- Missions is an impossibility apart from the power of God. All men of every culture are born radically depraved, at enmity with God, and in opposition to His truth. The conversion of a man and the advancement of missions are an absolute impossibility apart from the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Modern church growth strategies and many new mission methodologies often overlook this reality.
- The Scriptures are sufficient. The Scriptures are the source and standard for our doctrine, ethics, and ministry. In this, we mean that the Scriptures are not only inspired and infallible, but they are also sufficient. They are all that is needed so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17). In our desire to fulfill the Great Commission, we will employ those means, strategies, and methodologies which are afforded us in the Scriptures. The more we stray from the biblical standard and the more we rely upon our own ingenuity or cleverness, the less we will see of the power of God and the advancement of His Kingdom! It is a contradiction to employ unbiblical means in order to propagate biblical truth. It is equally dangerous to employ means that are not warranted by the Scriptures in order to fulfill the very tasks that the Scriptures assign to us.
- Prayer is a necessity. The impossible work of missions can be accomplished only through the power and wisdom of God. Therefore, prayer must be at the forefront of all our missionary endeavors. The first stanzas of the Lord’s Prayer prove the necessity of prayer for the advancement of the Great Commission: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). Furthermore, we are to pray for laborers (Matthew 9:37-38), open doors (Colossians 4:3), and clarity and boldness in the proclamation of the gospel (Colossians 4:4; Acts 4:29-30). According to Jesus, it is through prayer that we bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciples (John 15:7-8, 16). All the missionary strategies and zealous activities in the world will not compensate for prayerlessness.
- The true gospel must be proclaimed. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), and the preaching of the gospel is the great means and methodology of missions. The gospel is, first and foremost, God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (II Corinthians 5:19). It answers the eternal question—the divine dilemma—of how a just God can rightly justify wicked men (Romans 3:26). It points to Christ alone, who bore the sins of His people upon the cross (Isaiah 53:6: I Peter 2:24), was accursed and forsaken of God (Galatians 3:13;Matthew 24:46), and was crushed under His just wrath against sin (Isaiah 53:10; Zechariah 13:7). The “good news” of the gospel is that through Christ’s death the justice of God was satisfied and salvation was won for those who believe (John 19:30). This is evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25).
- The gospel transcends culture. The greatest need of all men of every culture is the clear proclamation of the gospel. Men are saved through the gospel and continue in sanctification through continued growth in the full counsel of God’s Word (Romans 1:16; I Timothy 3:16; II Timothy 3:15-17). Although differences in culture are to be considered, it is more important for the missionary to be biblically sensitive than culturally sensitive. A missionary was once asked how he preached the gospel to a certain remote tribe. He declared, “I do not preach the gospel to a remote tribe; I preach the gospel to men!”
- Incarnational missions is essential. Although there are some effective nonpersonal means of communicating the gospel (e.g. radio, television, internet, literature), there is no substitute for a man living among a people—teaching the gospel to them and living out his faith before them. God sent His own Son to become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:1, 14; 3:16).
- Only qualified laborers should be sent to the field. Missionaries must be mature Christians in their knowledge of the Scriptures and character. In other words, they should meet the qualifications of an elder as they are set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Some might object to this statement on the grounds that Paul is referring to elders and not missionaries or evangelists. In answer to this objection, we should realize that Paul is first describing a mature Christian and then demanding that elders be mature. It is unwise and dangerous to send anyone to plant a church on the foreign field who is not mature and would not qualify to be an elder in his own church. This also applies to missionary women; although they are not to serve in the office of elder (I Timothy 2:12), they also are required to be mature in their character and knowledge of the Scriptures. Furthermore, the Scriptures demand that a church and its elders are not to ordain anyone “too hastily” for they “will share responsibility” for his sins and the error that may result from his ministry (I Timothy 5:22). Much damage has been done to the church and its testimony on the foreign field because elders and churches have not heeded this admonition.
- Superficial evangelism is one of the great obstacles to missions. Non-theological preaching, entertaining skits, and gospel films are no substitute for the biblical exposition of the gospel and the full counsel of the Scriptures. Inviting men to raise their hands and pray a prayer is no substitute for the biblical call to repentance, faith, and personal discipleship. Biblical assurance of salvation is not founded upon a past decision (that has no impact on the present) or the mere repetition of the “sinner’s prayer,” but upon the reality of ongoing repentance from sin, faith in Jesus Christ, and progressive sanctification.
- The establishment of biblical churches is the primary work of missions. There are many gifts and callings in the body of Christ, but all of them are to work together on the mission field with the primary goal of establishing biblical churches. It is not enough to evangelize or even disciple individual converts; we are to unite them in local congregations that follow the clear commands of Scripture.
- The autonomy and centrality of the local church are vital. While HeartCry Missionary Society works in partnership with indigenous churches, their leaders, and missionaries, it is our non-negotiable theological conviction that each local congregation is independent, autonomous, and directly accountable to and under the headship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, we are careful to respect, uphold, and affirm the autonomy of our partner churches. HeartCry is not a supra-
ecclesiastical authority; rather, it is a society or fellowship of like-minded churches and individual believers moved by the demands of the Great Commission and led by the Spirit of God to strengthen indigenous local churches and their ministers and to partner with them in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
- True missions is costly. Amy Carmichael explained that missions is no more and no less than an opportunity to die. We live in a fallen world that is at enmity with God and opposes His truth. Therefore, missions and suffering will go hand in hand. Any advancement of the Kingdom of Christ into the dominion of the devil will be met with warfare. There are many countries and people groups where deprivation, physical suffering, and even martyrdom cannot be avoided.