God's Plan For How Missions Should Be Carried Out By The Local Church
Matt. 28:19-20 & Acts 1:8
by Cooper Abrams
I. WE ARE COMMANDED TO MAKE DISCIPLES.
"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 alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matt. 28:19-20).
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
A. Matthew 28:19-20 & Acts 1:8 clearly establish that God intends for us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We are commanded to "make disciples." We do it by going, teaching and baptizing.
1. The Local church has the command to preach the Gospel in its geographical area. (Jerusalem)
2. Next within its geographical location. (All Judea)
3. Third: to the regions beyond its local area such as its state or nation. (Samaria)
4. Fourth: To the "uttermost part of the world"
B. The first distinctive of a true New Testament church is that the Bible, God's written Word, is the sole authority of our faith and practice.
1. We believe the Bible and we follow it alone! We do not accept the teachings of men, who change God's word by adding to it or subtracting from it.
2. Our command and its implementation is taken from the pages of this sacred Book which is the very Word of God.
C. We need to know is what we are doing in accordance with God's revealed Word?
1. Are our methods, biblical?
2. Are our programs, biblical?
3. Is our message biblical?
4. Is our missions philosophy, biblical?
D. The question is, as Fundamental Baptists, using the deputation method of sending missionaries, are we correct?
1. Deputation is the process of being deputize
2. It means to appoint another as one's representative. Missionaries are the deputies of the church which supports them in prayer and financially.
3. Everyone is not called to go to the regions beyond their geographical area. Thus, our program is to send those to who God has called to other fields of service.
E. I would like us to do a little word study in the New Testament and see what were the methods God directed to early church to use.
F. Do understand missions in the New Testament we need to look at the use of the Greek word "propempo."
1. It is translated into various English words which show its meaning in the various places it is used.
2. The word is used nine times and the New Testament and if we study how it was used it will give us an incite into the practical side of missions.
3. It is translated into several English words:
"Brought, being brought, bring forth, accompanied and supported."
4. It has three applications or meanings all which are intertwined. It is used in reference to:
a. Prayer support.
b. Moral support - Standing by or with another.
c. Backing another up.
d. Monetary Support.
II. THE USE OF THE WORD "PROPEMPO" IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
A. Acts 15:1-3.
"And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren" (Acts 15:1-3).
1. The words "being brought" is translated from the Greek word "propempo."
2. It means: to help on one's journey with food, money and by arranging for a means of travel, etc.
3. Here the local church at Antioch, aided Paul and Barnabas by financially supporting them and arranging travel.
4. A lesson I had to learn some years ago had to do with finances. It was the idea of being supported by someone else.
a. We think nothing of the fact that when one employs a person to work for him that he is paid wages that he might live and prosper.
b. I was in business and was very successful and so was my wife. It was a matter of pride for me to take care of my family and provide for my own needs.
c. When God called me to preach, I soon had to learn and important lesson: I found that I needed help from others and although I received and used it but I was not comfortable in doing so.
d. I would have preferred to pay my own way to bear the expense myself alone. I learned in time that this was un-scriptural and not God's revealed plan.
Jesus said said the laborer is worthy of his hire. Paul affirmed this principle saying “do not muzzle the ox that threads out the grain.” (Luke 10:7, 1Cor. 9:9, 1 Tim. 5:18) He said that those who faithful labored in the Word were worthy of double honor. (1 Tim. 5:17)
These verses and others opened my eyes to an important truth. Pastors and missionaries are God's servants and the deputies of those that send them. They are not going out on their own will and desire, but God's.
The work is not MY work, it is the work and the task God has assigned to the church, not to a particular man. It is not my call alone, but the call to God's churches to send missionaries out into the uttermost part of the world.
William Carey, upon whom modern missions are begun, agreed only to go to India, if the churches in England who were sending him would "hold on to the ropes." He realized fully that he was not to go on his at his own volition, but that his call and sending must be biblical and be through the churches.
B. Acts 20:33-38.
"I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship" (Acts 20:33-38).
The phrase in Verse 38 "they accompanied him" is the Greek word "propempo." This passage shows us that sending a missionary is more just furnishing money or financial support.
1. Here it means moral support. The members of the local church at Ephesus escorted them to the boat.
2. It was a joyous and yet sad occasion to see these missionaries off on their journeys.
Today it would be like the folks in the church going to the airport, or giving a farewell fellowship for those going out.
3. What an encouragement it is to a missionary to know that the folks back home and their supporting churches are with them in prayer and standing by them.
C. Acts 21:1-5.
"And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed" (Acts 21:1-5).
In Verse 5 the words "brought us" is the Greek word "propempo." Here the word means, they escorted them to the boat and saw them off.
1. Note they kneeled in prayer, praying for those who were going and for the work God had called them to.
2. Again it means the local church at Tyre were giving them moral and prayer support.
D. Romans 15:22-24.
"For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company" (Romans 15:22-24).
In Verse 24 the phrase "to be brought" is the Greek word "propempo" and means "to be set forward by you."
1. Here it refers to financial help.
2. Paul is saying when he comes to Spain he is asking them to help him on his journey and sustain him in the ministry God had called him too.
3. Some get the idea that Paul refused financial help and paid his own way financially.
That is only partly true. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11, explains that there were those who were attacking him and accusing him of preaching for money. He said he "robbed other churches" by being supported by them that he might minister to the Corinthians. Note Verses 8-9: "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself."
