The Great Commission of Christ is, in fact, the mission of the local church. As Christians, and especially as local churches, Christ’s last command must be our first priority.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:18–20
And this is not only true on a local level—that we should be reaching our own communities with the gospel—but it is also true on a global scale. Every church should be actively engaged in preaching the gospel around the world.
Why is it, then, that there are yet so many places where the gospel has not yet been preached? Why are there so many people who have not yet heard of Jesus and His sacrifice for their sins?
It is truly amazing how we can call Jesus our Saviour, our Lord, and our Master, and yet so easily choose to disobey His direct instructions.
If we are not actively, passionately, and sacrificially engaged in reaching the world with the gospel, we are disobeying Christ.
In recent decades, we have seen an unprecedented spirit of selfishness when it comes to the need of worldwide missions.
Christian parents are hoping their children will not surrender to missions. And young people are adapting to the spiritual climate so that a large majority are no longer considering missionary service. Thank God for those young people who have surrendered their lives to whatever God wants for them. Let us as pastors, youth pastors, and parents continually encourage our young people to be yielded to the Lord, no matter what the cost.
This enemy of selfishness has also found its way into the hearts of Christians who are not willing to give generously of their finances for the gospel. The Apostle Paul was very clear when speaking to the Philippian church: “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Philippians 4:17). Those Christians who faithfully support missions through their local churches will rejoice throughout eternity for the part they had in bringing lost souls to the Saviour.
3. False Excuses
We can look for excuses or we can look for a way. Too often, we look for excuses.
Some of the excuses given for missions today are laughable in light of the challenges Paul and other missionaries faced in the first century. Danger, distance from home, language barriers, lack of people seeking to hear…all of these are obstacles Paul faced.
What we need in today’s churches are men and women who will overcome any and every excuse with a fiery heart of faith. We need courageous men and women who will trust that God can and will do a great work through their obedience.
Worse than excuse-making is not even caring enough to make an excuse at all. In today’s Laodicean church age, there are too many Christians who care only that their own needs are met but who never obey Christ’s instruction to “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35)” or to “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Too often, we aren’t doing more for missions—not because we’ve done all we can, but because we simply don’t care.
5. Satanic Opposition
Finally, at the root of all opposition toward the advancement of the gospel is the fact that Satan fights every effort of the local church to lift up the Cross of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:12).
Whether satanic opposition manifests itself in the form of perverted doctrine, pride, or even assaults against Christians in their efforts to spread the gospel, we know that Satan is always busy fighting against the work of God. Jesus said, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
We could mention many other enemies—prayerlessness, laziness, materialism, prejudice, and more.
But if our lives are overtaken by the obstacles to missions, it is because we have forgotten it is a great privilege to be a part of God’s plan to reach the world with the gospel.
That is why this week, Lancaster Baptist Church, for the thirty-fourth time in thirty-four years, set aside three days to focus on the needs of the unreached people of the world. May we take Christ’s Great Commission seriously and “Go…into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).