Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďTHE BIBLE: A MISSIONARY BOOKĒ

 In Matthew 5.13-14, we find two mandates established for us by our Lord Jesus Christ in His famous Sermon on the Mount:

 13     Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14     Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

 We see, in Matthew 5.13, the Lord Jesus Christ sets forth what has been termed our cultural mandate. We are supposed to influence those around us, even if we are unable to bring them to Christ. Matthew 5.14 records our evangelistic mandate, and represents in a spiritually symbolic way what the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ explicitly sets forth as our congregationís mission, to go into the world, to baptize those we have brought to Christ, and to train them to do all that Christ has commanded, Matthew 28.18-20.

ďIt is unscriptural to confuse these two mandates and speak of them on equal terms as missions and church ministries. Only the second mandate is considered missions in the strict biblical sense.Ē[1] I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is the abandoning by so many churches of our evangelistic mandate in favor of what used to be called the social gospel, or the so-called ďcultural mandate,Ē at the expense of biblical missions. Godís plan for our church in this era of Godís dealings with mankind, what we so frequently refer to as the Church Age, is clearly seen in the ministry and writings of the Apostle Paul, particularly in Acts 14.21-23:

21     And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22     Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

23     And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

The geographical setting of this passage is southern Galatia, in what is today Turkey. The date is around 48 AD, about eighteen years after Pentecost and near the end of Paulís first missionary journey. Though he always preached to the Jews where possible, the Apostle Paul launched out to reach the Gentiles, his primary target audience.[2] Notice the three aspects of Paulís ministry pattern in this passage: First, he is engaged in evangelizing the lost. His first step to accomplish this was to preach the gospel. His next step was to gather those who had responded. This done, he moved on to the second aspect of his pattern, which is to edify believers by confirming them and by exhorting them to continue in the faith. The third aspect of Paulís ministry pattern (and you need to understand that all three steps were being done simultaneously) was to establish local churches. Luke refers to this in verse 23 when he records that they ordained elders in every church and then commended them to the Lord.

This is the inspired pattern that we at Calvary Road Baptist Church seek to follow both here at home and in our commitment to praying and paying for gospel preaching, church planting missionaries. I am convinced that as Bible-believing Christians, as members of a missionary Baptist church, the entire Bible supports our commitment to this noble and God-honoring endeavor.

Consider the various portions of the Bible that show this to be true:

First, GODíS MISSION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

There is evidence of Godís mission in the Pentateuch. From the Greek word penta, meaning five, the Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Bible, the books authored by Moses. The foundation of Godís mission is laid in this beginning portion of the Bible in four ways: First, God predicted the coming of His Messiah to deal with sin. Moments after Adamís fall into sin God said, ďAnd I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,Ē Genesis 3.15. Of course, this is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christís defeat of Satan, which would be accomplished in fulfillment of this prophecy on the cross of Calvary. Second, God provided for restored fellowship for man. It began with the skins God provided for Adam and Eve to wear to cover their nakedness. It continued with the ordinances and sacrifices to temporarily cover menís sins, and priestly service in the Tabernacle and later the Temple. It was culminated in the finished work of Jesus Christ, Second Corinthians 5.21: ďFor he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.Ē Third, God promised universal blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant, which is the foundation upon which all subsequent covenants related to manís salvation is based. Restated in a number of places in the Pentateuch, I read a single verse from the first declaration of Godís promise to Abraham, in Genesis 12.3: ďAnd I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.Ē Fourth, God purposed to proclaim His name in all the earth. The God of the Bible is a missionary God. This is illustrated with the plagues sent to coerce the Egyptians to release the Israelites from bondage. Exodus 9.16 records the words God gave to Moses to speak to Pharaoh: ďAnd in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.Ē

There is also evidence of Godís mission in the Historical Books. First, consider that God displayed His power to the surrounding nations through Israel. Do not think the Gentile nations were ignorant of the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, of the Shekinah glory, of Balaamís inability to curse the Israelites, and of other things. I read the words of Rahab to the Israelites sent to spy on the city of Jericho, in Joshua 2.9-11:

9      And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10     For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11     And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Second, God preserved His people from destruction. On some occasions, He preserved His people by means of miracles, such as with the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, victory over the Amalekites in battle, and the collapse of the walls of Jericho. On other occasions, God worked providentially, such as with the young woman Esther, placed by God to be the Persian kingís wife to save her people from annihilation. Mordecai asks his niece, in Esther 4.14, ďwho knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?Ē Third, God welcomed the worship of proselytes. Solomon mentions them in First Kings 8.41-42:

41     Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy nameís sake;

42     (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house.

