The Unchanging Purpose of the Church in Missions
Whenever we consider missions we always have to come back to its core definition - it's all about God and His eternal purpose of saving people so they can worship Him. “Missions exists because worship doesn’t” as John Piper says in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad. What exactly did he mean by that observation?
God is the One who spoke the universe into existence. He's the One who made us in His image. After we rebelled and fell, He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and provided the way to return to Him. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ …” (Ephesians 1). He called us to be His people and to be His witness of this great salvation, to proclaim His fame to the nations (ethnic or people groups such as Uyghurs, Kurds, Hmongs, Huis …) He is in the business of calling a people from every people group together so we can worship Him and glorify Him, but He also wants us to share the joy by joining Him. That's what we were made for -- to know Him, make Him known, and to give Him the glory. The greatest Glory He gets is in the worship of His people from every people group.
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” - Rev 5
Missions will end when there is worship from every people group. God’s sovereignty is the solid guarantee that it will be accomplished.
In 1 Chronicles 12:32 the men of Issachar were commended for knowing what Israel should do because they understood the times. Among all the people of God, only the men of Issachar understood the eternal purpose of God and what God was doing among them. Because of this, they knew what was expected of them. They knew that whatever happens, God’s plan will triumph. The plan will include hardship, persecution and suffering, loss of property and even life. Yet they were not bothered by these temporary things. They were set to obey God and nothing would have distracted them from following God. They were confident God will triumph in the end.
Do we, as the church of Jesus Christ, understand the times and know what we should do? It appears many are fearful of what is happening in our world from the events around us today. As a result, many of God’s people are confused about what to do and how to proceed.
The result of our country’s presidential election did not take God by surprise. God is still in control as He has been for all time in the past and time to come. He places and removes governments and kings according to His purpose. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1). Everything and everyone serves His purpose; they have no power except for what God has granted them. (John 19:11) When God is done with them He removes them from their places of authority. They are gone but His purpose stands and goodwill endures. He is sovereign over evil, and will triumph ultimately.
God’s eternal purpose has not changed; evil, terrorism or presidents notwithstanding. God’s purpose for us, His church, has not changed. We are called to be his witness here in our local community and to the ends of the Earth among the Nations. We are to love as Jesus does, and be sent as Jesus was. When we understand this, it gives us tremendous hope and confidence because we know His purpose never fails. He will build His church (Matt 16:18) and nothing will thwart His plan to call a people for Himself to worship Him and glorify His name.
Therefore, people of God, take heart. Our God reigns! Let us work with all our might (1 Cor 15:10) and with overflowing joy (2 Cor 8:2) to take the greatest news of the saving truth of Jesus to the peoples of the world. If we faithfully follow Him, give ourselves to the work of missions, and join Him in His purpose for the world, we can be assured of God's triumph. He gets the glory, and we get the joy.