OUR MISSIONARY GOD OLD TESTAMENT ONE GOD. The Scriptures teach that God is one. If there is but one God, then He is the God of all people.

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1 OUR MISSIONARY GOD For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven And on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ May dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:14-19). Christian missions originated in the heart of God. Christian missions is grounded in the character of God Himself. It is because of the kind of God that our God is, that missions is vital. OLD TESTAMENT ONE GOD The Scriptures teach that God is one. If there is but one God, then He is the God of all people.... there is no other God besides Me... turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other (Isa 45:21,22). Is God the God of the Jews only? Is He not the God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one (Ro 3:29,30; see also Ro 10:12; 1 Co 8:4-7; Eph 4:6). Since God is one He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe. Thus the basis of missions is found in Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Since God made the world He has an interest in it: The earth is the Lord s and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it (Ps 24:1). The whole world is God s concern. God s goodness extends to everyone: The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made... You open Your hand, You satisfy the desire of every living thing... The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of all who fear Him, He also hears their cry, and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love Him... (Ps 145:9,16,18-20). Christian missions, then, is based on the love of God. God created man as the climax of His handiwork. He made man in His own image thereby showing His concern and interest in His created being. Man was not placed on earth to be abandoned, but to have fellowship with God. And man was capable of this fellowship with his Creator because he was made in His image.

2 God s missionary heart throbs with compassion for the lost. This is evident throughout the Bible beginning in the first book we know as The Book of Genesis. The Bible is the story of God reaching out and ultimately going out Himself in a mission formulated by His own nature of holiness, love and mercy. Mankind, because of pride, rebelled against its Creator by willfully disobeying Him (Ge 3). As a result fellowship was broken. 2 In spite of man s pride and rebellion, God in His love immediately initiated a process of redemption to bring fallen man back into fellowship with Himself. As early as Genesis 3:9, God went out looking for man and then in Genesis 3:15, God gave His first promise of redemption through the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ, the Messiah) who would conquer the serpent (Satan). In order to deal with man s sin, God instituted a method involving animal sacrifices (Ge 4:4) whereby sinful man might regain fellowship with his Creator and offer Him worship. God s attitude toward mankind is clearly seen in His dealings with Cain. After Cain had slain his brother God demanded a response. Where is your brother Cain? God asked. God was here wanting Cain to commit himself with his reply. Cain tried to disavow himself from any responsibility for the welfare of his brother as he asked, Am I my brother s keeper? God answers, What have you done? The voice of your brother s blood is crying to me from the ground (Ge 4:10). God makes the point that we are responsible for our brother s welfare. Abel s needless death demanded God s gracious attention. God is vitally interested in the affairs of men. And so should we be. The search for Adam in the Garden (Ge 3:8-9), the first promise of redemption through the seed of the woman (Ge 3:15), the institution of animal sacrifices (Ge 4:4), the call of Abraham (Ge 12:1-3), the call of Moses, the election of Israel, the ministries of the prophets, were all part of the divine mission brought to its fulfillment in Christ. THE CALL OF ABRAHAM The next step in God s program to carry out His purposes for the world He begins with one man. God s worldwide plan of reaching mankind is now focused on His call of Abraham (Ge 12:1-4). ALL NATIONS ARE BLESSED THROUGH ISRAEL God s program of missions next is His choosing to work through one nation: Israel. And God s purpose in choosing one nation is that all nations will be blessed through that one nation. Though God did great things on behalf of His people Israel, He invariably had a

3 3 greater purpose in mind. Though God performed great miracles to rescue His people Israel, at the same time His ultimate purpose was making His name known among the nations of the whole world. A CALL TO ALL NATIONS The next step in God s program of missions is His call to the whole world. God, having called a man through whom He would form a nation, and having called that nation through whom He could reach the world, now extends His call to the world. The Ten Plagues What most of us think of when we think of the ten plagues we think of God sending them to force Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave their captivity in Egypt. But God s word to Pharaoh was: I will send all my plagues upon your heart, and upon your servants and your people, that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth... but for this purpose have I let you live, to show you My power, so that My name may be declared throughout all the earth (Ex 9:14,16). Here we see there was an even greater purpose than deliverance from human bondage. Theat purpose was that everyone would know the God of Israel. The Exodus Joshua, reflecting on the two great events of the Israelites Exodus from Egypt--the opening of the Red Sea so they could march out of the land and the opening of the Jordan River so they could march into the land of Canaan said, For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. (Jos 4:23-24) Here we see the greater purpose is that the people may know God s greatness and power ( mighty ) and thus fear Him. After all, the Bible is clear that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. There is no way to know the God of the Bible apart from this fear. God s reasons for delivering His people Israel must not be limited to Israel alone. God intervened for Israel not only for her benefit, but for the benefit of the whole earth. For God used Israel as a showcase to make His name known throughout the earth.

4 4 David and Goliath The familiar story of David and Goliath shows again that God had a greater purpose than just the immediate rescue of His people. David warns Goliath: This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, And cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel (1 Sa 17:46). This is not just an interesting story about a shepherd boy slaying a giant. Its purpose is to show everyone that there is a God in Israel. The focus is not to be on David but the God of David! Solomon In the same way, Solomon, David s son, saw God s universal purposes in the building of the temple in Jerusalem. In his dedicatory prayer, Solomon expresses his desire that the glory of God be seen through the temple worship. Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for Your name s sake (for they shall hear of your great name, and your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm) when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you; in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You... Let these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other (1 Kgs 8:41-43,59-60). Psalms The concern that God s name should be made known throughout the earth is also expressed by the writers of the Psalms. Fear and reverence is to be shown by all peoples toward Yahweh: Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him! (Ps 33:8). God s graciousness will make His name known: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known upon earth, Your saving power among all nations (Ps 67:1-2). There are even calls that God s people be active witnesses of Yahweh everywhere:

5 5 O sing unto the lord a new song; sing to the lord all the earth! Sing unto the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!... Say among the nations The Lord reigns! (Ps 96:1-3,10). Missionary preaching is supported in the Psalms by more than 175 references of a universalistic note relating to the nations of the world (e.g. Ps 2,33,66,72,98,117,145). Thus the Psalter is one of the greatest missionary books in the world. The Prophets God s universal concern for mankind was also brought forth forcefully by the prophets. Isaiah, more than any other prophet, made this clear. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other (Isa 45:22). It is Isaiah who states that they Servant (Israel and ultimately Christ) is called to reveal justice to the nations (Isa 42:1) and to be a light to the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:6), in order that the salvation of god may reach to the end of the earth (Isa 49:6). Isaiah even occasionally exhorts his people Israel to aggressively declare to all the earth what God has done for them: Go forth from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it forth to the ends of the earth; say, The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob! (Isa 48:20). Jonah The book of Jonah is clear and unmistakable testimony to God s outstretched love for all mankind. This book gives us not only a story about the disobedience of a servant of God (Jonah) and the subsequent incident of repentance and revival of an entire city; it shows us something of the rigid ethnocentrism of the people of God. In this account is seen how that Israel thought the sun rose and set purely for her own benefit. All other peoples were inferior and not worthy of God s love and forgiveness. Israel wanted to limit God s benevolence to herself. Jonah objected to going to Ninevah to preach repentance because he knew that if he did God would keep His word and would spare this heathen city from the impending judgment. As a typical Hebrew child, Jonah had been brought up to believe that the Jews, and only the Jews, were chosen and loved by God while all others were beyond the reach of God s goodness. