Matthew 9:35–38; 28:18–20comment (0)
December 11, 2008
By James C. Pounds Jr.
Related Scripture: Matthew 9:35–38; 28:18–20
Bible Studies for Life
Director of the Extension Division, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Your Missions Involvement
Matthew 9:35–38; 28:18–20; Romans 15:23–28
Recognizing that all Christians are called to be missionaries is one thing, but for some believers, determining how to respond to this call is an entirely different issue. Oftentimes, however, out of fear of not knowing the right thing to do, nothing is done at all. We all can and should be involved in missions, and there are many ways we can each approach this charge from our heavenly Father.
Give to Missions (Rom. 15:23–28)
We know from his writings that the apostle Paul was one of the most ardent and enthusiastic Christian missionaries. In this passage to the Roman believers, he explained his desire was now to preach the gospel in Spain, knowing it had not yet been declared there. Paul’s plan was to visit the Roman church on the way to this exciting, new destination — fully anticipating it would assist him financially with this missionary journey. While church members might not be able to travel with him, they would be able to participate in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ among a people who would have never heard this word otherwise.
Pray for the Workers (Matt. 9:35–38)
Matthew recorded this episode in Jesus’ ministry, showing how deeply moved He was by His contact with the “multitudes” who were hungry to know God personally. As a result of this encounter, He instructed His followers to pray for God to send workers to reach out to all of these who so longed to know the Father.
Disciple the Nations (Matt. 28:18–20)
In this passage that we refer to as “The Great Commission,” Jesus explained that while He was leaving for a little while, He expected His disciples to continue His ministry until He returned. Before ascending to heaven, He instructed all of His followers to make disciples of all the nations, baptize them in the name of the Trinity and teach them to obey all of God’s commands. And with His final words, He assured them and us that His presence would be with His followers forever.
The passages in this lesson emphasize international missions, the intentional action of taking God’s saving message to people in places far away from where we live. But not everyone is actually called to venture “out” into those distant lands. In this brief study, God’s Word shows us how we can and should participate in these endeavors.
First, all believers are expected to pray for those who are lost, neglected and oppressed. Christ points out the incredible number who make up this group; they are like fields full and ready for harvest, but there aren’t enough workers to bring in the crop. While God will certainly call out the missionaries He wants and needs, Christ instructs us to pray to that end ourselves, as well as praying for those who have already been called, have responded and are serving. And when we pray, we need to ask if we are being called ourselves and prepare for the possibility that our Lord may actually wish to place us in such a role.
Additionally we ought to consider it a privilege to financially support those who have been called to “go.” Whether it be a one time trip or a long-term commitment to a permanent ministry, if someone is responding to God’s call, then we should pray about how we might support him or her in such important work. As Southern Baptists, we already have a wonderful vehicle in place that allows us to invest in ongoing missionary work in many foreign locales — the Cooperative Program. Through our giving, we are able to financially support missionaries, schools, hospitals and numerous other forms of Christian outreach all around the world.
God expects all of His followers to always be “on mission” with Him, and the “Commission” was given to each of us.
So, while we are to most certainly pray for and support those who are serving on international missions fields, our responsibility does not end there. Christ calls all of us to reach out with His love to “harvest” these who sit waiting in the “fields” and to continue doing so until He returns.