Of course, the Queen of Sheba comes to mind as just such an example.

Then, there is evidence of Godís mission in the Poetical Books. You understand, by now, that this message could be developed into an entire series of sermons. However, the point I seek to make might have been missed had I done that. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon are books that comprise the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Allow me to lift only three examples of Godís mission found in this portion of the Bible: First, in the book of Job, the only Poetical Book written about a Gentile. In the midst of his terrible suffering, Job rejoiced in the hope of redemption and resurrection, in Job 19.25-26:

25     For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26     And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

Next, in what are called the Messianic Psalms are found Jehovahís purpose to redeem with references to Messiahís first coming. Psalm 22 describes the suffering Savior. Psalm 16.9-10 and Psalm 110.1 provide glimpses of the Messiahís resurrection and of His reign after ascending to heaven. Then, in a number of different Psalms are found predictions that Godís Son will rule the nations as King at the time of His second coming. Psalm 96.13 is only one of the many verses, and reads, ďBefore the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.Ē

Fourth, and finally in the Old Testament, evidence of Godís mission in the Prophetical Books. There is so much that could be addressed in the Prophetical Books. However, time constraints force me to limit my remarks to observations related to three men: First, there is Jonah, the well known but reluctant missionary. He was sent to bring the Gentile city of Nineveh, capital of the hated Assyrians, to repentance. However, he fled in the opposite direction and was swallowed by a great fish because he did not want to be any part of God showing Himself to be gracious. Jonah 4.2 records his reasoning: ďTherefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. . . .Ē What does Jonahís life show us? Beside the great picture of Christís resurrection that Jesus Himself referred to, we are shown in Jonah that God has an interest in the Gentiles, even Gentiles who are among the greatest enemies of His chosen people. Next, there was Daniel, who can be seen as a ďtentmakerĒ missionary. Captured as a lad, he was incorporated into Babylonís magi and represented God well throughout the Babylonian captivity, speaking out for God to both the Babylonians and the Medo-Persians. Listen to the words of one Babylonian king Daniel influenced, Nebuchadnezzar, in Daniel 4.34 and 37:

34     And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

37     Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

Third, there is Isaiah, the prince of the prophets, who proclaimed a Messianic message for forty years. From his description of Christ as Jehovahís servant (Isaiah 42.1-7) to His description of Christís substitutionary sacrifice in Isaiah chapter 53, Isaiah shows what the rest of the Old Testament reveals, Godís universal concern and provision for all men.

Then There Is GODíS MISSION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

If the Old Testament prepares the way for Messiahís coming, the New Testament presents the Messiah as He comes to do the Fatherís will. Both testaments, then, join together to reveal Godís singular mission. The New Testament contains four kinds of books:

First, evidence of Godís mission is found in the Gospels. The Gospels are unique in literature known to man. Nothing else available to mankind to read is of the genre that is found with the four gospel accounts. In the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we find evidence of three missions. Prominent in the gospels, of course, is the mission of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, to seek and to save that which is lost. Also seen in the gospels is the mission our Lord gave to us, known as the Great Commission. However, it is in the fulfillment of Christís mission and in the declaration of our mission that we see Godís mission advanced. The night before the climax of His redemptive mission to save us from our sins by dying a sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus spoke of our mission in connection in connection with Godís mission, in John 15.8. He said, ďHerein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.Ē

Next, evidence of Godís mission is found in the Book of Acts. Central to the theme of the Book of Acts is the utterance of Jesus shortly before His ascension to His Fatherís right hand, in Acts 1.8: ďye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . .Ē Throughout the Book of Acts we see that witness occurring, first to the Jews (Acts 1.1-8.3), then to the Jews and Gentiles and the racially mixed Samaritans (Acts 8.3-12.25), and to the Gentiles (Acts 13.1-28.31). Those who responded to the witness were gathered and taught and incorporated into churches.

