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GoArticles >MOTIVATIONS FOR MISSIONS - 7 biblical bases for world mission  

Compiled by Nate Wilson, Caleb Project Church Mobilization Specialist

A. GREAT COMMISSION MODEL

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:18-20, the classic Great Commission passage, is a command to be obeyed. The key here is obedience. (Cross-reference Mark 16:15 & Luke 24:47). We must be obedient to God if we love him (John 5:3).

B. RESOURCE/RESPONSIBILITY MODEL

What are our responsibilities before God?

  1. To worship God,
  2. To edify believers, and
  3. To evangelize non-believers.

God has given us resources, and he has also given us responsibilities in each of these three areas. Psalm 67 shows how God’s blessings enable us to fulfill our responsibility to evangelize non-believers:

God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us –
That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among all nations…

This twofold emphasis of God's blessings and our responsibilities in world evangelization are found throughout the Bible. See Genesis 12:3, Matthew 28:18, and 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.

Another facet of the Resource/Responsibility model is understanding our responsibility before other people. We have heard the gospel, and yet there are more than two billion people who have never heard it! We have the great blessing of salvation, but with it, the great responsibility of telling other people about it too (Romans 10:13-15).

Those who have never heard the gospel are still held responsible before God through general revelation (Romans 1:18-21) and through their conscience (Romans 2:11-16), and if they do not fear God, they will be judged to a Christless eternity. When Jesus says that no one comes to the Father but through him, he means it (John 14:6). Because of our sin and rebellion against God, we all deserve the same judgment (Romans 3:9-12). Notice that it is not our fault that they are doomed to hell; the unevangelized deserve to go to hell just as much as we do. But we can be motivated to mission work because of the simple fact that we know the gospel and others do not, and that we are therefore responsible to tell them.

C. COMPASSION MODEL

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus’ compassion for physically and spiritually needy people:

And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36; see also 14:14, 15:32, 20:34)

When we are at school or work, when we are in the shopping mall or in the inner city, when we go to people’s homes, or see people through the window of our car, are we moved with compassion? How can we NOT be moved when we see people in need? Physical needs (1 John 3:17) should ignite our compassion as well as spiritual needs (Jude 22 & 23), and we should seek to minister to both. Usually the meeting of a physical “felt” need can lead to opportunities to minister to a person's spiritual need.

D. HISTORICAL MODEL

Throughout history, God has used his people in growing his kingdom. God was involved in the lives of Adam and Eve and faithful descendants who passed the fear of God on to Noah and from him to Abraham (Genesis 31:53).

After creating the 70 family/nations at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), God's next act was to call Abram and give him a covenant:

I will bless you ... and so you shall be a blessing ... and in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3).

God chose to bless Abraham and use him to bless all the family/nations separated at the Tower of Babel! Paul confirms this meaning in Gal. 3:8 & 29. God repeats this covenant to Abraham (Genesis 18:18, 22:16-18), Isaac (26:4), and Jacob (28:14). Abraham carried the knowledge of God to Egypt (Genesis 20). Before Israel entered Caanan, word had already gotten around to the nations about their God (Joshua 2:8-11)!

Old Testament Jews knew that God desired his people to tell all families/nations/ethnic groups about him:

  • David entered combat with Goliath in order that all the world would know of Israel’s God (1 Samuel 17:46).
  • Isaiah 49:6 (Anticipates the ends of the earth hearing.)
  • Jeremiah 4:2 (If Israel obeys, the nations will hear.)
  • Ezekiel 36:22-23 (God's purposes are for all nations!)
  • Habakkuk 2:14 (How completely does God want the world evangelized?)
  • Daniel 3-6 (The exile carried the Truth to Syria, Babylon, Persia, and Media!)

Jesus reminded the Jews that their blessing was for all nations. His kingdom was intended for all peoples (Matthew 8:11; Mark 11:17). After Jesus' resurrection, he taught the disciples from the Old Testament (the New Testament hadn't been written yet) that “repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:45-47).

