What is your Biblical hermeneutic? Some of you are scratching your head. Maybe you do not know what yours is or that you even have one. Everyone approaches Scripture from a specific point of view. This could be your culture, your theological upbringing, your race, your gender, or anything else that makes you, you. The word hermeneutic is defined as our interpretation of any written text, especially pertaining to the Bible.
I was raised in the Assemblies of God (AG), a theologically conservative Spirit-filled (Pentecostal) fellowship. As such, one aspect of my Biblical hermeneutic sees the Holy Spirit’s power and effect throughout Scripture…Genesis to Revelation. That is the natural outcome of my upbringing, faith practice, and theological training. How we approach Scripture is significant. It is also essential to let Scripture speak for itself. In others words, I cannot read into it what is not there.
The AG is a missions sending movement. We always have been and always will be. While some may wonder why we place such a strong emphasis on missions, others feel that we over-emphasize mission to the detriment of the local church. I would argue that is not possible. A mission-centric hermeneutic is proper and accurate to the Biblical text. We should see missions from Genesis to Revelation.
Some of you are already taking issue with me, but let me explain. The message of the Gospel can be found in many places. We look to Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, and others. These verses expressly command us to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Again, some might say, “well, that is New Testament. You cannot find that in the Old Testament.” I would argue that you can. God has always focused on the nations, which is another way of saying missions.
Abram and Sari were changed to Abraham and Sarah because God says they would be the father and mother of many nations or multitudes. Genesis 22:18 states, “And through your descendants, all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” (NLT) Those who are followers of Christ understand this to be directly related to His work on the cross. Christ was a descendent of Abraham.
You see, for me, you cannot separate missions from the Word or God. As such, you cannot separate it from the life of the believer. The Bible is full of missionary references from beginning to end. Every follower of Christ is left with a question; will I send or will I go? Those are the only options, right? At least most people think so. In a real sense, we can and should fulfill both options. We can give and work to send others overseas, and we are called to go to our neighbor.
It is easy to fall into the trap of fulfilling one’s duty because we wrote a check of donated via text. Does this action release us from the imperative to “go and make disciples”? If I send $100 per month to a missionary in the Philippines, am I no longer expected to tell my neighbor about Jesus? Certainly not. Most understand missions in the context of overseas. While that is a vital part of the Biblical mandate, we must also realize that those around us also need Jesus. Think of the church in Macedonia. As poor as they were, they invested in the missionary work of Paul.
Again, I refer to Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem (your city), throughout Judea (your state), in Samaria (your nation/region), and to the ends of the earth (your world).” (parenthesis mine)
Every believer has a part to play in sharing the wonderful message of Jesus Christ. We all have the responsibility to go and send. Perhaps the modern Church has missed this. One does not automatically release me from the other. Some of my close friends serve in missions all over the world. I have yet to meet one of them that, while serving overseas, does not financially give so that others might also go. They are quite literally going and sending. This fact stands before you. When you approach Scripture through the honest lens of missions, a missions hermeneutic, you will have to ask yourself this question; will I go, send, or both? Both is always the correct answer.
For further reading of this topic:
Brogden, Dick, Missionary God, Missionary Bible (Abide, 2020).
Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God (IVP, 2006).
Edward Smither, Christian Mission: A Concise Global History (Lexham, 2019).
Mike Barnett, ed. Discovering the Mission of God (IVP, 2012).
William Larkin and Joel Williams, eds. Mission in the New Testament (Orbis, 1998).