June 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends:

Every month as I sit to write this letter, I am reminded of God’s goodness to me and the great need to do so much more. There is a spiritual battle taking place daily, but we are on the winning side. It is humbling to think of how God is working and at the same time to realize our weaknesses for the task at hand. I can do nothing but to utterly rely on Him for everything as we go forward.

A Christian Wedding in the Capital: I had the honor to go to Beijing and officiate the wedding of one of the young men that I had the privilege to help train in the Lord. It was a wonderful ceremony and witness to their lost family and friends. Please pray for them as they desire to serve the Lord in whatever capacity is necessary. The church they were attending has slowly been taken over by the government and many unacceptable changes are taking place. (Also, the wedding wasn’t allowed to be hosted at the church because I was the officiator, so it was moved to a nearby restaurant.)

10,000 John and Romans Delivered: We were able to successfully purchase and print 10,000 Chinese John and Romans in-country. We have already received this shipment and started distributing them locally and to other churches in other cities.

Another Pastor Wants Training: The Lord has opened the door for us to help train another Chinese man who wants to turn his “college fellowship” into a church. He was referred to us by one of our founding members (the one who was just married) and he has come to our city twice already to meet with me and for training. Also, we have sent a team to help him for a couple days in his city. We are excited about this new relationship and helping him to establish a local church in his city, Lord willing. Please pray for this young man whose English name is also “Mark”.

Police Visited Our Location: We had a small problem with the police this past month. They visited both of our rented locations during what seemed to be a routine check in our building. We weren’t having service at the time, nor was I present at the time, but two of the missionary wives and their teachers were there studying Chinese and one of the Chinese pastors. After asking a few questions about who was renting the location, etc., they went on their way but wanted follow up done about our business. (Thankfully, we didn’t have anything visible that would distinguish our space as a “church building” from a normal conference room or classroom.) Thus, over a few days we had to provide the business information we use to rent this office space. They seemed to be satisfied with what was presented. For the week following, we didn’t use the space during the day to study (but met at a coffee shop) and we also met in houses for our Wednesday and Sunday services because they were still checking other businesses in our building. So even though we decided to change things up for a week, the Word of God never ceased to be preached. The following week, we returned to using our original location without any more problems, so far. 

Furlough Reminder: Lord willing, we will be taking our first year-long furlough at the end of July—landing in the States on July 30th. We are looking to raise much needed new support and to inform our supporters about the work that has been accomplished. If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact me.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known!

In His Joyful Service,
Mark

Missions: Who Should Participate In Missions?

It is the privileged obligation of every believer to participate in missions. The church is to continue the responsibility to be actively making disciples of all nations. We have been entrusted with the ministry and word of reconciliation. We are ambassadors for Christ. Some will be “sent out” from the church to preach the gospel of peace so that all the earth can hear, believe, and call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.

The Privileged Obligation Of Every Believer

  • The continuity of the mission—the church was built upon: (1) “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone”—representing the first stone put in place to make sure the foundation is laid right. (2) “the foundation of the apostles and prophets”—men chosen to have a special office of authority. Therefore, the  church and its mission started with Jesus who was sent by God to be “the light of the world”. When His work was completed through His miracles, teaching, death, resurrection and His final ascension to heaven, the church and its mission continued with the apostles who was sent by Jesus to be “the light of the world”. When their work was completed through the establishment of local churches and the completion of the word of God, the mission continued with the church to be “the light of the world”—the church effectively and solely inherited the responsibility of the great commission—to be God’s witness in the world.
    Ephesians 2:19-22; John 9:5; 20:21-23; Matthew 5:14-16
  • The entrustment of the mission—as believers, the love of Jesus constrains us—meaning that it urges or motivates us to action. It means that we should no longer live for ourselves but live for Jesus who died for us and rose again. The gospel should radically change our lives. In Jesus, we are made new creatures by God. This means that our old way of life has passed away and we live life in a new way. Part of this new life is being entrusted with the message of the mission that changed our lives.
    2 Corinthians 5:14-18; Galatians 2:20
  • The ministry and word of reconciliation: God was in Christ, reconciling the people of the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. Reconciliation means the act of restoring our relationship with God. God has done all the work necessary through Jesus to reconcile mankind to Himself. God sent Jesus to suffer the penalty of His enemies so that they could be made His friends. Everyone who is in Christ has been declared righteous (justified) and has his relationship restored with his Creator (reconciled). This restored relationship gives us great joy. As believers—those who have been reconciled, we have been given (privilege) by God “the ministry of reconciliation” and He has committed (obligation) to us “the word of reconciliation”. Thus, it is the responsibility of every believer to proclaim the gospel to the people of the world.
    2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Romans 5:8-11
  • Ambassadors for Christ: We are given authority by God to represent Jesus in this world. God makes His appeals to the world through us. We are to implore the people of the world on the behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. We are to declare to the people of the world that God made Jesus to be sins for us—even though Jesus knew no sin—so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Jesus. This means the main occupation of ours lives is to make disciples—teaching others who Jesus is, how to know Him, and how to serve Him.
    2 Corinthians 5:20-21

