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?

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