Changing the world via the Cooperative Program
March 22, 2005
Many pastors have in their library at least one book of famous last words. It is interesting reading to see the sum of a person’s life beliefs and/or philosophies summarized in a final statement.
Voltaire, the noted French infidel who once boasted, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.” Shortly after his death, Voltaire’s very house became the depot of the Geneva Bible Society. The last words on his lips were: “I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months life. Then I shall go to hell; and you will go with me. O Christ! O Jesus Christ!”
Thomas Paine, the renowned American author and infidel during his final moments on earth in 1809 said, “I would give worlds, if I had them, that the Age of Reason had not been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! … If ever the devil had an agent, I have been that one.”
Pancho Villa’s last words were, “It can’t end like this, tell them I said something.” Obviously, Pancho Villa was NOT ready with his last words.
The most important “last words on earth” were spoken by the greatest one to have ever walked on the earth, our Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously we, as believers, will want to pay special attention to them. His last words to us on earth (Acts 1:8) were: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Did Jesus give us a command bigger than our ability to fulfill it? No, He promised us the POWER to fulfill this Great Commission.
This command of Christ now begs two questions for each of us. “How are YOU fulfilling this command? What is YOUR CHURCH doing to fulfill this command?” There is no believer or church excluded from this responsibility.
I think we would also agree that neither your church nor mine is strong enough to accomplish world evangelization alone. So how do we fulfill the Great Commission? The Great Commission requires Great Cooperation!
In 1925 Southern Baptists came up with the most effective strategic mission plan that the world has ever seen. Its sole purpose was to assist every church and believer in accomplishing their responsibility of the Great Commission. It is not a “program”; it is a world evangelization mission strategy that has been named, The Cooperative Program (CP).
The CP is not the only way to support Missions. But as the late Southern Baptist statesman James Sullivan rightly observed, “The Cooperative Program has more strengths and fewer weaknesses than any plan ever devised.” It has worked well for a long time. But giving money is the easiest way to cooperate. We would encourage you to do more than give.
Currently, the CP places and maintains a mighty 10,000-plus-member missionary force worldwide. Give to support them – yes. But, we would also encourage you to GO and assist them on short-term projects. Sadly, some SBC churches like to go and assist our missionaries, but do not provide for their basic needs and upkeep by giving generously to the CP. It is the CP that sends and maintains the missionaries on the very fields that churches want to visit. Without missionary personnel on the field, many short-term mission trips would be impossible.
Every church needs an Acts 1:8 champion! Will you be that one who continues to blow the trumpet call of missions and CP support for missions? In the months ahead our convention, Lord willing, will be sending many additional resources to your church.
Scientists tell us that geese fly in a “V” formation to reduce wind resistance. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock can fly 71 percent further than if each bird flew on its own. If a goose is smart enough to cooperate, surely we Baptists are smart enough to do the same. Together we will work to fulfill the most famous last words on earth spoken by our Lord:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem (your community, church and association), and in all Judaea (the Missouri Baptist Convention), and in Samaria (the North American Mission Board), and unto the uttermost part of the earth (the International Mission Board)).”