The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From Biblical Baptist Missions, 1981
I have never heard anyone deny that in Acts 13 the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas out as missionaries without any suggestion of another agency or means involved. Yet, inexplicably, many who grant the truth of the above statement, insist that mission boards are essential,
The reasons alleged for the necessity of mission boards are many, varied, and all false. The most common assertion is that two thousand year old methods will not work in modem times. Need I remind us that our gospel is two thousand years old (really six thousand), our Bible is from two to four thousand years old (approximately), and our God is eternal.
God is not a God of circumstances nor are His thoughts, purposes, and principles circumstantial. Certainly, He has varied his methods in dealing with men under different covenants. We are under the New Testament (New Covenant) which (in time) began with John the Baptist's ministry. All revelations concerning God and man and God's work, methods, and principles were completed by A.D. 100. There will be no further revelation until the Living Word is revealed at His coming (even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus).
The doctrine of ongoing revelation is damnable heresy and is principally espoused by the harlot of (and to a lesser extent by the daughter harlots of the Reformation). To argue that the ends justify the means is specious, Jesuit casuistry and incredibly dangerous and detrimental to truth and morals.
Many mission boards insist that foreign countries demand mission boards. This is not true. Properly documented sponsorship and financial guarantees from a local church (USA) gained me permanent resident visas in two third world countries on two different continents.
Some mission boards promote the fallacy that "board missionaries" are more reliable and effective. There is no way you can be more reliable and effective in God's work by violating New Testament principles.
Let me repeat verbatim one of the major premises given in the preface to this book. All authority for doing any of God's work on this earth was left to (and remains with) Christ's church (Baptist) until He returns. Although many godly people have done much sincere work by extrascriptural and unscriptural methods (and I rejoice in any truth proclaimed and any souls saved), the Bible is clear, "[a man is] not crowned except he strive lawfully" (2 Timothy 2:5).
Much impetus has been given to mission boards by "freelance" missionaries who go out on their own with no responsible church and pastor. This is just as unscriptural as mission boards. Any missionary should be examined (separated) by a sound church, and ordained, sent, and held responsible by a sound church and pastor. If sound churches down through the centuries had done a more thorough and conscientious job of fulfilling the Great Commission through local church authority, many fewer mission boards would have been established.
I know pastors and churches that are members of organized fellowships and associations with mission boards, agencies, or committees who vehemently condemn the Southern Baptist Convention and its Mission Boards. What hypocrisy! It is not just some boards that are bad; it is the entire principle of boardism that is bad. There are no good mission boards. There only bad, worse, and worst mission boards. I do not apologize for this statement but I do hasten to add that many, many mission boards were founded by godly men with good intentions, who were ignorant of certain Bible principles and misguided. Many today are still headed by godly men and send out godly missionaries. This does not make them scriptural.
If you want to hear a circular and tragically amusing conversation, listen to a missionary, pastor, or missions director explain why his board is not a board. "Boardism" is a principle of operation, not a name. Changing the name to agency, committee, clearing house, etc., changes nothing.
Any entity (board, agency, committee, clearing house, etc.) outside of a local New Testament Church that helps choose, approve, send, finance, supervise, or recall a missionary, is extrascriptural and unscriptural because it is usurping the authority the Lord gave exclusively to His church.
Boards and "committees" frequently claim that their missionaries are church sent or that their authority as a board is derived from the churches. A church cannot delegate its authority to anyone except a member of that church and a member of a church with delegated authority from his church cannot exercise that authority over a member of another church or delegate it to anyone. Church authority, discipline, communion, and baptism confined to the local church because this is the only kind of church there is.
To claim that a missionary accepted or approved by a mission board is actually sent by his local church is deceptive sophistry. Mission boards have no scriptural warrant for their existence. When they presume to approve or reject a decision by a local church as to the call, qualifications, and sending of a missionary, they are guilty of monumental arrogance, usurpation of church authority, and disrespect to Christ's, body and bride.
Because a board is a "faith" board and does not pay a missionary a salary does not mitigate its unscriptural nature actions. There is nothing unscriptural in a sound local church sending out a scripturally qualified missionary with a specified salary without his doing any raising of support. This is an indicator of anyone's faith or lack of it.
Some boards protest that they do not reject missionaries but simply decline to recommend them to the churches. This is a distinction without a difference because it is the "kiss of death" for the missionary among the churches where he would normally gather his support. Besides, who gave a group of men authority to pass on the validity of decisions made and actions taken by one of the Lord's autonomous churches?