The Distinguished Calling Of A Missionary

  • Church Authority—sending forth: Now that the church has been entrusted with and bears the responsibility of the great commission (every member should be involved), it is thus the sending agency that God works through to send chosen men (evangelist, preachers, missionaries) to preach the gospel of peace so that all the earth can hear, believe, and call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.
    Romans 10:13-17; Acts15:22; 2 Timothy 4:5
  • The succession of the apostle function: Apostle means “sent one”—one who is sent forth with a specific mission to accomplish under the authority of the sender. Jesus was the “Apostle”—chosen and sent forth by God on a mission that the people of the world through Him might be saved. This was a unique calling in that He was the propitiation for our sins. The twelve disciples and Paul were called “apostles”—chosen and sent forth by Jesus to carry forth His mission. This was a unique calling in that they were to testify as eyewitnesses of Jesus. Today, the church sends forth “apostles” or messengers—those that preach the gospel of peace to all the earth. This was a unique calling in that they are to do the work of an evangelist and/or teacher.
    Hebrews 3:1; Luke 6:13; John 3:17; 17:18-21; Romans 1:1-7; Acts 1:1-8
  • Distinguishing the office and the gift: There were two main types of “apostles” in the New Testament. The twelve disciples and Paul were “apostles of Christ”. They were confirmed through being eyewitnesses of and chosen by Jesus, as well as, performing miraculous signs. This was a special “office of authority” that only these men had. The other type of apostles were “messengers of the churches”. They did not have the “office of authority” like the other apostles but they were their successors and were labeled as apostles for being “sent out” of the church as evangelists and teachers.
    1 Corinthians 4:6, 9; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 11:13; Philippians 2:25; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6; Acts 13:1-3; 14:4, 14
  • Missionary Calling—going forth: There are three kinds of missionaries the church should look for to send forth: (1) “Evangelists”—those who are sent by the church to preach to unbelievers among the heathen of the world with the message of Jesus. (2) “Teachers”—those who are sent to teach the new believers with the word of God; establish new local churches among them; train adequate church leadership. (4) “Evangelists/Teachers”—those who are gifted and able to fulfill all or a combination of these functions.
    Ephesians 4:11; Acts 8:5; 21:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9; 2 Timothy 2:2; 4:5
  • Chosen men are given the “gift of evangelist/teacher/pastor“ which is often referred to as Jesus “calling” that man to be a full-time vocational missionary. The call of a missionary then is not God orally telling you what to do, but it is acknowledging and submitting to the gifts that He has enabled you with.
    Ephesians 2:10; 4:7-8, 11; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Corinthians 12:11
  • Thus, certain men will have an inclination to give their life to God for full-time missionary service. But how can they know for sure? They can recognize “the call” through the following steps: Desire—Is there an inner compulsion that is leading you to consider being a missionary? Ability—Do you have leadership skills, the ability to communicate the gospel, and a compassionate heart to reach the lost around the world? Lifestyle—Do you meet the qualifications and are you living a life that other believers can follow in regard to character, marriage, family, conduct and ability? Confirmation—Do other believers in the church speak well of you concerning your ministry abilities and lifestyle?
    Philippians 2:13; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Acts 16:1-2

Review Questions

  • What is the continuity of the mission?
  • Who is the mission entrusted to?
  • What was given the ministry and word of reconciliation as ambassadors for Christ?
  • What is church’s function to send forth?
  • What is a missionary calling?

Missions: Why Should We Care About Missions?

We should care about missions because Jesus died and rose again that the people of the world might be redeemed to God and glorify Him for His mercy. The Holy Spirit is actively working in the world today through the church to bring this about. This compassion for a redeeming mission to the people of the world is clearly seen in the being, character, and actions of the Trinity and culminates in obedience to the great commission.

The Glory Of God Is Our Catalyst

  • Man was created for God’s glory. Everything God created was for His glory. The heavens declare His glory and we also reflect His glory. God is our Creator, the One who gave us life, so He is worthy of our glory, honor and obedience. God did not create us because He needed someone to glorify Him or because He was lonely, but because He wanted to share the joy of His glory with us. Because God is 100% good, we can have a joyful and loving relationship with Him—which is the chief end of man.
    Psalm 19:1; 16:11; Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11
  • God magnified His glory to redeem us. Because of Adam’s original sin, all of mankind was born sinful. Therefore, God sent Jesus to pay the price for the sins of mankind and offers us the gift of restoration. Because of Jesus we can be restored to our original purpose of bringing God glory. Therefore, believers desire to serve, worship, and obey Him. Because of the grace that God has shown toward us through sending His Son Jesus, all of mankind should repent, believe in Jesus, and start glorifying God to experience the true joy that is in Him.
    1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 5:12-19; 12:1-2; 15:13; John 3:16; 4:23-24; 1 John 5:3; 2 Peter 3:9
  • Thus, the ultimate motivation for missions is the glory of God. God is passionate about His own glory because He is 100% good and the glorification of His glory means everything is being made right. It means that mankind can enjoy for all eternity the ultimate pleasure that can be offered—to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. God is saving people by grace so that no one may boast but that the Lord of hosts will be for “a crown of glory” and for “a diadem of beauty” for them—to the praise of the glory of His grace.
    Romans 1:5; 11:33-36; Isaiah 28:5; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2:8-9; Ezekiel 20:9; Psalm 23:3; 25:11; 79:9; 96:9

