The following is a verbatim quotation from Dr. Charles Stanley, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s about as clear as it gets.
“Missions was not an afterthought for Jesus as He talked with the disciples on the mountain prior to His ascension. The missions theme that filters through the pages of the Bible is basic to its very existence. If you stop and think about it, there would be no need for the Bible were it not for the fact that God’s heart was centered on reconciling us to Him. The Bible became His voice to the lost. Without a missionary heart, perhaps God would not have deemed the Bible necessary or even important. As the inspired Word of God, the Bible has served as the single most significant tool in advancing the gospel to the peoples of the world.
“The accounts of those who worked to fulfill this mission are documented throughout its pages. Among them were Paul and Barnabas. Quoting Isaiah, they said, ‘For so the Lord has commanded us: “I have set you as a light to the Gentiles”‘ (Acts 13:47). Many of the Epistles are prayer letters from the missionaries as they went about their task. Whether in jail or in a local church, whether at home or abroad, the biblical missionaries demonstrate their understanding of God’s desire to reconcile humankind to Him and their role in the mission.
“Jesus’ words to the disciples that day are vital because they gave the disciples an outline for their continued work, and they do the same for us today. First, Jesus said, ‘Go.’ This is where the question of missionary versus witness is addressed. We are to disciple all people, but the admonition to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all nations’ demonstrates Jesus’ desire that we carry the gospel to the world. ‘Love your neighbor’ means that you will witness to that person and share the truth of Jesus Christ. It is a direct response to the leading of Christ when a believer chooses to answer the call and go to another part of the world to disciple people in a different culture. The Great Commission is not difficult to understand; however, what will we do in response? The task is laid out — ‘make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them.’ There can be no misunderstanding. Never, never, NEVER lose sight of the task at hand.”
“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we must become.” — Henry Martyn