The URGENCY of Mission!

February 13, 2018

 

The God of the Bible has revealed His nature, will, heart and desire in that all people become believers and worshipers, thus extending the ‘Good News of the Gospel’ to all nations and earthly kingdoms on earth (Matthew 28:19-20). This blog explores the theology of mission found in the OT and NT, the nature of God in the mission as creator and redeemer and the key themes of worship and restoration which are at the very heart of mission.

 

Old Testament and New Testament Views of Mission

 

Isaiah 61:1-3 and Luke 4:18-19 revel to me the heart of what God wanted to do all through human history, which is to always be on mission bringing people to himself and then setting them free in every age to be about that very same mission everywhere in the world.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal[a] the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees planted by the Lord to glorify him.” Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18-19 (parallel) [1]

 

My call into ministry is built on these two key texts. In the first year of my ministry, actually on my birthday, I sat down after spending months in deep prayer as to what my mission as anew pastor was? These are the verses that God directed me to, and is still what the whole of my life work is built upon.

 

The Isaiah passage is one of Messianic hope for God’s people who feel lost during exile.  So often the Jews, throughout their history and relationship with God, went astray. The overarching issue in the OT is simply that God’s mission for them was to be as Moses wrote in Exodus 19:5-6:

 

 “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.”

 

God promises the light of deliverance, victory, and renewal.

 

The task set before the Israelites is one of being about God’s mission to bring this same rescue to all other nations. The beauty of Isaiah’s oracle is not found merely in the temporal. Isaiah captures the hope of God’s future reign and glory that will be ushered in at the arrival of the anointed One. What we see in Isaiah is the Spirit upon the prophet to show Israel their duty to proclaim salvation to the world, likewise we see the Spirit anointing Jesus in Luke 4 at the beginning of His earthly ministry that reveals what God had for them to do since the prophets, which they clearly had not done. In the book of Acts, we see clearly how the church gets it power from Jesus who sent his Spirit to enable the work of mission. So, what is the tie into application and mission for us as new covenant believers today? In this understanding of application let’s look deeper at Isaiah 61:1-3, which gives us the context by which we can see clearly Luke 4:18-19, and subsequently the entire purpose of the book of Acts as an understanding of mission.

 

The point of Isaiah 61:1-3 is that one is coming in the name of the Yahweh, anointed with his Spirit, to deliver God’s people from exile, both now and forevermore. The contemporary hearer may ask, “What does this have to do with me and missions?” Isaiah’s ministry is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ who fulfills and restores all things (Luke 3:22; 4:18-19). Of all the passages Jesus could have quoted as he began his public ministry in Nazareth, he chose Isaiah 61:1-2.

 

Jesus quotes these verses in Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (vv. 18-19).

 

Jesus followed up the reading by saying, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21).

 

Jesus chose this passage because it illustrates his purpose and mission! The contemporary hearer must conclude and rightly understand that all Jewish people and Christian people as well as the entirety of the church’s purpose and mission is stated in these verses. Because Jesus identifies himself as the anointed One, he rules out an Israel-centered interpretation of this passage, along with the rest of the Law and Prophets (Luke 24:25-27, 44; John 5:39). This passage is therefore not primarily about God bringing Israel back to the Promised Land after exile. It is that, but that is not all it is. Rather, it is mainly a foretelling of God gathering his redeemed people, Jew and Gentile, under his rule through the gospel of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus’ first advent was not about declaring judgment, it was about proclaiming that the Kingdom had come in his person and work (see Mark 1:14-15). In John 3:17-18, Jesus said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

 

Jesus came so that the world would be reconciled, and he accomplished it by bringing God’s favor through his death and resurrection.

 

From this passage the question naturally follows, “If Jesus saw this as his mission in the world, then what is the mission of the church?” If Jesus’ mission was to declare and demonstrate good news, as pointed out above, then the mission of the church should follow suit.

 

The church CAN and SHOULD BE proclaiming Jesus’ person and work by demonstrating a gospel-shaped life. A gospel-shaped life looks like declaring the good news of God’s redemptive reign, giving relief to the oppressed, providing spiritual and emotional healing, and comforting those who mourn throughout our own Neighborhoods, Cities and Counties. Suffice it to say that some of the answer to the larger questions affect every church’s mission statement, financial obligations, preaching programs, discipleship methods, and social justice initiatives. Jesus coming to bring God’s favor is the stamp and proof that he will return to bring final redemption and a new age where all sin and suffering will be destroyed. His first advent gives the world a glimpse of what the new creation will be like. These texts give us a holistic look at a theological perspective that reveals that His mission always has been and still is reaching and redeeming people.

