When hiring a new employee, a hiring manager looks for a variety of characteristics that would qualify or disqualify the person for being hired. If the applicant arrives late to the interview, there is a good possibility he will arrive late for work. If the applicant doesn’t respond quickly to phone calls or emails, he will probably not respond well while working for the company. If the applicant is not clean or dressed appropriately during the interview, this will probably be an issue if he is hired. But the opposite is also true, if the applicant is polite, respectful, and knowledgeable, these characteristics will probably follow the applicant to his new company.
What are the requirements for becoming a missionary for the Lord? Most people do not become missionaries for a specific reason – they are not qualified. The qualifications for being a missionary are quite stringent. While various mission boards may require a college education or experience, this is not what I am referring to. The spiritual qualifications are the difficult part. In this message, I would like to present three very obvious but vitally important qualifications that God has for missionary candidates. If you have met these requirements, you might consider serving as a missionary for the Lord.
- God requires that you be saved (2 Pet. 3:9).
The people of Peter’s day were mocking the fact that Jesus had not returned as he had promised. Today, people still mock this fact from Scripture. They think that the promise was a hoax as it has not yet happened. But why has it not happened yet? The truth is found in this verse. Time has little meaning to the Lord. We think of time as progressing in minutes, days, weeks, and years. But with God a thousand years is like one day (2 Pet. 3:8). He thinks more of what he is accomplishing during that period of time. The real reason for God’s longsuffering is that He wants people to be saved.
He wants your rescue.
As a God of love, He desires that you escape the punishment of Hell. God wants you to escape the judgment which you rightfully deserve. He does not want any of His children to perish. In fact, He will not allow it. God is lovingly drawing lost sheep to himself with the ultimate outcome being their salvation. Think of the hymn, “Rescue the Perishing.” We see the need for lost souls to come to Christ. This is the heart of God. He is lovingly calling out to those He is drawing, telling them that they must come to Him to escape Hell.
There are many stories of people who have been rescued from a life of sin. We often marvel at the story of a death row inmate who was saved from death at the last minute. We also marvel at people who were involved in great sins and then saved by God. But in reality, every one of us needs to be rescued from our sin (it’s impact on our lives) and the coming judgment (the lake of fire). Thankfully, God wants to rescue people from both.
He wants your repentance.
What is it that keeps us away from God? It is our sin. And not only is it our sin, it is also our rebellious, fallen nature that keeps us away from God. Lost people want their own way. Because of this, they cannot come to God. But when God draws them to himself, the proper response is repentance and faith.
Repentance is a change of mind about our sin and about God. It is realizing that God is right and we are wrong. A person who repents will forsake his sin and turn to God from it. Have you truly repented? Has God worked in your heart to the extent that you now hate your sin and want him only? Or are you clinging to your sin trying to be good enough to escape Hell? God wants your rescue but must have your repentance.
Faith is the other response. Faith is a confident trust in God to do what He says He will. In the case of our being rescued, we are called to believe Jesus. It is not just an intellectual belief that Jesus existed or that the Bible is true. It is a strong trust in Him. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose again, you are actively trusting that what He accomplished on the cross has accomplished your rescue already.
An evangelist spoke at a winter retreat during my college years. He likened the Christian life to the four bases in a baseball game. First base represented salvation while home plate represented service. Before you run home, you must tag all of the other bases. Many church people see the glory of the home plate of service and want to run there first. But before you can serve, you must be saved.
Do you want to serve the Lord as a missionary? Do you want to see the Lord use you as an effective evangelist here and across the countries of the world? The first step is you being saved from sin. If God will ever use you, you must first come to Him through the blood of Christ on the cross. God wants you to be saved before anything else. Many of us have already been saved through repentance and faith. But is there anything else which God requires before one can become a godly missionary for him?
- God requires that you be set apart (Rom. 12:1-2).
God desires that each of his children be set apart for him. In this passage Paul uses the words present and renew. Our bodies must be presented to Him and our minds need to be renewed. Without this act of obedience there is no possible way that we can serve Him. Even a saved Christian can become useless to God if his entire self is not set apart to God. If a Christian holds himself back from God, he will eventually become unusable by God.
He wants your body.
