Worshiping God though Missions

The church exists to worship God. Everything must be done with this one over-arching goal. Every endeavor of the church must have the worship of God as its ultimate end. Otherwise, the church runs the risk of doing ministry for the sake of the local church or for the sake of people in general (these are not bad things in and of themselves—but, they are not, the main thing). Therefore, the church must pursue worship, discipleship, evangelism, and service with God’s glory fully in view and with the worship of God as the ultimate end of any endeavor.

All Christians must participate in missions work and evangelism. The command of the “Great Commission” is to make disciples. Christ did not qualify this command; it is a universal and timeless charge to the church. This means that members of the church must give financially to missions and go on missions themselves, whether it be across the street or across the world.

My conviction about missions and evangelism is based on two specific passages of scripture, Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. While these two passages are not the only passages that can be referenced when discussing missions and evangelism, they are, perhaps, the most informative.

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
“[18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The “Great Commission” must be the foundation of any missions and evangelism endeavor. Matthew 28:18-20 has the main verb “Make Disciples.” Therefore, the goal of the Great Commission, whether at home or abroad is to make disciples.

In addition to the main verb “Make Disciples,” Matthew 28:18-20 contains three prominent and helpful participles—“Go,” “Baptizing,” and “Teaching.” These three participles speak volumes to how the Great Commission must be approached and carried out.

The participle translated “Go” is perhaps better translated, “After having gone.” The point of this participle is simple: Discipleship must be intentional, not haphazard. In fulfilling the Great Commission, we do not wait for people to come to us. Rather, we are to deliberately and intentionally go to them to bring the gospel to their country, city, and doorstep.

The second prominent participle, “Baptizing,” is very instructive as to the depth of the disciple-making process. Certainly baptism is a picture-in-action of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. However important baptism is (and it is very important), baptism is not salvific in and of itself. In this context, Jesus’ emphasis on baptizing is probably more closely related to the cost of being a Christian—completely forsaking the former way of life.

The point of baptizing people as part of the Great Commission is to eliminate so-called “easy believeism.” There is no such thing as a private conversion or a false dichotomy between public and private behavior. When true disciples are made by a good missions and evangelism effort, the converts will show fruit of true faith. Baptism seeks to insure (from the church’s perspective and the person’s perspective) a true conversion has happened so that in whatever happens, Jesus’ name and the name of the church is not dragged through the mud. Jesus’ inclusion of baptism in the Great Commission shows we are to have a deep commitment to the converts made so that they become fruit-bearing disciples and it helps to insure the person being baptized is serious about living a life wholly devoted to Christ

The third prominent participle is “Teaching.” Jesus’ point is this: All He taught the disciples must be passed on to new converts. Jesus’ emphasis on passing on His teaching further emphasizes that we are not called to make “Converts.” Rather, we are called to make disciples. When a person is converted to Christ, the battle is not over—it has just begun. When Jesus’ teaching is passed on to all new disciples, inevitably, those disciples will be “Romans 12:1-2” Christians—Christians who worship God in every aspect of their lives and who are continually seeking to have their minds renewed so that their lives are acceptable to God.

Acts 1:8 (ESV)
“[8] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:8 gives a factual statement by Christ to His disciples. In this statement, Christ outlines who the disciples will witness to—Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the World. It is interesting to note the entire book of Acts plays this statement out almost as if it were Luke’s purpose statement. While Christ’s words rang true in the First Century, they must still ring true today. Christ’s point, abstracted out, is that all Christians must witness to various contexts. While we may not be called today to witness to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria proper, we are called to witness to our hometown and our home areas—city, state, and nation. Further, we are called, as always, to witness to the world.

Therefore, the missions endeavor of our church will be local, national, and international.

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Filed under Missions & Evangelism, Worship

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