The Work Of Jesus Christ Is Our Passion

  • Jesus came as a minister to the Jews for the truth of God in order to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) that all the kindreds of the earth will be blessed—meaning, from the beginning, God was on mission to save “whosoever will” from their sin and its penalty of death or eternal separation from Him. Jesus came to fulfill the promise. He was the “Promised Man”. Through a virgin birth God became man in Jesus. He lived a sinless life. Mankind rejected and crucified Him. He was buried, but three days later He rose from the dead. He defeated sin, death and evil. He is the way, the truth, and the life and “whosoever will” can come unto God by faith in Jesus alone. God through Jesus is offering mercy not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles—all for the glory of God. The whole of the Bible is focused towards these truths.
    Romans 4:13-25; 15:8-12; Acts 3:25-26; John 1:29; 3:16-17; 4:42; 6:33; 7:18; 8:12; 9:5; 12:32, 46; 14:6; 17:4

The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit Is Our Boldness

  • Jesus told His disciples that it was good for Him to leave them because He would send the Holy Spirit to come upon them so they would have power to be witnesses of Him unto all the world. The Holy Spirit would be their power for ministry. Today, every believer receives the Holy Spirit upon salvation—He dwells inside all believers all the time. He is still our power for ministry. He testifies of Jesus. His ministry is to point people to Jesus and direct worship to Him. He fills believers to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus as He convicts unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment. He causes unbelievers to repent and be born again. He is the one who washes, sanctifies and justifies in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in the world and active today.
    John 3:4-8; 6:63; 15:26; 16:7-15; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 6:11; 12:3, 13

The Compassion Of The Trinity Is Our Motivation
Titus 3:4-7; Jude 20-21; 2 Corinthians 13:14

  • The character of God compels us to care about missions. God is love. He is a God full of compassion. He is gracious, longsuffering, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy and truth and of great kindness. He is the creator of mankind and the Bible states that He loves mankind. God’s love toward us is a sacrificial love. The love of God is greatly expressed through Jesus’ death on the cross for us. Jesus gave His life for us. When we were still enemies of God, Jesus died for us. God’s sacrificial love shows us His love is unmerited, unconditional, all-giving, and amazing. Thus, missions is an outflow of the very being and character of God—knowing God means to be “on mission”.
    Psalm 86:15; Lamentations 3:22-23; John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-21; Romans 5:8; 8:37-39; Jonah 3:10-4:2
  • The prayer request of Jesus drives us to our knees to care about missions. Jesus was moved with compassion because of the multitude. He was concerned about the misfortune of others—the eternal damnation of mankind for their sins against a Holy God. He knew He came as the Saviour of the people of the world and there were plenty of lost people to be saved, but there weren’t enough people sharing the gospel message, thus He told us to pray and ask God for more laborers. This is the prayer request of Jesus. He will not command you to pray what He won’t answer. Stop what you are doing and focus your attention on the world around you—mankind for whom Jesus has compassion; mankind for who Jesus died—for they are ready to harvest—allow our refocused attention to turn into prayer and action—going out to evangelize the lost and bringing in souls.
    Matthew 9:36-38; John 4:35; Luke 10:1-2
  • The Holy Spirit of adoption moves us to care about missions. The world is filled with “children of disobedience” or “children of wrath,” but through the compassionate work of the Holy Spirit, they can be given power to become the sons of God. If we believe in Jesus, we become sons of God—no longer enemies. God will adopt us and seal us with the Holy Spirit of promise—which signifies we are part of His family. He will love us like He loves Jesus. We will have a close relationship with God. We will get all the privileges of a son. We will receive abundant and eternal life. Thus, the experience and awareness of the Holy Spirits work of adoption causes us to set our minds on the things of the Holy Spirit and to walk according to the Holy Spirit—we engage in the same work through missions.
    Romans 8:5, 15-16, 23; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:2-3; Galatians 4:4-6; 1 John 3:2; John 1:12
  • The great commission demands us to care about missions. This is the task of the church to be continuously making disciples of all nations until Jesus’ return. This is to be carried out by going to the nations of the world preaching the gospel, baptizing new converts in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching the Word of God to edify the believers. Thus, our participation in missions is obedience to the triune God.
    Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:8

Review Questions

  • What is our catalyst?
  • What is our passion?
  • What is our boldness?
  • What is our motivation?
  • Do you care about missions? What are you doing in response?

