“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them . . . .” “Preaching” in context is not just the address of a crowd by an individual. It is communication of the gospel to humans by humans. Why would it seem foolish? Billions of ignorant, confused, doomed people are to be individually saved by hearing and accepting a strange message. Why not a mass rescue in some way that doesn’t depend on them?
And if salvation is to be by a message, why unreliable human messengers who are usually strangers and maybe foreigners, instead of God Himself or at least angelic messengers who could get it all done in a day? And if we do have this job, why not at least supernatural provision and power for the messenger and miraculous understanding in the minds of hearers? On second thought, we do get that.
This question turns my thoughts immediately to the request that Jesus told us to present to God. He said, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). Jesus said this after observing the size of the harvest and the lack of workers.
God could bring people to Himself without us, but He has chosen to use men and women to win the lost. Having made that sovereign choice, yes, He needs missionaries (and pastors, teachers, etc.) to carry out His work. The need is not because of any lack of power or ability on God’s part, but because of the decision that He made to employ people for the ministry.
Paul says that God has “given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18). Therefore, by choice, He needs us to take His word of reconciliation to the world.
Strictly speaking, God, the Great I AM, does not need anything or anyone; He is eternally self-existent. In His sovereignty and wisdom, however, He has chosen to work through people to accomplish His eternal purposes.
In Romans 10:14-15, Paul makes it clear that without a preacher the lost cannot hear, and if they do not hear, he asks, “How can they believe?” Without missionaries going to unreached peoples, many will die in their darkness. God is at work in the world drawing all people to Himself, but He doesn’t appear to everyone in a Damascus road experience. As risky as it may seem, God has made missionaries an indispensable part of His eternal, redemptive plan - people reaching people.
While God may not “need” us, He has chosen to make us co-laborers with Him and to involve us in an integral way.
When William Carey proposed his mission to India, a minister responded, "Sit down young man! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me.”
While the words may be shocking, the sentiment is familiar. We phrase it more subtly. “Why go across the ocean to evangelize? Aren’t there enough sinners at home?”
Does God need missionaries? Yes! Although God could speak through an angelic messenger, He chooses to work through people. This has always been God’s method. God warned Ninevah through a reluctant Jonah; Jesus founded his church through a vacillating Peter; God evangelized Rome through a pharisaical Paul. God works through people.
"… how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14). Imagine - the sovereign God chooses to work through frail instruments like you and me. What a privilege!
God has HIS plan of redemption that HE planned, HE designed, and that HE operates. HE works through HIS people. I have heard of people having visions, dreams, and angelic visitation resulting in people coming to Christ. If visions, dreams, and angels were the normal way of operating . . . wonderful! I can then not be responsible about the lost. I do not need to sacrifice life or limb to spread the Gospel. However, that is not HIS normal way of operation. HE has designed HIS plan to reach the lost by people ministering to people.
1. Only people can truly claim the knowledge of freedom from sin.
2. People relate to others regarding spiritual battles and tell how God’s Word and Grace help them experience victory.
3. HE has chosen people to overcome the barriers of the “Babylonian curse” so the results honor and praise HIM.
Yes, through HIS planning, design, and providence, God NEEDS missionaries!