The Basis of Missions in the Gospels

Christ and Missions

This morning we have come to the second subtitle: The Basis of Missions in the Gospels, that is, Christ and Missions. My talk is divided into three parts: (1) Christ as a missionary, (2) the king-dom of God and missions and (3) the Great Commission and missions.

Christ as a Missionary

The Gospels are records of the redeeming love of God through Christ. Love is always a mission because it reaches out for its own fulfillment. The divine mission of God has a Missionary and he is Christ.

A missionary is "one who is sent" to accomplish a mission. Does Christ think of himself as a missionary? Yes, he mentions 39 times in the Gospel of John alone that he is sent by God. But this Divine Missionary also sends us to be missionaries. He says, "As my Father has sent me, even so send I you" (Jn. 20:21). He is the Proto-missionary, and as such he has set an example for us to follow. It is therefore very important for us to find out how he acted as a missionary. Our findings will point out the right path for us to follow.

I wish to discuss six points regarding Christ as a missionary:

  1. Christ's goals,
  2. Christ's missionary methods,
  3. Christ's missionary attitude,
  4. Christ's missionary spirit,
  5. Christ's missionary commitment and
  6. Christ's missionary field.

What Were Christ's Goals?

First, he came to seek and save the lost: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). Christ came to the world to bring the lost back to God and heal the estrangement between man and God. This is the task of reconciliation. In effecting this reconciliation, "He gave his life a ransom for many" (Mk. 10:45).

Second, he came to give the abundant life: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10: 10). This is the task of imparting and vigorizing spiritual life in believers. Christ did not come just to settle the legal aspect, so to speak, of our salvation but also to give us a new life which is united with his own.

Christ did not come just to teach us what is good and what is bad. His is not merely a teaching mission but essentially a life-giving mission. The life that he gives has all its native properties for fruit-bearing. Moral goodness and excellence are fruits of this new life. Mankind has had many excellent teachers of morality but only one redeemer and life-giver.

Third, he came to show the Father: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (Jn. 14:9). "No one hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (Jn. 1:18). In the incarnation of Christ, the God of eternity entered into time and the infinite intersected the finite, which is a great mystery to our minds.

But more important to us is that the incarnation of Christ shows us in concrete terms the ineffable majesty, beauty and perfection of God. The life and work of Christ reveal to us the true image of God - so much so that Christ said to Thomas, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." We see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).

Christ's was the great mission of reflecting the glorious image of God. It is not only Christ's mission but also ours. We Christians are to bear the likeness of Christ which is the express image of God. Paul says in Romans 8:29, "Whom God did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." Our conformity to the likeness of Christ is so important that it is called by Paul the predestinated will of God.

Fourth, he came to fulfill the law: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Mt. 5:17). Christ came to fulfill the law in two ways: First, he obeyed the law in all his earthly life; second, he bore our failure in keeping the law and paid our debt to the law on the cross. He did not pay our debt to Satan as some people think, because we do not owe Satan anything. But we do owe the debt of obeying the law of God. So Paul says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13). Christ has also given us power to keep the spirit, not the letter, of the law.

Fifth, he came to set people free from sin: Jesus said, "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (Jn. 8:36). "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 Jn. 3:8). Since the work of Satan is sin, Christ came to destroy sin and save us from sin.

Christ as prophet saves us from the ignorance of sin; Christ as priest saves us from the guilt of sin as well as from the root of sin; Christ as king saves us from the power of sin.

Christ's remedy for sin is therefore the cross, which means identification: a twofold identification - objective identification and subjective identification. Objective identification means that Christ identified himself with us on the cross, that is, he died on the cross for us. This is the doctrine of the substitutional death of Christ. Subjective identification means that we identify ourselves with Christ on the cross, that is, we die with Christ on the cross which means self-crucifixion or self-negation.

Self-negation deals with self-centeredness, which is the root of all sin. In a word, objective identification, which is the substitutional death of Christ, saves us from the guilt of sin, and subjective identification, which means self-negation, saves us from the root of sin.

Sixth, he came to reveal truth: "For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth" (Jn. 18:37). Christ not only revealed truth to us, he is truth. Christ is truth in two senses: First, he is truth because his life is the perfect embodiment of truth; second, he is truth not because he conforms to truth as something independent of him and normative to him, but because truth emanates from him.

Moreover, the fact that Christ is truth indicates that truth is not merely something intellectual in nature, but something living - living relationship with God, with people, with things and with oneself. Christians are not students of truth as theories, but they are disciples of the living Word of God which is Christ. A student studies books, but a disciple learns of his master and teacher.

The above are the goals of the mission of Christ as explicitly stated by himself Christ's mission is, in a secondary sense, our mission. Christ said to his disciples, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (Jn. 14:12). Our mission, therefore, is primarily the tasks of reconciliation, of bringing others into new life and into discipleship of the living Word of God, of showing the likeness of Christ, of witnessing to the grace of forgiveness of sin and to the power over sin which we can possess through faith, of leading people into a self-denying and thereby a fruit-bearing life.

What Were Christ's Missionary Methods?

I am going to mention two. First, identification: Christ became man, living among men, and as Son of Man he fulfilled his mission. He did not use a substitute, but he came to the world himself. He did not abhor the womb of a virgin, the manger, the hard life of a carpenter, the sickening association with degraded sinners, the hatred and insult of men, and finally the agony of Gethsemane and the suffering of Calvary. He went through all this in order to save us. Paul sums up all this in three beautiful verses:

[Jesus Christ] who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputa- tion, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And beingfound in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,even the death of the cross.

Phil. 2:6-8

We notice five things in these verses which Christ did in his identification with us:

  1. He willingly gave up rights and privileges which belonged to him.
  2. He humbled himself in spirit.
  3. He identified himself entirely with those whom he wanted to serve.
  4. He obeyed the will of God.
  5. He died to himself and lived for others.

These five points are the secret of Christ's success in his mission, and they are also the secret of the success of any missionary of Christ.

Second, exemplification. Christ lived his teaching. The uniqueness of Christ as a teacher lies in the fact that he practiced his words. He taught his disciples to humble themselves and serve one another, and he washed their feet. He taught them the lesson of prayerfulness, and he prayed at dawn and at night, in company and in solitude. He taught them the lesson of forgiving enemies, and he prayed for those who nailed him to the cross. Yes, he is the greatest teacher in human history.

What Was Christ's Missionary Attitude?

He said, "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Mk. 10:45). Christ did not come to the world with a scepter in his hand, but with a yoke on his neck. When the Son of Man under a yoke calls us to come to him and share his yoke, we are moved, and we readily accept his calling and count it a great privilege to serve with him.

It was in connection with service that Christ gave his teaching on true greatness which has five significant points for our edification:

  1. Christians should have a totally different attitude in life from other people. Christ said, "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you" (Mk. 10:42-43).
  2. True greatness is measured by service (Mk. 10:43).
  3. God honors humility which produces service (Mt. 23:12).
  4. A price must be paid for true greatness (Mk. 10:38).
  5. Christ is the best example for our service (Mk. 10:45).

What Was Christ's Missionary Spirit?

"Not as I will, but as thou wilt," Jesus said (Mt. 26:39). There was a great agony in the heart of Christ, the agony of struggling between the will of God and his own will. Out of this struggle came his glorious resolution: "Not as I will but as Thou wilt!" Christ did not seek self fulfillment, but the fulfillment of the will of God.

This is also a real and continual struggle in the life of every missionary. A successful and fruitful missionary comes out of it with the battle cry: "Not as I will but as Thou wilt!"

What Was Christ's Missionary Commitment?

He was "obedient unto death" (Phil. 2:8). It is recorded in Mark that when Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the last time, there was something in his face that made his disciples "amazed" and "afraid" (Mk. 10:32). What was it? The Bible does not tell us what it was, but, gathering from the context, I believe it is quite clear that there was an extraordinary air of determinedness and firmness in the expression of the face of Christ which deeply impressed his disciples and created a sense of awe in their minds.

The Bible says here that Jesus went ahead of his disciples on their way to Jerusalem. Evidently there was something unusual about Jesus walking before them, and the logical explanation for it is that the pace of Jesus was unconsciously quickened by his resolute decision to accept suffering and death in obedience to the will of God.

What Was Christ's Mission Field?

"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (Jn. 10:16). Christ did not limit his mission to the Jews; his fold is open to all nations. He said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (Jn. 12:32).

The Kingdom of God and Missions

A large portion of Christ's teaching is about the kingdom of God. He made it clear that the scope of the kingdom of God is world-wide and not limited to the Jews.

First, Christ teaches that many people shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south and shall sit down feasting in the kingdom of God (Lk. 13:29). The blessings of the kingdom of God are for all the people of the world. The picture of the kingdom of God as a feast is very precious.

