TODAY’S READING: Proverbs 16–18
The goal of missions is the glory of God. “The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom” (Prov. 16:4). As hell grows in unpopularity, so does it grow in proximity. None of the denials by the arrogant can push back against the approach of hell. There is a day of doom, and our theology is apocalyptic—Jesus is coming back soon and He is coming with fire in His eyes to judge the living and the dead. Heaven and hell are at stake and they rush upon us. God is not less glorified when He consigns someone to hell than when He allows someone into His holy heaven. Both judgments give Him glory. In fact, without hell God would not be good. We have the question all wrong because we have such a low view of God. A high view of a good God demands a terrible hell, for God would not be good if He allowed the wicked to escape punishment.
The missionary wisdom contained in Proverbs does not allow for the sophistry of twisting God into a monster because He sends the wicked to hell. Because God is beautiful, there must be a hell. Because God is good, there must be a hell. Because God is kind, there must be a hell. God’s holiness, righteousness, justice, and glory demand hell for the wicked, and God is just as glorified by hell as He is by heaven. Good missionaries, then, do not dilute hell, nor do they ignore it, but like Jesus they serve it hot and as a warning. We love best by mercifully telling the truth (v. 6), not by obfuscating the very real peril for the unrepentant.
The goal of missions is generations of disciples. “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father” (17:6). One of the richest men on earth I know is my friend Eli. He has made disciples who have made disciples who have made disciples who have made disciples who have made disciples who are making disciples. My own son is now part of Eli’s spiritual tree—discipled and learning to make disciples. Eli is rich in his middle age, crowned with the joy of seeing multiple generations of faith, and in turn, those disciples glory in their spiritual heritage, grateful for their inheritance in the faith. What Eli has seen and stewarded should be the prayer of and for every missionary: “Lord, grant multiple generations of disciples! We don’t care about dollars. We don’t care about projects. We don’t care about institutions, buildings, programs, little plaques, or big ovations. We just want disciples that make disciples. Give us children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren in the faith—all for your great-great glory in every unreached people!”
The gift of missions is gospel proclamation. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21). Our biblical role is crystal clear. We are announcers, town criers, heralds, watchmen, messengers, voices crying in the wilderness. We are not the Christ, the One to come, the Answer, and neither is any program or ministry on earth. The hope is not in dollars or education or technology or industry or democracy or socialism or any “ism.” We can’t legislate morality. We can’t bring heaven to earth. We can’t usher in the kingdom through social change. We can’t solve the problem of sin in human hearts. We can’t clean up the earth, seas, or skies without someone quickly sullying them over again. There is only one hope, only one blessed hope. There is only One who can fix all that has fallen, and our job is to open our mouths and point to His death bringing us eternal life. The missionary mandate is to communicate news—the good news of Jesus death, resurrection, and return. The greatest gift we give to the nations, the most loving offering we can make to the thirty unreached people groups of the Philippines is to open our mouth and preach the gospel. The life and death of the Maguindanao, all 1,267,000 of them, is in our tongues.