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.
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.
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!