Acts 1:8; 2Kings 7:9; Pro. 11:30; Ps. 126,5-6; 1Cor. 3:5-7; Matt. 9:36-38; Luke 10:1-3.
The story of the world-wide progress of Christian missions is more wonderful than tales of Oriental magic. It is almost unbelievable that a little group of obscure men and women, belonging to a small and subject people in an insignificant land on the shore of the Mediterranean, could, without military forces, prestige, money or elaborate organization grow until they have enlisted in their ranks a great number of the earth’s population. It is still more amazing that this little band were the followers of a despised, rejected and condemned leader, who left with them only the inspiration of His life and teachings, His resurrection from the grave and the command to go and preach His message with the promise of His power and presence.
The story of the carrying out of this commission (Matt. 28:18-20), includes the exploration of unknown and hostile territory, the mastery of thousands of strange languages and dialects, the conversion of many primitive and savage peoples. This is the story of a victorious conflict against slavery, superstition, idolatry, drunkenness and all forms of personal and social sins. The work has been accomplished, not through physical might or human intelligence and energy, but by the spiritual power given to the messengers of the crucified and risen redeemer.
Biblical Missions is the proclamation of the Gospel to the unconverted everywhere according to the command of Christ (Mk. 16:15-16). A missionary is a “sent one.” Missions includes the sender, the one sent, and the one to whom sent. Jesus himself was the great missionary (John 20:21). We will notice the principal motives of the first church and what should motivate Christians today to similar service and sacrifice. We consider the condition of the heathen - temporal, dire poverty, unrelieved physical sufferings. Their moral condition - heathen lands reek with filthy and degrading habits, abominable practices, unmentionable cruelties and crimes, slavery, witchcraft, caste, polygamy, etc. Their spiritual condition - not only lost, but they are wicked and willful sinners (Eph. 4:17-19; Col. l:21; Eph. 2:2, 5:6, 2:3, 2:12). God deals with all men on the basis of the sin question (Rom. 6:23; Ps. 9:17; Rev. 21:8; Acts 4:12). Paul the apostle gives God’s terrible indictment against the heathen lost world (Rom. 1:19-32). In fact, the final indictment is against both Jew and Gentile in Romans 3:19. The world’s guilt and need is thus established, so how is anyone to be saved (Rom. 10: 1-7)? The answer is missions (Rom. 10:8-17). What a solemn responsibility do these words lay upon all those who hold the only remedy for the condemning sin of the heathen world.
We need to consider Jesus Christ and our relationship to Him (Heb. 12:3). First would be loyalty to Him. His word must be defended, the beauty and holiness of His character and the divinity of His person and work proclaimed. He must be recognized, be accepted, be loved and enthroned in the hearts of men as Saviour and Lord (Acts 2:32,36; 3:6,13-16; 4:10-12). This should be no less potent a missionary motive today, for Jesus Christ is still despised and hated both by multitudes in nominally Christian lands and by millions under the sway of Satan and his wicked spirits in heathen lands. Second would be our gratitude for His infinite grace bestowed upon us, unworthy sinners and the countless blessings received. Why was I not a heathen, a deluded idolater or demon worshipper? Is there any inherent difference between me and a poor pagan in Africa or India? No, the difference is all due to the sovereign grace of God. All I am and all I have I owe to Him. Love is God’s only motive and should also be ours (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 5:2,25; Jn. 21:15-17; 14:15,23). Such love has burned like a holy fire in the hearts of missionaries of all ages. “I have one passion; it is He and He alone.” Zinzendorf.
The missionary idea is found all through the Old Testament. From the beginning, God revealed His plan and purpose as a world-wide one (Gen. 1:28, 9:1, 12:3, 28:12-14). Yes, we see a long line of missionaries - Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Jonah, Jeremiah and even Solomon (I Ki. 8:41-43). Christ’s earthly life and labors took the task of schooling His disciples for their future missionary endeavors. The apostles continued this method (Acts 1:8; II Tim. 2:2). The distinctive, unique and determining aim of missions is to make Jesus Christ known to all men as the only Saviour from sin. Many think that because other people have a type of religion that we do not need nor should we try to change them from their present culture. Even here in our own country, when you ask someone of their spiritual relationship with God, you often get a sharp rebuke, “That’s none of your business, I don’t need anyone telling me what to believe.” If they haven’t already shut the door in our face, we try to quote to them 1Pet. 3:15.
The responsibility of missions rests upon every member of Christ’s body -- “Go ye.” The following phrase expresses it very well, “Don’t sit down and sit - but get up and git,” (I Thess. 1:8, Acts 8:4). The only real hope of spreading the Gospel throughout the world lies in response to the truth -- “every Christian a missionary.” There will never be enough full-time evangelists and missionaries, we need a multitude, each one winning one, that one winning one and that one winning one, to keep the message going.
Principles are fundamental. Methods to perform the job develop as a natural process. We can follow what the early Christians did. There was oral preaching - send them forth to preach (Mk. 3:14, 16:20; I Cor. 1:21). After the filling with the Holy Ghost in Acts 2, Peter stood up and preached a message (Acts 2:14-41) that brought 3000 souls into the church. The question then arises, where shall we preach - in the open air, on the street corner, in business centers, wherever people gather, and in the church congregation. We need to go from door to door (Acts 5:42) pleading with people to turn from sin and trust our Saviour as their redeemer. We should try to hold Bible study meetings in the homes of our lost loved ones and neighbors.
Tracts, literature and letter writing can be very effectively used to get our message across when we cannot be there. Tracts have been the means of winning many to Christ and can be passed by even the most timid of Christians. Many use newspaper articles or ads in reaching homes in which we could not otherwise enter. Radio and television programs have been big during the last decade. In the coming days it will be satellite television that will spread the message around the globe (Rev. 11:7-12). The internet can and will be used.
And I haven’t mentioned foreign missionaries yet! At the time of this writing (March 18, 2001), our church gives support to 26 foreign missionaries and 14 home missionaries. How much should we give to outside missionary endeavors? Some give little, some give 50% plus of their total offering. As a church member is expected to give a minimum of 10% (tithe) of their gross income, so I personally feel that likewise the church should also give a minimum of 10% of their income to biblical missions.