Missionaries and the Methods of Missions

by Mike Ratliff

21 εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς [ὁ Ἰησοῦς] πάλιν· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν· καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς. (John 20:21 NA27)

Therefore, Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.” (John 20:21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I’m sure most of you know what an “inconsistency” is. When it comes to one’s stand and understanding of theology, I have been amazed since I began this ministry with doctrinal inconsistencies revealed clearly in so many. Some are very subtle of course, but some can only be explained by blind spots as large as there can be. Once such “inconsistency” that is indeed puzzling, but very prevalent in these days of spiritual darkness are seen in those who profess to be Reformed in their Theology including a doctrinal stance on the Sovereignty of God while at the same time in their ministries, the message that comes across from them is one of works righteousness, which is little different than the Pelagianism of Rick Warren. We see this in their Missional initiatives that are tied to their Church planting programs. We looked at some of this in last night’s post Christianity and the Hegelian Dialectic Revisited

While there are different moves from different groups doing these things with little to no cooperation, for now, there is one commonality in them all. In their man-centeredness and having taken on the ways of the world in how they operate, they seek change for the sake of change. Doesn’t that sound familiar as we think back on the last U.S. Presidential election? This modus operandi is their driving force in all they do. While the word “Missional” is often confused by some people with a Biblical word, it is not. These same people claim to be Christ Followers or God Followers, never Christians or simply believers. Is this important?

I would like to thank our brother Paul Walker who, in his comment on Christianity and the Hegelian Dialectic Revisited, pointed us to the October 26th devotional by Oswald Chambers in his My Utmost For His Highest. After I read that I also read the one for the 27th. Here are both.

October 26th

What is a Missionary?

Jesus said to them again, ’. . . As the Father has sent Me, I also send you’ —John 20:21

A missionary is someone sent by Jesus Christ just as He was sent by God. The great controlling factor is not the needs of people, but the command of Jesus. The source of our inspiration in our service for God is behind us, not ahead of us. The tendency today is to put the inspiration out in front— to sweep everything together in front of us and make it conform to our definition of success. But in the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, and is the Lord Jesus Himself. The goal is to be true to Him— to carry out His plans.

Personal attachment to the Lord Jesus and to His perspective is the one thing that must not be overlooked. In missionary work the great danger is that God’s call will be replaced by the needs of the people, to the point that human sympathy for those needs will absolutely overwhelm the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, and the conditions so difficult, that every power of the mind falters and fails. We tend to forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary work is not primarily the elevation of the people, their education, nor their needs, but is first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ— “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19).

When looking back on the lives of men and women of God, the tendency is to say, “What wonderfully keen and intelligent wisdom they had, and how perfectly they understood all that God wanted!” But the keen and intelligent mind behind them was the mind of God, not human wisdom at all. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the divine guidance of God being exhibited through childlike people who were “foolish” enough to trust God’s wisdom and His supernatural equipment.

October 27th

The Method of Missions

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . —Matthew 28:19

Jesus Christ did not say, “Go and save souls” (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said, “Go . . . make disciples of all the nations . . . .” Yet you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. When the disciples returned from their first mission, they were filled with joy because even the demons were subject to them. But Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20). The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God, and realizing that his one and only purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus. Remember that there is a passion for souls that does not come from God, but from our desire to make converts to our point of view.

The challenge to the missionary does not come from the fact that people are difficult to bring to salvation, that backsliders are difficult to reclaim, or that there is a barrier of callous indifference. No, the challenge comes from the perspective of the missionary’s own personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. The one great challenge to us is— do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? Am I wise enough in God’s sight, but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world, to trust in what Jesus Christ has said? Or am I abandoning the great supernatural position of limitless confidence in Christ Jesus, which is really God’s only call for a missionary? If I follow any other method, I depart altogether from the methods prescribed by our Lord— “All authority has been given to Me . . . . Gotherefore. . .” (Matthew 28:18-19).

