The Bible has much to say about missions, the responsibility of Christians to go out into the world and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missions can be found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, God chose Israel to be the people through whom he reveals himself and his purpose to the world1. Throughout the many books of the Bible, God announces that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” through the mission of Israel2. In the New Testament, Jesus commands his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations”3. He recognizes that mission would involve the sacrifice of one’s life but he asks his followers to “count the cost” of mission4.
Missions must be founded on the passion of a love of God and a love of people. The Bible speaks of “the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” and Christ commands his followers “to love one another”5. This love should be a motivation and a guide in mission activities. Furthermore, there should be clear direction in mission activities. The Bible says that God “will direct his steps”6. Therefore, an essential part of mission is to seek God’s will and guidance. Without this, we are just running around in circles and wasting our time.
The Bible also states that we are to think of mission in terms of eternity. We are not to focus on temporary success or immediate results but consider how our activities will impact the eternal realms. As Jesus says, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”7, and as Paul reminds us, “the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal”8. This means that when we engage in mission, we need to have an eternal mindset and be willing to make investments in the lives of people into eternity.
In conclusion, the Bible has much to say about missions and it is clear that mission can be a powerful and effective way to spread the gospel. The Bible teaches us that mission should be founded on the passion of a love of God and a love of people, that we need to seek God’s will and guidance and that we should have an eternal mindset.
Missions and Being Obedient
The Bible repeatedly states that as Christians we must be obedient to God’s Word. This means that we must be willing to do as God instructs, even if it is difficult. The Bible teaches us several times that mission work is part of being obedient and pleasing to God. For example, Jesus tells us “if you love me, keep my commandments”9. This means that mission is part of obedience, and in turn, obedience is part of mission. Moreover, the writer of Hebrews says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”10 and this also applies to mission. We must have faith that God will use our efforts for his glory and work out his will through us.
Mission is also about having perseverance. Paul says that we should “persevere in doing the will of God”11 so that we will reap a harvest. This means that mission is not about immediate results but about having faith that God will accomplish his will through our efforts in the long run. Moreover, in the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus teaches us that mission is about fruitful labor and patience. If we are patient and nurture our mission endeavors, they will eventually yield a harvest of souls12.
Missions and Holiness
The Bible also teaches us that mission is inseparably tied to holiness. Paul tells the Romans that we must be “transformed in the renewing of our mind”13. Without holiness, our mission activities are just empty words and hollow deeds. We must be committed to pursuing holiness and seeking the transformation that only comes from a relationship with Christ. The Bible teaches us that mission needs to start from us first before we engage with others. We must be committed to living a holy life and letting Christ’s life shine thought our deeds.
In addition, the Bible teaches us that holiness and mission are not to be just a one-time event. We are to live it out from day to day. We cannot just proclaim the gospel then forget about it until the next opportunity arises. We must live our lives according to the gospel, being obedient to Christ and seeking holiness every day. The Bible states that if we are “faithful in little things, we can be trusted with much”14. This means that in order to have success in mission, we must first be faithful in our daily lives and then God will equip us to be used in mission.
Missions and the Sacrificial Life
The Bible teaches us that mission is not easy and it often involves sacrifice and hardship. Jesus says that if his followers want to be his disciples, they must take up their cross and follow him15. This means that we must be willing to make sacrifices for the gospel. Paul speaks of “suffering and hardship” as a necessary part of mission16. This means that mission is often uncomfortable and even difficult, but we must be willing to make those sacrifices for the gospel if we want to be used by God for mission.
In addition, mission must involve selfless service. When we go out into the world to proclaim the gospel, it can be easy to focus on ourselves and our own agendas. But the Bible teaches us that mission must be focused on the needs of others. We must be willing to “serve others in love”17 and must remember that “no greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”18. This means that mission must be done not just with words but with deeds of selfless love and service.
Missions and Praying
The Bible also teaches us that mission must involve prayer. Jesus commanded his followers to “pray to the Lord of the harvest”19, asking God to send out laborers into his harvest. We must pray that God will use us to His glory, and pray for those we are trying to reach, that God will open their eyes and hearts to the truth of the gospel. Paul implores us to “pray without ceasing”20 and to “pray with all kinds of prayer and supplications”21. This means that we must make prayer a central part of our mission endeavors and that we must be constantly in communication with God, asking for his help and guidance.
Mission must also involve dependence. We must depend on God for strength, wisdom, and provision. The Bible tells us that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”22 so this means that we must seek God’s Word for guidance and direction. And in all our mission activities, we must remember the words of Jesus, “without me you can do nothing”23. This means that mission must involve complete dependence on God, and must not be reliant solely on our own abilities, but on God’s power and grace.
Missions and Evangelism
The Bible teaches us that mission must involve evangelism. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”24. Evangelism is the primary means by which the gospel enters into the hearts and minds of people. We must be actively seeking to share the gospel and to speak the truth of the gospel to those who do not yet know it. This requires boldness and courage, as we must be willing to talk about the hard things, and challenge people with the reality of sin and the need for repentance.
Evangelism is also about relationships. We must be actively building relationships with people, in order to understand their needs, to build trust, and eventually, to share the gospel with them. This requires us to take the time to listen to people and to show real care and concern for them. Jesus spent a lot of time with people, eating with them, talking to them and simply spending time with them. We must do the same. We must take the time to invest in relationships and to share the gospel in meaningful ways.
1 Genesis 12:2-3
5Romans 5:5; John 13:34
82 Corinthians 4:18
162 Corinthians 1:8
201 Thessalonians 5:17