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Missions Lesson 7

CALVARY Baptist CHURCH Instructor: J. VandenHurk

SCHOOL of the BIBLE Missions Lesson Seven


Missions Quotes of the Week –

“We are debtors to every man to give him the Gospel in the same measure in which we have received it.”

– Robert Moffat
(Scottish Congregational missionary to Africa, first translator of Bible into Setswana)

“Do not sit down in lazy contentment. Do not choose an old station. Push on to the vast, unoccupied districts of the north. In that vast plain I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been.”

– (written by Robert Moffat in a letter to David Livingstone)

LESSON SEVEN:
“PROBLEMS AND FAILURES
IN MODERN MISSIONS”

Churches Reproduce After Their Kind

Problems in the churches at home will produce problems on the foreign fields. When Baptist and Congregational and Catholic and Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries go forth, what kind of churches do you think they will reproduce on the mission field?

Every missionary carries with him certain ideas and practices and ways of doing things.

The missionary’s job is to preach the gospel and to plant churches in areas where there are no churches.

We should remember that when Paul was sent out on his first missionary journey, he was sent forth from a very strong church (Acts 13:1-3).

  • The church at Antioch was a praying church (Acts 13:2-3).
  • It was a Bible teaching church (Acts 11:26; 13:1).
  • It was an evangelistic church where the gospel went forth and people were being saved (Acts 11:24).
  • It was a church that was known for its “Christianity” (Acts 11:26)

The state of the church in many ways affected the effectiveness of its missions works being sent out.

Because so many churches today are tangled and confused, many missionaries are as well:

CONFUSED ABOUT BASIC CONCEPTS AND IDEAS

A true missionary must have a correct concept of the Gospel message:

MAN’S NEED:

  1. Man is needy. He needs salvation.
  2. Man is lost (Romans 3:10-23).
  3. Man is perishing in sin (1 Corinthians 1:18).
  4. Man cannot save himself (Ephesians 2:8-9).

GOD’S PROVISION:

  1. God can meet man’s need (Hebrews 7:25).
  2. Only God can meet man’s need (Acts 4:12).
  3. There is no other Saviour apart from God (Isaiah 45:21-22).
  4. Apart from God’s grace, man is doomed (2 Timothy 1:9).

These are simple facts that every missionary should know backwards and forwards.

Some are confused and make statements like,

  1. They might say, It is nice to go to the heathen with the gospel but not essential.
  2. If they have never heard about Jesus then God will not judge them too severely.
  3. God will give people a second chance after death.
  4. All people eventually will be saved some day, just on different paths to God.
  5. A loving God would not really condemn people who have never heard about His Son to a place of eternal punishment.
  1. Can people be saved without hearing the gospel (see Romans 10:13-14)?
  2. Can a person be saved if he has never heard about Jesus (Acts 4:12)?
  3. Does God really give people a “second chance” (see Hebrews 9:27)?
  4. Are all people walking down the road to God/salvation (Matthew 7:13-14)?
  5. Does the Bible teach that there is a real hell (Mark 9:43-48)? Does the Bible teach eternal punishment (Matthew 25:41,46)?

These subjects are really part of the “first principles” or the “A,B,C’s” that every believer should know and not be confused about (see Hebrews 5:11,12; 6:1-2).

CONFUSED ABOUT GOD’S WORK AND MAN’S WORK

There has always seemed to be confusion concerning GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY (what God chooses to do) and MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY (what man is responsible to do). The Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign and that man is responsible, but down through the centuries people have taken these two ideas and have really gotten them tangled up:

1. Some emphasize sovereignty and forget responsibility.

Many have fallen into this error. This was illustrated by Dr. Ryland’s speech to William Carey: Young men, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen He will do it without your aid or mine! This man wrongly thought that God must do it all and man must do nothing. It is true that God is the One that must save and God is the only One who can save. But God will only save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21).

People cannot believe unless they hear the gospel message, and therefore God saves those who believe by “the foolishness of preaching.” Thus we see the responsibility of believing men.

  • Those who are unsaved are responsible to BELIEVE
  • Those that are saved are responsible to PREACH.
  • God’s responsibility is to SAVE!

2. Some emphasize responsibility and forget sovereignty.

This is another great error men fall into. The first error was to say that God will do it without man’s help. This second error is to say that man will do it without God’s help. Thus we have men running around with all kinds of gimmicks and programs trying to get men saved, instead of seeking to do it in God’s way and in God’s time using God’s methods and with God’s help.

If God does not do it, all of our labor is in VAIN (see Psalm 127:1).

CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT OUR MISSION REALLY IS

Why do missionaries go into the world? What is their real mission? What are they supposed to be doing? Here are some of the ideas that people have:

  • “I’m going into all the world to make the world a better place to live.”
  • “I’m going into all the world to improve politics and clean up society.”
  • “I’m going into all the world to change the world.”
  • “I’m going into all the world to educate people so they can live better lives.”
  • “I’m going into all the world to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick and clothes for the naked.”
  • “I’m going into all the world to help people to love neighbors and to do good.”
  • “I’m going into all the world to bring people to church.”

The above are all examples of what the Great Commission is not!

The Great Commission is not about getting into politics and cleaning up society:

We are called to be active and obedient citizens where laws do not violate the higher law of Scripture. However, our main mission is not social or political activism.

Think of the early Christians. What was their main thrust? What was their main activity? It was not storming the gates of Rome and demanding social justice. As good and as important as these things were, the early disciples of Christ simply did not have time for this. They were too busy doing what their Lord had told them to do (Acts 8:4).

No matter how commendable the goal of such tactics, there is not one example in the entire Bible of political or social “activism” ever being advocated or used by God’s people in the local church. “Christian Activism” involves the well-meaning but foolish attempt to force “Christian principles” upon a godless society. But rather than pressure the ungodly to live like saints, we must win them to Christ that they might live wholly for God. We must denounce sin where we see it, but primarily we should be calling for repentance from rebellion against God and rejection of Christ.

“Christian Activism” is not Christian, and represents a detour from the straight path the church is to walk before the world. It can confuse the real issues, lead to compromise and unholy alliances, and divert time and effort that would be better used in proclaiming the gospel…Be fully engaged in rescuing souls for eternity.”

– D. Hunt

“In a few generations they entirely changed the face of society by the doctrines of the Bible. They emptied the temples of the heathen gods. They famished idolatry, or left it high and dry like a stranded ship. They brought into the world a higher tone of morality between man and man. They raised the character and position of women. They altered the standard of purity and decency. They put an end to many cruel and bloody customs, such as the gladiatorial fights.”

– J. C. Ryle

The Great Commission is not about “changing the world.”

More recently there are professing believers known as postmillennial reconstructionists. They believe that they can bring in the kingdom and change the world by putting all societies under an Old Testament legal system. Individual sinners cannot even keep God’s holy law. How then can we expect an entire society to conform to such standards? It would not work in a thousand years!

God has never told us to change the world. The world system is incurably sick and headed for destruction. God has told us to preach the gospel to individuals (“to every creature”) and when a person responds in the right way to the gospel message, his life is truly transformed by the grace of God.

We must not forget why the Lord Jesus Christ has sent us into the world. He has told us to go into all the world and what we are to do (Mark 16:15).

God’s current plan is not to save this world. Instead God’s plan in this dispensation is to reach down and save INDIVIDUALS out of this evil world (Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13; John 15:19; John 17:14). (Illustration: Titanic)

The only One who can change the world is God Himself, and this will be done only when Christ returns to this earth to establish His kingdom. The church will never bring in a new world. This work will be done by Christ and by Christ alone.

“The Great Commission does not involve exerting a Christian influence upon society. We are not to “change society,” but to “convert individuals.” There is much talk today about “changing the world for Christ.” There is no Biblical teaching or example to support that popular slogan.”

– Dave Hunt

The Great Commission is not about merely providing food for the poor and medicine for the sick and clothes for the naked.

There are many Christian groups today that are almost exclusively devoted to a “social gospel” (clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, etc.), with little emphasis upon the salvation of souls.While we certainly should not be oblivious to the pain and poverty and suffering in the world, yet the social gospel is not what our Lord commanded.

  • We may feed their stomachs but what have we done for their souls?
  • We may cure them of a bodily illness, but what has been done about the deadly and incurable disease of sin (Jer. 17:9)?
  • What good does it do if they become rich for a second (in this life) but poor forever (in eternity)?
  • If we clothe their bodies with the finest of garments, how shall it help them if they die without being covered by the robes of Christ’s righteousness?
  • What shall it profit them if we build them a wonderful house, but no provision is made for their eternal home in heaven?

What ultimate good have we done if we only help them this side of the grave?

“Take a man from the filth and squalor of the slums, exchange his rags for decent clothing, move him from the stifling stench of the city tenement to a neat little cottage in the pure air of the country, put him on his feet economically where he can make a decent living for himself and his family, and then let him die in his sins, unsaved, and be lost forever at last—really it is not worth while, and I, for one, would not attempt it.”

– William Booth

“If every person in the world had adequate food, housing, income; if all men were equal; if every possible social evil and injustice were done away with, men would still need one thing — Christ!”

– J. W. Hyde

The Great Commission is not merely about bringing people to church.

Mark 16:15 says that we should bring the gospel to the unsaved. It does not say that we should bring the unsaved to the gospel. Many churches today have this approach.

In the world our emphasis should be that of evangelism, but in the church our emphasis should be primarily that of teaching doctrine. In the world we should be reaching them; in the church we should be teaching them.

