Much conversation today in evangelical circles revolves around what it means to be missional. Many books, articles, sermons, and ministries all subscribe to misssional thinking. Being missional means the believer will be intentional about living for Jesus as a missionary to his/her friends, family, and sphere of influence. Jesus came on a mission to seek and save the lost, and said in John 10:16And(T) I have other sheep that are not of this fold.(U) I must bring them also, and(V) they will listen to my voice. So there will be(W) one flock,(X) one shepherd.”
Jesus is not content to sit on His hands while others have not yet heard the message He gave the Church- which is the Gospel. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, which means all people through His shed blood and resurrection can come to Him. Christ does not desire that any would perish but that all would come to everlasting life. The mission of Jesus is to offer to sinful man salvation.
The Great Commission is not the “great suggestion”. Living for Jesus means understanding the mission that Jesus gave His disciples. To be a disciple means to be one who is learning from the Master. The greatest of the commissions Jesus gave believers is in Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus also gave other “great Commissions” in Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:36-49, John 20:19-23 and Acts 1:9-11. The life of Jesus was lived with intentionality. Jesus came and was born in a manager, lived a sinless life, died a brutal bloody death, and rose again on the third day. It is this Jesus that calls believers to a life of discipleship where believers come to the Cross not only just for the forgiveness of sins but to walk the life of discipleship (Luke 9). Every believer then is to live intentionally for Jesus as a missionary in their respective spheres of influences by living a life that honors God.
In Matthew 28:16-20 as the resurrected Lord, Jesus calls upon his followers to make disciples of all people groups through the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. In verse 17 some of the disciples doubted him. This refers to people other than the eleven disciples (Matthew 28:10). This refers to a broader group of disciples who had followed Jesus (12:49-50; 25:40). If so this is the larger group of disciples who will see the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:6). No matter what though they referring to the disciples worshipped Jesus. That some doubted Jesus should not be surprising to believers. Many in popular culture deny or dismiss the claims of Christianity. The majority of the appeal or line of reasoning appeals to what is comfortable rather than what is real. The problem with such arguments is that it is not just doubt that popular culture has but a dismissive attitude towards Truth.
Jesus in His risen state exercised absolute authority over all heaven and earth, which shows His deity. His authority has been given by the Father, which indicates that he remains subject to the Father (1stCorinthians 15:28).
In Matthew 28:19 the imperative make disciples that is call individuals to commit to Jesus as master and Lord explains the central focus of the Great Commission while the Greek participles (Translated go), baptizing and teaching (v.20) describes aspects of the process. All nations. Jesus’ ministry inIsraelwas to be the beginning point of what would later be a proclamation of the gospel to all the peoples of the earth, including not only Jews but also Gentiles. The name (singular, not plural) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is an early indication o f the Trinitarian Godhead and an overt proclamation of Jesus’ deity.
Matthew 28:20. Teaching is a means by which disciples of Jesus are continually transformed in order to become more like Christ (Matthew 10:24-25; Romans 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). Observe. Obey. I am with you always. Jesus concludes the commission and Matthew his Gospel, with the crucial element of discipleship; the presence of the master, who is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
The Great Commission calls us to “Go and make disciples”. In the discussion on what it means to be missional there is much emphasis placed on what a believer is to do to live missionally for Jesus. The only problem is that it is not believers doing that matters the most. Believer’s burn out when the messages is only “do” which makes them feel that they have to do more to please God. The only One that believers have to live for is God. The believer does not live for a man’s thinking or theology but for God’s glory. Christ did not die for people’s wishes, dreams, or wants- He died a brutal bloody death for man’s sin in man’s place so that mankind could be reconciled to God.
Believers must first spend time knowing God in study and meditation of God’s Word. Believers then need to pray for their lost friends, family and sphere of influence. Believers will only be as effective in their missionary activities as their level of intimacy with Jesus is. Doing must be replaced with knowing Jesus before one makes known Jesus to others. Believers are taught that salvation is by grace through faith but then in practice they are told to go out and do more or be more for Jesus. Such teaching is not biblical and should not be encouraged in the Body of Christ! Believers are saved by grace through faith alone to demonstrate good works (Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2). Believer’s works do not save but believers’ works demonstrate the inward work of God’s grace. Even a subtle hint of taking one away from intimacy with God is wrong! This is not mindless spirituality it is biblical spirituality. God calls believers to know Him and then to serve Him. God calls people to Himself and then uses them for His purposes and glory.
With all the talk about being effective in ministry and discipleship it’s important that believers regain balance to their thinking. First believers should be concerned with knowing Christ, and then making Him known. Secondly they should spend time in His Word by themselves and with others. Finally every believer should be in a local Church where they can fellowship with others and hear the Word of God preached.
The best way to discuss this is personally as personally I spend time in the morning in prayer and reading of God’s Word. After my own time with the Lord in prayer and reading of His Word, I then go into study for my sermon. There is a fine line here because even in my studying I can get into the notion of doing rather than being; even when it exists for a good thing like studying God’s Word to preach. The line that believers draw in the sand between knowing God and doing for God will be different for every person. Ministry is my full time job and I spend most of my time studying for sermons, and writing articles everyday. My encouragement is to think through these issues of knowing and doing but do not be motivated by doing but by knowing Jesus.
The heart of missional thinking dismisses the attitude of being program driven and promotes being Gospel driven. At the end of the day missional thinking rises from the belief in the Gospel and is God centered and Christ driven. Jesus calls believers out of the world to Himself and to be in the world to witness to believers. This is a fine line to walk be “in the world but not of the world”. The difference here is how living for Jesus and being a person of integrity as Joseph was. Joseph’s character was shaped by his view of God, and because he knew God intimately through the trials of life and trusted in God. God used Him for His glory and gave Joseph tremendous influence and blessing upon his life. The point is this believer if one wants to be used for God and for His glory then be willing to walk through the pit. Life is not a bed of roses and as a believer you have not been called to an easy life but a life of “taking up the Cross of Jesus” and following Him. The life of a Christian is a life of discipleship whereby one learns from the King of Kings.
Missional theology emphasizes the Gospel not as a program but as the message God gave believers in His Word and as the way in which to live under. God does not call believers to another message or to believe in a philosophy but to believe in the message He gave us in His Word. The message God gave believers in His Word is the Gospel which proclaims that through Christ’s a bloody death for man’s sin in man’s place; man could be reconciled to God. Christ did not just die for man’s sin but rose again. His death and resurrection secure believers reconciliation with God and one’s security with God.
The mission of Jesus is grounded in who Jesus is. Popular culture believes in following after what is popular and “faddish” but Jesus is not “faddish” though He may be “popular” because people who don’t know Him proclaim Him as a “good man, prophet, or teacher”, but Jesus is so much more than that. Jesus is not just some man He was the God Man who called His followers to follow Him as He followed His Father’s mission of redeeming man from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus through His death and resurrection broke through the chains of sin and death. It is Jesus who calls believers to His mission of making disciples. It is Jesus who calls His disciples to live intentionally for His glory. It is missional theology that rightly places Jesus as not just some Savior but as the Lord of all and as the Redeemer of God’s people. It is to this Jesus that believers must know, and declare, because it is this Jesus that calls believers to Himself and then sends them out into the world to be His missionaries, for His glory.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.