What Is Mission About?

“Oh, that the world might taste and see, the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace.” (Charles Wesley)

The charge of Christ to His Church was to witness, evangelise and make disciples throughout the world. It was accompanied by a promise that when this commission is completed He will return.

Two thousand years later, the Great Commission is far from being fulfilled. Multitudes among the 7 billion people alive today have never heard a viable presentation of the gospel. The call to missions has never been more compelling.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Missions is about the Gospelthis gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed

Ask the question, ‘What is mission?’ and one is likely to get as many answers as people asked. It is perceived as various things to different people. Yet at the core of the Great Commission is the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) Paul said, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named.” (Romans 15:20) Whatever else the work of missions involves, it is first and foremost about the gospel.

Missions is about Goingwill be proclaimed throughout the whole world

The Christian message is exclusive in that it proclaims as the only way of salvation. Yet it is inclusive as it is for all people everywhere. If the gospel is to be proclaimed to the whole world, believers have to leave the comfort of their familiar locality and go to another culture in different geography in order to make Christ known. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15) Whatever else the work of missions involves, it is about being sent and going.

Missions is about the Globethroughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations

Talk of engaging in mission across the world is sometimes met with the claim that, “we need missionaries here, at home.” That is undoubtedly true. However, there is no escaping the global scope of the Great Commission. “The world is my parish.” (John Wesley) The whole world is the mission field and all peoples need to hear the gospel. “A great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” (Revelation 7:9) Whatever else the work of missions involves, it’s scope embraces the globe.

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” (Abraham Kuyper) The Great Commission is about going with the gospel to the whole globe.

A Life Of Two Halves

“Life is a game of two halves.” (Michael Portillo)

How people start a race is no indication of how they will finish. There are those who have a poor start in life, who then excel. Then again, there are those who begin with great potential, but manage to throw it all away.

This is true spiritually. Positively, it is possible to make up for a poor start and in the second half of life to approach the finish line well. Negatively, it is possible for once passionate followers of Christ to become distracted and backslide.

Joash the king of Judah spent the first half of his life serving God and the second half destroying all the good that he had done.

Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. (2 Chronicles 24:17-18)

Godly ParentJehoiada the priest

The first half of Joash’s life was dominated by the influence of Jehoiada the priest and the blessing of God. The two things were connected. As the godly old man nurtured the boy king and guarded him through the early years of his reign, Joash honoured God by doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The house of God was restored and the people enjoyed a season of spiritual renewal. “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15) If they are to prosper, all leaders need the wise counsel of spiritual father figures.

Godless Peersthe princes of Judah

Jehoiada the priest eventually died at the great age of 130. This was the pivotal moment in Joash’s life. The absence of the old man as an influential father figure left a spiritual draft. By now the king was older and more experienced and so looked to his peers for the support he needed. But the princes of Judah were not like the old priest, and they quickly filled Joash’s mind with different ideas. Like Rehoboam before him, Joash was led astray. It is easier than we may realise to be, “Led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:34) If they are to prosper, all leaders need to avoid the godless influence that comes from the spirit of the age.

Weak PersonalityJoash the king

The real issue here is the weakness of Joash. Despite his role and experience he was a weak character who lacked personal convictions and was easily swayed by the latest influence. Jehoiada the priest was a good spiritual father, but Joash relied on him too heavily. When his spirituality was tested by the death of the old man, Joash was found wanting. His apparent piety was a sham. “Attain to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:13-14) If they are to prosper, all leaders need to take personal responsibility for their own maturity.

Take note of king Joash and seek instead to be like Paul the apostle. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Don’t Be A Stranger To Prayer

“If you are strangers to prayer you are strangers to power.” (Billy Sunday)

The ministry of Paul the apostle put him in the heat of spiritual battle. Being a pioneer for the gospel is not easy when opposing you are rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, a dark world, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, and the devil himself.

Having put on the full armour of God, Paul embarked on a life of prayer that would bring the power needed for breakthrough.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:18)

When do we pray?at all times

Paul instructed the believers at Ephesus to pray at all times and on all occasions. To the Thessalonians he said, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) To the Colossians he said, “Continue steadfastly in prayer.” (Colossians 4:2) If we are serious about being strong in the Lord, putting on the full armour of God, taking our stand against the devil’s schemes and proclaiming the gospel with boldness, then regular, consistent prayer is essential. Whatever else we do in life, we would do well to develop a strong prayer life. Pray at all times.

