The emphasis of Paul in Ephesians is that in Christ and through faith in Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence, and that the message is for all people and that it must be made known through the church because it is God’s intent to use the church as a revealer of his plan to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms. Human beings being what they are that rather simple concept is sometimes misunderstood or found wanting.
William Carey who is considered the Father of Baptist Missions once spoke of his desire to take the Gospel to India. He was answered by a famous Baptist preacher of the day with these words, “sit down, young man; when God wants to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without your help and mine”. That was a view that was prevalent for a long time among a lot of people.
In some cases that conviction that we can’t do anything for missions is overreacted too and twisted into the idea that we are somehow co-redeemers with Christ. As Michael Horton says in Christless Christianity, “the idea is rife among us today that the church is engaged in a redemptive mission, extending Christ’s saving life and mission in the world. But if we are ever to get the focus off us and back onto Christ (much less, to properly interpret Scripture), we will have to stop giving ourselves so much credit. We do not redeem; we were redeemed. The incarnation is not a prototype for us and our incarnational living and ministry in the world; it is a unique event of a unique person, of which we have been made witnesses rather than co-agents. Neither as a sum total of born again Christians nor as a historical institution with a postal address is the church the savior; it is always the sinful body that is saved. The church does not testify to its own holiness or zeal but to Christ, who ‘justifies the ungodly’ (Rom 4:5).” 230
Another reaction is the conviction that we can’t witness in our lives because we do not want to embarrass ourselves and we have the feeling that we will get the message wrong. We worry that others may be offended and we don’t want to look like “Jesus Freaks”. There is a conviction that we “hire” preachers to do “evangelism” and we “hire” missionaries to do missions.
Do we have the conviction that “God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth and that our task as Christians is to witness to Christ in word and deed? Here is a statement form our church body’s President. Where the Holy Trinity is present and received in faith, there cannot but be witness (martyría), mercy (díakonía) and life together (koinōnía). These three reflect God’s very being as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, and encompass His holy and gracious will for all in Christ Jesus, namely that all come to believe in and bear witness to Christ, reflect divine compassion, and live together in forgiveness, love and joy in the Church (see The Augsburg Confession 1).
– LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison