Our church is in the midst of another faith promise/world missions conference, our 40th annual such missions endeavor. Every previous conference has always yielded lasting fruit for world missions and through the Biblical faith giving approach to supporting missions and missionaries we have enjoyed blessed relationships with hundreds of these choice servants, supporting with both prayers and finances some of them for 30, 40 and even 50 years. Every conference has been memorable and the highlight of our church’s yearly calendar. So, one might ask, why does a church go to the expense and effort of hosting a major missions meeting such as this every twelve months? Glad you asked! My answer is as follows:
- Matthew 13 records some interesting parables, beginning with one about a sower that went forth to sow. To understand this parable, in its greater context, one must review chapters 11 and 12. Jesus, like His forerunner John the Baptist, had been preaching that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. (Matt. 4:2) His message was pretty much rejected and He Himself stated that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.” (Matt. 11:12) He concluded chapter 11 with that great invitation to “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (11:28) In Matthew 12, the Pharisees rejected Jesus as their King claiming that what He did He did by the empowerment of Beelzebub, or Satan. (12:24) For the nation of Israel at that time, that was their official rejection of His offer to be their King and it set into motion the events that would culminate at Calvary.
- In Matthew 13, Jesus outlined for His disciples what would happen in the light of this rejection, speaking in parables so that He could reveal to them that a period of sowing would ensue, followed eventually by a harvest at the end of the world. (13:30) The parables were spoken to reveal to His followers “mysteries of the kingdom,” while concealing from His detractors further accountability and thus further condemnation since “they seeing see not and hearing hear not, neither do they understand.” (13:13) More truth would only bring them under more condemnation for to whom much is given of him shall much be required.
- These parables, eight in all in chapter 13, outline what the future of the kingdom will look like in light of the King’s rejection. The first one is called the parable of the sower, and one learns that there is going to be a sowing of seed, ending in a final end of the world harvest. The sower is the Son of Man; (13:37) the field is the world; (13:38-as revealed in a similar parable concerning the sowing of bad seed or tares by the wicked one, a counter sowing) the seed is the word of the kingdom, (13:19) and the result of this period of sowing will be that some of the sown seed will not bear any fruit as some is immediately snatched up by the wicked one, (19) some will wither having been sown on stony ground; some will not bear but will be overtaken by thorns, but some will bear good fruit, some 30, some 60 and some a hundred-fold. (13:23)
- In the other parables in Matthew 13, Jesus would further unfold characteristics of this sowing period. There would be a counter-sowing by Satan that would produce tares which would have to be weeded out at the end of the age harvest; the kingdom during this phase which He would later (Matt.16) identify as the church-age would have a very small beginning, (the parable of the mustard seed) but mushroom like growth (the parable of the leaven) and would be like a treasure found in a field or like a pearl of great price and, in the end of the world, it would be like a net that having been cast into the sea when drawn in would be a full net comprised of both bad and good produce, the good being saved in a vessel and the bad being cast into a furnace of fire. Thus, the church-age period of the kingdom of heaven was outlined in the parable of the sower and the ensuing parables in Matthew 13.
So, Jesus had already exhorted the disciples to petition the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into this vast world harvest field. (Matt. 9:38) Paul would later teach us that we are co-laborers with God (I Cor. 3:9) and that one sows, one waters but it is God who gives the increase. Writing to the church in Corinth in his second epistle to that church Paul said that we should all be sowing and sowing bountifully because we shall reap even as we have sown. (2 Cor. 9:6-8) Jesus told the 12 in His final intimate teaching moments with them in the upper room that His desire for each of His disciples is that we would go and bring forth fruit, and more fruit and much fruit. (John 15:2,8)
The Psalmist, hundreds of years before Paul exhorted believers to sow bountifully, by God’s Spirit, establishing the universal truth that “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps. 126:6)
With an eye toward future rejoicing over seed that would bear precious fruit, Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Thessalonian church, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” (I Thess.2:19,20)
So, thus another world missions, faith-promise conference. We cannot individually go to the uttermost part of the earth, but we can partner with and send Holy Spirit called and separated missionaries from our church and churches of like precious faith who are ready and willing to go to the field, the world, with the good news, evangelizing, baptizing, discipling the peoples of the four corners of the earth, then organizing them into local New Testament churches that will do the same. Our job begins with “Go.” The commission has never been withdrawn so thus another world missions faith-promise conference, the 40th annual at our church, in obedience to His commands.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:7,8)