Missions: To Whom Should Missions Take Us?

Missions should start in our home, extend to our neighbors, stretch to the other side of the world and everywhere in between. God’s love for mankind is universal. He sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the people of the world, and we are sent to preach the gospel to the world.

God’s Universal Love For Mankind

  • God hates sin. He will punish unrepentant sinners. The judgement of God is coming. His wrath abides on them. But why hasn’t it already come? Because God is longsuffering towards us-ward. He is not willing that “any” should perish, but that “all” should come to repentance. God is purposefully delaying His final judgment on mankind and enduring mankind’s continual wickedness because He intentionally desires that the “people of the world” would come to repentance and not perish. God is love. He loves sinners and it is His kindness that leads them to repentance. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their evil way and live.
    2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:3-11; 1 John 4:8-9, 16; Ezekiel 33:10-11; 18:23
  • God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners in rebellion against Him, He sent Jesus to die—to give Himself as a ransom for “all”. Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s ultimate expression of love towards mankind. Jesus became the propitiation—the appeasement of God’s wrath—for the sins of the “whole world”. Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death for “every man”. God sent Jesus to be the Saviour of “the people of the world”. Whosoever will can confess that Jesus is the Son of God and be saved. In the sight of God our Saviour it is good and acceptable to pray for “all men” because He desires “all men” to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 2:2; 4:14-16; 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Hebrews 2:9; John 5:24

Jesus Came As The Savior Of Mankind

  • God loved the “people of the world” so much that He sent Jesus into the world so that “whosever will” could believe on Him and not perish, but have everlasting life. God’s purpose of sending Jesus was that the “people of the world” through Him might be saved. He was the Lamb of God or the sacrifice that God sent to die for the sins of mankind—meaning His sacrifice has the potential to take away the sins of the “people of the world” without any kind of distinction (nationality, ancestry, language, gender, etc.), but it is only applied to as many as receive Him—those who believe in His name.
    John 1:11-13; 29; 3:16-17
  • Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel who declared that Jesus—(who is the Savior, Christ the Lord)—would bring good tidings of great joy to “all people”. When Simeon saw Jesus as a child he declared that he was seeing the salvation of God which God had prepared before the face of “all people” including both the Gentiles and the people of Israel. John the Baptist declared that “all flesh” will see the salvation of God. The chief priest and Pharisees were afraid that “all men” would believe on Jesus, then a man named Caiaphas, being the high priest, prophesied to them that Jesus would not only die for their nation of Israel but also for those that were “scattered abroad”.
    Luke 2:10-14; 2:25-32; 3:3-6; 11:45-52
  • Jesus is the true light for “every man”. He is the complete light that has come into the world so that anyone could understand how to be redeemed to God. He draws “all men” unto Him by His crucifixion. All other “forms of light” lead to Jesus and whosoever believes in Him is saved from condemnation, but those who reject Him confirm their state of being condemned already. Thus, Jesus is the light of the “people of the world”. He came not to judge the world, but to save the “people of the world” that whosoever believes on Jesus should not abide in darkness.
    John 1:9; 3:18-21; 8:12; 9:5; 12:32, 46-50
  • Jesus is the Saviour of the “people of the world”. Jesus is the “true bread from heaven” given by God to give life unto the “people of the world”. Jesus prays for His disciples and all future believers to have the same unity that exists in the Trinity so that the “people of the world” may believe that Jesus was sent from God.
    John 4:42; 6:32-33; 12:47; 17:21
  • Jesus teaches His disciples that they are the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” thus they are to let their light so shine before “people,” that they may see their good works, and glorify their Father in heaven. When someone asked Jesus if there would only be few that will be saved, Jesus replied by saying that there would be people saved from the East, the West, the North and the South that will sit down in the kingdom of God—but there is an urgency because not all will be saved, only those who enter the narrow door. Jesus predicts the gospel would be preached throughout the “whole world”.
    Matthew 5:13-16; Luke 13:29; Mark 14:9

The Commission Sends Us To Mankind

  • The Great Commission is the task of the church to be continuously making disciples of the “people of the world” until Jesus’ return. It says to go: to “all nations”; to “all the world”; “among all nations”; and to “whose soever”. We can conclude that Jesus is sending us to make disciples of all people of every nation, country, people group—“whosoever will”. We have the responsibility to go preach the gospel and send around the world those willing to witness of Jesus. We are local and global ambassadors for Jesus—this is the purpose of the church on earth until Jesus returns.
    Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:8
  • “Nations” which is used twice in two of the great commission passages generally means a large group of people that are associated with each other based on language, culture, location or other various common factors. The use of this term in the great commission is to emphasize that Jesus is sending us to every single person—no matter their language, culture, location, etc. (This term was not used in the great commission to make ethno-linguistic lists of peoples based on arbitrary criteria so that we can focus on getting a small percentage of as many diverse kinds of peoples saved or to usher in Jesus’ return. This is often misleading and can cause us to focus on a small portion of people while ignoring a large portion of people.) The formula is simple: every person, every place.
  • Jesus taught His disciples that when the Holy Spirit would come that He would reprove the “people of the world” of sin, righteousness and judgment. Then after His resurrection He told them to wait and be baptized with the Holy Spirit—they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them to be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7), in all Judaea and Samaria (Acts 8-12), and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 13-28). The rest of the New Testament records the living out of this commission by Holy Spirit filled believers reaching the people of the world with the gospel.
    John 16:8; Acts 1:1-8

Review Questions

  • Does God love mankind?
  • What did God do to express this?
  • Jesus came as the Saviour for who?
  • What does the Gospels teach us about Jesus?
  • Where does the commission send us?

