, who was presiding, outlines in his decision the programme of world-winning of which we are talking together (Act_15:13-18). He quotes from the prophecy of Joel. He says there are to be three steps or stages in working out God's plan.
First of all is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus to all the nations, in which work Paul had been so earnestly engaged, and the remarkable success of which it was that had given rise to the whole discussion. When this has been completed the kingdom is to be established with the nation of Israel in the central place, the tabernacle of David set up, as he quotes it. The purpose of this is that all the rest of the peoples on the earth, all the nations, "may seek after the Lord."
The purpose of the Kingdom is the same, in the main, as is now the purpose of the Church. It is to push forward on broader lines, and more vigorously than ever, the work of bringing all men back to the Father's house.
There are many other passages that might be referred to, but these will answer our purpose just now. There is to be a won world, and the old Book outlines plainly just how and when it will be won.