Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; for behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; and faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen. – Doctrine and Covenants 4
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:19-20
Words of Counsel From Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints:
“The missionary work of the Latter-day Saints is the greatest of all the great works in all the world.” (CR, October 1921, p.5) – Heber J. Grant
“There is no joy that can compare with that of a missionary who has been made the instrument of the salvation of a soul.” (CR, April 1918, p. 73) – Orson F. Whitney
“We are the messengers, and we have the acceptable message.” – Spencer W. Kimball
“When men go forth in the name of Israel’s God, there is no power on earth that can overturn the truths they advocate.” (JD, 12:396) – John Taylor
I would like to address the subject of the Scriptural Foundation of Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will divide the subject matter into 4 brief sections. First, I will discuss the meaning and the purpose for missionary work. Second, I will discuss the message of missionary work. Third, I will discuss the requirements for successful missionary work. And, lastly, I will discuss member missionary work.
What is a missionary and what is the purpose of missionary work? Webster’s dictionary gives us a rather general definition of the word missionary. A missionary is defined as “one sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country.” So, what is this mission that is spoken of? When a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) is called to serve a mission, he or she is sent forth to do the work that our Heavenly Father has commanded him or her to do. President Spencer W. Kimball taught,”If we do not do our duty in regard to missionary service, then I am convinced that God will hold us responsible for the people we might have saved had we done our duty” (Ensign, October 1977, p. 5). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught,
In the day of wickedness just preceding our Lord’s return there is to be a great harvest of souls. We live in that day, the day when the harvest is ripe. We have deluded ourselves long enough with the thought that this is a day of gleaning only. This is not a day of gleaning, but of harvest . . . Now this work is going to succeed. This is absolutely guaranteed, it is the eternal decree of the Lord.
Elder Orson F. Whitney counseled, “There is no joy that can compare with that of a missionary who has been made the instrument of the salvation of a soul” (CR, April 1918, p. 73). And President David O. McKay in General Conference in April 1959 made the profound statement, “Every member a missionary!” (CR, April 1959, p. 122).
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not have to wear black name tags like the full time missionaries, however, every member of the Church is called to serve as a soldier in the Lord’s Army. Some members may never have the opportunity to serve a full time mission for the Church, or find themselves as members of the Church in a foreign land, but that does not exclude them from doing the work that our Heavenly Father – our Great Commander in Chief — has commanded them to do. The mission field can be found in one’s own back yard. Members of the Church are taught that they have an awesome responsibility to share the Gospel with all whom they come in contact with – family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and classmates.
What is the purpose of missionary work? Alexander B. Morrison explained it this way,
|The very purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [is] to invite, encourage, and assist all of God’s children, both living and dead, to come to Christ, “and lay hold upon every good gift” (Moroni 10:30), that “ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 30:2). That is why we do missionary work.|
President Gordon B. Hinckley further clarified the purpose of missionary work when he said,
The work of the missionary is everlasting in its consequences. Acceptance of the gospel at the hands of a true and dedicated teacher affects not only the recipient, but also generations who are to come after the recipient (Ensign, May 1983, p. 85).
And President Ezra Taft Benson reminded us that “Missionary work – the preaching of the gospel – has been the major activity of the true Church of Christ whenever the gospel has been upon the earth” (JE, June 1970, p. 95).
Missionary work affords a person the opportunity to manifest his love of the Savior, who has commanded us to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) It also affords a person the opportunity to express his love to all humanity. Furthermore, it affords a person the opportunity to testify of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer of the World, as well as an opportunity to build his faith in Christ and to teach His saving and comforting doctrine. In Doctrine and Covenants 14:3 we read, “Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, who desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.”
What is the message of missionary work? The message that missionaries (full-time and member) bring to the world is one of hope, love, peace and joy. In John 3:16 we read these words, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The message that missionaries bring to the world is one that testifies of the fact that God still loves the world, and He has spoken again as an indication of that divine love. He has restored truths in their completeness – precious truths that are essential to our peace and happiness – truths that are essential to our eternal salvation. Missionaries testify of a restoration that is so miraculous that only the hand of God could be its author – so miraculous in fact, that it can only be fully understood and believed by those who understand the power of God and His love for all humanity. The reward of missionary work is not necessarily converts; rather it is exaltation. Certainly, converts will come and this glorious work will move forward in the Lord’s due time, but if everyone does the best that they can do, the rewards will be the same. [Compare the Parable of the Talents]. We are instructed in Doctrine and Covenants 14:6 to “Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things.”
To be able to share my faith and my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings me great joy and happiness. To see the faces of “thirsting souls” as they seek to know the truth, to hear them ask questions about the Gospel and to hear them, in some cases for the first time, offer a prayer to our Heavenly Father thrills my soul beyond indescribable measure. As I strive to do those things which the Lord has commanded, I am blessed, and more importantly, I know that our Father in Heaven is well pleased. I highly encourage every member to take full advantage of the opportunities to go out and teach the Gospel with either the full-time missionaries or other faithful members to experience these blessings. Elder L. Tom Perry said,
More blessings comes to us in going forth to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and laboring for the salvation of the souls of men, than can possibly come to us by merely having a knowledge of the truth of our religion, and then remaining at home to mingle and labor in the ordinary affairs of life, and accumulate the wealth of this world that perishes with the using” (Ensign, May 1984, p. 80).
What are the requirements for effective missionary work? I will only mention a few things here briefly that I feel are essential in becoming a faithful and successful missionary.
1. Be a student of the Word. Spend time studying the Scriptures every day. It is through the study of the Scriptures that we come to have an intimate relationship with our Savior. We learn the principles and doctrines of His precious truths. As we learn, we should develop the desire to want to share these truths with others. Truth is meant to be shared not kept to ourselves.
2. Be diligent and watchful. By that I mean, “ . . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Look for opportunities to share the Gospel and then when those opportunities arise don’t be afraid to open your mouth. Again I say, truth is meant to be shared, not kept to ourselves.
3. Believe in the message that you are sharing. By that I mean, have a strong testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel. Know why you believe the things that you do and then be willing to boldly share that testimony with others.
4. Be prayerful. Prayer changes things. Even when it seems that no one wants to hear what you have to say, it is amazing how many doors are opened as a result of earnest prayer.
5. Be of good cheer. Know that whom the Lord sends to do His work, He also prepares. He will never leave you alone to fend for yourself. He is always there to lead and to guide. Therefore, make sure that you approach missionary work with the right spirit and the right attitude. Go forth not with the attitude that you are going to change the world in a day, but with the attitude that you can and will make a difference in the world today.
I want to close and summarize by reiterating the statement that President David O. McKay made in the April 1959 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Every member a missionary!” That was not just a nice statement to make at that time, but rather it was a directive to every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get busy and do the work that our Heavenly Father has commanded us to do. When Christ said unto His disciples in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” He was not saying to His disciples that this is something that you can think about doing, or something that you might want to do, but rather this was a mandate – marching orders from the Commander in Chief. There was no time for deliberation, debate, argument or discussion. He was clearly instructing His disciples that this was something that they MUST do. And as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, that same mandate – those same marching orders, are given to us at this hour.
Each of us knows someone that needs to hear the message of this glorious Gospel. May I be so bold as to challenge each of us to do our part in bringing forth His Zion by keeping His commandments in all things, and that all includes being faithful missionaries.
I bear testimony that I know that there is no greater work on this earth than missionary work. I testify of the blessings that it brings. I further testify that I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s true Church upon the earth today, and I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Matthew 9:37-38, “Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” I know that He will because this is His work and His work MUST be fulfilled.
Keith Lionel Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of “Morsels Of Bread.”