by Robert Dean
Series:3rd John (2003)
Duration:40 mins 23 secs

The Importance of Missions; Biblical Foundation


What should define culture for a believer comes out of the Word of God. Since the fall of man in Genesis chapter three God has been involved in a program of counter culture missions. From the instant of the fall the earth suddenly came under the domain of Satan. He became known as the god of the age, the prince of the power of the air, and the earth became his domain. The thinking on the earth became known as cosmic thinking, from the Greek word kosmos [kosmoj] which has to do with an orderly, systematic approach to life. What Satan is developing in human history is a systematic, orderly approach to life that excludes God and God's value system as the foundation for everything in life; therefore he is developing his own culture. That is what the Bible calls worldliness, and the believer is called to not conform to the world, to any of the cosmic cultures on the planet but to be transformed by the renewing of, our minds (Romans 12:2). So in a general sense every believer is involved in this counter culture movement but that comes under the category of being an ambassador for Jesus Christ. As part of our ambassadorship we are all supposed to be engaged in witnessing to some level or another.

The subject we are addressing here is not rhe general category of the ambassadorship of the believer but the more specific technical category of the trained and chosen or selected individuals who make it their life's calling to take the gospel into some sort of cross-cultural context. That doesn't necessarily mean into another country or another language.    

When the Jews rejected Jesus' messianic claims He began to include the Gentiles. It was not that the Gentiles were not being saved because there were numerous examples of Jesus' ministering to Gentiles, but that wasn't the thrust of His ministry. By the end of His ministry the focus had shifted from a theocentric kingdom of Israel where people would come to get the gospel to where Jesus is going to establish a new body called the church. The mission, that counter-cultural mission is going to be the church taking the gospel out to the world. This is what is described in the book of Acts.

John 20:21 NASB "So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace {be} with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you'."  We have to put this together with what we see in Acts chapter one where Jesus, 40 days later, tells the disciples to stay put in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes. Here in John 20 He is talking about the commission. He is sending the disciples into the world.

Mark 16:14 NASB "Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining {at the table;} and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. [15] And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation'."

Luke 24:47, 48 NASB "and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." Then there is Matthew 28, but notice Matthew 28 isn't the beginning; the beginning is in Genesis 3:15, as we have seen. Matthew 28 is just the development of it into the church age.

Matthew 28:18 NASB "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'." Because He has authority, we have authority. Since He is with us always and all authority has been given to Him then we have that same authority everywhere we go. We have the authority to take the gospel throughout the world and to challenge the devil's cosmic system with the truth of God's Word and the truth of the gospel. In verse 19 "Go" is translated as if it is an imperative. Actually, in verse 19 the only imperative verb is the verb to make disciples. The word "disciple" really means a student, a learner. A disciple is a believer but not all believers are disciples. And notice the command is restricted simply to evangelism; it is not make believers; it is not witness; it goes beyond: that to make learners in all the nations, to challenge them to grow to spiritual maturity.

Verse 19 begins with a participle, poreuomai [poreuomai] which means to travel or to go, and in this particular structure there is an aorist participle that precedes and aorist imperative. This has a particular import. An aorist tense is normally a simple past tense in Greek but when it is with either a participle for or an imperative mood verb the emphasis isn't on time, it is on aspect, punctiliar aspect. The aorist tense is summarising everything up i9nto one action and then drives it home with a solid knockout punch, and it is used in an imperative to emphasise priority. A present imperative, on the other hand, emphasises continuous action and that is standard operating procedure, but an aorist imperative emphasises the priority of the action. When there is an aorist participle preceding and aorist imperative the aorist participle gives the prerequisite for fulfilling the action of the imperative. They had to go before they could make disciples of all the nations. Because of that this prerequisite notion that the aorist participle has it picks up an imperatival idea from that imperative mood verb. The imperative emphasises the prerequisite to the action. They needed to leave Jerusalem, the needed to go somewhere, there was an extension of the ministry to move out and to go into the world and to take the gospel.

They were to make disciples. That involves two things, evangelism and teaching. Not just proclamation of the gospel but also teaching the Word in depth. The only way people are going to transform their own culture is to teach the Word in depth. We have to make students of people, that is the goal. It is a transformation of the thought process. It doesn't happen easily, in a day or two, once a week, twice a week; it is a lifetime commitment. Sooner or later we all should come to a point where we realise that we are not going to get anywhere in the spiritual life until we make God the highest priority in our lives. What matters is how much of the Word of God gets into our soul and changes our thinking so that we think biblically. That is the only thing that matters and that is the only thing we are going to take with us. When we die or are raptured the only thing we are going to take with us is the doctrine in our souls. We are to be making disciples.

Often missionaries come back and say you have to have the calling to be a missionary. We don't believe that, we don't believe there is such a thing as a call to be a missionary. If you have the gift of pastor-teacher-evangelist, even the gift of leadership or administration, God can put you anywhere. You go where you can serve. There is no special calling to one particular geographical area. There are times when God does call a person to a specific area, but that is not true for everyone is every situation. The issue is how you can best serve God in terms of your own particular spiritual gift.

Matthew 28 sets down the parameters, to make disciples by means of baptizing (related to evangelism and a sign that they had trusted Christ as Saviour) and teaching.