 

The Nature of God in Missions

           

Missio Dei is a Latin theological term that can be translated as "Mission of God", it refers to the work of the church as being part of God's work. So, the church’s mission is a subset of a larger whole mission that is both part of God's mission to the world, but not the entirety of God's work in the world.[2] God’s nature is bound up in something bigger than the act of being about God’s mission, its bound up in two attributes, God as creator and God as redeemer. God is a being, so the nature of mission’s work emanates form the heart and essence of who God is not just in what God does. Yes, God creates, and yes, God redeems, but these two things reveal His nature, as revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when God simply stated, “I AM THAT I AM.” God revealed who he was and that he is self-existent and able to be whatever Moses and the people need him to be. God is all sufficient in meeting any human need as His nature implies that He is the all-knowing creator, sustainer and redeemer, it’s who he is.

 

Creator

            In the first statement of Genesis, God is the sovereign creator of the universe. [3] He goes on to say that everything He creates is Good, so the nature of God is that he himself is a good God. Even after the fall, God’s image remains in us (imago de) and God tells His creation, man and woman to ‘be fruitful’ and multiply. Through time and history, God through His created efforts made covenants with people, and those covenants can never be broken or set aside, which reveals the essential nature of a good God inside missions, God, the creator who made us, commissioned us and gave us all that we need, wishes that we, by His grace and power reveal His goodness to all humankind. The creator involves himself with all peoples, and because he does He himself plans the strategy to redeem what he himself created.

 

Redeemer

            The Father’s plan always included the redemption of man, accomplished through the work of the Son. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. It is Jesus who has redeemed us for the Father and has taken the full brunt of the wrath of God as our substitute (Romans 3:21–26). Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem us, and this price is not just physical death, but also for God’s righteous wrath resulting from the infinite penalty for sins committed against an infinitely holy God. John states that we gain an understanding of true love only when we see in God’s nature His redeeming authority.

 

“In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

 

The Father’s redemptive authority is demonstrated by the fact that the plan of redemption, which is from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). God’s amazing redemptive authority displays the nature of His unlimited redemptive love.

 

Key Themes of Mission Theology

 

            Two key themes of mission’s theology which are worship and restoration can be seen considering God’s creative and redemptive nature:

 

Worship

            God’s heart is that all people would worship Him, Jesus stated in Luke 4:8, “And Jesus answered him, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” This relates directly to the OT in Deuteronomy 6:13, as Jesus is referring to the simple fact that He is that fulfillment. John Piper states, “We may reaffirm then the earlier truth that worship is the fuel and goal that drives us in missions, because it is the fuel and goal that drives God in missions.”[4] This theme is the overarching theme of scripture from creation forward, so much so that Jesus states in Luke 19:40, “He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out.” Being caught up in worship is to me, the central theme of all missions.

 

Restoration

            Jesus states in Revelation 21: 3-5, “Then I heard a loud voice from the throne; Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” God has promised to renew the whole world, and the Bible gives us a peak into this glorious future. The restoration of all things will take place in two ways. Christ will return to judge sin and evil, and He will usher in righteousness and peace. God will purge this world of evil once and for all and provide restoration and peace with His people.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, we look at how mission theology relates to church leaders and laypeople of the congregation. First and foremost, we must understand that both of these roles in the kingdom should be considered missional, in that all Christians by nature are missionaries in their own context. We are all witnesses that go into a culture, whatever it may be, - WHY?  to testify to Christ and His plan of salvation. Ordinary Christians composed the the rank and file of witnesses.[2] Acts 1:8 gives us all ownership in the missionary role, whether at home or in other lands the call to be witnesses to all that Jesus has done is our theological mandate.

           

The biblical idea surrounding church people and church leaders is that there is no plan B, the church and its leaders have a mandate to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. The people of God must have a local expression, and that local expression is the church.

 

At the local level the church is the community of the Holy Spirit.  

 

Pastors and church leaders have the responsibility to teach the laypeople the importance of supporting and sending people into the mission field, both for short term endeavors and long term support of foreign missionaries working in other cultures. The expression of the local church can be visibly seen by how well it is obedient to the things mentioned in scripture. When Christians, leaders, and laypeople are all visibly on mission in their own Jerusalem, then they will be seen as representing the God who loves us and gave himself up for us!!

 

Go Love people like Jesus!!

PF

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted all scripture is taken from The Christian Standard Bible, Holman, Nashville, Tn. 

 

 [2] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions. Baker Academic, 2004), 27.

 

[3] Wikipedia: the online encyclopedia. www.wikepedia.org

 

[4] Piper, John, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993.

 

 

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