What is missions?
In a word, it is the presence of Christ spread. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
That means everyone who has the Son of God is involved.
The purpose of missions therefore, is for the glory of God in Christ, not for the sake of the peoples of the earth.
Finding the right biblical perspectives on missions might not be as easy as it sounds for the Word goes deep and wide with the matter spreading Christ, but I believe that there are a few basic principles from which we can begin to build our foundation. It doesn’t have to be complex or overwhelming.
First, we know the simple truth that a person cannot be saved apart from the atoning work of Christ, and that the sinner needs to hear it from you and I:
“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:13-17
Secondly, the matter of why is of importance. You may hear many saying things like, “They are dying without ever hearing the gospel!” or, “They never had a chance!” or, “They have no hope unless we go to them!” Whether true or not, these are not attitudes we find in the book of Acts, or anywhere else in Scripture for that matter. The sense of urgency is just not there. Jesus already knew that most of humankind would not make it to life; only a minority. Few find it. Missions is not a panic. The Holy Spirit has been carrying out his own will in missions since the church was birthed. So, such motivations for going on missions or spreading the gospel are too shallow. The Word bids you to think deeper.
People are for God and not the other way around.
“I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake…” Isaiah 43:25
“Go and make disciples…” Matthew 28:19
“Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4
God’s glory is who he is–love–which is the sum of the Word, which became flesh. God is love, and this love was manifested in Jesus as John 3:16 testifies. Profoundly, as Paul himself even says, God’s purpose and plan for bringing glory to himself targets you and I as his church declaring and displaying God’s glory (love) to every people, not on the basis that they need to be saved, although they do and God desires and wills that (Ezekiel 33:11), but on the basis of glorifying God.
“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.” Psalm 50:2
From the Church, God shines forth. From you and I. We go not to a people out of pity that they might miss out on the joys of heaven (this is not a biblical perspective), but we go rather to a rebellious people (Romans 1:21) to tell them “be reconciled to God,” through Jesus that God may be glorified. Sin is to hold the glory of God in contempt. God deserves everything he made. I think, in a sense, to be lost is to rob God of something that is his which he made for beauty but has been trashed. So I believe it can be said that missions is about recovering what God deeply desires.
Each unique people group was designed in the depths of the ages to reveal a distinct face of God and his glory. The day will come when every tribe, tongue, and people will be gathered around his throne in a sweet worship session. The Church, meanwhile, is gifted and equipped to take part in the fulfilling of this great plan of the magnification and glorification of God the Father, Son, and Spirit, in all, through all, and above all.
For an excellent sermon that hits home on this subject, check out Ten Shekels and a Shirt by Paris Readhead which can be found at sermonindex.net.