Missions: What Is The Urgency Of Missions?

There is only one God (an exclusive Creator—Jehovah); one way to God (an exclusive Saviour—Jesus); one watchman (an exclusive messenger—the church); one world that needs to urgently hear the gospel message (an inclusive mission—“whosoever will”).

The Crisis Of Mankind

  • Man’s Hopeless Condition: Man sinned against God. He was separated from God. Sin, death, and evil was passed upon all people. Every human being is born a sinner. Therefore, every part of who we are (thoughts, actions, emotions, desires, motives, physical bodies, attitudes, etc.) is corrupted by sin. God sees all of our good as filthy rags. To God there is only good and bad, no middle ground. Mankind is so destroyed by sin that we can’t even seek after God, but He lives in a state without hope and without God in the world.
    Genesis 2:8, 17; 3:6; Romans 3:11-12; 5:12; 7:18; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:12

 

  • Man’s Impending Judgement: God hates all sin and evil because He is good, righteous and just. The consequence of sin is death. One day, every single person will die because every single person has sinned. After you die physically, you will be judged for your sin by God. To be a righteous judge, He has to judge the sin of mankind. At the great white throne judgment God will bring every work into judgment, good and bad. Mankind will be righteously judged for their works and for rejecting Christ, then punished accordingly. All will be found guilty and must pay the price for their sin.
    Hebrews 9:27; Romans 2:8; 5:12; Exodus 34:7; Psalms 5:4-5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Genesis 18:25; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Revelation 20:12
  • Man’s Eternal Damnation: Those who die in their sins will be eternally separated from God. Those found guilty at the judgement (every person without Jesus) will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity, which is called the second death. The Bible describes this as a place of eternal fire and torment.
    Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:48; Luke 16:28; Revelation 14:10-11; 20:14; 21:8
  • Man’s Urgent News: God through Jesus is offering “whosoever will” the following: real hope—a chance to be reconciled to Himself; the forgiveness of sins: past, present and future; an escape from hell and the lake of fire; the righteousness of Christ on your life—to give you all of Jesus’ goodness; entrance into His Kingdom where there is no more crying, no more death, no more mourning, and no more pain—to share in His eternal joy.
    Psalm 103:12; Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 21:1-4;

The Exclusivity And Incomparability Of Jesus

  • Salvation is only through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Bible is very clear that Jesus is the one and only way for any person to be saved. He is the only way for us to have our sins forgiven and to receive eternal life. There is no other god or person that can pay the price for our sins. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No person can come unto God but by Jesus. There is salvation in no one else, nor is there another name whereby we must be saved. Only faith in Jesus leads to salvation and everlasting life.
    John 3:36; 14:6-7; Mark 16:16; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10
  • The superiority and exclusivity of Jesus as the one and only true way means that all other ways and religions are false. This in itself gives us an urgent mandate to declare the truth to the whole world who is being deceived from the truth, no matter if it is religion (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) or secular ideologies (atheism, scientism, relativism). They need the truth because they are living under a false pretense that will fail them. They may seem happy or content in their “own way of thinking” but it is just temporary deception because they have not come to know the One who gives life and gives it abundantly, nor have they suffered the wrath of an Almighty God.
    John 10:7-18

