Missions. I love missions. Since the very beginning of my walk with God in October of 1999, I have been involved in missions in one form or another. My wife and I have served in the past as Missions Directors and currently I serve as the Missions Pastor at Waters Edge Church. We have traveled internationally and nationally with the gospel message on short term trips. We even took our 11 year old daughter with us to Mexico over Christmas vacation one year. We have supported missions and missionaries financially and currently support the missions work of our church as well as the work that is being accomplished on Iowa’s university campuses through Chi Alpha. We have spent much time in fasting and prayer for world missions. In short, we are committed to missions.
Someone reading this may be thinking, “Why?” Why would a family be so committed to missions? Why would a person give their money to a person they barely know so that they can live in a country I will probably never see? Why would a church commit to pray for a group of people that they do not know and may never meet? Why would an individual sacrifice their time and comfort to go on a trip to a foreign country that will present them with unique challenges, including language barriers, traveling long distances, exhausting work, unfamiliar living conditions, not to mention food and water that can be toxic to our unacclimated bodies (pretty sure I have been sick on every foreign trip I have been on)? Furthermore, why would we choose to go places that can be hostile and life threatening to Christians? Why?
In this post, I hope to give a few short explanations for why the followers of Christ would go out of their way to support missions by either personally going or sending and equipping others who are able to go to the nations.
The Great Glory of God Demands Missions
There is no one like our God. Our God is holy. Our God is eternal. Our God is all-knowing. Our God is all-powerful.
I like how His works are described in the book of Job. God is given credit for establishing the foundation of the earth, setting its measurements, and laying its cornerstone. He has enclosed the sea saying, “Thus far you shall come, but no further; here your proud waves shall stop.” God is the one who commands the morning and causes the dawn to know its place.
Furthermore (as we are receiving a late spring snow in Iowa today), the bible says that God commands the storehouses of snow and hail. He has cleft the channel for the flood and for the thunderbolt bringing rain on the desert and waste places causing the seeds of grass to sprout. Who is like Him, who can lift up His voice to the clouds so that an abundance of rain will fall? God alone can count the clouds of the sky by His wisdom.
Job goes on to say that our Creator knows the time when the mountain goats give birth and the calving of the deer. It is by His understanding that the hawk soars; by His command that the eagle flies and makes his nest on high. God is the One who created Behemoth and Leviathan in all of their strength, which is far stronger than the might of man. Job sums it up by saying of God that, “You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” for He is our Almighty Creator.
Of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the unique renown of our God. He is not only the Sovereign Creator but He is also the risen One who saves. God is not a god who is far off and unengaged with His creation. Furthermore, He is not even a god who has given up on a sin ravaged world of people who choose to hate Him and His ways. Instead, He is the God who has chosen to love us by sending Himself in the form of a bondservant to take the sins of the world upon Himself as our sacrificial Lamb. Through His sacrifice and His stripes, we are cleansed of all unrighteousness and healed of all disease.
Furthermore, God is not only the Sovereign Creator and the Author of salvation but He is also the Judicious Judge. God is coming again to judge the living and the dead in His infinite wisdom and justice. As James points out to us:
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy…” James 4:12 (NASB95)
We may fear the laws and judges of this world, but there is a Judge who is coming that is to be feared above all. Therefore, we must warn the nations to repent while there is still time.
Because God is our Creator, Savior. and Judge, we must tell of His glory to all people in all nations. While this may be difficult, it is not an oppressive burden. God’s glory doesn’t impose that we proclaim Him like some megalomaniacal dictator who will harm us if we don’t, but rather, when we catch a glimpse of the Lord in His glorious splendor, we are inspired to tell everyone about how great He is.
“Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; bring an offering and come into His courts.” Psalm 96:8 (NASB95)
The Infinite Value of Souls Compels Missions
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37 (NASB95)
Who can put a price tag on a human soul? It is infinitely, eternally valuable above all other things. Jesus argues that the person who chooses to neglect the health of his soul for the riches of this world is a fool. There is no way that all of the riches, fame, and fortune of this world could compare to having an eternal relationship with God through Christ.
