The Priority of World Missions
Acts 10:1-8 records the story of the Gospel being preached by Peter to Cornelius and his household. There are people like Cornelius living today, people who want to know God, but aren’t sure how to go about finding him. I believe that there are more people willing to hear the gospel than there are Christians willing to tell them. This account from the book of Acts is a case in point. Cornelius was just one of many non-Jewish people (the Bible calls them Gentiles) who had grown tired of the superstitions and idolatry of Roman paganism. They hungered for the truth. They needed to hear the Gospel, but the early church was slow in getting it to them.
As of Acts 10, telling Gentiles about Jesus had yet to become a priority for the early church. God uses Cornelius to show His church that the Gospel was for everyone, not just the Jews. We need to be reminded that God wants us to make every effort to see that every man has a valid opportunity to hear the Gospel. We must accept the responsibility for telling them. The Bible makes missions a priority, and until we do the same, we are out of step with the plan of God. I want to use this Biblical story to illustrate three reasons why missions must be a priority for the Church of God in Canada.
Notice first of all that missions is a priority because all religions do not have the same end. Cornelius was a religious man, very generous and prayed only to God. Notice that he was worshipping the true God the best he knew how and it wasn’t enough to save him.
There are many people who are willing to admit that Christianity offers ONE way to God, but also say that it is only one of many ways to God. The important thing, they say, is that you be sincere in your beliefs. Jesus is not just a way to God. He is the ONLY way to God. That is one reason why missions must be a priority.
A second reason missions is a priority of the church is because God desires to get the gospel to sinners who are seeking for Him. The angel told Cornelius that God knew of his devotion and the name and address of one who could tell him the way of salvation. Notice also that God will do whatever He has to do to bring the two together.
God desires to get the Gospel to those like Cornelius who have responded to some form of God’s witness and are waiting to hear the Gospel. That is another reason why missions is a priority. You and I may be the very ones God uses to reach a people who are seeking for the Savior.
Finally, missions is a priority because God uses men to reach men. The angel couldn’t tell Cornelius how to be saved. God uses angels in many ways, but they cannot preach the Gospel and they cannot evangelize the lost.
The responsibility for missions rests solely with men. God has no other plan. For Cornelius to hear, Peter had to be obedient to God's plan. Paul echoes his understanding of this responsibility in 1 Corinthians 9:16: "For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon ME; yea, woe is unto ME if I preach not the Gospel." In order for men to hear the Gospel, men must go and tell it.
We are commanded to reach the world for Christ. World Missions involves four components: 1) Somebody has to go; 2) Somebody has to send; 3) Somebody has to give; and, 4) Somebody has to pray. Which one are you doing?