I am becoming reacquainted with what is hot in the Judeo-Christian industry now that I have access to several TV channels that came as a package deal with my Internet service. There are two reoccurring themes played over and over on most of the “Christian” TV shows: world missions and the soon return of Jesus Christ. Although they go hand in hand, today I want to discuss the world missionary movement.
World Missions and Me
Some of you know that my wife and I spent 6 years in the Philippines as missionaries in the early ‘80s. Most of our time there was ministering at Faith Academy, a school for missionaries’ children. We were also a part of an indigenous Chinese-Filipino church in Manila. My wife was also a “MK” as her father was a medical missionary doctor in the Philippines and quite well-known in the realm of world missions.
So, we know missions from personal experience. Of course, we used to believe that evangelizing the various “people groups” (all races and racial sub-types) was God’s central plan and calling for us and that every Christian ought to be involved in some way – directly as a missionary or indirectly in financial support.
My thinking and convictions about world missions began to change as I began to discover afresh what the Bible actually said. If you have read my first book in the Covenant Heritage Series, Discover the Story of Your Biblical Heritage, you will understand why I changed my mind.
World Missions Today
Recently, I ran across an article from Christianity Today about the world missionary movement entitled, “Why Missions Experts Are Redefining ‘Unreached People Groups’.”1 Apparently, these “experts” have engaged in a complicated analysis of how to define the yet “unreached people groups” so as to fulfill the so-called Great Commission based on these two verses:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
Though they claim that progress is being made to “finish the task,” there is still “fewer than 1 percent of missionaries” who actually “end up among the world’s least Christian peoples.”
There are, by their estimates, “17,000 people groups worldwide… Fewer than 1 percent of missionaries end up serving among frontier peoples, which make up around a quarter of the world’s population—almost entirely located in India and Muslim-majority countries.” According to the missions network, Finishing the Task, “the number of ‘unengaged unreached people groups’ ” decreased “from 3,300 in 2005 to about 300 in 2019.”
“At its conference at Saddleback Church last December, 600 attendees walked across a giant map of the world, praying for the unreached. Partner agencies pledged to send workers to each remaining unengaged group, fulfilling the title of the conference, ‘Within Sight’.”
I admire the concerted effort of the world mission movement to get that Great Commission finished. The complexity of the task and the billions of dollars spent to “finish the task” is commendable. At least they are committed to a defined purpose and pursue it with tenacity.
World missions is that hot topic that continues to drive evangelical Christianity with a common purpose and vision and I used to be a part of that.
Is World Missions Today Biblical?
On the other hand, is the world or “global” missionary movement biblical? Although maintaining a widely popular consensus of opinion and never challenged, I must raise the question about the validity of whether the Scripture objectively supports this idea. I have been branded a heretic and excluded from fellowship by the evangelical community for even asking this question. Even so, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think or what the most recognized authorities in world missions today think. It only matters what can be proved by the evidence of the written Word of God, through applying the commonly accepted principles of biblical interpretation. What does the Bible say and mean?
Questions About World Missions
So, I ask the following questions that each professing “Christian” must answer:
- In respect to the “Great Commission,” to whom did Jesus address this commission and to whom does “all nations” refer?
- Was the ministry of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom that He preached and taught inclusive of all races or were the recipients the lost sheep of the house of Israel?
- Was the Gospel of the Kingdom to “all nations” and to “the world” fulfilled in the first century AD and before AD 70?
- Does the language of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ and to whom God made it include all races on the planet?
- Is the Adam who was created in the image and likeness of God the father of all races on the planet or of only one race among many?
- Is the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant inclusive of all “people groups” around the globe?
The answers to these questions will determine whether today’s world missions movement is of God or not. If you are still undecided, you might consider my books in the Covenant Heritage Series or Pastor Everett Ramsey’s newest book, God Made a Racial Choice (which you can order from Amazon.com).
For those who want an audio/visual presentation of an introduction to the Bible and a bird’s eye grasp of biblical theology, you may like to order Module One of the Bible Mastery Boot Camp.
Besides world missions as a hot topic, there is another big one that keeps the fires of Judeo-Christianity flaming and is inseparably interconnected with the world missions movement: the soon return of Jesus Christ. Why? Well, Jesus can’t come again until the gospel has been preached in all the world. So, stay tuned. That’s my next topic.
Lawrence Blanchard, ND, MDiv