The Obligation Of Responsibility

  • The ready harvest: Jesus, the Saviour of the world, illustrated the urgency to reaching mankind with the gospel to His disciples by using an illustration of “sowing and harvesting”. He told this disciples: (1) lift up your eyes, and look on the fields—stop what they were doing and focus your attention on the world around you—on the mankind for whom Jesus has compassion; (2) they are ready to harvest—their refocused attention was to prompt them into action—going out to evangelize the lost and bring in souls; (3) the harvest is plenteous and great—there is a whole world ready to be evangelized. Sowing and reaping happen simultaneously through God’s servants who labourer together with God as God alone gives the increase. (4) the labourers are few—there aren’t enough of God’s people out in the world evangelizing the lost, thus we are to pray for God to send more laborers into His harvest that urgently needs gathering.
    John 4:35; Luke 10:1-2; Matthew 9:36-38; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
  • The warning watchman: A watchman in the Bible was a person who had the responsibility to “keep watch” so that he could warn of any known danger. If he had knowledge of any danger or attack that was about to happen to those he was keeping watch over, but didn’t warn them, then his blood God would require at the watchman’s hand (to be chastened by God). On the contrary, if he did warn them and they heeded his warning then they would be delivered, but if they didn’t heed his warning then their blood would be upon their own heads. In the Old Testament, the prophets often served as the spiritual watchman unto the house of Israel concerning God’s judgement on them for sin. In the New Testament all believers are given a new privilege to become part of the royal priesthood of God who are called to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ and show forth the praises of the God who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light and serve as the spiritual watchman of the world—warning everyman to flee the wrath to come.
    Ezekiel 3:17; 33:2-9; Jeremiah 6:17; Hosea 9:8; Colossians 1:28; Acts 20:31; 1 Peter 2:5, 9
  • The day of salvation: Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. God is now working through Jesus to reconcile the world through Himself. He has given those who have already been reconciled to Him the “the ministry of reconciliation”—meaning we are ambassadors for Jesus and God makes His appeal to the world through us. Our responsibility is to implore the world on behalf of Jesus to be reconciled to God.
    2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Review Questions

  • What is man’s condition, judgement and damnation?
  • What is the urgent news man needs to hear?
  • Why does the exclusivity of Jesus mean our message is urgent?
  • When is the harvest ready? When is the day of salvation?
  • Are you actively being a warning watchman?

Missions: What Should Define Missions?

Missions is defined by reaching unbelievers with the gospel of Jesus and teaching believers the word of God. Thus, the work of missions can narrowly be defined by “reaching and teaching” that results in the church actively making disciples of all nations.

Defining The Mission

  • God is on mission to save “whosoever will” through faith in Jesus—the Saviour of the World. He desires people to be saved from every kindred, tongue, people and nation. He has chosen to fulfill this through commanding the church to make disciples of all nations. A disciple of Jesus is one who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He willingly follows Jesus and desires to obey all that Jesus taught—to the glory of God. Making disciples has many aspects but can be categorized into two main expressions: (1) “reaching”—meaning we are to actively be going and preaching the gospel to the peoples of the world and baptizing new converts in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; (2) “teaching”—meaning we are to actively be imparting knowledge from the Word of God and training believers to follow Jesus.
    Matthew 28:18-20; John 4:42
  • The church is to carry out this mission until the end of the world—until Jesus returns to judge the world and set up His Kingdom. Each believer is given the Holy Spirit to have power to be witnesses of Jesus unto all the world. Thus this mission is the defining purpose of the churches’ work in this world and the mission is defined by reaching and teaching which results in disciples being made, which results in more local churches being established. A local church is a group of believers who consistently gather together in one place for the common purpose of carrying out the will and work of God and to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was to this end that the mission was to be fulfilled: to establish local churches (by reaching and teaching) who would have the responsibility to continuously carry out the command to make disciples (by reaching and teaching).
    Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 14:21-23; Acts 15:41; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 3:2
  • The expressions of “reaching” and “teaching” are inseparable—meaning one is not more important than the other and they both are characteristically defined as “communication” and even more so as: (1) “personal communication”—meaning a disciple has direct contact with non-disciples or cross-cultural ministry; (2) “oral communication”—meaning a disciple shares the Word of God with spoken words (or sign language); (3) “written communication”—meaning a disciple shares the Word of God with written words. The gospel and the word of God is truth conveyed in words and they thus have to be communicated to the hearer for the mission to go forward. Thus, anything outside of this does not directly work towards fulfilling the mission. Everything else that is often considered “missions” is all “indirect” (works and lifestyle)—meaning it helps influence but can also deviate from the main goal. All believers are called to be “directly” involved.

Reaching Unbelievers With The Message Of Jesus

  • Reaching is the idea of holding out, establishing communication and successfully influencing unbelievers with the gospel message of Jesus. It means to evangelize unbelievers or to witness of Jesus to them. It means to teach the gospel clearly and boldly. Our desire should be to personally preach the gospel—that Jesus offers the remissions of sin through His death and resurrection according to the Bible—so that “whosoever will” may know and receive the glorious grace of God through Jesus.
    Luke 24:44-49
  • Reaching is the idea of stretching past boundaries and going forth with the gospel message of Jesus. Every believer should be involved in actively going into their local area preaching the gospel and actively sending believers to other parts of the world to preach the gospel. Every place in the world where there is a human, there needs to be someone actively, personally and orally communicating the gospel. We desire to reach as many people as we possibly can.
    Mark 16:15; John 20:21
  • Reaching is the idea of successfully contextualizing and convincing (through the work of the Holy Spirit) unbelievers with message of Jesus (a person hears the gospel and believes). But also baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—which testifies that the person is willing to be identified as a disciple of Christ and is a step of obedience in following Christ.
    Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 9:22

