The mission of the church is a foundational pillar of the church. The mission of the church, the outward focus of the church is lost in the mire of the programs of the church. In reading God’s word, I am convinced that the church that does not focus on missions and evangelism is being disobedient to the call of God.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles is the account of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the early church. This is the introduction to the church age, the time between when Jesus ascended into Heaven and when he is coming back.
In Acts 1:4 Jesus says, “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father…”
Jesus told them that even though they were eyewitnesses to the greatest events in all of history, they were unprepared for the task that lay ahead of them. Jesus told them not to do anything until they had received power. The Holy Spirit is the indispensable in the life of every believer if we are going to be in any way effective in the work that God has called us to. But sadly, too many Christians live lives that do not require the power of the Holy Spirit. Lives of mediocrity and passivity, lives that do not force us to lean into God in desperation for His power.
Jesus says in verse 5, “…but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”. The tense of the verb “baptized” is in the passive voice, which indicates that being filled with the Holy Spirit is a divine activity and comes about as we yield control of our lives to the power and lordship of Christ.
The Disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, and we cannot blame them, how could they possibly know what Jesus was talking about. Jesus was instituting the church age and commissioning the church to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The work of the church is unfinished, there are still 3.15 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus, that is over 41 % of the world’s population. We as followers of Jesus have to be about the work of Kingdom, and in order to do that we need the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Acts 1:8 is the verse that every missionary knows so well, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus takes their focus off their desire for an earthly kingdom and says that there is work to be done. The Holy Spirit will enable them to be witnesses – evangelists, to go in ever widening circles from their home in Jerusalem all the way to the ends of the earth.
The Gospel must start at home, in the church, in our city, but then we are all to be part of taking the message further and further as the Holy Spirit gives power and direction.
This is the church, this is the design and purpose for the church that Jesus instituted.
Any church that focuses purely inward on fellowship and comfort of community, without looking beyond their four walls has already ceased to exist as a church.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will be the source of power to be witnesses. A witness is someone who testifies to what they have seen and experienced. Every Christian has had an encounter with the living God, every Christian has the power and the testimony to be a witness. But you cannot be a witness to something you have not experienced. When I hear people saying that they cannot witness, I question whether or not they have had a life changing encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. This doesn’t mean that everyone has the gift of evangelism, but every believer is called to be a witness to their personal experience with Jesus.
In the church we have turned evangelism into an academic pursuit. We do a lot of training, but very little doing. I am not against being well prepared, but we can get trained into the mindset that people are simply targets and we must get through our presentation. When we do that, we miss out on the beauty and joy of the relationship and seeing that people are not targets, they are just brothers and sisters that the Holy Spirit is inviting into a life changing encounter with Jesus.
Another concern people have is that they struggle to articulate the Gospel, the Good News.
The Gospel begins with knowing what we have been saved from. We are eternal beings, and there are only two destinations, eternal separation from God in hell, or eternal joy and peace in the presence of God in heaven. At the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, man turned his back on God and sin entered the world. Sin has resulted in a break in relationship, a separation between God and man and all mankind suffers because of this separation (Romans 3:23).
But because of his great love for us, God has provided a way for man to be made right in His sight.
All we must do is accept this free gift from God, Romans 6:23 says; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Bible says that there is no other way to be saved. It is only by accepting the offer of salvation and making Jesus Christ Lord of your life.
That is the Gospel message, this is the foundation for us as Christians and we need to be able to articulate it. As Jesus instructed the disciples, it starts here at home, and then out to the nations, this is the calling on all of us as a part of the church.
Dr. Oswald Smith said, “the light that shines farthest will shine the brightest at home.”