Of course, we do not in any way want to discourage God’s people from inviting the unsaved to church services. We need to do more of this. We certainly thank God for every sinner who attends the local assembly of believers, hears the gospel message and receives Christ as his personal Saviour.

When the local church is functioning as an edification/teaching center according to God’s pattern, then the unsaved person who enters such a place will be deeply convicted (1 Cor. 14:24-25).

Illustration of Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965), the famous philanthropist missionary, but who wrote The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Here was a man who did much good in the world, but he was also a man who did not believe the Word of God. We can be sure that Albert Schweitzer never preached the true gospel to the African natives, and because of this he cannot be considered a true missionary of God. Because he failed to tell them the true Bible message of salvation, we must say that this man helped the Africans FOR A MOMENT but he hurt them FOR ETERNITY.

CONFUSED WHETHER THE NEW TESTAMENT PATTERN WORKS

A missionary must have a right concept and understanding of God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible is the missionary’s most important tool and this tool must be used properly.

There are many missionaries who do not believe that the New Testament pattern would really work today. They might say: It worked well back then in the days of Paul but it would never work today. They somehow feel that New Testament methods and practices have become out-dated and that more “modern” methods are needed for today. As a result much of the New Testament is ignored and God’s perfect blueprint for missions is not followed. They somehow feel that man’s tangled up ways are much better than God’s untangled and simple ways!

God’s Simple Program of Missions

God’s program for missions can be described by 8 simple words:

  1. PRAYER–the early church was a praying one and prayer is the heart-beat of missions (Mt. 9:36-38). The first missionary journey was bathed in prayer (Acts 13:2-3).
  2. POWER–The power of the Holy Spirit is the dynamite of missions (Acts 1:8; 4:33; 6:8; 10:38; Rom. 1:16). Man’s programs / methods are never a substitute for this.
  3. PREACHING–preaching the Word of God was the very backbone of missions (Acts 4:2; 8:5; 8:25; 8:35; 13:5; 14:7; etc.).
  4. PRACTICE–The early Christians not only preached the Word but they practiced it. They were DOERS OF THE WORD (James 1:22). They not only preached the Gospel, they lived the Gospel.
  5. PLANTING–The early missionaries, such as Paul, spent their time and energy in planting local churches. Paul did this in Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica and in many other cities. The local church is at the very center of God’s program.
  6. PERFECTING–The believers in local churches must be perfected (equipped) so that they might be able to minister and serve the Lord (Ephesians 4:12). The local churches must be Bible teaching centers so that believers might be strong in the Word of God (Acts 20:27,28,32). Instead of the pastor or missionary doing all the work there is a whole trained army of believers who are spiritually healthy and equipped and able to serve the Lord.
  7. PERSECUTION–God’s true missionaries have never been popular with the world. In 1 John 3:13 we read, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” We find God’s missionaries facing persecution in almost every chapter of the book of Acts.
  8. PROCLAMATION–Persecution did not stop the message from going forth and being proclaimed. Instead, “they that were scattered abroad (by persecution) went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

HOMEWORK:
READ THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE AND BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS IT IN TWO WEEKS TIME:

C. I. Scofield (1843-1921) was a prominent lawyer who was saved at age 36. He is known for his ability to summarize Bible doctrine in a simple and concise way (as his notes in the Scofield Reference Bible). He authored many books and was the founder of the Central American Mission.

“FAILURE IN THE CHURCH AGE,” by C. I. Scofield

I believe that the failure of the Church to see that she is a separated, a called-out Body in the purposes of God, charged with a definite mission limited in its purpose and scope, and the endeavor to take from Israel her promises of earthly glory, and appropriate them over into this Church dispensation, has done more to swerve the Church from the appointed course than all other influences put together. It is not so much wealth, luxury, power, pomp, and pride that have served to deflect the Church from her appointed course, as the notion, founded upon Israelitish Old Testament promises, that the Church is of the world, and that therefore, her mission is to improve the world. Promises which were given to Israel alone are quoted as justifying what we see all about us today.

The Church, therefore, has failed to follow her appointed pathway of separation, holiness, heavenliness and testimony to an absent but coming Christ; she has turned aside from that purpose to the work of civilizing the world, building magnificent temples, and acquiring earthly power and wealth, and in this way, has ceased to follow in the footsteps of Him who had not where to lay His head. Did you ever put side by side the promises given to the Church, and to Israel, and see how absolutely in contrast they are? It is impossible to mingle them.

The Jew was promised an earthly inheritance, earthly wealth, earthly honor, earthly power. The Church is promised no such thing, but is pointed always to heaven as the place where she is to receive her rest and her reward. The promise to the Church is a promise of persecution, if faithful in this world, but a promise of a great inheritance and reward hereafter. In the meantime, she is to be a pilgrim body, passing through this scene, but abiding above.