Teaching Believers With The Word Of God

  • Teaching is the idea of instructing new believers in the Word of God so that they will obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to be a faithful disciple of Jesus. As repentance and the remission of sins are being preached in Jesus’ name, we should also be teaching all that Jesus taught—including the whole of Scripture.
    Matthew 28:20
  • Teaching is the idea of educating and training disciples for the ministry so that they fulfill the biblical requirements and are proficient to carry out their own ministerial roles. They have to be taught in biblical character, marriage, family, conduct and ability. Discipleship is life-on-life, meaning that you will not only sit down and teach them lessons about the Bible (education), but they also will spend time with you and learn from your life (training). Jesus trained His disciples by being with them. Many things are caught more than taught.
    1 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:6; Titus 1:6-9; Mark 3:14; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11, 4:17
  • Teaching is the idea of church planting—meaning that after disciples are reached, they will continually be taught the Word of God until a church is established, the leadership is properly equipped, and they are actively fulfilling their role in the mission—thus effectively enlisting them to make disciples of all nations and, like so many before them, to be involved in giving their time, talent, treasure and lives in obedience of the mission.
    2 Timothy 2:2; 15
  • Teaching is the idea of continual instruction—meaning that even after a church has been established and the disciples are trained there are still avenues to edify the believers. This is exemplified by Paul who would: (1) return to some of the churches he started to help them; (2) send his disciples to give them assistance; (3) write much needed letters to them when necessary.
    Acts 18:18-23; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18; Examples of letters: Romans 1:1-7; 1 Timothy 1:1-2; Titus 1:1-4

Review Questions

  • What is God’s mission and who has He chosen to use?
  • What does “reaching” mean?
  • What does “teaching” mean?
  • What are three ideas about reaching?
  • What are four ideas about teaching?

May 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends:

Thank you for praying for our family and ministry here in China. God is still on the move. All the glory to Him! We are humbled to report the following:

Salvations: Since our last prayer letter, we have seen 7 more people make professions of faith at the church. One was a Korean college student living in our city. When she visited our church, it was the first time she had ever attended a church. After her third time coming, she got saved. Another was a young man who we have been studying the Bible with for a long time. He was involved in a weekly Bible study with the assistant pastor of the church. Finally, he understood the gospel and put his faith in Jesus. Amen!

Baptisms: We had two baptismal services since our last prayer letter as well. There was a total of 8 people baptized between the two services. One of those who was baptized was our second oldest daughter! Praise the Lord! 

Membership: The church has also added 11 new members to its membership. We are excited about this as the church has been growing. (At the same time, we have been saying, “Goodbye” to many members who are moving away for work or other reasons.)

10,000 John and Romans: We put a need out on Facebook for wanting to print 10,000 Chinese John and Romans in-country. The need was met almost instantly as God’s people gave. A church contacted us and wanted to help purchase all 10,000. The Chinese scriptures are in the process of being printed. Our goals are to: (1) use these copies of John and Romans to freely given them out to anyone who wants one; (2) have a relationship with a printer that will print the Scriptures for us even as the restrictions on Bibles tighten; (3) use these copies in evangelism.

Furlough: Plane tickets are purchased for our upcoming furlough! Lord willing, we will be taking our first year-long furlough at the end of July—landing in the States on July 30th. We are looking to raise new support and inform our supporters about the work that has been accomplished. If you are interested in having us in or partnering with our ministry, please contact me.

Internship: The Francis family from our home church, who was interning here for six-months, has finished their on-the-field internship and has returned to the States to start deputation. They did a fantastic job while they were here and we are excited about them coming back to China as church-planting missionaries. They are a family worthy supporting in prayer and financially.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

Missions: What Is The Biblical Framework For Missions?

The Biblical framework for missions is that from the beginning God promised to save “whosoever will” through sending Jesus as the Saviour of the World and in the end He will accomplish His mission by saving people from every kindred, tongue, people and nation. The Bible is the outworking of God on mission to save sinful mankind for His glory.

The Framework “From Beginning To End” For Missions

  • From the beginning: In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, we find our basis for humanity. At this time, God dealt directly with all of mankind and there was no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. It is within these chapters that we find the foundation for the story of all mankind: God creates mankind (Genesis 1:27); Mankind sins against God (Genesis 3:6); God promises to save mankind (Genesis 3:15; 9:26-27). Thus from the beginning, God was on mission to save “whosoever will” from their sin and its penalty of death or eternal separation from Him. This mission was initiated by God and will be accomplished by God. He is promising to defeat Satan and his followers (unbelievers) through the offspring of the woman (Jesus). One day the “Promised Man” would come to defeat Satan and even though Satan will strike His heel (suffering), the promised Man will crush Satan’s head (eternal damnation).
    Genesis 1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12-21; 16:20; Revelation 12:9; 20:2, 10; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; John 8:44
  • To the End: In the last two chapters of Revelation (21-22) we find the fulfillment of God’s promise to save “whosoever will”. God says, “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6). The saved will be God’s people, God Himself will be with them and be their God. This includes people out of every kindred (tribe), tongue (language), people, and nation (people groups). But those who reject God’s salvation will be cast into the lake of fire (eternal damnation).
    Revelation 21-22; 5:9; 7:9; 14:6
  • In-between: If the above is the framework “from the beginning to end” for missions, then the in-between is the outworking of God on mission to redeemed “whosoever will” to Himself by Himself.
    Genesis 12 through Revelation 20

