By Shawn McMullen
Why do they travel thousands of miles to foreign lands to live uninvited among those who don’t know Christ? Why do they risk their lives and spend years in difficult and resistant environments in hopes that one day a group of people who don’t know Jesus will claim him as Savior and Lord?
Some people might wonder why they go to such extremes. “Aren’t there plenty of people in America who are lost? Why not focus on the needs at home first?”
There’s a simple reason Christians become missionaries: Jesus Christ has called them to the task. Before he ascended to the Father, he said to his disciples (and by implication to all future disciples),
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
There you have it. The Father has given all authority to the Son. And from his position of authority, Jesus has called his followers to go into the world and make disciples of all people groups.
It’s a more serious call than many imagine.
No Other God
Although people around the world worship gods of all kinds and trust in them for salvation—or at least go through religious rituals just in case—the truth is, there is only one God. He alone has the power to save. “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
No Other Lord
Paul taught that God has exalted Christ to the highest place and established his name above all names, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11). If Jesus is Lord, and if he has laid out the terms of salvation for us, then no other terms will suffice.
No Other Name
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). If “salvation is found in no one else,” then no leader or founder of any other religion has the power to save except Jesus Christ.
No Other Way
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). There is no other way to be saved than by accepting Jesus Christ’s atoning death and sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
No Other Hope
Matthew described the one-of-a-kind ministry of Jesus by quoting the prophet Isaiah: “In his name the nations will put their hope” (Matthew 12:21). Here’s the simple truth: Jesus Christ is the world’s only hope. And it is God’s will that people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9) find salvation in and through him.
That’s why missionaries do what they do.