The ambition of missions is a tension between our zeal for the evangelization of the unreached and our devotion for the edification of the saints. We cannot abandon one for the other, but we are to passionately advance forward in both aspects as one mission.
A Zeal For The Evangelization Of The Unreached
- Paul’s Aspiration: Paul had a predominant aspiration, desire, ambition, or passion to preach the gospel where Jesus was “not named”—places where the majority of the people had never been told or heard about Jesus. Paul was not asking where is the gospel essential—for it is essential everywhere, but he is asking where is the gospel pressing because they don’t have access to it. We can draw several applications from Paul’s aspiration:
Romans 15:18-25; Acts 26:13-21
- Paul’s desire was rooted in the Bible—both the Old and New Testament. Paul’s calling to salvation, discipleship, and ministry are all recorded in the New Testament, but he quotes the Old Testament for his passion to reach the unreached. We know 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 should be the source of our aspirations—especially to be on mission to save sinful mankind for God’s glory.
Romans 15:21; Acts 26:22-23; Isaiah 52:15
- Paul comprehends the problem and the solution. We are to reach the people of the world who had never heard of Jesus before because they are condemned already and without excuse. The only hope for any person to be reconciled to God is through believing in Jesus and confessing His name. God’s love for the people of the world and their “inescapable condemnation through their own means” should compel us to unashamedly preach the gospel of Christ. Paul was convinced that the gospel of Jesus is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. Do you comprehend man’s hopeless condition, impending judgment, and eternal damnation? Are you convinced the gospel is man’s only hope?
Romans 1:16-23; John 3:18
- Paul sacrificed his relationships. Paul wanted to be at Rome, but instead he was spending his time away from them so that the people from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum could receive the gospel of Jesus. He longed to go see them for many years, but he never did because of his aspiration to see the unreached evangelized. Are we willing to sacrifice time that we want to spend with people that we hold dear to us for the sake of the gospel?—No doubt this is a sacrifice that must be made for everyone who “goes to the nations”.
- Paul’s ministered by word and deed. Paul knew that he had to declare the good news of Jesus. He knew he had to clearly articulate the gospel so that they could understand. He also knew those words had to be matched with his actions. His lifestyle had to match the message he proclaimed. For Paul, this also included mighty signs and wonders—(note: this was never to be a part of normal life in the lives of God’s people, but God used them at special times, such as this). Paul could only live this kind of life by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Today, we need men and women who live Holy Spirit-filled lives to reach the lost through their words and deeds.
- Paul works hard but God gives the increase. We are labourers together with God. Paul was pioneering the gospel in new regions that didn’t know Jesus’ name and he accomplished that mission, thus his pioneering work was no longer needed there. He evangelized the heathen in those areas and planted churches that would carry forth the responsibility to do the work of evangelism in their local areas. Thus, he didn’t reach every person himself, but he left a church to witness in every area that he was. This exemplifies that not everyone will have the same roles in fulfilling the great commission. We need people who like Paul will pioneer the gospel in places where they don’t know Jesus’ name. We need churches started in those areas and pastors trained to continue the work of evangelism in their local area and beyond. We have to work together, some planting, some watering, and God giving all the increase.
Romans 15:18-19; 23-24; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Corinthians 3:2-9
- Paul’s Invitation: Paul encouraged others to follow his example as he followed Jesus. Jesus came as the Saviour of the people of the world. Do we have a passion to see the unreached evangelized? Do you have a passion that those who have never been told or heard will see and understand? The church was to follow Paul, thus all believers should have a principal passion to make Jesus known where He is not known.
Philippians 3:17-21; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 John 4:14
- Our Shame: Some people still do not have the knowledge of God and this is our shame. God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance. Will we obey the great commission and make disciples of all nations? How many people have heard the gospel at least once where you live? Who will go? Who will send? It is our responsibility.
1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Peter 3:9
A Devotion For The Edification Of The Saints
- Paul was driven by his desire to reach the unreached but he also laboured to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. This would be accomplished through establishing local churches—groups of believers who consistently meet together obeying what the Bible has taught about the purpose and work of a church. Paul strived for these churches to be healthy (teach the Bible correctly and obey it; to have proper leadership; practices church discipline when necessary; to be unified; to do things decently and in order; to understand and exercises spiritual gifts properly) so that they could produce active and healthy members that become more like Jesus with each passing day. Thus, our zeal for reaching the unreached cannot be separated from our devotion for the edification of the saints—for the very nature of making disciples and teaching them all that Christ taught implies and requires the formation and continuation of active, healthy local churches.
Colossians 1:28-29; Ephesians 3:9; 4:12-16
- Paul was concerned with continual instruction—meaning that even after a church had been establish and the disciples are trained he still provided avenues to edify the believers. This is exemplified by him when he 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
- What was Paul’s aspiration?
- Paul’s aspiration was rooted in what?
- What is our shame?
- What is the tension between evangelization and edification?
- Why was Paul concerned with continual instruction?