Many Christians seem to fear that if they do not labor under the Great Commission of Matthew 28, the mission spirit will wax lukewarm and finally disappear. Just the reverse is true. The Pauline principle and practice will be conducive to burning mission zeal.
It will, first of all, mean self-support of the native church. When Paul brought the Gospel of Grace, he taught the believers in the poorest districts, as in Macedonia, the grace of giving, and the greater blessedness of giving than receiving. He did not tell the old mother-church in Jerusalem to help finance the cause of the heathen mission, but he asked the Gentile Christians to help the poor old mother-church in Jerusalem. No saint is ever full-orbed and “perfect” unless he is drilled in the holy art of giving. If a native believer cannot bring a dime, let him bring a chicken, and if he cannot afford to make an offering, let him bring an egg. It is amazing what native Christians can do if they have a heart to give, and it is still more wonderful how God can multiply the widow’s oil. If you teach the natives to expect all the help from the church at home, they may be pleased at first, but it will make them covetous, and covetousness is idolatry, and you were sent, and went to get them out of idolatry.
The Pauline method stands also for self-rule, of the native churches. The Jewish method was to send committees from Jerusalem to investigate, as we see in Acts, but the Pauline method means self-government of the native churches. Do the native saints not have the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth? It was of a Gentile church that the apostle Paul wrote the following eight glorious facts in Ephesians 1:13 and 14: (1) They heard the word of truth. This was a good beginning. Many natives today do not hear, from their missionaries, the word of truth, and I am extremely sorry to say do not start right. (2) The Ephesian heathen believed the word of truth. Their missionary to them had not preached repentance and faith to them. (3) They had been saved, for Paul had not preached a social gospel, but “the gospel of your salvation.” (4) These Gentile believers had been sealed with the Holy Spirit; not after, but at the moment of their belief, consequently they were also safe and secure. Many think this sealing of the Holy Spirit is a fine feeling of assurance or something like that. It is the nature of seal to manifest itself to the outside and that is also true of this seal. (5) They were also in Him, i.e. in the Lord Jesus Christ and this again points to their perfect safety and their exalted position. The expression in whom is found twice for emphasis. They were accepted in the Beloved. (6) They also hoped in Christ. The word trusted should be hoped. These young believers on the mission field had the earnest of their inheritance. This was the “God’s penny”, the part payment to bind the bargain. If the partpayment is so glorious, what shall the full possession be? (8) These products of mission-labors lived “to the praises of His glory.” Not less than three times do we find this expression in the first chapter of Ephesians.
Products of such mission-work should be ready for self propagation. The native Christians need not “halt” on the crutches of lukewarm Christians in the home lands. They should not look askance, nor behind them, but in the simplicity of their faith pass on to victory with Him. It’s better for them also to trust in the Lord at all times and not put confidence in the white church prince at home, often blacker on the inside than the heathen are on the outside.
What would the result of such a Pauline mission-method be? Manifold blessings would accrue from this. All the natives talents would be used for God. Native interest would increase. Some of the most touching stories are extant in regard to the self-sacrifice of native believers. These true stories would be multiplied through this method. Much more money would be collected and more trained missionaries could be sent forth. Far more interest would not only be created in the fields, but also at home, and the real givers would vie with the natives in liberal offerings to the Lord.
In Ephesians alone we find at least ten great mission-texts and even more great principles for foreign missions. If the Ephesian truth would burn in the hearts of all the saints today, all the tribes and tongues would hear the truth in less than a decade. The mission work everywhere is suffering enormously because it has not been run according to Pauline principles and practices.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.