When I compare what Oswald Chambers shared here with what I see in these so called “Church Planters” with their “global change initiatives” or Rick Warren’s “Peace Plan,” I see that the Biblical standard that Christ set for serving him is humble dependence on him for everything, but that is not what these people are doing at all as they talk about how God appears to them or talks to them directly and what he has them do is NOT at all what the Great Commission is about, but is about the globalization and bringing together of all of the world’s religions through ecumenical cooperation. That is not what missions are at all nor is it ever to be on the missionary’s agenda.

Is what I just shared going to make me popular? Not at all nor do I expect that. In fact, I expect the opposite. I read part of Roger Williams’ biography after I visited Boston over the weekend. His stand against the abuses of the combination of Church and State in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was extremely costly to him. He had to flee Boston in the middle of winter while ill. His Indian friends took him to an unsettled area west of the Plymouth Colony in what is now Rhode Island where he settled and tried to establish a colony where people could worship God freely without any interference from the Government. His writings about this very thing were used by the framers of the Constitution of the United States referring to the Separation of Church and State. Of course, the Supreme Court has abused that part of the Constitution, but that is what secular Governments do. In any case, we should always look upon these stances for the truth as for the glory of God and we should never be surprised or dismayed when they turn out being costly to us. I have lost friends and opportunities for doing this, but like Jeremiah said, “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot…” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Soli Deo Gloria!

25 thoughts on “Missionaries and the Methods of Missions

  1. Mike,
    “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 You are a slave of Christ our Lord and cannot do as the world does, nor can you keep silent. Praise be to God that you stand firm in truth, for this is what we all must do.

    The social gospel is very popular and tugs at the heart strings, but Christ did not die so man could meet another’s needs. If one does not preach the whole counsel, it would be best to keep silent.
    Many do not fully grasp we can do nothing apart from Him, knowledge of the Holy One is shallow. The attributes of God are not studied, meditated upon, or taught in most churches; His holiness is not considered. This leads to low views of God, little to no reverence, and ignorance. Every man is indeed doing what is right in his own eyes…I shudder for them.

    Love the qoutes from O. Chambers. May His blessings continue to be upon your ministy.

    Lyn

  2. Mike, while reading some early history on ‘evangelizing’ in the new world of North America I read many accounts of so-called evangelizing from the Roman Catholics and Reformed Protestants and how after ‘sickness and diseases’ were introduced into the native indian communities that ‘evangelization’ took in new methods of teaching about the ‘healer’ and focused on ‘meeting the Indian’s neeeds’ of looking to God for healing more than forgiveness of sins. This caused great ‘amounts’ of fast so-called ‘converts’ but little in a true disciple of the Lord and His teachings and obedience to follow them ( the real ‘commission’ ).
    This was all taking place back in the early 1600′s. The Roman Catholics from Europe would report back on the huge ‘numbers’ of converts of native Indians while the protestants wouldn’t have so many ‘numbers’ to report.
    Sad how today’s ‘Protestants’ have become the early Roman Catholics in our modern world just wanting numbers and easy ‘needs meeting’ for the new ‘native’.
    Look at people like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, they have the big numbers with feel good messages to soothe the ‘needy’ in goods and services, programs to meet the material and emotional desires of the ‘new natives’ here in America. They have huge numbers of thier own ‘followers’ but the vast majority don’t have the spiritual depth of obedience. Same old thing being run today as back in those days. While the Remnant keeps plowing the field. :)

