Driving Convictions Behind Foreign Missions by John Piper

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”

Editor’s Note: As we continue our year long study on the subject of worship, we will consider how our praise to God is tied into our global mission. This article from John Piper describes the vision we have for our ministry and why it is our desire to proclaim the love of God, so that it will motivate you to join with the “Many Voices” for this “One Message.”


Conviction #1—God’s Goal in Creation and Redemption Is a Missionary Goal Because Our God Is a Missionary God.

God created man and woman to fill the earth as His image-bearers (Genesis 1:26–28). He created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7)—not to gain more glory for Himself but to invite people from every tribe and tongue and nation into the enjoyment of His glory.

God is perfectly glorious and self-sufficient in the fellowship of the Trinity. So He had no need for people to praise Him, but He had a profound desire to share His glory and joy with a redeemed people.

God’s desire to bless all the nations to the praise of His glory is the golden thread weaving its way through the Scriptures and the history of redemption. Jesus Christ Himself in His self-emptying and in His identification with sinful humanity to the point of His substitutionary death on the cross is the perfect manifestation of the missionary heart of God.

Conviction #2—God Is Passionately Committed to His Fame. God’s Ultimate Goal Is That His Name Be Known and Praised by All the Peoples of the Earth.

In Romans 9:17, Paul says that God’s goal in redeeming Israel is “that [His] name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” In Isaiah 66:19, God promised that He would send messengers “to the coastlands afar off that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations.”

We believe that the central command of world missions is Isaiah 12:4, “Make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.”

The apostle Paul said that his ministry as a missionary was “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of [Christ’s] name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). The apostle John said that missionaries are those who “have set out for the sake of the name” (3 John 7). James, the Lord’s brother, described missions as God’s “visiting the nations to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14). Jesus described missionaries as those who “leave houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake” (Matthew 19:29).

Conviction #3—Worship Is the Fuel and the Goal of Missions.

Back in the mid-80s God drove home to many of us that a God-centered theology must be a missionary theology. If you say that you love the glory of God, the test of your authenticity is whether you love the spread of that glory among all the peoples of the world.

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. God’s passion is to be known and honored and worshipped among all the peoples. To worship Him is to share that passion for His supremacy among the nations.

In heaven there will be no missions; only worship. Gathered around the throne will be worshipers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 7:9). Thus the goal of missions will have been accomplished. But until that is the case, true worshipers who have tasted the goodness of the Lord will not be content until they have invited the nations to join them in the feast.

Worship is an expansive and a contagious joy, and thus it becomes the fuel for missions. A shared joy is a doubled joy. Gladness in God will produce in us the same yearnings felt by the psalmist, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy” (Psalm 67:3–4). Our hearts’ desire is to join Jesus and the Father in their pursuit of true worshipers (John 4:23).


This article is adapted from it’s original version on the Desiring God website. The link to the full article can be found at our website at Songtime.com

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including this month’s offer “Let the Nations Be Glad!”