In other words, Paul was supported by other churches which enabled him to work at Corinth. It seems some at Corinth were accusing him of preaching for money, but he clearly explains this was not true as he was supported by other churches. Further, the situation was such there, that Paul felt he should not be a burden to them. It is possible that they were financially poor or could not help him.
E. I Corinthians 16:5-11
"Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren" (1 Cor. 16:5-11).
In Verse 6, the words "bring me" are translated from the Greek word "propempo" and in verse 11, the word "conduct."
1. In verse 1, Paul says he is giving an order to them as he had given the churches in Galatia.
2. Here they were taking an offering for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Because of the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem many were not even able to make a living.
3. Note that it was not a one time offering. Verse V2 states it was to be taken on each Sunday in accordance with how they were blessed.
Further, two people did the accounting to avoid any temptation to steal or any question of the amount received.
4. Paul planned to visit them and in verse 6, requested they be prepared to financially help him also.
5. In V11, He recommends Timothy to them and asked the to help him with his expenses also.
6. Paul used the word twice in asking the Corinthians to help the saints in Jerusalem, himself and Timothy in their work.
F. 2 Corinthians 1:14-16.
"As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judea" (2 Cor. 1:14-16).
In Verse 16 the phrase "to be brought" is the word "propempo."
1. Here it means to support monetarily.
2. Note the reason given as stated in Verse 15. Paul planned to visit them twice. Once going to Macedonia and then returning, however, God changed his plans.
3. Paul saying he wanted to give them the opportunity to be a part of his missionary work and to have reward from helping him win others to Christ.
4. In Philippians 4:13-19 Paul commends the Philippian church for their concern for him and their financially helping him.
a. He mentions how important their support was in that no other church helped him.
b. He states in verse 16 that several times this church sent help.
c. Verse 17 states clearly Paul isn't asking for help personally, but for the sake of the carrying the Gospel. It implies that their financial help greatly benefited him. Instead of having to spend his time earning money to live on, their financial help allowed him to devote all his time to his missions work.
d. Verse 19, tell us that because they gave to missions God blessed them. Their financial help met the needs of others; God proposed to meet the needs they had.
Philippians 4:19 is often misapplied. This verse is not a blanket promise to all Christians that God will supply their needs as some have mistakenly used it. The context is clear that the is promise to supply their needs, because they had given generously to help Paul in preaching the Gospel.
G. Titus 3:12-13.
"When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them."(Titus 3:12-13).
In Verse 13 the word "bring" is translated from the Greek word "propempo."
1. It also could be translated "sent forward."
2. Here again, it refers to financial support.
3. The verse is saying, "Do everything you can to help Zena the lawyer and Apollos on their way, and see that have everything they need."
H. 3 John 4-7.
"Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles" (3 John 4-7)
The words "bring forward" in verse 6 is the Greek word "propempo."
1. John states his joy at their walk in Christ in truth.
2. He commends their faithfulness to the brethren, and strangers.
3. John in verse 6 commends them for their love, and says they should continue to do well by helping these traveling missionaries by "Bringing them forward" which means to help them with food, lodging, money and arrangements.
4. These were missionaries who went for the sake of Christ Jesus.
5. They refused to take anything from the Gentiles. They were determined to be supported only God's way by God's people. There is a principle taught here that God's people are to finance the work of God and not seek help from non-Christians. It the people in our churches gave their tithes and offering to the Lord as they should, there would be ample money to do the work of the church and missions.
6. John says in verse 8 that they should be helped as fellow helpers to the truth. Plainly, the strangers were missionaries and were preaching the Gospel. John says this church should help them to do a joint work together.
7. Verse 9-11, are a sad commentary on the fact some do not have the burden for missions. Some selfishly have no vision of seeing the Gospel preached and souls saved.
ILLUS: When I began deputation I first called the pastors of churches who knew me. I thought their knowing me would help in deputation. One of the first pastors I called, after I shared with him my surrender to God's call to missions, angrily replied that he was tired of missions and missionaries. He said the church should spend its money at home and if it had any extra it could go to a missionary. He said every time I have a missionary in my people want to support them and he was tired of it. Clearly he did not have a biblical view of missions. It also seems his people have a love for missions. In less than a year later the man was out of the ministry. The people in the church knew more about biblical missions than the pastor and they dismissed him. They soon had a new pastor and the church began to greatly prosper and grow. A church or pastor who has no love of missions.... has no business leading a congregation. The work of a local church is missions... first at home and then outward into all the world.
John strongly rebuked this anti-missions spirit in Diotrephes, who selfishly loved only himself.. he wanted to be number one and he refused to help the missionaries.
The word "received" means to "pay any attention to." He openly spoke against them, falsely accused them. He even cast out of the church those who wanted to help them.
Verse 11... Says the man was in the church, in a leadership position, yet it seems his attitude showed he was probably unsaved or in deep sin.
GOD'S PEOPLE HEAR THE TRUTH THEY KNOW IT AND THEY FOLLOW IT.
- It is plain that the Bible shows us that deputation is biblical.
- Missions is a partnership a team effort of those that go and those that send them out.
- Missionaries are the deputies of the churches, who go out for them taking the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.
- Standing with them in friendship, prayer, and monetary support.
- This is God's plan and our responsibility, opportunity and privilege.
- I never knew a church that was growing and winning souls to the Lord that did not love missions and actively be seeking the lost in their local area and through their missions program around the world.