How do we pray?in the Spirit

How we pray is as important as when and how often we pray. Many people pray, but not all prayers get heard and answered. The key to effective prayer is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) Prayer is the means by which our human spirit fellowships with the Holy Spirit. When we pray in the Spirit, as Paul instructs, our intercession becomes powerful and effective. Pray in the Spirit.

What do we pray?with all prayer and supplication

The more aware we are of our own weaknesses and insufficiency, the more we will pray. Paul taught the believers to get into the habit of praying about everything. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) Turn everything in life into a prayer request, being confident that your Father who sees you praying in secret will reward you. Pray about everything.

“O, let the place of secret prayer become to me the most beloved spot on earth.” (Andrew Murray) Any Christian is only as good as their prayer life. The doors of endless possibility open to those who learn to pray. Don’t be a stranger to prayer.

What Does Prayer Do?

“You got to pray just to make it today.” (M. C. Hammer)

Everyone knows that Christians are supposed to pray. But what does prayer actually do? According to Archbishop William Temple, “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.”

At the end of Psalm 91 the writer highlights four things that happen when we pray.

When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honour him. (Psalm 91:14)

God AnswersI will answer him

This Psalm contains a clear promise from God regarding prayer. When believers call out to God, he answers. Whatever the request, God has promised to hear our prayer, and to answer us. “Ask, and it will be given… for everyone who asks receives.” (Matthew 7:7) There is no obstacle too great that it cannot be overcome through prayer. “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.” (C. H. Spurgeon) When we pray, God answers us.

God’s PresenceI will be with him

This Psalm contains a second promise from God regarding prayer. Not only does God send an answer in direct response to our request, he also comes to us himself and gives us real assurance of his presence with us. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) Remember that when we present our petitions to God, “The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5) Whatever trouble we may be in, he is with us. When we pray, God’s presence comes to us.

God’s Deliverance – I will rescue him

This Psalm contains a third promise from God regarding prayer. When we cry out to him in a time of trouble, he will rescue us. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19) God is the Great Deliverer. Prayer is not a religious calming technique or a Christianized version of mindfulness. Prayer is powerful. It provokes action from heaven and alters our circumstances. When we pray, God rescues us.

God’s VindicationI will honour him

This Psalm contains a further promise from God regarding prayer. Trouble can be accompanied by confusion, deep feelings of injustice, and a daunting sense of shame before others. Whether publicly or privately, to be misunderstood, misrepresented, judged, ridiculed, patronised and pitied is a heavy burden to bear. “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause.” (Psalm 43:1) God promises vindication to the man or woman of prayer. When we pray, God honours us.

“Fervent prayers produce phenomenal results.” (Woodrow Kroll) Prayer achieves far more than we could ever imagine. Every Christian is supposed to pray because prayer is powerful and it works.

Issachar Leadership

“The times they are a-changin’.” (Bob Dylan)

Change is here to stay. Settling with the familiar is not an option.

For the church and those serving in Christian ministry, the constant reinvention of our cultural context is an exciting challenge. Our call to mission requires perception of and insight into the contemporary world. An immobilised church will never complete the Great Commission. As with the men of Issachar in a previous generation, we need leaders who understand the times in which we live and know what we ought to do.

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Theology – men of God

All the individuals and tribes cited in this chapter of the Bible were valiant warriors who were committed to supporting David as the kingdom of Saul passed to him. But the men of Issachar stand out as a tribe that had greater insight than the others. Their usefulness to God at this pivotal moment in history was rooted in their devotion to the God of Israel as one of the twelve tribes. They were more than clever men, they were men of God. Our usefulness to God and our world begins with true devotion to Him. Every generation needs men and women of God.

Sociology – men of understanding

Beyond their spirituality, the men of Issachar were clued up about their world. They had an accurate grasp of the times in which they were living. History is comprised of seasons, and not every phase of the annals is the same. The rapid rate of change in culture requires a commitment to study and regular re-evaluation of our understanding of the world in which we live. If we are to be of any practical usefulness to God during our time on the earth we have to understand the context in which we are living. Every generation needs men and women of understanding.

