Compass 2946959 1920

 “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem…”

– Acts 6:7

 “I solemnly charge you… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”

– II Timothy 4:1-2

In this series, we have already devoted several articles to the importance of the Scriptures and their exalted place in the Great Commission. However, all that has been said thus far will be incomplete until we also consider the centrality of preaching the Scriptures in all missionary activity. From the book of Acts and the Epistles, it is more than obvious that the exceedingly great bulk of our missionary force ought to be, first and foremost, preachers, teachers, and evangelists—Those who spend the greatest portion of their time studying the Word, praying for the advancement of the Word, and proclaiming the Word among the people. The fact that this is not the common scenario on the mission field is one of the primary reasons for the lack of power and the ineffectiveness of contemporary missions.

In the book of Acts, there is a direct relationship between the proclamation of the Word and the advancement of the kingdom of God. The three thousand souls that were added to the church on the day of Pentecost were the direct result of hearing and receiving the Word.1 In Acts 6:7, the “number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem” as “the Word of God kept on spreading.” Three more times, Luke uses similar language to describe the progress of the gospel:

“The word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.”2

“The word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.”3

“So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”4

In these texts, we learn that we can best advance the Great Commission throughout the world by devoting ourselves to the preaching and teaching of the gospel and the full counsel of God. There is an undeniable and direct relationship between the promulgation of the Word and the expansion of the kingdom of God. For this reason, the great preoccupation and occupation of the missionary should be the communication of the gospel message through the exposition of the Scriptures to as many people as possible. Rather than wasting our time seeking to discover some “key” to unlocking the culture for the rapid advance of the Great Commission, we should devote ourselves to the means and methodology that God has given us—preaching the word in the street, the home, and behind the pulpit! There is no easy way to reach the world. There is no magical key to unlocking cultures. What is needed are men who know their God and their Bibles, who pray for open doors, and then walk through them with the Word! We need sowers who go out to sow!5 Those servants, devoted to the Master who “go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel the people to come in, so that His house may be filled.”6

“Rather than wasting our time seeking to discover some “key” to unlocking the culture for the rapid advance of the Great Commission, we should devote ourselves to the means and methodology that God has given us—preaching the word in the street, the home, and behind the pulpit!”

Paul Washer, HeartCry Guide to Missions

The truth stated and restated in the preceding paragraph is further confirmed by the actual conviction and practice of the Apostles themselves. According to the Epistle of James, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…”7 However, when the care of widows arose in the early church, the Apostles responded, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.”8 They then appointed, “men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” to be put in charge of the task,9 and they continued to devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”10 This same conviction and practice can be seen in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. The Scriptures tell us that whenever financial support permitted, he “devoted himself completely to the word.”11  

When we observe the lives and ministries of the Apostles or the church collectively, we see that preaching the Scriptures was their great conviction and they lived according to it. They truly believed that they were men whom God had “ordered to preach to the people and to solemnly testify” of Christ.12 This was true regardless of the circumstances. When the rulers among the Jews threaten to persecute the church, the believers met to pray.13 However, they did not ask for the persecution to be removed, but rather for God to grant them the power to speak His word with all confidence.14 As a result of their prayer, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”15 On the occasion of Stephen’s preaching and martyrdom and Saul’s misguided zeal, “a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.”16 However, what the devil and misguided men meant for evil, God meant for good—“those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”17 It seems that nothing short of martyrdom could keep the early church from preaching!

  1. Acts 2:41
  2. Acts 12:24
  3. Acts 13:49
  4. Acts 19:20
  5. From the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9.
  6. Luke 14:23
  7. James 1:27
  8. Acts 6:2
  9. Acts 6:3
  10. Acts 6:4
  11. Acts 18:5
  12. Acts 10:41-42
  13. Acts 4:23-31
  14. Acts 4:29
  15. Acts 4:31
  16. Acts 8:1
  17. Acts 8:4; see also Acts 11:19

Paul serves as the HeartCry Coordinator in Western Europe. He is currently overseeing our missionaries in Italy, Spain, and France. He is also the founder and director of the HeartCry Missionary Society. Paul lives in Radford, Virginia with his wife Charo and their four children: Ian, Evan, Rowan, and Bronwyn.

More By Paul David Washer