Third, evidence of Godís mission is found in the Epistles. Epistles are letters written to churches, church leaders, and also members of churches. In those epistles we learn that racial, ethnic and cultural divides have been broken down, and that God has made of two one people in Christ. Throughout the epistles of the New Testament, only one church is held up by the Apostle Paul as a model for other congregations, and therefore as a model for our church to emulate, the church in Thessalonica. First Thessalonians 1.7 reads, ďSo that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.Ē The word ensamples translates tupoV, a word that refers to them as examples to be followed.[3] What kind of examples were they? From them sounded out the Word of the Lord in Macedonia and Achaia. Their faith to God-ward was spread abroad. They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And they waited for Godís Son to return from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus.

Finally, evidence of Godís mission is found in the Book of Revelation. The Gospels reveal Christís mission (Mark 10.45) and our commission (Matthew 28.18-20). The Book of Acts records the beginnings of the earliest churchís ministries. The epistles depict the development of those churches. In Revelation chapters two and three we find the testimony of seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. It is very clear that, despite the opinions of many commentators, Revelation chapters two and three contains, in straightforward fashion, seven letters to the angels of seven churches. Revelation 1.1, coupled with each of the letters in turn that are found in Revelation chapters two and three, show a communiquť from God the Father, to Jesus Christ, to an angel, to the Apostle John, to each of the angels of the churches, for the benefit of the churches. Illustrating this with Revelation 1.1 and Revelation 2.1, we read, ďThe Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John . . . Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write . . . .Ē Thus do the remaining six letters begin. Do these seven congregations represent different stages of church history? Nowhere in scripture is there any evidence to support such a conclusion. The seven letters comprise the reports of an audit conducted by the Lord Jesus Christ in which He evaluates the seven churchís progress in fulfilling their mission and thereby achieving Godís mission through their efforts and ministries. Some of the churches were found, by Godís grace and through His Spirit, to be doing quite well. Other congregations were conducting themselves in a manner that can only be termed reprehensible. Thus, these seven churches represented what was happening in the other churches of that day, and what is happening in the churches of our day, to fulfill Godís mission, Christís mission, and our commission.

The New Testament is a missionary book. Revelation about our churchís mission permeates its pages, and clearly delineates the role we occupy with respect to Christís mission and Godís mission. Allow me to summarize some of the pertinent characteristics of New Testament missions in light of what we have rehearsed from the whole Bible.

The New Testament leaves us with a commission. From the beginning of time, God has not been without a witness. Christís mandate to our church is clear; it is not to be decided by congregational vote but is to be executed, is to be implemented (Matthew 28.19-20; Mark 16.15; Luke 24.44-49; John 20.21; Acts 1.8).

The New Testamentís message has harvest as its goal. It is not enough to search for the sheep; we must find them. We cannot be content with the proclamation of the gospel. The harvest may be meager - a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold - but harvest there will be (Matthew 9.37-38; 13.23; 28.19).

The New Testament helps us define our priorities. Although believers, as a part of mankind, have valid societal responsibilities to perform good deeds, these duties must not take priority over our mission (Acts 14.21-23). Indeed, meeting societal needs should contribute to carrying out our commission.

Since we cannot carry out our mission by focusing all the resources at our disposal here, we collaborate with missionaries with whom we agree, to whom we send monetary support, and for whom we pray, so that through them we become more obedient to our commission. In this way, we do a better job of fulfilling our mission, which serves to compliment Christís mission, which perfectly accomplishes Godís mission. Can a life be lived to higher ends? Can oneís efforts be expended in more noble pursuits? The answer, of course, is no.

This is why we preach the gospel. This is why we bring the lost to church. This is why we witness at work and in the neighborhood. This is why we gather for Saturday night evangelism. This is why we give to missions above our tithes and offerings. And this is why we have a missions conference every year.

For Godís sake, for Christís sake, for our churchís sake, for your own sake, and for the sake of those we seek to reach here and there with the gospel, I urge you to prayerfully and energetically involve yourself in our missions ministry.



[1] George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), p. 170, cited by Paul A. Beals, A People For His Name (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1988), page 3.

[2] Paul A. Beals, A People For His Name (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1988), page 3.

[3] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 587.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org