But evidently an invitation has to be sent out to the nations and the guests must be brought to the feast. This sending and gathering constitutes our mission. The missioners of the king are ordered to go to the east and to the west and to the north and to the south to proclaim the good news of the feast of his kingdom, and gather those who respond to the Great Invitation of the King.

Those guests who were "in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision ... without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" are now made nigh to God by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:11-13).

The far-off are made nigh; the strangers have become sons; the outsiders are now recipients of the covenants of promise; the hopeless and godless now constitute the feasters in the kingdom of God. What a glorious transformation!

Second, Christ teaches that the Gentiles will not only be among the feasters in the kingdom of God but also will, together with the believing Jews, inherit the kingdom of God (Mt. 21:43). Christ said to Paul in a vision,

I have appeared unto thee for this purpose: to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified byfaith that is in me. (Acts 26:16-18)

Christ sent Paul as a missioner to gather the Gentile believers into the inheritance of his kingdom, and today he sends us to do the same thing for all nations.

Third, Christ teaches that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world" (Mt. 24:14). By whom? By missionaries who are gospel-bearers to the ends of the earth. Christ pointed out clearly that the gospel of this kingdom must be preached in all the world before his second coming. We can, therefore, say that the missionaries, or the gospel-bearers, are also heralds of his coming.

The Great Commission and Missions

Missions is the task of carrying out the Great Commission. If all other bases of missions fail, surely the Great Commission alone establishes the logic of missions:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Mt. 28:18-20)

The Recipients of the Great Commission

"Go Ye." Who are the "Ye"? Some Christians say that the Great Commission was given to the apostles alone. That this is not true is readily demonstrated by the following points:

First, the apostles could not possibly accomplish the task of preaching to "every creature" or "all nations" in their lifetime.

Second, if we say that the Great Commission is only meant for the apostles because it was addressed to them, then we must follow by asserting that all of Christ's teaching was only meant for one generation of believers because it was addressed to them! That is evidently not the truth.

Third, we must also remember that the same commission was given for the second time, in different words, to a larger group of disciples than the apostles (Acts 1:8). This fact clearly indicates that the Great Commission was meant for all the followers of Christ.

The inevitable conclusion is that the Great Commission is meant for the apostles as well as for all believers of all generations, including you and me. All of us must have a share in it no matter in what way.

The Nature of the Great Commission-A Commandment to Be Obeyed

The Great Commission is not merely exhortation or advice; it is a commandment. If we are under authority, we simply have to obey. Christians are soldiers, and as soldiers we are expected to obey orders from Christ, our commander-in-chief.

We do not treat orders as options and act at our own impulses. Every one of us must in one way or another have a share in passing on the blessing of the gospel to others near and far. It is a test of our obedience to Christ.

The idea of Christ as the Invisible Visitor in our homes is very beautiful and has been popularized by a decorative plate which hangs on the walls of many Christian homes. On the plate are painted these words: "Christ is the invisible visitor in this house and silent listener to every conversation."

Many Christians want Christ, but they only want him as a visitor and nothing more. A visitor has to be very careful in what he says and does; he must not say anything or do anything that displeases the host or hostess.

Christ as an occasional visitor does not have a say in the managing of the house and he is easily disposed of. But Christ demands lordship in our homes and in our lives: He must take over and have control in everything. It is interesting and significant that the word savior is used in relation to Jesus only twenty some times in the New Testament whereas the word LORD is used in relation to Jesus over 500 times! The ratio is 1:20, which is surely significant.

If we acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ, we must obey his commandments, and one of his most important commandments is the Great Commission.

The Scope of the Great Commission

"Every Creature," "All Nations." Christ commanded his followers to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15). They were to be his witnesses "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

We praise God for those messengers of the gospel who, in obedience to the Great Commission, have across the centuries gone into the "regions beyond" with the torch of the love of God at the price of their lives. Today, we in the seventies of the twentieth century, still have our "ends of the earth" where the gospel of Christ has not reached.

Today we have the last mile to run in the race of world evangelization, and it is a hard mile which presents a tough challenge to the faithful followers of Christ. The best in us rises to meet this challenge with faith and dedication. Under the grace of God our generation may be the one that has the honor and privilege of crowning the long run of world evangelization.

As the Chairman of the Continuation Committee of the First All-Asia Mission Consultation, I am glad to be able to report to you that more and more churches in Asian countries have been awakened to their missionary responsibilities and wish to join their Western brethren in carrying out the Great Commission. Our goal is to send 200 new missionaries to our mission fields in 1974.

