Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Biblical Foundation for Missions

Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Exodus 19:5-6

Fundamentally, the Bible is about God. As Robert Cates points out in Old Testament Roots for a New Testament Faith, the Bible reveals a God Who Is and a God Who Acts.So, who is this God of the Bible? What does He do? Obviously, we can't exhaustively answer those questions in a short article in an online newsletter. (Not that I could answer these questions definitively anyway!)

However, we can address one aspect of God's character and the activity associated with it. So, let's do that.

The God of the Bible is a relational God. He desires to be in relationship with the crowning glory of His creation - namely, human beings. On page one of Holy Scripture we discover that God made man in His image (Genesis 1:26-28). At the very least this means that mankind can be in relationship with the Creator. As the pages of the biblical drama unfold, it is readily apparent this truly is God's desire.Time and again, God demonstrates His love for people. He lives in relationship with them. He talks to them. He listens to their pleas. He reacts to their plight. He reveals Himself as a loving God who cares deeply about each human being.

On page three of the biblical material, the relationship so desired by God is marred by the sinfulness of mankind. The result is brokenness. God responds to this brokenness with both judgment and compassion. He judges sin. But he is unwilling to sever the relationship with human beings. A great plan is set in motion that will culminate in a personal visit from God through His Son. All of this aimed at restoring the broken relationship between human beings and their Creator.

My point? God is a seeking, missionary God. His actions in both the Old and New Testaments clearly demonstrate this truth. He called Israel to Himself in relationship. They were to be His people. He then commissioned them as priests to reach the nations (Exodus 19:5-6). Israel was to serve as His emissary to the rest of creation. Unfortunately, God's desire was not lived out through Israel for a number of reasons.Jesus issues a similar commission for the New Covenant people of God - the church. We are to "Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples." (Matthew 28:19 - CEV)The biblical mandate to go to the nations is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Obviously, God intends for us to do it. We have no option but to be obedient. We must go, pray, go, send, go and give.

Several churches in the New Testament era recognized the responsibility of this commission. The church in Antioch sent out the first missionaries from their body. These men went throughout that region of the world, preaching the Gospel and establishing other churches. Churches joined this effort and the Gospel was proclaimed so fervently that by the beginning of the 4th century, the Roman Emperor Constantinople would declare Christianity as the official religion of the empire. Wow!God is still a relational God. He remains a missionary God. If we are going to be like Him, we must be missionary people.

To Him be the glory as we go to the nations on His behalf.

Dennis R. Wiles


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