  3. Mike, I am glad that you are writing about the Word of God being twisted into a social works gospel. We often see things as if these folks are good intentioned, but mislead. We remember that if we should turn a man from their waywardness back to the Lord, a good work is done, and a multitude of sin is covered. Yet, the reality today is that after a couple of hundred years ofliberal universalisim, and leaven, the whole lump is leavened. This church of the world has pushed out for the most part from the buildings those bodies of believers who are built by God for Christ Jesus. Satan knows that, by attacking continuously, our defense positions will continue to fall back, just as the scriptures show us. Further, since he comes as an angel of light and has ministers who are of him who disguise themselves as angels of light, their false system/beast system/harlot system has continued to grow thanks to folks who do not bend their knee to God, but gather under their morally theistic mystery religion. They embrace all beneficial man centered ways as they look to feel better. Like the prophets Mt Carmel they honestly believe their god will answer their prayer.
    By exposing them with scripture in context, aligned with actual real world examples, we are able to reach the few who have eyes to see and ears to hear, and pull them out, covering their sin, just as other have done for us, through the Word as we are lead and submitted to that Word and the Holy Spirit. One of the hardest battles of all is the one exposing the false majority (perhaps 95+% today) of religious institutions from the few remaining true gatherings of believers under a true servant undershepherd. Our marriage is to the Lamb, not an institution labeled “church.”
    What the discernment blogs have failed to discern for the most part is the fact that these movements are not accidental but purposfull plans of the evil one and his minions. They are bluring the lines always between scriptural truth and the lie. They are well funded by endowments of folks like the Rockefellers and Carneiges just to name a couple. We must always connect the scriptural with the current permutation of the deceivers. The disconnect between Sunday School and the rest of the week is amazing to say the least. I could give you 50 concrete examples of the deception being a thought out plan if anyone doubts this.

  4. Thanks for sharing that Mickey. This “topic” became heavy on my heart as I toured Boston and Washington D.C. over the weekend. The number of old church buildings in both cities that at one time were vibrant and obedient local churches are now merely “museums” of what went on before and now those who “gather” there are of the “Universalist/Unitarian\Liberal” et cetera variety. Then counter to that we have the “busy” churches that seem to be everywhere controlled by the “seeker/church planters” whose theology seems to be all over the charts, but they have one common thread – Works Righteousness. If this isn’t a perfect example of the Laodicean Church then I don’t know what it is. In Greek, the word “Laodicia” actually means “the people ruling.” In other words, Christ is kicked out of his own church and the people are in charge. Rick Warren and all those who emulate him may use biblical sounding lingo, but look at what they preach. It is all nothing more than man-centered works righteousness. I wonder if 95% is too low.

  5. Your point about reformed theology is a good example. You are a monergist because you have eyes to see. Most folks in reformed churches are learning and submitting to a legalistic religious formula that has the right words, as a formula or receipe, yet are dead in their works because, while they say and act out the right phrases, they quote dead men, and conform to the ways of dead men much more then they quote or live according to the Living Word. They defend their positions again by quoting what they have learned from the echos (preachers) of dead men (Calvin et al) FAR MORE then the Word in context. This is why they can so easily follow who their preachers follow…echos of echos of echos. Well did Jesus speak of them as “Blind Guides” and “Blind Leaders of the Blind!”
    This is the same modus opperendi of all the denominations…Yet folks can easily see it in Catholicism, Penticostalism, Word of Faith, New Apastolic Reformation, and even the end times knucklehead handicappers/prognosticators. Yet it is a huge blind spot in the way “we currently do church.”
    Continue to use the platform you have to bring light into this deep darkness, brother!

  6. Oft this change in focus is subtle, deceiving many – even the elect. I heard one dear brother who is well known within the reformed Baptist camp and is devoted to evangelism approvingly quote Spurgeon, thusly: “Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect—and then elect some more.” This reveals one who thinks he knows better than God and loves people better than God. Hence the true goodness of the reminder above to seek to please the Lord and rejoice in being His unworthy servant – not in seeing the fruit of our labor. Our hands will try to draw our eyes and minds away from Christ and toward the created order, asking us to believe it is God’s will.

    No man can put himself in place of God, even in praying for the salvation of souls.

  7. Mickey, I have been reading Calvin’s Institutes. The man knew God. His theology was born from his faith as is mine. I have known Arminians who I know know God. They are just inconsistent in their theology. That doesn’t make them unbelievers. On the other hand, people whose faith is in their religiosity have a dead faith no matter whether it is Calvinistic or Arminian or whatever. It is a joy for me to hear a Gospel sermon from someone whose vibrant faith in the Sovereignty God is as solid as can be. The Gospel is laid out fully and there is no wiggle room for emotionalism, et cetera. It is preached with the full understanding that God is sovereign over all and those who believe are the elect and do so through the work of God.