Let us listen to the missionary cry of the prophet Isaiah:

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left.

Isaiah 54:2-3

Let the chorus of this cry resound in our minds and hearts: "Lengthen thy cords! Lengthen thy cords!"

The Task of the Great Commission

The first task in the Great Commission is to proclaim. The Lord said to his disciples, "Go ye into all the world and preach..." To preach is to proclaim to the world what God has done through Christ. Proclamation is an essential part of the Great Commission. There could be no biblical evangelism without proclamation. "Witness by presence" is good, but it is not enough. Proclamation can take different forms, but it must be there.

The second task in the Great Commission is to convert. The Lord said to his disciples, "Go ye therefore ... baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Baptism indicates conversion. We are commissioned by Christ to convert people to him - not to the church as an institution. Evangelism without conversion is not biblical evangelism.

The third task in the Great Commission is to disciple. The Lord said to his disciples, "Go ye therefore ... teach all nations ... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The task of the Great Commission does not end with baptism, but it continues with the ministry of teaching. The Lord has made it very clear in the Great Commission that the purpose of teaching is "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." There is a legitimate distinction between teaching to know and teaching to do. The former is studying while the latter is discipling.

The true Christian is a disciple rather than a student. Teaching without discipling is a great failure. The Great Commission moves from proclaiming to converting and then to discipling. Any one of the three links missing is a breach of the Great Commission.

The Procedure of the Great Commission

Acts 1:8 is an integral part of the Great Commission. It teaches us that Jerusalem does have a part in the Great Commission. If Jerusalem is removed, then the Great Commission does not have a start. But we must not end with Jerusalem. There are many Christians and churches that make Jerusalem both the start and the end of their program. They never move beyond Jerusalem. Jerusalem has become their uttermost part of the world. What a small map, what a small vision and what a small heart!

On the other hand, there are those Christians and churches that have neglected their Jerusalem. They think all the time of the uttermost part of the earth and overlook the immediate need around them. The Great Commission commands us to attend to the foreign mission field as well as to the mission field that lies at our threshold.

The Assurance for the Great Commission

The assurance for the Great Commission consists in two factors. First, promise: The Lord promised his disciples that he was going to be with them always. They enjoy his presence most when they are en- gaged in carrying out the Great Commission. What a precious comfort and encouragement! Second, authority: The Lord has all power in heaven and in earth, and it was on the basis of this power and authority that he gave the Great Commission to his disciples. This authority guarantees the final success of the Great Commission.

The power and authority of Christ constituted the assurance that the apostles had in their minds about evangelism and missions. They had faith in the person and power of Christ. They knew in whom they believed. For instance, in reading through the First Epistle of John, no one can escape the impression of John's sureness of the Person of Christ. He begins the letter by saying,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness ... that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.

1 John 1:1-3

These accumulated repetitions indicate the absolute sureness that John had in his mind and heart in regard to the Person of Christ, who is the center of his proclamation.

In the case of the apostle Peter, he testified to the reality and truth of his message to the Christians of his day by a vivid reference to his experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Pet. 1:18). This blessed memory and assurance made him zealous in evangelism in his efforts to edify the saints of his time.

When we think of the apostles as a group, we are reminded of the scene of their first meeting with the risen Lord (Jn. 20:19-21). The first thing the risen Lord did when he appeared to them was to show them his pierced hands and side. And the Bible says, "Then were the disciples glad."

Why glad? Those were marks of great tragedy and terrible suffering that had befallen Jesus, their beloved Master. Why glad? They were glad because when they saw his pierced hands and side, they became assured of the reality of the risen Lord. How can you help being glad if you know for sure that your Jesus is the Lord that rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death and Satan?

Please note a very important sequence here: The Lord showed his pierced hands and side to his disciples before he commissioned them for world evangelization. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Assurance precedes commission. No one wants to be commissioned for a hopeless task. But the disciples gladly accepted the Lord's commission because they knew who gave it to them.

I am sure whenever they suffered trials, difficulties and persecution later on in their task of evangelism, they recalled the pierced hands and side which they had seen with their own eyes and were comforted and strengthened. This indelible memory meant two things to them: They were assured of the reality of their message about the risen Lord, and they were constrained by the great love represented by those marks of unspeakable suffering. That is enough for them and enough for us.

The risen Lord said to the disciples, "Peace be unto you." It is interesting to notice that these precious words were repeated in the following verse. I am sure that this repetition is significant.