The first thing that God wants you to set apart for him is your body. At first, this seems like an easy task — just let God have your body. But consider the imagery that Paul gives here to this presentation. When an offering was slain and sacrificed to God, there was no going back. It died and was given completely to God. We, however, are called upon to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Each moment of the day, our bodies are to be given to God whether that means living or dying. That means that for the rest of your life, God wants you to be completely given over to Him.
What does this mean? This means that you agree without hesitation when God calls you as a fair-skinned redhead to serve him in hot and sunny Africa. The fact that you will need to own stock in a sun block company doesn’t make a difference. Your body belongs to God for life. If you burn to death in the sun or are called to the shade of the jungle, your body is His. God wants your body.
He wants your mind.
God also wants your mind. It has been said that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” But how can your mind be given to God? Some years ago, some Christian school students took a test regarding their world view. By answering the questions, the test revealed whether they had a biblical perspective on life. I wonder how we would do if we took that test today. The fact is that it is very easy to become like this world. That is why God tells us to give him our minds. Instead of being conformed to the image of the world, we are to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Each day as we filter our thoughts by reading the Bible and praying. As we do, we will develop a biblically renewed mind. Our first thoughts will no longer be worldly because we will have trained our mind to think the way that the Lord wants us to. Years ago, a Christian college student was visiting a secular campus. When he was asked what the Bible say about drinking, he immediately quoted Proverbs 20:1 which say, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” How did he have this biblical mind set? It came only from spending time in the Bible. Instead of being conformed to this world, he was transformed by meditating on the Word of God.
God wants your body completely given over to him. You need to give him your body without reservation. This applies to those with healthy bodies as well as those with physical problems. Your body needs to be given over to the Lord. God also wants your mind. He wants you to be conformed to his thinking instead of that of the world. When you are doing these things, you are on the right track to becoming useful to the Lord. But there is one more step that you should consider before heading to the mission field.
- God requires that you be submitted (John 15:4-5).
Before his death, Jesus made it quite clear that His followers must be totally submitted to Him. He used the imagery of a vine and its branches to illustrate His meaning. A branch gets its nourishment from the vine. There is no way for it to remove itself and continue to live. The branch must be connected or it will die. Without the vine, it can do nothing. The same is true for us. We must be submitted to Jesus in order to be useful for God.
He wants your will.
Someone who is abiding in Christ will be submitted to the Lord. His will must be given over completely. Have you ever thought that the one in charge was making a wrong decision? Have you ever questioned whether your pastor, husband, parents, coach, teacher, government, or supervisor was making a wrong decision? All of us have thought that way before. When it comes to the Christian life, we must submit our wills to the Lord. We must follow His leading no matter what it is. If we attempt to do things in our own strength, we will fail. It is impossible to do the work of the Lord in our own strength. Jesus said, “without Me you can do nothing.” So, with submitted wills we must follow whatever He wants us to do. As Jesus said, so should we: “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
He wants your best.
God wants your will, but He also wants your best. Often times we think of this fruit as being souls won for Christ or the number of people baptized or being discipled. While those are good things, is that really the case? Perhaps a better way to look at it is the fruit mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read of the fruit that the Spirit of God desires to produce in our lives. As we remain submitted to the Lord, the Spirit will produce love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. We will become a better person as well as a more useful servant for the King. God wants your best and is willing to work in your life to make you better. But the only way this will happen is when you are submitted to Him.
When I began this message, I mentioned that many people are unable to be missionaries because of the stringent qualifications. As you have heard today, these qualifications are not college degrees, positions of leadership in a church, or a score on a test. The qualifications are the same things that God desired of all believers. So why are there not more people being used by God?
As you read the biographies of great Christians, you will see things that are common about their lives. Jonathan Goforth, D. L. Moody, John Paton, and many others, you will notice that each had been saved, set apart, and submitted to God. It was only then that God was able to use them in the harvest fields of the world.
If these things are true about you, be ready for God to use you here and elsewhere. He may call you to be a career missionary on a foreign field. Or it may be that the Lord will use you right here in your own church and community. Whatever the case, your ability to be used by God depends on these three steps: being saved, set apart, and submitted. Are you qualified?