Each time many of us think of missions our minds are immediately drawn to the New Testament, and there we focus on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This verse has over the years undoubtedly prompted many to engage sincerely in the work of missions to the honour of the Lord.

However, in this issue of Reformation Zambia, we seek to demonstrate from the Scriptures that missions originates from God and that even the Old Testament talks about missions. Missions was not an afterthought in the mind of God, who, faced with the unforeseen problem of how to spread his gospel, quickly thought of a rescue plan, to which Jesus gladly consented. We would like to show that missions is central and pervasive in the whole of the Scriptures. God created humanity with a mission on earth; he called Abraham with the ultimate mission of blessing all the nations of the earth through his descendants.

It is God who shaped the nation of Israel to be a model to the nations of what is involved in redeeming man. So the Lord eventually sent his Son with a sense of identity and mission, clearly influenced by the Old Testament Scriptures. It is the Lord who initiated, through the early church, a mission to the Gentiles, a mission that eventually fulfilled the promise to Abraham, so that on that great day, people from every nation, language, tribe and people will gather before the throne of God and of the Lamb. The whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is a witness to the mission of God, and challenges God’s people on the need to engage in missions work in God’s world. Indeed, “missions is the heartbeat of God and of God’s Word” (Shields, p8).

Many who have been concerned about God’s revelation and his glory have with confidence and courage given themselves to the risky work of missions. In this issue we have given one inspiring example in the life of William Carey who is known as the father of modern missions. He gave forty years of his life to missionary work in India, and this humble servant of God never went back home in all those forty years. William Carey had a biblically balanced view of God’s free and sovereign grace and the responsibility the Christian has in persuading people to put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. What kept Carey going in those forty years of hardships was the fact that the Lord does everything that he pleases. Yes, God is in heaven doing all his good pleasure. Is the spirit of Carey dead today?

The missionary challenges today are immense. We need to think about some of these challenges and see what they mean in the light of God’s concern for the honour of his name and the plight of the unconverted. The population of the world at the time Jesus gave the great commission was probably about 300 million. Now the world population is around six billion and growing, despite the AIDS pandemic. Most of this growth is in countries whose main religion is not Christianity—countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. “More than half the world worships some god other than the God revealed in the Bible and in Jesus Christ” (Greenway, p1). Children and young people make up half of the population of the world. This is surely a great challenge to missions. In our country today, young people are the ones who most often are making professions of faith. This obviously means that we must all open our eyes and look at the fields. “They are ripe for harvest.” Many people need to be reached with the gospel of Jesus, not just in far flung places, but right in our cities, towns, suburbs, compounds, and rural areas. All of us need to look afresh at this important subject. All churches—and individual members—must become involved in missions by praying, supporting and sending missionaries.

We all need to come to terms with the biblical nature of the responsibility that missions brings to all Christians. We must do all that we can as churches, or individuals, or couples, to make Christ known. The Lord expects all Christians to be his witnesses, as he says in Acts 1:8 “… you will be my witnesses….” We must do this, recognising that the Lord himself knows of no other alternative except the gospel of his beloved Son. We should not just be interested in making the gospel known, but we must participate in missions in every possible way. A church or an individual that is not involved in missions must be questioned as to whether they answer to the New Testament pattern of a church and a Christian. The New Testament shows us that churches must send people out into the world as missionaries to persuade individuals to turn to Christ and to plant churches. Multitudes need to hear about our Saviour and Lord, learn his Word, and by the power of the Holy Spirit be brought to conviction of sin and to repent of their sin. God calls us to participate with him in the great work of missions. As Jesus was sent and commissioned to bear witness to the truth, similarly the individual Christian is sent. “As the Father as sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

Billions of people in the world today do not worship the one true God. They do not enjoy fellowship with him. That they desire that God be worshipped and his glory be known among all the nations of the earth, should motivate all Christians, one way or the other, to be involved in missions. Christians must also desire to obey the Lord out of love and gratitude by carrying out Christ’s commission to “go and make disciples of all nations”. If we genuinely love God, this should produce obedience to his word and one of the commands that is very clear in the Bible is the command to go and make disciples of all nations.


Greenway, R.S. (1990). Go and Make Disciples—An Introduction to Christian Missions. New Jersey: P and R Publishing.

Piper, J. (2003). Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker academic.

Piper, J. (1991). The Pleasure of God—Meditations on God’s Delight in being God. Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Shields, N. (1998). Into All the World—What the Bible teaches about missions. Bryntirion: Bryntirion Press.