Edification necessarily leads to mission. How do we know this?
The bible instructs us to edify one another within the church. This is to occur whenever we come together, regardless of size or type of gathering. To broaden out our thinking, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Every word spoken by us should be for the building up.
But what happens when we are built up? What change takes place? The answer is that we simultaneously grow closer in relationship to Jesus Christ and become more in our character like Jesus Christ. Mutual edification within the body leads to everyone changing to be more like Jesus and to love him more. We read this beautiful passage in Ephesians 4:11-16:
"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
As we are edified, we become more like Jesus and more devoted to him. This strongly implies becoming more missions-oriented. Why? The reason is that Jesus Christ was the ultimate missionary. He came to earth from heaven to not only share the gospel, but to be the gospel. He came as both high priest and sacrifice. He came to proclaim his substitution on our behalf. If anyone ever cared enough about others to go and tell, it was Jesus Christ.
As we grow in Christ, it should be that we become more concerned for the eternal well-being of others. If we are becoming more like Jesus, this has to be the case. He died for people we live near and who live all over the globe. As we transform through edification to be more like Jesus, our care for these people ought to grow as well.
If edification has its intended outcome, we will all mature in Christ. Part of that maturation is desiring for others to know the Jesus who is transforming us. As Christian maturity goes up, a desire for others to come to Christ ought to naturally rise as well.
The author of Hebrews tells us in 10:24, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Edification leads directly to love and good works. What more loving work can there be than proclaiming the life-giving news of Christ crucified and resurrected?
How we specifically live out a missional life will vary from person to person. Some will go to the far reaches of the earth sharing the good news, while many more will do so near home. Whatever the case, as we grow, a fruit of this growth should and will naturally be a deeper longing for others to experience the person we experience in joy each day - the God-man Jesus Christ.
There ought not be any tension in the church between edification and missions. As we come together as Christ's saints, the purpose is to build one another up in Christ for Christ. As we go forth into the world, having grown because of the building up, our zeal for Christ should show itself in our care for others. This care will take the form of meeting basic needs and sharing the best news in the world - the gospel.