The Mission of God
-Usually, when we think of missions we think of the Great Commission. But missions didn’t begin with the Great Commission. Missions began with God. It beat first in His heart before it was ever breathed into His church.
Darrell Guder writes, “We have come to see that mission is not merely an activity of the church. Rather, mission is the result of God’s initiative, rooted in God’s purposes to restore and heal creation. ‘Mission’ means ‘sending,’ and it is the central biblical theme describing the purpose of God’s action in human history....”
-Missio Dei: “the idea of God’s nature and expression extended to and stamped upon the world. God the Father sends God the Son who sends God the Holy Spirit; all three send the church.” (Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas, Encountering Missionary Life and Work).
-Jesus expressed His own mission in Luke 4:18 when He read from the scroll of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
-Paul also referenced the mission of Jesus: 1 Timothy 1:15-16 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
-However, it was always God’s plan to pass the mission on to the church. Not to accomplish on its own, but to commit to it, invest themselves in it, and faithfully carry it out. "Just as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you" (John 20:21). "Just as You sent Me into the world, even so I sent them into the world (John 17:18). (Matt. 28; Acts 1:8).
-A “missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself, and organizes its life around, its real purpose of being an agent of God’s mission to the world. In other words, the church’s true and authentic organizing principle is mission. When the church is in mission, it is the true church. The church itself is not only a product of that mission but is obligated and destined to extend it by whatever means possible. The mission of God flows directly through every believer and every community of faith that adheres to Jesus. To obstruct this is to block God’s purposes in and through God’s people” (Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways).
The Gospel (Eu=good; Angelion=message) He has given us is a Missions Message. If it could not save every sinner, there would be no reason to take it to every nation.
And the Great Commission calls and identifies the local church as the center for world evangelism.
Three foundations to help us understand the mission of God:
I. A Compassionate God
A. The Description of God’s Love – John 3:16 [quote it with me]
1. It is Extravagant - “God so loved”
a. It is a love so infinite that it is everlasting.
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
b. It is a love so incomprehensible that it passes knowledge.
Ephesians 3:19 …to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
c. It is a love so indiscriminate that it would be given to the least worthy, sinners.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2. It is Exhaustive - “the world”
a. God is not willing that any should perish. 2 Peter 3:9
b. He would have all men to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
-Even Gentiles: Isaiah 42:5-7 5 This is what God the LORD says-- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
3. It is Expressive – “that He gave”
B. The Demonstration of God’s Love
1. He promised a Savior to deal with the problem of sin.
God said to Satan in Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
a. This verse is often called the “protevangelium,” meaning the first pronouncement of the Gospel.
b. This promise was repeated and amplified throughout the Old Testament. It rested upon the unconditional, sovereign “I will” of God.
c. All the acts of God in the Old Testament were performed with the fulfillment of this promise in mind.
2. He provided a Savior to deal with the problem of sin.
a. When the plan of God was complete, God sent His Son to be mankind’s redeemer.
Galatians 4:4-5 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
b. According to the eternal purpose of God, Christ “died for our sins … was buried … and rose again the third day.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
c. To the everlasting praise of God, salvation is now offered on the sole condition of faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
II. A Compelling Message
-In Romans 1:14-16, Paul declares that he is indebted to God to give the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Having heard the greatest message in the world, He was compelled to share it with whomever he could. So great was this sense of obligation that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “Yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!”
A. It is a distinct message.
1. Every major religion relies upon performance for salvation.
a. Hinduism preaches a fourfold path to salvation.
b. Buddhism leads its followers down an eightfold path to salvation.
c. The salvation offered by Islam rests upon Five Pillars.
2. The Gospel centers upon a Person for salvation.
a. Jesus announced, “I am the Way …no man comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6
b. Peter declared, “There is none other name…whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
c. Paul said, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 13:38
The Gospel finds its source, content, and meaning in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, there is no salvation. Other messages tell men what they must DO to be saved; the Gospel tells men what has been DONE to save them.
B. It is a dynamic message. Romans 1:16-17
1. The Gospel is a particular message.
a. There are many messages in the Bible, but only one of them qualifies as THE Gospel.
b. The facts of the Gospel are:
• Christ died for our sins • He was buried • He rose again on the third day, having completed by himself all that was necessary to redeem mankind.
2. The Gospel is a powerful message.
a. The Gospel is the ONE MESSAGE that has the power to save a man from the penalty of his sins.
b. The power of the Gospel is subject to the following limitations:
• It cannot save until it first has been believed
• It cannot be believed until it is first heard
• It cannot be heard until it is first preached
III. A Commissioned People – Mark 16:15
A. Every believer involved
1. Missions is imperative. “Go”
a. Multitudes are born and die whether or not anyone is prepared to reach them
b. If we do not evangelize our generation, this generation will not be evangelized at all.
2. Missions is inclusive.
a. No one is exempted from the responsibility to evangelize the lost.
b. Christ’s command means that you are either sent or you send, but you cannot remain uninvolved and be obedient to Jesus Christ.
This message is not only about God’s Heart for Missions, but also our heart and doing our part!
B. Every person evangelized
1. The domain of missions is “all the world.”
2. The demand of missions is to preach to “every creature.”
-We are not the initiators of the mission. God is! But as part of His church we are privileged to participate in God’s ongoing mission to redeem and restore the world.
-So, what can we do with this? How can you get in on the mission of God?
You can pray, you can give, you can go. Perhaps we will be able to pull a missions trip together sometime in the future. But right now you can pray and give, and you can go and tell those in your family, your neighborhood, your circles of influence that there is a God who loves them and has been seeking them out from before they were even born. Jesus is the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world. He is the One who was sent to redeem the world, bringing forgiveness and peace to all who will trust.
-Maybe you haven’t done that yet. Maybe you haven’t trusted in Jesus, God’s missionary to this world. His love for you is greater than any other force in this life! His love is strong enough to free you from every addiction, heal you of every disease, forgive you for every sin, and restore you to God’s favor! Who else can even come close to that? There is no other savior! There is no other God! If you will put your trust in Him, He will reveal Himself to you and change your life forever! You can trade in your old life for the new one He will give you! Goodbye to the old way of living and hello to a life made new in Christ! Will you say yes to Him?
(*Portions of sermon adapted from Jerry Shirley, sermoncentral.com)