Hear, Believe, Go

Sometimes, it’s easy to wonder why I do what I do? Why become a missionary? There are lots of theological reasons and positions on the matter (Is it for some? Is it for everyone? Is it for no one?) and mine is probably not particularly refined. This post is also a tiny part of my own reason for going on mission, however, it is one If you do want a theological discussion on what is mission, this post isn’t it.

If you asked me ten years ago whether I would become a missionary, the answer would have been no. If you said it would be to Asia, I probably would have been even more firmly adamant. However, here I am.

One Bible passage that is often used is this one.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:14-15

There are billions of people that have not even heard the about Jesus, so have no chance to believe. They will never hear that Jesus can save them and therefore will not be able to call on him for rescue. We know that they have no access to the gospel; we know their situation. We know the importance of our message.

I don’t know what the day of judgment will look like. But imagine if we had to listen to the accounts of the people that had never heard the gospel. What would they say? “They heard but did not speak. They believed but did not proclaim. They knew but they did not come.”

1 Timothy 4

This chapter of 1 Timothy starts with the warning about false teachers and liars, those that give meaningless advice and myths. Then it talks about training yourself to be Godly. This is quite an interesting concept. I’m currently reading Your Future Self Will Thank You, which is about self-control and discipline. Dyck writes that the modern church is often resistant to the idea of exerting effort to obtain Godliness and “there have been whole movements in church history defined by their belief that we progress in the Christian life only as passive recipients.” (pp. 141-142) But this verse, with the use of the word “train” definitely makes it sound something more intentional and strenuous.

1 Timothy is also helpful in reminding us the why of the training. It’s very clear about the reason for our efforts:

That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe.

(Verse 10)

Paul compares it to physical training, which is helpful. In order to become physically fit, it takes effort over a period of time, which is focused on the type and area of fitness or ability you wish to obtain. These are things I’m not very good at, it seems, so I have to be better at

  • focus,
  • prolonged perseverance,
  • effort.

(If you’ve surmised I’m unfocused, easily waylaid and lazy, you might not be too wrong.) Paul doesn’t stop there either, and encourages Timothy to set an example in speech, love, faith, purity, to devote himself to Scripture, teaching and preaching, to be diligent and to watch his life carefully. It’s quite a task, it seems. I could easily dismiss it as instructions for Timothy, but it would be lazy and silly. God wants us to devote ourselves to the gifts he’s given us and to consider our lives carefully.

There is also a lot riding on this: the final statement extolls Timothy to persevere so that he will save both himself and his hearers. I think I too often forget the task that I’ve been given and the significance of this. Often, you think, “Oh, it’s not a case of life and death” when deciding on whether to follow through with the task or not. Which is sort of right. It’s a case of eternal life and death, for both yourself and for those you are called to serve. That’s very sobering.

Dyck, Drew. Your Future Self Will Thank You. Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

2 Thessalonians 1

Obviously, the second of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, and apparently (at least according to the NIV version on the YouVersion Bible App on my phone), it wasn’t written that much longer after the first.

Again, this starts off with thanksgiving for the recipients. Then it goes into the somewhat messy topic of divine justice. It talks about God being just, but a good who also pays back that causes other people’s suffering and the destruction of those who do not know God and do not know the gospel of Jesus. The terms of it are somewhat absolute.

Therefore, Paul continues to pray that God will make the Thessalonians worthy of God’s calling, and that their desires for goodness are realised. Again, it reminds me that God is sanctifying me and that I should desire goodness in accordance with God’s will and he will make me worthy of his calling.

Galatians 1:1-5

I’m currently reading through the book of Galatians, so I thought I would share my initial thoughts as I read a bit each day. The aim is to read a chapter a week (not quite as daunting as the failed attempt of the Bible in a Year). As it’s not overly arduous, hopefully I’ll be able to jot down some thoughts. They may just be in note form, but I’ll try my best to post something!

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 1:1-5 (NIV)

God-given calling

I like the way Paul introduces himself here. He does it because people have been bad-mouthing him and saying that he has distorted the real message of Christianity. It serves to remind them of his God-given role and that it was indeed God-given.

It reminds me of the verses in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus had already died by this point in Matthew and was speaking to his disciples. He sent them out to spread the good news. We, too, respond to this Great Commission and we are sent by God. This further affirmed by Ephesians 2:10:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

(NIV)

We are not sent by men, but rather by God. This call should define our attitude towards what we do, working as if for God, not man.

God-given power

Verse 1 also reminds us that Jesus was raised from the dead. Romans 8:11 also links God’s call on our lives and his power to raise from the dead. It’s amazing to think that the same power that resurrected Jesus is the same power that resurrects our lives. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus, lives in us. That Holy Spirit guides us, transforms us and empowers us. We have the power of Jesus’ resurrection living in us daily.

God-given salvation

The summary of the gospel message here seems somewhat pertinent in the chaos of modern times. With American, British and European countries seemingly split down political seams, modern culture getting more debauched and secular than ever and the church losing its relevance and purity across the west, we seem to live in an evil age. We definitely need saving from it.

Jesus died so that we may be saved; God raised him so we may be called; the Spirit empowers us so we may do good deeds. This is all a bit challenging, especially in light of Philippians 1:27:

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

(NLT)