  8. Sorry, Mike, I wasn’t clear. I do not doubt that Calvin was a man of God. What I mean is one can’t please God by following a receipe patterned after the work of a dead man, no matter how good he was. I don’t get in on Calvin’s rightiousness or a receipe patterned after “Calvin receipe” as created by men who come along after Calvin.
    Calvin like all of us have attributes, like a rose…beauty and thorns LOL.
    I appreciate much of his work, along with Oswald Chamber, Ryle, et al. When a person who gets it puts it into words I can understand, it is a help, just as Jesus set it up to be. Thank you Holy Spirit for leading men so that You through them cna be understood by a simple man like me. Thank you most of all for the ability to even begin to grasp the Living Word most of all!

  9. Amen Mickey and I thank your willingness to comment as you do. I understood what you meant and I wasn’t apologizing for Calvin. I have experienced Reformed folks just like you described and when I was a Deacon in the SBC way before I became Reformed, I knew TONS of Arminians who were fake Christians who were simply religious and yet there were always some in those churches who were the real deal. What was the difference? What is always the difference? It is faith. Does our religion come from our faith or is our “faith” the result of our religiosity? This is an important and vital question. Being a presuppositionalist, I must take everything back to the foundation, to the root. Therefore, from where does genuine faith and, therefore, our justification, our salvation, come?

    [By Grace Through Faith]
    [2:1] [j]And you were [k]dead in the trespasses and sins [2] [l]in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following [m]the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in [n]the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in [o]the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[f1] and the mind, and [p]were by nature [q]children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[f2] [4] But[f3] God, being [r]rich in mercy, [s]because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even [t]when we were dead in our trespasses, [u]made us alive together with Christ—[v]by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and [w]seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable [x]riches of his grace in [y]kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For [z]by grace you have been saved [a]through faith. And this is [b]not your own doing; [c]it is the gift of God, [9] [d]not a result of works, [e]so that no one may boast. [10] For [f]we are his workmanship, [g]created in Christ Jesus [h]for good works, [i]which God prepared beforehand, [j]that we should walk in them.

    (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

    [Cross References]
    =======================================================
    [j] Col. 2:13; [Col. 1:21]
    [k] ver. 5; [ch. 4:18]; See Luke 15:24
    [l] ch. 4:17, 22; 5:8; Col. 3:7; See Rom. 11:30; 1 Cor. 6:11
    [m] [ch. 6:12; Rev. 9:11]; See John 12:31
    [n] ch. 5:6; [1 Pet. 1:14]
    [o] Gal. 5:16
    [p] See Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12
    [q] [2 Pet. 2:14]
    [r] ver. 7; Titus 3:5; See Rom. 2:4
    [s] See John 3:16
    [t] ver. 1; [Rom. 5:6, 8, 10]
    [u] Col. 2:12, 13; [John 14:19; Rev. 20:4]
    [v] ver. 8; See Acts 15:11
    [w] See ch. 1:20
    [x] ver. 4
    [y] Titus 3:4
    [z] ver. 5
    [a] 1 Pet. 1:5; [Rom. 4:16]
    [b] [2 Cor. 3:5]
    [c] [John 4:10; Heb. 6:4]
    [d] 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5; See Rom. 3:20, 28
    [e] 1 Cor. 1:29; [Judg. 7:2]
    [f] Deut. 32:6, 15; Ps. 100:3
    [g] [ch. 3:9; 4:24; Col. 3:10]
    [h] ch. 4:24
    [i] [ch. 1:4]
    [j] Col. 1:10

    [Footnotes]
    =======================================================
    [1] 2:3 Greek flesh
    [2] 2:4 Greek like the rest
    [3] 2:4 Or And

  10. I appreciate also your pointing out the truth about the laodicean meaning. Jesus is on the outside knocking, and the picture I get is nobody in the laodicean church wants to get up to get the door, because they are sure it is for somebody else…
    While I am not of the opinion of ‘church ages’ and can see all the issues Christ pointed out in all ages, we certainly have a derth of laodiceanism in America today, as well as nicolaitanism, which thing Jesus hates!

  11. Thanks for this article, Mike. I loved the Oswald quotes. Very beautiful. Especially this:

    “But Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20).”