In the same vein, boards seeking to prove they are not truly boards, will insist that they do not recall missionaries, they simply withdraw their recommendation. This is deceptive. Any missionary who gained his support with the approval of a certain board will lose ninety to one hundred percent of that support when the board notifies his supporting churches that he is no longer "approved" or "recommended". This has occurred over personality conflicts or minor administrative matters with no doctrinal, moral, or ethical issues involved.
Sadly, many who through sincere ignorance of the scriptures went out under boards, when they come to a Biblical conviction about local church missions on the field (or on furlough), lose most of their support. I am not speaking about those who go out under boards and then simply because they do not wish to follow the rules to which they subscribed (with no Biblical conviction about boards) suddenly wish to go independent. These are usually the "freelance", "loose cannons" who will not submit to the discipline of a church. I hold no sympathy for them. A church sent missionary is not independent of his church.
Some churches will "sponsor" anyone or "anything" as a "missionary". This sad fact does not validate unscriptural mission boards (i.e. all mission boards) nor does it invalidate scriptural, local church missions. It is simply a reflection of the lamentable state and carelessness of some "churches" and "pastors". The Lord does remove the "candlestick" from churches and His unction from pastors.
Many relatively sound but lazy or indifferent churches send out unqualified missionaries (as do boards) and many sponsor a scripturally qualified missionary in name only. Essentially, though he went out in a scriptural manner, he is an "orphan". His church is not willing to assume responsibility for promoting, supporting, and helping him. This is one of the sad realities of our age of apathetic churches.
Mission boards are not necessary for financial cooperation in the support of missionaries. (Some mission boards consume large amounts of church money that was given for "mission" work.) I have been a full-time, local church missionary for just over thirty-six years and God has abundantly met our needs (wife and four children) through a local sponsoring church and as many as one hundred and fifty other churches helping on a voluntary basis. Philippians 4:16 indicates that the church at Philippi helped support the missionary Paul, sent out by the church at Antioch.
Mission boards are not necessary for, or a guaranty of, honesty, morality, and financial responsibility in missions. The sending church should hold their missionary responsible doctrinally, morally, and financially. A failure to do so is abdication of a legitimate obligation and is harmful to the cause of scriptural (church sent) missions.
Spirit Led Men
Some "free-lancers" try to pounce on Acts 13:4a "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost," as an indication that no church authority is involved in sending out missionaries. They seek to "prove" that anyone, man or woman, regardless of qualifications, may be sent forth by the Holy Ghost. They conveniently ignore that the Great Commission was given to the church, and that Saul and Barnabas had been separated (examined), ordained, and sent by the church at Antioch before any "sending" by the Holy Ghost is mentioned. This obviously refers to an unction, leadership, and approval by the Holy Ghost, based on the action of the sound, obedient church at Antioch.
The Holy Spirit will never lead anyone, missionary, pastor or church, to do anything contrary to the scriptures. The Holy Spirit wrote the scriptures and does not contradict Himself. He does not grant indulgences or exceptions and leads always in harmony with scripture, and usually, largely by drawing scripture to our attention and aiding our understanding of it.
The words "sent them away" in relation to the church sending Paul and Barnabas is apoluo, to release or send away. The words "being sent forth" (by the Holy Ghost) are translated from ekpempo (ek or ex - out of, from, and pempo - to bid a thing to be carried to one with the idea of accompaniment as when sent from God).
The role of the Holy Spirit in missions should not be minimized. To insist on church authority is not to attach less importance to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works through the church which He baptized and empowered at Pentecost and to which He is assigned as Comforter and Guide (into all truth).
The Holy Spirit certainly works in the heart of the missionary to enhance his understanding of the Word of God, to facilitate learning a language, to empower his teaching and preaching, and to guide his thoughts, actions, and words.
The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of the lost on any mission field where the truth is preached, else none would ever be saved. The Holy Spirit that indwells the missionary indwells his "converts". The same Holy Ghost empowering that is possessed by the sound church that sent the missionary, can and should be possessed by the sound churches he establishes on the "field".
We, as missionaries, are sometimes prone to deny (not in words, but by our actions) that this same Holy Spirit guidance is available to "national" pastors and churches, and should be encouraged. Holy Spirit leadership and empowering are not ethnically or culturally based but Biblically. The degree of spiritual maturity and Biblical knowledge are pertinent influencing factors but they are not necessarily directly related to the length of time since salvation and baptism. Believers mature at different rates everywhere.