The Old Testament Emphasis On Missions

  • In Genesis 12:1-3 God makes a unilateral, unconditional, literal, and eternal covenant with Abraham. The main missional aspect of this covenant was that God was going to bless all the families of the earth through him. The scriptures preached the gospel unto Abraham. The “Promised Man” of Genesis 3:15 would be of the seed of Abraham. This “singular seed” is Jesus. God was willing to justify “whosoever will” through faith. Just like Abraham, those in this time were to have faith in God’s promise, unto the fulfillment of the promise came in Jesus, and it could be accounted to them for righteousness. The second missional aspect of this covenant was that God was going to: (1) make a great nation from him, (2) bless him and (3) make his name great so that he would “be a blessing”. They would receive inward blessing for an outward cause: God would use them to be a light for the nations, so that His salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
    Genesis 12:1-3; 15:18-21; 17:1-21; 26:2-5; 28:10-17; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 19:24; 42:6; 49:6; Galatians 3:6, 8-9 16
  • God keeps His promise with Abraham and blesses him. A nation is born and the people of God (Hebrews, Israelites, Jews) were called out for a specific purpose: to be a peculiar treasure unto God above all people and a kingdom of priests through which all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else. They were to be “inward focused”—meaning they were to minister God’s will to their own people and the strangers among them, but they were also to be “outward focused”—meaning they were to deliberately minister God’s will to all other nations.
    Exodus 9:14, 16; 19:5-6; 1 Kings 8:41-43; 8:60
  • God makes a covenant with King David that was connected to the promise (Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3). David recognized part of this promise as the “the manner (teaching) of man (humankind)”. “This” was the “seed” or the “promised Man” (2 Samuel 7:12, 16) and the throne that will be established forever. The promise will be fulfilled through the Jews, and specifically the linage of David, but it would benefit all mankind.
    2 Samuel 7:1-29; 1 Chronicles 17:1-27; Psalm 89:1-52; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Luke 1:32, 33
  • The Psalms reflect God’s will to use the Jews to reach out to all nations with the truth. The peoples of the nations are called to worship God because He is the great King over all the earth. The Jews were to sing, praise, speak, not be ashamed, to make known His deeds and declare the Lord’s glory / wonder / doings among the nations.
    Psalms 2:1-12; 9:1-20; 18:49; 22:27-31; 33:1-22; 47:1-9; 57:9; 66:1-20; 67:1-7; 72:1-28; 86:9-10; 96:1-13; 98:1-9; 100:1-5; 105:1; 108:3-5; 117:1-2; 119:46; 126:2-3; 145:1-21
  • Other examples in the Old Testament that give structure to the intent of God to reach all peoples are: (1) the stories of gentiles who had a relationship with God, such as Melchizedek, Jethro, Balaam, Rahab, Ruth and Naaman; (2) the examples of the prophets, such as Isaiah, Jonah, Joel, Amos, Micah, Jeremiah and Zechariah.
    Genesis 14:18; Exodus 18:10-11; Numbers 22:9; Joshua 2:9-11; Ruth 2:12; 2 Kings 5:15-19; Isaiah 19:24; 42:6; 49:6; Jonah 1:1-2; 3:10; 4:2, 6-11; Joel 2:28-32; Amos 9:11-12; Micah 4:1-5; Jeremiah 3:17; 33:9; Zechariah 2:11-13; 8:20-23; 14:16-19

The New Testament Emphasis On Missions

  • Jesus, the Promised Man: Jesus came into the world to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. He is the light of the world. He came to fulfill the promise. He was the “Promised Man”. Through a virgin birth God became man in Jesus. He lived a sinless life. Mankind rejected and crucified Him. He was buried, but three days later He rose from the dead. He defeated sin, death and evil. He is the way, the truth, and the life and “whosoever will” can come unto the Father by faith in Jesus alone. All the Gospels are evidence of these truths (Matthew-John).
    John 1:29; 3:16-17; 4:42; 6:33; 8:12; 9:5; 12:32, 46; 14:6
  • The Church: The local church started with Jesus and His disciples, and it was established when they received and were filled by the Holy Spirit. The mandate of the church was to make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world. The rest of the New Testament (Acts-Jude) records the living out of this mandate with Revelation explaining how it will all end victoriously.
    Acts 1:7-8; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:45-53; John 20:20-23; Romans 1:1-2; 10:14-15; 1 Peter 2:9

Review Questions

  • What is the framework “from the beginning” for missions?
  • What is the framework “to the end” for missions?
  • What is the storyline throughout the entire Bible?
  • What is the Old Testament emphasis of missions?
  • What is the New Testament emphasis of Missions?