Much has been said in this space about fellowship, as it should be, since FrontLine is the publication of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship. But fellowship is not our mission, just one of the things we purpose to maintain in accomplishing that mission. Our mission does not come from the FBFI constitution but straight from Matthew 28:19, 20. Our constitution states, “We purpose to lead an aggressive effort to reach our world for Christ by evangelism and church planting — locally, nationally, and worldwide.”
More importantly, our Lord declared our mission when He stated, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Failure in fellowship greatly hinders the accomplishment of this Great Commission, but failure in the Great Commission renders fellowship meaningless. Aconcise mission statement for any Biblical ministry could be built around the essentials: go, win, baptize, teach.
These essentials include the missionary elements of going, making disciples, and immersing them into all that the Triune God truly is. Illustrated by the outward symbol of immersion in water, there is a vital identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. A relationship has begun; a death and new birth have happened! The convert now knows God and has the spiritual capacity to grow in that knowledge — to become immersed in the truth — to be a disciple.
Wherever we go, making disciples is the reason we live to go there. Whenever we are blessed to make a disciple we see the authority of the gospel flowing through our witness. But leading a soul into discipleship to Christ includes the pastoral element of teaching obedience. It has been said that the Great Commission combines “the missionary effort for fetching in, and the pastoral effort for building up.” The first has been sadly neglected; the second sorely corrupted. We must strive to retard or remove the corruption, but we must not tolerate the neglect.
The right kind of fellowship prepares us for the right kind of fight, but the fight must be the “good fight.” Paul could claim to have fought the good fight because his love for and loyalty to Jesus Christ had caused him to give everything to the spread of the gospel. His tenacious defense of doctrine was not a response to an attack on his “group,” but on the gospel. He was a man on a mission — the mission — which must be our mission.
I have just returned from the Far East for the first-ever Pacific Rim Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Meeting. More than three times the number expected registered for and attended the conference. Two things were apparent: Fundamental Baptists there need our encouragement and prayers as they stand against compromise and worldliness. Also, there is a sea change occurring in the Far East, particularly in China. Consider a recent article in the business sections of our newspapers. It reported “But the view from the western bank of the muddy Huangpu River in China’s largest city [Pudong] really drives home the scope of the economic juggernaut reshaping China and the world.”
The facts in this article are staggering. None of the things described existed before 1990, except the massive population. With a population now at 1.3 billion, the .3 part of that number is larger than the population of the United States and is the estimated size of the new Chinese middle class. There are over 100 cities in China with a population in excess of 1 million. Modern business districts and airports are popping up everywhere. Chinese exports to the United States have grown 500% in the last ten years. Foreign investments in China in 1990 stood at $3.4 billion. Last year, they were $53 billion. The United States is going to China.
And here is the point of our commission; “As you go, make disciples.” It remains to be seen what will become of the sleeping dragon of Communism, but one thing is for sure: the Chinese economy is bringing change, big change. We would be wise to find the opportunity for the gospel in that change. Wise indeed is the statement, “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy function.” This is the critical element that drives the missionary and pastoral elements.
Go, win, baptize, and teach are lifeless without the promise, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Hear it; “I AM with you.” As God sent Moses, so Christ sends forth His disciples with the assurance, “I will be with you all the days.” We have a special claim on His assured presence as we fulfill our mission to go, win, baptize, and teach.
Please Note: This article served as an introductory editorial to an issue of FrontLine devoted to missions in China. We plan to run several articles specifically about Chinese missions over the next few weeks.
John Vaughn is the President of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.
(Originally published in FrontLine • September / October 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)
- http://www.azcentral.com/business/articles/0801chinamain.html — link no longer functions, but is provided as a reference to the original source. [↩]