So when we consider missions, we recognize the serious responsibility of our work. Missions is not about projects or property. It is about people. We can build the nicest, strongest brick churches a third world country has ever seen but if it isn’t going to be used to reach people for Christ then it’s a waste of time. We can send money and resources to missionaries overseas, but if they aren’t actively pursuing souls for the kingdom, then it is misspent money. We can travel halfway around the world, sacrificing our time, talent, and treasure, but if our goal isn’t souls, then it’s just a vacation.
William Carey and his associates wrote up a missions guideline in 1805 called the “Form of Agreement.” In it they had 11 commandments of missions. The very first commandment, Commandment Number One, stated:
“…it is absolutely necessary that we set an infinite value upon mortal souls; that we often endeavor to affect our minds with the dreadful loss sustained by an unconverted soul launched into eternity.”
This is good advice. If we fail to understand the value of a mortal soul and the implications of an unconverted soul entering an eternity in hell, then we will fail in missions. We must adopt a healthy sense of urgency that is necessary if we are to take the risks and make the sacrifices that are often required of us in missions. A soul lost is an infinite loss that cannot be weighed.
The Authoritative Plan of God Prepares Missions
The third reason why we support missions is because missions work is God’s plan for the church. This plan has been carefully orchestrated, authorized, and empowered by Him.
Jesus Christ has been given all authority. The keys of death and Hades are in His hand. He promises to be with us always even to the end of the age. Therefore, through Him, we have an open door of opportunity to reach the nations for His glory.
Secondly, in God’s divine providential plan, He has effectively equipped us with the Helper. When Jesus was getting ready to leave this world, He explained to the disciples that it was beneficial for them that He go away because the Helper would come. That Helper is the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit has been given to us to be our guide and teacher, as well as the one who convicts us of sin and our prayer partner. But the Spirit has not been given just so we can be selfish with Him. While His presence and activity is crucial to the sanctified life, we are short-changing Him and ourselves if we deny and neglect the rest of His ministry in our lives. We are recipients of the Holy Spirit’s power and that power is to be used by us as witnesses to the world. He is the One who empowers us for the work of witnessing and God forbid that we waste that!
God’s missionary work has been given the authoritative stamp by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The ground work has been prepared, it is simply up to us to walk in that plan.
Hopefully, this has opened your eyes and heart to why you should support missions. If it has, the next question is this, What do you have to offer to the cause of the gospel mission? How can you fulfill your calling as a missionary?
The death and resurrection of Jesus on Passover flows into the mission of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. As our Resurrection Sunday celebrations give way to daily expressions of gratitude (see Still Risen…Still Grateful?) and hearts full of love spill over into worship, we find ourselves called to action. Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, first loved us and chose to demonstrate it to the world through His death on a pagan cross. Additionally, His resurrection has become our justification, our hope, our blessing, and our calling (see The Importance of Resurrection).
Now, because of this, we are moved to action. But not just any action; it is a world-wide, age-old, principality-conquering, nation-reaching, soul-saving, Spirit-led assault. This assault is bringing light to the darkness of this world; destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; strengthening the broken reeds, fueling the smoking embers, and empowering the faint hearted with the gospel. This assault is not militant but it is warfare because it engages a very real enemy. But even though we walk in the flesh, we do not carry out this war in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. Just as any war has soldiers, so too this assault on the darkness has its army of soldiers. But these good soldiers are not entangled in the things of this world but instead have their hearts and hopes fixed on the Author of our faith, Jesus Christ. While these faith-filled combatants pledge their lives to the battle and the imminent victory, they walk the path of love and humility, choosing to give all glory and honor to the Lord of lords and King of kings as we unashamedly follow the Holy Spirit. This is our calling. This is our mission. And the nations are waiting.
“…Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations…” Luke 24:46 (NASB95)