Christian Living · Church · Culture · Culture & Society

Send the Light: The Importance of Missions

Consider four important truths about missions.

First, the work of missions is a glorious work. The word “glorious” is associated with something that has striking beauty, and innate splendor. Feelings of delighted admiration are elicited from the soul as the eye sees, and the mind comprehends something that is marvelous, magnificent, and superb. In the book of Revelation, John beheld a unique and holy people called out of every tribe, tongue, and nation. He saw the eternal purpose of God, the glorious work of missions, fulfilled. John recorded the wonderful result of the glorious work of redemption accomplished and applied. “And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Second, the work of missions is an important work. Oswald J. Smith said, “The mission of the church is missions.” Missions are important because God has ordained the means by which souls are to be brought to the Saviour. While is true that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:13-14) “Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us.” (Keith Wright) Those who have heard and embraced the gospel know how important mission work is because someone came to tell them the way of salvation, and they were rescued from eternal destruction.

For more than fifty years, Cliff and Martie Hellar labored as missionaries in Papau New Guinea. They went to a tribe that had no alphabet. With their linguistic skills, Cliff and Martie provided an alphabet for the people, taught them to read, and write, while giving them the gospel. In time, the Lord gave them souls for their labors. One day, some of the converts came to Cliff and Martie. They had written some songs, on their own, to their Savior, and they wanted to sing. Somewhere, in a region of the Southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia, praises to Jesus can be heard. There are songs in the night. There is joy in the morning. There is gratitude to God that He sent a young mission minded couple to minister to the island. Many of the people in Papau New Guinea know the importance of missions.

Then again, missions are important because, not only are new converts made, but new communities are established. In the book of Acts the story is told of how the Holy Spirit prompted the Church at Antioch to send forth Saul and Barnabas.

The Spirit said that these men were to be set part “for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) The Church was obedient. Saul and Barnabas went where the Spirit led with tremendous spiritual results, despite physical persecution. The persecution was severe. Saul was stoned and left outside the city, the people “supposing he had been dead.” (Acts 14:19) To the amazement of the Christians who had gathered around him at that time, Saul revived, the work of ministry continued, souls were brought to Christ in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. Elders were appointed for the new communities in every church and the kingdom of God advanced. (Acts 14:23)

There is yet another reason why missions are important. They are the instrument of God in finding new converts, establishing new communities, and nurturing the saints. In Acts 14:22 we read that Saul and Barnabas strengthened the new disciples and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. The believers were to be under no illusions. With his great ordeal fresh on his mind, Saul taught the Christians saying that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

Because missions are important to God, because missions are important to those who have received the gospel, because missions expand the Church, and because missions are a means of nurturing new converts, missions should be important to every Christian. Let us love what God loves. Let us invest our lives in those for whom Christ has died. Let us pray afresh, “thy kingdom come”, so that the earth shall one day “be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14)

Third, there is a vital need for every believer to be involved in some way in the ministry of missions, but with this caveat. Involvement with missions must be engaged with a spirit of delight, and not mere duty. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” (1 Cor. 9:16-18, NIV)

The vital need for believers to be involved must come from a heart of concern, compassion, and love. The Scottish missionary to South Africa, Robert Moffat, said, “I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages – villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.” It is the love of Christ which must compel believers to become involved in missions.

Fourth, there are some practical ways for every believer to become involved in missions.

First, read. Read the Bible, and pay special attention to what the Scriptures says about missions, especially in the book of Acts. Read biographies. Read about William Carey, who is called the Father of Modern Missions, and how he said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Read about Hudson Taylor, the missionary to China, who said, “God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him.” Read afresh about Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950’s trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador. In his Journal, on October 28, 1949 Jim had written, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Second, pray. Pray for individuals on a personal level. And then pray through the letters you write, or the cards you send.

Third, give. As the Lord leads, give to the missions program through the local church. Give directly to the missionary on the field if so led. Give to those organizations which are mission minded.

Fourth, go. Go on a short term mission trip if possible. C.T. Studd was a British missionary who said this. “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” Then, he went to China, India, and Africa.

Finally, if you wish to get involved in missions, ask the Lord for a soul winner’s heart. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov. 11:30) People desperately need the gospel. The prophet Jeremiah lamented, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:20) Despair will set in when individuals see opportunities for their spiritual deliverance again and again pass by. We do not want that to happen. Whatever your hand finds to do in missions, do it with all your might for the glory of God, and the good of others. Amen.

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