The question, “What is the church’s mission,” is enormously important. How we understand the church’s mission will shape our message and our ministry. Fortunately, God has made the mission of the church quite clear. The mission is made abundantly clear in Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:16ff). Our Lord’s command to make disciples of all nations is stated in all four gospel accounts and the Book of Acts. The mission to make disciples of Jesus from all the nations explains why we are still here; why the Lord continues to keep his church in this sinful world. But the Great Commission was not a new development in redemptive history. Indeed, the church’s mission to take the gospel to the whole world and make disciples of Jesus is the ultimate expression of the Old Testament command to Israel to be a light to the nations. Unsurprisingly then, the mission of the church can be found repeatedly throughout the Old Testament.
Psalm 96 is a call to sing. It is believed by many scholars that this Psalm was written to accompany the celebration of the return to the temple of the Ark of the Covenant, a monumental time in the history of God’s people. It is a psalm meant to be sung in sanctuary of God’s people but within the hearing of the nations. In other words, thought his Psalm is written for the congregation it is also a call to all the peoples to join in the chorus of praise to God. There is an exuberance to Psalm 96 which can be heard in its calls to sing, proclaim, declare, bow down, and tremble before the Lord of all the earth. The Psalm also functions as a polemic against the paganism of the surrounding nations. The Psalmist calls their gods “worthless idols,” literally, “no things.” Psalm 96 does not fit into a world where religious pluralism is demanded. It is a clear call to all people in every nation to give honor and praise to God and God alone.
This is the heart of the church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus from all the nations. Isn’t it true that in making disciples of Jesus, we are calling all people to worship King Jesus? When the Psalmist calls God’s people to “tell,” of God’s salvation (vs. 2b) he uses the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word for gospel, “good news.” This is the first act of making disciples of Jesus. We are to “gospel” the world, to declare God’s salvation in Jesus Christ to the whole world and welcome them to worship the one great God.