“If you teach it, they will go!”

With my last post of 2011, I feel compelled to briefly provide an answer to a question that I’ve been asked a number of times in a number of ways over the years.  The summary version is this:

“Jackson, why do you filter every aspect of life  and ministry through a “missions” lens….why is “missions” such a big deal to you”?

In a post a while back I gave an introductory, bible-based answer using questions about a number of texts from the scripture.  In this post, I’d like to share a few quotes about “missions” that might provide better answers than I can come up with on my own.  And then, before I close, I’ll share a couple of observations that might bring a bit more clarity.  Here are the quotes:

“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light” John Keith Falconer

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed”.  Hudson Taylor

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions.  The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become”.  Henry Martyn

“The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible”.  Ralph Winter

“Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist”.  Oswald J. Smith

“If ten men are carrying a log–nine of them on the little end and one at the heavy end–and you want to help, which end will you lift on”?  William Borden

“The reason some folks don’t believe in missions is that the brand of religion they have isn’t worth propagating”.  unknown

“Someone asked ‘Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?’  It is more a question with me whether we–who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not–can be saved”.  Charles Spurgeon

“You can give without loving.  But you cannot love without giving”.  Amy Carmichael

“Only as the church fulfills her missionary obligation does she justify her existence”.  unknown

“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God”.  John Stott

“The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity”.  Mike Stachura

“People who don’t believe in missions have not read the New Testament.  Right from the beginning Jesus said the field is the world.  The early church took Him at His word and went East, West, North, and South”.  J. Howard Edington

“Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love”.  Roland Allen

“If you takes missions out of the Bible, you won’t have anything left but the covers”.  Nina Gunter

“Missions not the ‘ministry of choice’ for a few hyperactive Christians in the church.  Missions is the purpose of the church”.  unknown

“The average pastor views his church as a local church with a missions program;  while he ought to realize that if he is in fact pastoring a church, it is to be a global church with a missions purpose”.  unknown

“If missions languish, it is because the whole life of Godliness is feeble.  The command to go everywhere and preach to everybody is not obeyed until the will is lost by self-surrender in the will of God.  Living, praying, giving, and going will always be found together”.  A. T. Pierson

“To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map”.  William Carey

“God is a God of missions.  He wills missions.  He commands missions.  He demands missions.  He made missions possible through His Son.  He made missions actual in sending the Holy Spirit”.  George W. Peters

“The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet”.  unknown

“The church must send or the church will end”.  Mendell Taylor

**And finally, a few things that I find interesting:

1.  The greatest theologian in the New Testament was also the greatest missionary, (Paul).  Is that a coincidence?  Or, does plunging deeper into who God is inevitably lead to actual participation in making Him known to all of the ethnic and linguistic groups that He has created for His glory?

2.  The greatest theological mind America has ever seen, (Jonathan Edwards), was led to personal participation in reaching the unreached tribes that lived nearby, (the Stockbridge Inidans).

3.  I can’t count the number of God-glorifying and life-impacting pastors I’m aware of that truly wrestled through with God why they should NOT leave their churches and head off to the nations for direct participation in assisting Rev. 5 and 7 to become a reality.

4.  Not long after the movie “Field of dreams” came out, a number of Calvary pastors put a spin on the signature line of that movie.  Here’s the line with the spin:  “If you teach it, they will come”.  That stuck in my craw the fist time I heard it–and it still does.  Here’s the spin that should be put on it:  “If you teach it, they will go”!  (Anybody want to help me put out the T-shirt?) 🙂 If we really do faithfully teach the fullness of God’s Word, might He not call as many to go as He calls to come and learn about Himself?

Finally, close to 2,000 distinct ethno/linguistic groups have never had the gospel presented to them in their own language and in a way they can understand.  I pray that every pastor in 2012 informs his flock of the situation, leads them by example in praying for God to send workers to those groups, and then participates with finances, other resources, and even sending their own members to move things a little closer to what Rev. 5 and 7 describe that WILL be reality at some point in the future.

4 replies
  1. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Good word, Jeff. And let’s not forget another – God is missions minded in sending His Son. Jesus is missions minded in sending His church. The Spirit is missions minded in stirring up the church to move in step with the Great Commission.

    On another note – we often hear the phrase, “Fulfill the Great Commission.” Fulfill has a sense of finality to it. For me, I like to think of moving in step with the Great Commission.

  2. Bill Holdridge
    Bill Holdridge says:

    Jeff, I love your passion for missions, and am encouraged by what you have written. Thank you for holding forth with this.

    I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that there are only three responses (for the true believer) with regard to the Great Commission: “Go,” “Support those going (and get involved in the work),” or “Disobey.”

  3. Jon Langley
    Jon Langley says:

    Jeff — I love the quotes, brother. I’m especially fond of the theological — and specifically ecclesiological — implications of the “unknown” quote that says, “The average pastor views his church as a local church with a missions program; while he ought to realize that if he is in fact pastoring a church, it is to be a global church with a missions purpose”.

    If the realization of the global interconnectedness of each “church” as a local expression of “The Church” were to come to fruition, not only would “missions” benefit, but many other issues would be adressed: church discipline, church hopping, the wolves, the invisibles, true discipleship, etc.

    But I digress…

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