There was a popular TV show in the ‘60s and ‘70s that became a successful film series: Mission: Impossible. It was about a group of secret agents who went up against crime around the world. The episode started the same just about every week: the agents would gather together and listen to their instructions: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is….” And they had the choice of whether or not to accept the mission.
Well, you and I are on a mission—the Great Commission, given to us by Jesus Christ in Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
I don’t know what comes to your mind when you hear the word missions, but perhaps if you were raised in a mainline Protestant church, it doesn’t sound all that exciting. After I got saved, I spent several months living in the Middle East, and I soon discovered the truth—engaging in missions is adventurous.
“You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that says, ‘I’d rather be fishing.’ Jesus would rather have you be fishing too—but fishing for souls.”
Before I went overseas, my view of the world was very narrow. I kind of pictured God as an American God, who spoke California slang and smiled down on granola and guitar music. But going out and experiencing the love God has for the world made a huge difference in how I viewed the Great Commission.
You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that says, “I’d rather be fishing.” Jesus would rather have you be fishing too—but fishing for souls (see Matthew 4:19).
In Acts 1:8, He said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” From this verse, there are two things we should take away about our great mission: it is global, and it is possible.
First, it’s global for four reasons:
Because of the character of God Himself. You can’t read the Bible without discovering that God is a missionary God; He sends people. The first missionary in the Bible was Abraham. Remember what God told him? “Get out of your country, from your family…to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). So Abraham went. And the purpose of his going was so that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). That is the ultimate purpose of missions: to bless the world throughJesus Christ.
Jesus Christ Himself was a missionary: He left the comforts of His heavenly home and came to this earth “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Because of the condition of the harvest, the world. “When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38).
People are soul-sick and hopeless without the Lord. Because of this, the church should never turn inward and become one giant “bless me” club. Our vision must be outward.
Because Jesus said so: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” According to Jesus, the gospel message is for the whole world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Not just westerners, not just Americans—the world. All of mankind has a sin virus, and the cure for it is universal: Jesus Christ.
Because of the coming judgment. Evangelism will one day no longer be possible because God will ultimately and finally judge the world. Acts 1:11 says, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” When Jesus comes again, He’ll come as a judge (see Revelation 19:11-16). No wonder He was so emotionally compassionate over the multitudes: He not only saw their present condition, but their ultimate condition—the consequence of not trusting in Him.
The second thing we need to realize about our mission is that it’s possible. Now, you might be thinking, Skip, you just painted a very dark picture of the condition of our world. How is global evangelism possible?
“You wouldn’t expect a soldier to go out into battle unless you gave him the right equipment. In the same way, you don’t ask a Christian to go into all the world unless that Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit.”
There are two requirements, the first of which is the filling of the Holy Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). The disciples wouldn’t have made the dent they did on their culture in such a short amount of time without the power of the Holy Spirit. Evangelism is not a human endeavor; it’s a spiritual undertaking, and it requires spiritual equipping. You wouldn’t expect a soldier to go out into battle unless you gave him the right equipment. In the same way, you don’t ask a Christian to go into all the world unless that Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit.
The second requirement is that followers must become fishermen. Before the apostles were disciples, they were fish, in the spiritual sense. But then Jesus came, threw His net out, caught them, and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). That’s His plan: to save people and then turn them loose to fish in whatever culture they happen to be in, whether at home or abroad. When the saved become the sent and are filled with the Holy Spirit, then our mission becomes possible.
And once again, that mission—should you choose to accept it—is the greatest mission any of us could ever be part of: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” We all have a part to play, and we can all do something. Will you accept?