Have you ever asked yourself why the Lord Jesus entrusted us with mission? Couldn’t He have taken the Gospel to the world through other means? The Spirit of Prophecy affirms, “God could have proclaimed His truth through sinless angels, but this is not His plan.”1
Do you remember the day that God needed someone to give the message to Balaam? There was no evangelist around, no volunteer preacher, no minister, no church elder. What did God do? He took a donkey, gave him an outline, and the donkey preached! Centuries later, Jesus, referring to the disciples’ possible silence, stated, “I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). In other words, God has many ways to evangelize the world. The Spirit of Prophecy says that “God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid.”2
So what led Jesus to entrust His mission to human beings? The Spirit of Prophecy answers this question, indicating that “for us to develop a character like Christ’s, we must share in His work.”3 In the divine plan, those who do nothing in God’s cause do not grow in grace or in the knowledge of truth.
Jesus came to this world to seek and save the lost. This lost soul was each one of us when we did not know the gospel, but one day we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and at that moment we were saved. The great challenge of the Christian life is to remain within the experience of salvation. To remain in God’s love and to grow in grace requires two things: daily Bible study and constant prayer.
FOR US TO DEVELOP A CHARACTER LIKE CHRIST’S, WE MUST SHARE IN HIS WORK
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES
Most Christians discover that as time passes, they begin to lose their desire to pray and read the Bible. Why? “There is but one genuine cure for spiritual laziness, and that is work—working for souls who need your help. . . . This is the recipe that Christ has prescribed for the fainthearted, doubting, trembling soul. Let the sorrowful ones, who walk mournfully before the Lord, arise and help someone who needs help.”4
According to these quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy, the first purpose of mission is not just to evangelize the world. Jesus could have reached this objective in many ways. When Jesus entrusted mission to human beings, He intended that men and women could grow in grace, leave their spiritual indolence behind, and go forward as strong souls.
If you as a church elder see Christians in your congregation who do not become involved in mission, who do not win souls, and who do not participate in church outreach program, you should be very concerned, not because the church will fall short of its baptismal goal, but because when a member does not witness, he or she is missing out on a complete Christian experience. Healthy Christians are committed to the church’s mission.
Sometimes we get confused. We think that the objective of mission is to baptize, so we invent methods and strategies to baptize more people. This would be fine if the purpose of mission was just to increase the number of members. On one occasion we asked an agent at one of Brazil’s largest advertising agencies what would happen if the Seventh-day Adventist Church held an advertising campaign through the largest means of media available. Do you know what he answered? “That would be no problem. It would cost you a lot of money, but you could get that. The problem would be: Where would you put all the new church members? You would need several years to build enough churches to hold all the people who would join the church as a result of the campaign.”
If mission meant only bringing people to the church, a good advertising campaign would solve the problem. But Jesus was thinking about the spiritual growth of the church. “There is no such thing as a truly converted person living a helpless, useless life.”5 “There is danger for those who do little or nothing for Christ. The grace of God will not long abide in the soul of him who, having great privileges and opportunities, remains silent.”6
When Jesus entrusted us with the mission of His church, He said, “You will be my witnesses.” “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness.” “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” “Go and make disciples.” In all of these commands the individual is required to participate. The Lord Jesus did not entrust His mission only to professional evangelists.
When we as ministers, elders, or Bible instructors take the church’s mission in our hands and forget to make each member a missionary soul-winner, we run the risk that we will one day be held responsible for the blood of those Christians who did not grow spiritually because they did not understand that there can be no salvation experience without witnessing.
The great challenge that you have as a church leader is to keep watch so that each member fulfills his/her mission. “Let ministers [the church elder is a volunteer minister] teach church members that in order to grow in spirituality, they must carry the burden that the Lord has laid upon them—the burden of leading souls into the truth. Those who are not fulfilling their responsibility should be visited, prayed with, [and] labored for.”7
Think on this!
1. Ellen G. White, Christian Service, p. 7.
2. Ibid., p. 8.
4. Ibid., p. 107.
5. Ibid., p. 13; see also Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 280.
6. White, Christian Service, p. 89.
7. White, Gospel Workers, p. 200.
South American Division Ministerial Secretary