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With You Until the End of the World

by Karla Shirvanian '10

In April, more than two hundred people gathered inside the Mary Hill Theater for APU’s Hispanic Theological Center's first Spanish lecture series to hear keynote speaker Justo Gonzalez, an internationally known theologian and author. The lecture, Con Vosotros, Hasta el fin del Mundo (“With You till the End of the World”), focused on Matthew 28:20 and addressed the momentum and new direction the text gives to the Church’s mission.

Gonzalez began the lecture by acknowledging that the Great Commission in Matthew and the work of the Holy Spirit in Acts are commonly discussed and seemingly redundant. Yet, he reminded the audience that even if they memorize the Bible, the content will continue to enlighten them.

“If it is true that it is the Word of God, then there is always something more the Word has to say to us,” Gonzalez said.

In the first session, Gonzalez acknowledged that God is the ruler of all. According to Gonzalez, everything in heaven and earth has already been given to God. Some people may not feel like they need God. He is not something that comes from impulse and he does not need us to do things, but rather he continues to work through us. As it states in Colossians 3, Christ is all in all.

Gonzalez drew a parallel between Jonah traveling to Ninevah to speak to those who did not know God and Peter being told to preach to those he considered unclean or unfit. Once Peter agreeed to preach to the Gentiles, Cornelius, the first Gentile Christian, was converted. According to Gonzalez, it's not only about Cornelius' conversion, but also about Peter, who once thought the Bible was just for people like him, but discovered it is for everyone.

“If it wasn’t for Cornelius, none of us would be here. If it wasn’t for Cornelius and Peter’s conversion, the mission of the Gentiles would not have occurred,” Gonzalez said.

Being in the midst of the end of the world controvesry among churches and the media, Gonzalez discussed the book of Revelation during the second session. Second only to the book of Psalms, Revelation has inspired more worship songs than any other book in the Bible. However, this God-given gift has become a something that instills fear. God gave us a revelation, but there are no keys to discovering God's timing.

“The Bible is not a game of Sudoku that you have to find the right numbers,” Gonzalez said.

According to Gonzalez, trying to figure out God's timing is like trying to pry God's secrets out of His hand. People have to know that God has gone before us and the future is in His hands.

Gonzalez also spoke about Acts 1:8 and the promise of the Holy Spirit being manifested among the Church. The Holy Spirit was not an individual promise or something that was promised to the apostles, it was a plural promise to the community. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit is not something to give a person glory, a happy life, or the ability to speak in tongues; it is about going out and being a witness to the Holy Spirit being received. “The Spirit gives power to give to others, not to give ourselves importance,” Gonzalez said.

The commission of the church is one given to the community until the Lord returns, and Gonzolaz reminded the audience that the Lord will be with us until the end of the earth. Although the stories in the book of Acts have finished, the call is not over because the same Spirit guiding the church then continues to guide today. The church will continue until the end of the earth.

At the end, the audience was given the opportunity to ask Gonzalez questions. The questions ranged from the Biblical view on homosexuality to how to minister, and from the value of the law to the impact of a diverse church. The crowd was thirsty to continue learning, but time ran out before all questions were answered.

Justo Gonzalez, Ph.D., is an internationally known theologian, author and speaker, publishing over 100 books and speaking to many around the world. Gonzalez was the youngest to receive his doctorate in historical theology at Yale University at the age of 23, where he also received his Masters Degree.