During this month, we will be studying “Christian Missions” as they are described in the New Testament. In his Gospel, John tells us of God’s love for the world, manifested in sending His Only-begotten Son to save whoever would believe in Him. When Christ had accomplished His redemptive work, He gave the disciples “The Great Commission.” As missions expert Rodney Stark put it in his book The Triumph of Christianity, while it was given in the “imperative,” in the early church, it functioned in the “indicative.” In other words, Christians spontaneously shared the Good News with their neighbors. This explains how the number of Christians climbed from 3,000 on Pentecost, to 6 million by 300 AD and to 30 million by 350 AD.
The Third Millennium has ushered in the Age of Globalization. Millions of people from Asia and Africa have settled in the West, the majority from a non-Christian background. The “Mission Field” is now next door. We have unprecedented opportunities to spread the Christian faith, by word and deed, through personal contact and the Internet.
It is my hope and prayer, that these meditations will re-acquaint us with Biblical principles of missions, guarding us against certain questionable approaches that promise numerical success at the expense of sound doctrine. The goal of Christian missions should be the organization of churches that confess Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.
THE GREAT COMMISSION
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19
Scripture reading: Matthew 28:16-20
Our devotions for this month deal with Christian Missions. The Lord Jesus Christ prefaced the Great Commission with these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” These words assure the Church that, notwithstanding the obstacles that would arise in the way of the Gospel, Christ’s omnipotence guarantees the success of the missionary enterprise. The goal is to “make disciples of all nations,” which implies instructing converts with the basics of the Christian faith.
During the Apostolic Age, the Apostles and their assistants expounded the Messianic passages of the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. This tradition is of great importance for us today, since not all Christian missionary work reflects a faithful adherence to the Great Commission. Some teach that baptism, followed by membership in the church, is not necessary. Others, add a political dimension to the Gospel, such as the realization of “Social Justice” in the here-and-now. However, a careful reading of the Book of Acts reveals that the Gospel proclaimed, “repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21b). The Greek word for repentance is “metanoia,” i.e. a change of mind, resulting in submission to the authority of the Bible.
The Internet has become a wonderful tool to spread the Gospel worldwide. This is especially important for Muslims who live in lands that prohibit missionaries. We praise the Lord for this new avenue of service.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for Christian missionaries that they may be faithful to the Gospel, realizing that they represent Jesus Christ Whose sovereignty is universal and Whose plan for the gathering of the elect, will be accomplished.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Bassam Michael Madany has served as a missionary in Syria, and in 1958 he began a 36-year radio and literature ministry to the Arab world. After retirement Bassam & his wife Shirley began an Internet ministry, Middle East Resources, to provide a “Christian Response to the Global Challenge of Islam.”