    I was reading about an upcoming conference by Tim Keller and was very confused about just what it is supposed to accomplish. I read phrases like agents of change, community and cultural renewal, cultural renewal arm of the Redfemmer movement, gospel centered transformation for the common good, and I wonder what that is all about–looking for the gospel of Jesus Christ and f=not finding it defined anywhere.
    http://www.gothamfellowship.org/center_for_faith_work_page3673.php

  12. You are welcome Diane and yes, what you are comparing there between what Tim Keller is doing with the real Great Commission is indeed very different. Why? It is because this NAR stuff isn’t Christianity no matter how much they may use biblical sounding words. Their attempt to meld Christianity with the man-made Gospel produces something called the SOCIAL GOSPEL and it is not Christianity at all. Why? They are getting the cart before the horse. Our faith is not born from works, but our good works are born from our faith. However, these people take those good works that are ordained by God and changed them into globalization and the reformation of societies, et cetera. This is unchristian.

  13. Dear Mike,
    Mission done according to Jesus:

    “And He said to them, ‘Take NOTHING for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whater house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony aginst them.’” Luke 9:3-5

    1) Having nothing forces us to rely soley on our precious Savior. No man made models or DNA multipling communities.
    2) Absolutely nothing to lure, entice or bribe people into accepting Jesus as their personal Savior. The disciples were to provide the “Bread of Life” and the “Living Water” to nourish their hungering and thirsting souls. No Social Gospel
    3) Only those chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world will receive the Word. Only God through the preaching of the Gospel the Good News of His Son Jesus dying for our sins can people go from spiritual death to spiritual life.

    This is “The Kingdom” according to Jesus:

    “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; bu as it is, My kingdom IS NOT OF THIS REALM.” John 18:36

    Only by His undeserved grace, charisse

  14. I would encourage all who read this to carefully and prayerfully review any mission organizations they support. Almost all of them have a decent sounding statement of faith, but what are they actually out preaching/doing? Take the time to listen to some audio sermons given by some of their missionaries, or ask trusted sources for advice on where to give. After digging in a just a little bit, I recently had to pull my support of an organization I had thought to be fairly sound.

  15. I had been supporting the Bible League for many years. That has ended due their recent activity of translating the Bible into Arabic – using “Allah” for the name of God. I sent them the following:

    Many thanks for taking the time to answer my inquiry. I am saddened to hear that you are using Allah as the name for the biblical God in your Arabic translations. This syncretism with Islam can only dilute the gospel and it is, I believe, blasphemy of the most high God revealed to us in the Bible. Christians must not give Muslims any support in propping up their false claim that Allah and God are the same. To use the name of their god to represent the God that will reveal all things on Judgment Day is wrong on all levels.

    I ask you to read any of these articles and please let me know if the Bible League intends to continue with this course of action. I pray this is not the case – I cannot be a part of it.

    http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/god.htm

    http://www.letusreason.org/islam6.htm

    http://answeringislam.org/Responses/Abualrub/allahs_identity.htm

    http://heresies.landmarkbiblebaptist.net/Islam-Allah.html

    http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/moongod.htm

    For the glory of the biblical God and the good of His people,

  16. I am not so sure that the cultural transformationalism, welfare of “the city” that Pastor Keller is promoting is a correct interpretation of the Great Commission we see in scripture unless those doing this kind of “missional” work make a conscious effort to always preach Christ and Him crucified for our sins, first and foremost. I have seen this kind of focus gradually substitute for the Gospel; it becomes the gospel as our “works” on behalf of “the city” in whatever capacity takes the place of telling unbelievers about Christ. Secondly, this kind of “missional” focus, as it moves away from its focus on the Gospel, leads its proponents to refer to themselves as “redeeming” this, that, and the other; I recently heard one such pastor mention “redeeming air conditioning” (I wish I were kidding!) Christ is redeeming A PEOPLE for Himself through our proclamation of the Gospel; we do not redeem anything, nor are we co-redeemers with Christ, as I have heard pastors of this vein say. Again, this focus can lead to a man-centered, Pelagian view that all but omits the true Gospel.

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