Leadership – men of action

The men of Issachar were not academics. They were practitioners. For them, knowledge was not enough. Knowing what to do with that knowledge was what mattered. The men of Issachar were leaders who, having grasped an understanding of their world, formulated a strategy to get things done. They knew what God’s people ought to do, and that is leadership. Converting our theology and sociology into effective spiritual activity is the leadership requirement of the hour. Every generation needs men and women of action.

“Fit your church to meet this hour.” (Bessie Porter Head) The world does not need a church fitted for a bygone era, but a people equipped to meet the current hour. Men and women of God who understand the times and know what the church should do.

Home, Sweet Home

“I’ve always put my family first and that’s just the way it is.” (Jamie Lee Curtis)

Having a family is easy if it is your only responsibility. But add to the home the many obligations of work and outside commitments, and balancing family life can become a challenge.

King David carried the burden of national leadership, with all its workload. Yet in one sentence, tucked away in the first book of Chronicles, we get an insight into the importance he placed on attending to his family.

Then all the people departed each to his house, and David went home to bless his household. (1 Chronicles 16:43)

Be at home – be present

“To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E.” (Mac Anderson) When it comes to family life, there is no substitute for being physically and emotionally present at home. King David had royal responsibilities and was required to spend some time away, both on the battlefield and attending to the ark of God. But when his children were young he was intentional about being at home as much as possible. Everyone has studies, work, career, business or ministry responsibilities. But it is short sighted to absent oneself from the home too much in order to pursue these things. As much as possible, be at home.

Bless your home – be a priest

Spiritual responsibility for the family rests with parents, and in particular with fathers. A man’s first church is his own household. When David returned home from worshiping before the ark, the first thing he did was bless his family. “And these words that I command you today you shall teach diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) Godliness, prayer, Bible reading, church attendance and meal times are all central to family life. As much as is possible, bless your home.

Build your home – be a parent

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.” (1 Corinthians 4:15) To the world, David was a king. But to his family he was a father. It was when he lost sight of his family role in a moment of lust that his home fell apart. Our life’s work and career may give us kudos with the world, but ultimately it is our role as parents that really matters. A home is not built with bricks and mortar, but with the daily love and investment of committed parents. Busy men should consider that children can live with both parents and still, in effect, be fatherless. As much as is possible, build your home.

“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order.” (Confucius) If duties and responsibilities are taking and keeping us away from the family too much, it is time to consider the example of David. Go home and bless your household.

Revival Is Serious Stuff

“A revival really means days of heaven upon earth.” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Josiah, king of Judah was a remarkable leader. During his reign he heralded a significant spiritual revival, transforming the nation from idolatry and immorality to sincere and passionate devotion to God. Through his godly leadership the nation was changed.

Three simple factors marked this national turning back to God.

And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant. And the king made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments. (2 Kings 23:2-3)

Take the church seriously – all the people went up to the house of the LORD

When God revived Josiah’s generation, he did it as they all assembled together before the LORD and around his Book. Christian faith is not just personal, it is corporate. When we are converted to Christ we become part of a community and a member of the family of believers.  For those who live in an individualistic western culture this is a challenge that needs to be heard. “Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” (Hebrews 10:25) Church is not optional for a Christian. If we want to experience God’s best we need to take church membership and attendance seriously.

Take the Bible seriously – the book was read in the hearing of all the people

At the centre of their worship was the Book of the Covenant, which brought revelation of God to the people. At the core of Christian faith is the Bible. It is a book like no other. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The Bible is not optional for the Christian. It needs to be read, listened to, meditated on, preached and obeyed. If we want to experience God’s best we need to take the Bible seriously.

Take holiness seriously – the made a covenant to follow God and live for him

Their spiritual experience resulted in changed lives. Sin was repented of, idols were destroyed and people followed the LORD with all their heart and soul. Christian faith is not just about what we believe, it is also about how we live. A genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit brings about transformation of life. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-15) Holiness is not optional for the Christian. If we want to experience God’s best we need to take holiness seriously.

“Study the history of revival. God has always sent revival in the darkest days. Oh, for a mighty, sweeping revival today!” (Adrian Rogers)