The apostles at Pentecost understood that mission is an extension of God's covenant to Abraham (Acts 3:25), and they spread the gospel all over the Roman empire (Acts 17:6).

Tallying up to this point, the gospel had been proclaimed in the entire Middle East as well as North Africa and parts of Europe and Asia! Faithful missionaries evangelized Europe and more of Asia in the Middle Ages, and later, in the 1600's, overseas missions and colonization began in earnest (Columbus, William Carey), covering much of the coastland of the world. In the 1800's, missionaries began to push inland (Hudson Taylor, Interior Missions). Let us join this glorious march of history!

E. TASK MODEL

Now we are beginning to see closure as missionaries concentrate on reaching the last people groups who were overlooked in history and have not yet heard the gospel. Jesus wouldn't have given us the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18ff) unless he intended us to actually complete the task. Preaching the gospel to every group of people must occur before the end:

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the world world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. (Matthew 24:14)

The end of the task is in sight! It is estimated that there are now only seven non-Christians per believer in the world. Fewer than 10,000 cultures have no Church or Bible! These “unreached peoples” are the final frontier of missions, and there is a great need for thousands of new missionaries to reach them. We have the resources to complete the missionary task in our generation – if every evangelical church were to focus on one of these unreached peoples, we could finish the task five times over!

We can end this model by looking at the fulfillment of the task of world evangelization at the end of time. God gave such a glimpse into the future to John in Revelation 5:9:

Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

F. PARTNERSHIP MODEL

As members of the body of Christ, God has uniquely gifted us to play an important role in the work of the Church (1 Corinthians 12-14). Our giftings and activities should contribute to the fulfillment of the responsibilities of the church. Perhaps 1% of the people in the Church have gifting and calling to cross-cultural church planting, but the spiritual gifts of the other 99% still have as much bearing on missions as they have on worship and edification at home! For instance:

  • If you are gifted in helping other people, you can help not only friends and fellow believers but also non-believers and missionaries.
  • All kinds of regular jobs are open all over the world – you could work in another country and also help plant a new church!
  • Are you an encourager? Missionaries need you to write them encouraging letters!
  • Musicians are quite helpful on the mission field and in motivating other Christians to a commitment to missions.
  • Do you have a knack for making money? Consider financing missionaries to take the gospel to new groups of people (1 Corinthians 9:14).
  • Are you a teacher? Part of teaching and edifying the body of Christ is to equip them for spreading the knowledge of God to others (2 Timothy 2:2).
  • Do you have the resource of time? Budget that time to get serious about regular prayer for missionaries and people in need of Christ (Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Do you see the big picture? All these gifts work together in the body of Christ to extend the kingdom of Christ together. Consider your own spiritual gifting and calling; how can you work in partnership with the body of Christ to participate in world evangelization?

G. WORSHIP MODEL

All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and they shall glorify Thy name. (Psalm 86:9)

God created and saved people in order to receive glory from them (Ephesians 1:4-6). He intends to be worshipped by representatives from every nation (Malachi 1:11, Mark 11:17)! God is jealous about his glory and will punish those who don’t honor him (Isaiah 48:11, Acts 12:23), but his glory grows as more people adore him from every different culture. Missions is the means to God’s greater glory.

Those of us who love God naturally want to bring other people to worship him too (Psalm 96, Isaiah 12:4-5), and in fact, we are commanded throughout the New Testament to bring glory to him (Matthew 15:16, 1 Corinthians 10:31). When we see how valuable Jesus is, we will not only worship him ourselves, but we will also desire for him to receive honor from every creature in heaven and earth (Revelation 5:12-13).

Worship is both the fuel and the destination of missions. One day missions will cease and there will be nothing but worship for the rest of eternity!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)

Compiled by Nate Wilson, Caleb Project Church Mobilization Specialist. Thanks to the many people who contributed ideas to this overview, including, but not limited to: Frank Barker, Ken Wilson, Paul Stein, Ralph Winter, Don Richardson, Bob Sjogren, Jim Camomile, Ted Elder, Steve Hawthorne, and John Piper.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible

 
Acts 1:8
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