In these three verses we find three things which happened in immediate succession: the first "peace be unto you," the showing of the pierced hands and side, and the second "peace be unto you." Evidently, the second "peace be unto you" has specially to do with the assurance that came with the showing of the pierced hands and side. Objectively, only the risen Lord can give us real peace; subjectively, only our assurance of the reality of the resurrection of the Lord can produce real peace in our hearts.

Who can have peace of heart if he has given his whole life to a cause in which he has only a shaky confidence? But all of us can dedicate our lives with rejoicing to the cause of Christ whose final victory is absolutely assured.

The apostle John had an interesting and significant experience which is recorded in Revelation. He was shown the vision of the final victory of Christ. In chapter 4 he sees God on his throne with the whole plan of salvation unfolded before him, and in this glorious vision, a cry of victory pealed in the sky, "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed" (Rev. 5:5).

What a glorious proclamation! John looked around expecting to see a strong lion, but instead he saw a lamb that was slain. Two opposite images are united in God's wonderful plan: a lion and a lamb. The lion is the lamb; the lamb is the lion! The power of God's lion lies exactly in the weakness of God's lamb that was slain.

The New English Bible talks in Revelation 5:6 of "a lamb with the marks of slaughter upon him." Evidently, these marks refer to the marks in his pierced hands and feet. John saw the lamb take over the scroll with his pierced hand. It is the pierced hand that can open the sealed scroll of the plan of God and bring it to pass; it is the pierced hand that touched John when he fell on the ground as dead and raised him up; it is the pierced hand that holds the key of hell and death (1:17b); it is the pierced hand that holds the key of David, which opens and no man shuts (3:7); it is the pierced hand that holds the seven stars which are the leaders of the seven churches. In a word, it is the pierced hand that can carry through the whole plan of God.

When John saw this vision, I am sure, his whole outlook was changed. He took heart in face of terrible persecution; all the things that he had suffered for Christ began to take on a new meaning and became precious to him. It is interesting to notice in Revelation 1:12 that John "turned around" and saw a vision of the Lord in glory. Indeed, we have to turn from our outward situation and look to the Lord before we can have a new vision, and this vision will turn everything around. It always does us good to turn away from our immediate circumstances and take a look at the victorious Lord who holds everything in his hand.

We all remember that after the apostles were threatened by the authorities of the city of Jerusalem, they went back to their own company and lifted their voices to God with one accord and said,

"Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word." ... And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4.24-31

Here the apostles were sure of three things:

First, God is the Maker of heaven and earth, and everything is in his control;
second, God foretold what was going to happen, and it happened;
and third, God is going to carry through his plan.

This threefold assurance resulted in joy and boldness. As they prayed with this assurance, God echoed their faith by shaking the place where they were assembled.

Boldness is what we need today - boldness to proclaim the gospel of the all-sufficiency of Christ in a cynical and humanistic age; boldness to ask for greater things to be done for God; boldness to make large plans for God; boldness to make greater sacrifice for his kingdom.

But this boldness comes from assurance. The Lord called his disciples "a little flock." This little flock of the apostles were naturally afraid of the formidable task before them, but they took courage when they heard the Lord say to them, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (John 12:32). They were comforted and emboldened because they knew what was going to happen: They were going to inherit the kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul, writing to Timothy from a prison in Rome, said, "I suffer trouble even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:9). Paul looked beyond his bonds and saw the spread wings of the gospel. He was sure of the expansion of the church under the power of God. Then he went on to say, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (v. 12). It sounds strange to talk about reigning in a prison, but all this becomes normal when seen in the light of his assurance. Paul expresses the game assurance in Philippians,

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Philippians 1:12-14

Even as all things work together for good for those who love God so do all things work together for good for the furtherance of the gospel. Paul was faced with persecution and trials at Corinth, but God said to him, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10). Paul was assured of the presence of God in his ministry at Corinth, and he knew that God had many people in that city and that they were going to be saved. So he took heart and continued his faithful work to the end.

In regard to world evangelization, the Lord said to his disciples that his gospel would be preached in all the world (Mt. 24:14). These words all sounded incredible at the time when they were spoken, but they have been wonderfully fulfilled today before our own eyes. God has seen to it that it is done. He has raised up faithful Christians as his instruments to carry out his plan. Even our faithfulness is a work of his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises.

The assurance of the apostles is also ours. Jesus Christ our risen Lord stands behind the Great Commission which he has given us. Let us march on with assurance and dedication from victory to victory until the dawning of the glorious day of consummation of God's plan of salvation.