Powerpoint file: The Church has left the building: Which came first? The mission or the church?
God’s initiative to work salvation God calls Moses and sends him on mission to Egypt. Notice how other nations (Canaan, Egypt) and not just Israel are the focus of God’s mission.
Genesis 12:1-9 (NIV) The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.
Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Exodus 3:7-12 (NIV) The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey–the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
The disciples are gathered up and involved in God’s mission. Notice that mission begins by bidding God to sent out harvesters. Luke 10:1-3 (NIV) After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Jesus sends the apostles just as he was sent by the Father. (v. 21).
John 20:19-23 (NIV) On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Biblical understandings of the kingdom of God Most Americans are not familiar with the implications of living within a kingdom. Often interchangeable with the terms “reign of God” or “rule of God.”
- We are to receive the reign of God like a little child (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17)
- We inherit the kingdom (Mt. 25:34; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:21)
- We enter the reign of God (Mt. 5:20; 7:21; 18:3; 19:23-24; Mk 9:47; 10:23-25).
- We are never mentioned as building or establishing the kingdom. That is God’s work.
Receiving the kingdom involves accepting the generosity of the king. Inheriting the kingdom involves becoming an heir…a member of the king’s house. Entering a kingdom involves conforming to the way of life established by the king.
The lordship of Christ is often reduced to individual concerns. When salvation is reduced to individualistic concerns, Christ is regarded as personal savior, or “Lord of my life.” When it is a limited perspective, the church tends to ignore that God has exalted Christ as Lord universally.
In Acts 2, Peter asserts that God has made Jesus Lord regardless of the acceptance or rejection of the crowd. He calls them to repent of their rejection of the objective reality of Jesus’ lordship and not simply acceptance of a subjective experience of that lordship
(Acts 2:36-41 (NIV) “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The relationship between church and mission…remembering…the mission is God’s initiative
- we are those who have received, inherited, and entered into the kingdom of God
- God has exalted Christ as Lord over all creation.
John 17:14-18 (NIV) I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
Begins with God and the world. Mission is more than just an adjunct activity of the church. Mission cannot be reduced to obedience to a command to evangelize. God sends Christ and Christ sends His church. God rules over the entire world despite the fact that some reject that rule. The church is formed and made visible because God gathers the church from the world.
When we say that “the church has a mission,” we tend to view the church as a sort of machine that comes in a kit so that when we assemble it properly according to the instructions and turn on the power it goes to work. But the Bible never pictures the church as an independent institution that churns out a product or repeats a task under its own power. The biblical view of the church is not a static organization that determines its own mission. Rather, God has a mission in this world and God is about his mission; He is calling and sending people caught up in that mission and they are the church.
The biblical view of the church
The followers of Christ are called “The Way.” (Acts 9:2)
- The church is the transformation of the old humanity into the new humanity (Eph. 2:15).
The church is the result of God’s Activity
- we are the fish caught up in the dragnet (Mt. 13:47-50)
- we are the sheaves of wheat gathered in harvest (Mt. 13:24-30)
- we are the mustard tree sown by the sower (Mk 4:30-32)
- we are persecuted believers on the run who tell the story that changes the world (Acts 8).
The mission of God is a tidal wave breaking onto the shores of earth and the church is caught up in it. The mission of God is like a storm front moving into this world. The church is like a pile of leaves or a drift of snow gathered up by the wind. (John 3:8) We are the visible evidence of God’s invisible activity in the world.
The mission of God has a church. Treasure in a brown paper: 2 Cor. 4:7-12 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NIV) Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NIV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
The believer is simply a “jar of clay”; it is the treasure within the vessel that gives the vessel its value. The important thing about a vessel is that it be clean, empty, and available for service. We must focus on the treasure and not on the vessel. Paul was not afraid of suffering or trial, because he knew that God would guard the vessel so long as Paul was guarding the treasure. God permits trials, God controls trials, and God uses trials for His own glory. God is glorified through weak vessels.
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