In the New Testament we have the history of the Church down to the year 96 A.D. In the second chapter of Acts we have the birth of the Church, and oh, how beautiful she was in her first freshness of faith! It was a lovely manifestation of simplicity, unselfishness, holiness and spiritual power. Yet we pass on but a few years, and in the Epistles to the Corinthians, what do we find? Paul writes, “I hear there are divisions among you.” They began then, and they have never ceased to this day. In the second and third chapters of Revelation we have the condition of the Church at that time; full of words still, but fallen from its first love.

After Ephesus, A.D. 96, comes the period of persecution. For three centuries the Church was in awful persecution. Then came a great change. The Emperor Constantine professed conversion, and Christianity became the court religion. Then the tables were turned and the Church began to persecute! And, of all things she should never have done, she became the persecutrix of the Jews! The Church, saved by faith in the Messiah who came from the Jews; having in her hand the Bible which was written by the Jews; receiving her teaching solely and only through Jewish sources, became, for one thousand years, the bitter, relentless, bloody persecutor of Judaism. With that came worldliness and priestly assumption, and the Dark Ages.

Then in the fifteenth century, came the Reformation out of which have come Protestant movements of various kinds. The Bible was put into the hands of the people, and has been translated into many tongues. With an open Bible came light and liberty again, but never union again. On the contrary, division followed division; sect followed sect. It is true that the great body of the churches believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, but they have turned aside the greater part of their resources, to the attempt to reform the world, to educate the world, and, in short, to anticipate the next dispensation in which those things belong, and to do the work that is distinctly set apart for restored and converted Israel in her Kingdom Age.

Is the Gospel then a failure? God forbid! The Gospel never failed, and can never fail. God’s Word by the Gospel is accomplishing precisely the mission which was foreseen and foretold for it, that whereunto it was sent. And we must not forget, either, that the Gospel will yet bring this world to the Saviour. It is not at all a question of the ultimate triumph of the blessed Lord. The heathen may rage and the people imagine vain things, but the Father will yet set His King on His holy hill in Zion. Converted Israel, glorified saints, even a mighty angel shall yet proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, and “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it” (Isa. 2:2). “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). All this will surely come to pass, for the Lord hath spoken it–but not in this dispensation. This is the age of the “ecclesia”–of the called out ones.

Let me ask you, what is God doing in this age of ours? Is He not taking out of the Gentiles a people? A few Jews are being converted, for Paul tells us there is always a remnant in Israel according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:5), but the great, the altogether vast majority of the Church is taken out of the Gentiles. This we all see. To believe this is not at all a matter of faith, but of simple observation. Not, anywhere, the conversion of all, but everywhere, the taking out of some. The evangelization of the world, then, and not its conversion, is the mission committed to the Church. To do this, to preach the Gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth, to offer salvation to every creature, is our responsibility. It is the divinely appointed means for the calling out of a people for His Name, the Church, the “Ecclesia.”

Further, the purpose of the Father in this age is not the establishment of the Kingdom. The Old Testament prophets tell us in perfectly simple, unambiguous language how the Kingdom is to be brought in, who is to be its ruler, and the extent and character of that rule, and the result in the universal prevalence of peace and righteousness. Alas, nothing would suffice but the bringing of the prophets bodily over into this Church age! This is the irremediable disaster which the wild allegorizing of Origen and his school has inflicted upon exegesis. The intermingling of Church purpose with Kingdom purpose palsied evangelization for thirteen hundred years, and is today the heavy clog upon the feet of them who preach the glad tidings.

See how inevitably so. The Kingdom applies spiritual forces to the solution of material problems. How shall man live long and wisely? The Kingdom is the answer. How shall exact justice be done on earth? The Kingdom provides for it. When shall wars and human butchery cease in this blood-saturated earth? When the Kingdom is set up by the King Himself. When shall creation give up to man her potential secrets? In the Kingdom age. When shall the earth be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea? When the King and His Kingdom are here.

Of all these things the O.T. prophets are full. We turn to the New Testament and find what? The birth of the King, the heralding of the Kingdom as “at hand,” the announcement in the Sermon on the Mount of the principles of the Kingdom, the utter refusal of Israel to receive her King, the passing of the Kingdom into the mixed and veiled condition set forth in the seven parables of Matthew Thirteen, its full revelation being postponed till “the harvest,” which is fixed definitely “at the end of this age.” And then the Kingdom being thus postponed, what is revealed as filling and occupying this age? THE CHURCH! Christians, let us leave the government of the world till the King comes; let us leave the civilizing of the world to be the incidental effect of the presence there of the Gospel of Christ, and let us give our time, our strength, our money, our days to the mission distinctively committed to the Church, namely, to make the Lord Jesus Christ known “to every creature”!

— C. I. Scofield