The resurrected Christ, before his ascension into heaven pronounced his Great Commission – Matthew 28: 18-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God so loved the world! that’s for the whole world…not just a part of it. He died for all. Jesus said, “Whosoever, believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” That includes everyone and all who can hear and believe. Romans 10:13 plainly states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:14 however states the problem: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall the hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach if they are not sent? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”.
Mission is the purpose for which the church is sent into the world. The mission which the church has received from its Lord is to make disciples of all nations by proclaiming Christ. This is the ultimate answer to the question “Why are we here?” This means that the origin of mission is not in human enthusiasm for outreach. It is not the keen evangelists who ‘gets the ball rolling.’ Mission is spreading the goodness of God Himself as He determines to create, restore and bless in His Son and by the Spirit. We are never the initiators of mission. We are first spectators and beneficiaries of mission before we are even the participants.
We are the missionaries – the church as a whole. Our very existence is an existence on mission, wherever we may be. We have our being as church in the commission which is laid upon the whole body to be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth –Acts 1:8. Mission is not what we do, it is who we are.
To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love. And the mission of the church is delivering to all people the message of the free grace of God.
In 1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul says “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” He says “necessity it laid upon me”. Do you think that God gave to Paul any greater responsibility, any greater privilege to be a preacher of the Gospel than you and I? Lets dispel the false notion that God only called preachers of the Gospel to spread the Gospel. The truth is God has called us all, not just evangelists, preachers, missionaries and pastors.
Peter was first to preach the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:41 tell us about 3000 souls were saved. The word of God tells us that Stephen preached and was stoned to death. Paul was there holding the coats of those doing the stoning. And Steven was a deacon (an appointed servant) in the Jerusalem church. In fact some of the first to preach and witness for Christ were deacons.
Acts 8:4 records that God raised up Philip and he faithfully preached Christ to the Samartians. Philip too was a deacon in the Jerusalem church. The Jerusalem church then sent Peter and John to them to teach them. Acts 8:26 states that Philip is sent of the Holy Spirit to a black man, the Ethiopian eunuch and he was saved and carried the Gospel to Africa.
Acts 8:4-5 explains that the Christians who were fleeing the persecution of Paul were scattered abroad and went everywhere preaching the word. These men were in a true sense the first missionaries. Acts 9 records how that the Apostle Paul was saved on the Damascus road and later became the great missionary to the Gentiles.
When the church in Jerusalem heard of the Greeks being saved, they sent Barnabas. It was surely an act of faith for Barnabas to leave his home in Jerusalem and go to Antioch to preach. Paul was the third missionary. The word of the Lord says Barnabas went to Tarsus and got Paul and they both returned to Antioch and preached and taught there for one whole year. It is interesting to note that Paul had an unusual part in starting the church at Antioch. It was started by men fleeing the persecution he was perpetrating!
Let us see the pattern. The Apostles, deacons, preachers, believers in many situations…all preaching and witnessing…all sharing about Christ Jesus…where they were.
With this we are clear that, it is binding upon all of us to go and to take his mission evangelism to all mankind. Let us therefore pause and see in our own context, in the context of the Church of North India. Having spread across 80% of the India’s territory with 27 Dioceses, and just a little more than 2500 pastors and evangelists, surely we can say that the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. We certainly need to call our father to send more workers in His vineyard and also to focus our efforts so that the word of the Lord is taken to all mankind. May I share this joy with all of you that the Lord God is calling and sending each one of us, to respond to do many things including the following:
- To organize Gospel Conventions in all the dioceses, with support from the CNI Synod, in a phase wise manner, in the next two years, to preach the Gospel to thousands, and to continue the same later on.
- To encourage the dioceses to identify God fearing local youth/ women/retired people and others whom the Lord calls for His mission, to work as purely honorary evangelists in each and every village in the territory of the CNI under the care and guidance of the Presbyters. The Synod will make provision for the orientation of such evangelists, to equip them do the mission.