Summary: 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. God now identifies the local church as the center for world evangelism thru loving service & giving.
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.