The Logic of Christian Missions

In spite of obstacles, failure and persecution, why does it make sense for Christians to carry out the Great Commission to the end of the earth? Mission (from Latin missio, ‘to send’) is the ‘sending’ of Jesus’ followers to ‘Go, proclaim the Gospel’ (Jn. 20:21, Mk. 16:15). Specifically it is to make disciples in all nations (Mt.28:19-20) who have not yet responded to God’s offer of salvation in Christ. A missionary is one ‘sent’ to share this good news. People wonder why we do what we do and we owe them an explanation. The Apostle Paul helps us argue a case for missions in his apologia to the Romans (10:14-15)

# 1: True Confession cannot take place without deep Conviction:
Paul’s first appeal to human logic is by way of the question: How can people call on the One they have not believed in? Having shown that it is by God’s limitless mercy alone that anyone, Jew or Gentile, is made righteous, he declares: ‘Whoever calls on the Lord’s name will be saved! (10:13). ‘Calling’ refers to that desperate cry to be rescued by God alone (Jer. 33:3). The Name which in Hebrew is synonymous with YHWH’s nature as Israel’s Deliverer is now equated with Yeshua or Jesus, the Anointed or ‘Christ’ of God. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and is God’s only way of salvation for the entire world (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12). However, people must believe in what God has done in Jesus in order to be saved. Therefore Conviction must precede true Confession!

# 2: Genuine Conviction happens after good Comprehension:
Paul’s next question is: How can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? He has taught the importance of faith ‘in Christ’ for salvation and demonstrated how it is a great leveler no matter who comes to God (3:28-30). Now, whoever believes will be saved and genuine faith comes by hearing the Word of God (10:17). Here ‘hearing’ is an inner understanding in order to heed what God is saying (Isa. 6:9). ‘Believing’ calls for more than intellectual assent, it is that whole-hearted committal that leads to a personal trust relationship with Jesus (Jn. 1:11). Yes, ‘God has spoken’ and ‘it is written’. His final Word on Salvation is – Jesus! But, people must ‘get’ this message in order to ‘believe in God’ or put their faith in Jesus. Faith is essential without which it is impossible to please, believe in, or come to God (Heb. 11:1-6). Conviction is product of clear Comprehension!

# 3: Proper Comprehension is a result of clear Communication:
Paul proceeds to reason: How can they hear without someone preaching to them? Today, preaching has a bad press and we tend to use the word in a negative way: ‘practice what you preach’. We must not forget that in Paul’s day, preaching, literally heralding, a message was a common method or medium for communicating an important message from an authority. The Gospel is in the Bible but, like the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:31), people do not readily or easily understand its message unless someone explains it. Who is Jesus and why it is vital for to respond to his claims over their lives? Gospel preaching is a ‘must’ as much as Christ had to rise from the dead (Lk.24:47; 1Cor.1:17; 2:4). More so, it must carefully clarify the need for repentance from sin (Mt.4:23; Mk.1:38; 16:15) and preachers must remember the medium (i.e. person’s lifestyle) is the message. We must let the light of the Gospel shine through our lips as well as our lives (Mt. 5:16). We know we have clearly communicated only when the recipients have properly comprehended!

# 4: Authoritative Communication warrants a definite Commission: Paul proceeds by logically positing: How can they preach, share the message, unless they are sent? Christians have been entrusted with a sacred, yet scary message: It’s life or death, turn or burn, now or never! This is not an easy task. We must be both authorized and empowered to take this message to millions who may not want to hear or heed it. We are called and commanded to: ‘Go, preach the Gospel to every creature!’ (Mk.16:15). This implies: (1) Obedience (Mk. 16:20): notice ‘as they went… Lord worked’. (2) Dependence (1Cor.2:1-4): we do not rely on our own ability but Christ’s spirit to evangelize. Conversion is always and only His work. Ours is to lift Jesus up and realize the need for him to work (3) Confidence (Rom. 1:16-17): Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel knowing it was God’s power unto salvation. Christians having received Christ’s Holy Spirit are ‘equipped with power from on high’ to be his witness (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8). We can boldly proclaim the Gospel since we have Jesus’ authorization and his Spirit’s empowerment to do so! Less wonder Paul declared, as we must, ‘Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel’!

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