Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Going to the Mission Field

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 6
“Going to the Mission Field”

This Sunday [editor's note: this was originally published in February of 1997] will mark the beginning of our Missions Conference. It is appropriate for us to ask the question “What is missions?” This may seem elementary, but even scholars of missions (called missiologists) remind us that it is helpful to reflect on the exact nature of our task before we throw ourselves into it.

Sometimes we hear folks say evangelism is bringing the gospel to people close at hand, while missions is bringing the gospel to those far away. This is not entirely incorrect, as long as we realize the evangelism, Biblically defined, is simply the presentation of the gospel (the good news of salvation through Christ) -- wherever and to whomever it is proclaimed! If we present the gospel to our next door neighbor, we are doing the work of an evangelist. If we share the gospel on the street in the Ukraine, we are doing the work of an evangelist. Sharing the gospel (evangelizing) is a basic responsibility of every Christian.

Every Christian is called to be a witness to Christ (Acts 1:8; 8:37). We are to bear witness to who Christ is, what He has done on our behalf, and to His Lordship over us, through our lives and our words. When we bear witness through our words we are “evangelizing.”
So, back to our question: “What is missions?” Missions is an important (indeed, an essential) aspect of the Church’s duty to be a witness to Christ, rooted way back in God’s covenant with Abraham (and before that in the counsels of eternity). The word mission comes from the Latin missio which means “a sending away.” Hence, a missionary is one sent by the call of God and by the authority of the Church to bear witness to Christ in place or culture away from his own people.

God has commanded not only that we be witnesses, but that we be witnesses to the very ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In God’s covenant with Abraham, He indicated that Abraham was to be a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). In the fulfillment of the covenant of Abraham, Christ told his disciples that his message was to be preached to “all the nations” for a blessing (Matthew 28:19).

What then is missions? It is the work of Christ through the Church to call all the peoples of the earth to Himself by repentance and faith, and to make them His disciples, and through baptism to incorporate them into His body (the Church). What a privilege to be an instrument of the risen Lord to bring the light of eternal life to all peoples. Let us go then to the task. And if we cannot reach the mission fields on our feet, we can reach them on our knees.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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