“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”II Timothy 3:16-17
In this article, we will be confronted with “the” crucial or pivotal question regarding our approach to ministry and missions. How we respond will have the farthest-reaching implications. In fact, the decision we make here will shape the rest of our lives and dictate how we obey the Great Commission. The question is:
Will we trust in the Scriptures alone to define the Great Commission and order all our missionary endeavors?
After such a dramatic drum roll, the above question may seem somewhat anticlimactic, but rest assured that it is every bit the crucial issue of missions. The right answer seems obvious: “We should trust in the Scriptures alone!” However, before we nod our head in affirmation, we must understand the radical nature of what we are affirming, and we must understand that if we commit ourselves to the Scripture alone, we will be in the minority within the contemporary evangelical missionary community.
A Matter of Greatest Relevance
Our determination of the role of the Scriptures in defining and shaping our missionary endeavors is extremely relevant to the work of missions around the globe. There is more missionary activity today than at any other time in the history of the church, but we must ask ourselves how much of it is warranted by the Scriptures and how much of it will stand on that Final Day? When all the dust settles, what will be left of all our missionary endeavors? The Apostle Paul’s warning to church in Corinth proves that these questions should be valid concerns for every missionary and minister of Christ:
“Now if any man builds on the foundation [i.e. Jesus Christ] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”1
The Apostle Paul places two kinds of ministers side by side. Both are laborers building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. However, one reaps an eternal reward and the other loses everything for which he labored. The entirety of his life’s work is consumed in flames and he escapes with his life as a man running from a burning house.
Why would the Spirit of God move the Apostle Paul to write such a warning if Christ’s ministers throughout the entire age of the church were not in constant danger of committing this same error? Have not the Scriptures and church history proven that we are prone to do that which seems right in our own eyes to the detriment of God’s kingdom and to our own demise?2 We must remember that we will not be rewarded for the abundance of our activity, but for acting according to the will of God. A soldier will not be commended for even the most arduous effort if he fails to do what his superior officer commanded him and in the way that he instructed him to do it!
Paul is the founder of HeartCry Missionary Society and currently serves as its missions director. He also ministered as a missionary in Peru for ten years. He has preached hundreds of sermons and has authored a dozen published works. Paul lives in Radford, Virginia, with his wife Charo and their four children: Ian, Evan, Rowan, and Bronwyn.More By Paul David Washer