It’s difficult to be too critical of pastors who have never had teaching or modeling of even seeing missions throughout the Scriptures. Seminary training rarely teaches it. Most churches that you grew up in didn’t have pastors who frequently pointed out the missions content and implications of the narrative and teachings of Scripture.
For example, have you ever heard a message which emphasizes what the Bible states is the purpose of the story of David and Goliath? You’ve heard plenty of Sunday School lessons and sermons on that story. Most likely, nearly all of them emphasized the courage of David, how God favors little guys with faith, even ridiculously allegorized versions about all the elements of the story, from the extra large armor of Saul to the five smooth stones. But, 1 Samuel 17:46 clearly states that the desired outcome of the encounter of David with Goliath is intended that, “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel (NIV).” There is a missional purpose to the inclusion of that story in the canon of the Old Testament! Pray that God would open your eyes to see it, not just in 1 Samuel 17 but throughout the Scriptures.
Jesus’ response to his hometown audience in the Bethlehem synagogue told in Luke 4 shows that He knew that those stories conserved by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for us demonstrate God’s heart for the Gentiles. It was a message that enraged his listeners; but the import should not be lost on the preacher of that passage. In Luke 24 Jesus used all the Old Testament Pentateuch, Psalms, and prophets to show God’s global message of salvation through repentance and faith through Himself as the exclusive God-man and Messiah to be proclaimed throughout the whole world.
The story of John Piper and the birth of his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, is illustrative of the plight of many pastors who having previously seen the significance of God missions passion reflected yet in their preaching. May God spare you years of wandering to discover this truth. Then, may God inspire and invade your preaching with a passion for missions that is undeniable to any listener.
Among the key resources that every pastor should be familiar with is John Piper’s book Let The Nations Be Glad. The story behind the publication of this book is significant. As the lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, John piper was initially disinterested in missions. It was one of those ministries that ran by itself. They had a significant organizational structure for handling that. They had an annual, week-long missions conference. Piper planned to have personal vacation time during that week. However, one year the planned keynote speaker of the conference was unable to come at the last minute. The missions pastor impressed upon John Piper the necessity of his canceling his plans for personal vacation and filling in for the missing speaker. When he reluctantly agreed to do it, he canceled all appointments and locked himself in his study to develop the messages for this missions conference. Never before had he seen or received training in the comprehensive and pervasive passion of God for his glory extending to all nations. This series of messages developed for that missions conference became the basis of this book. The “missions awakening” of John Piper has been providentially used of God through this book to awaken many pastors to the strong biblical support and vision for world missions throughout the Scriptures.
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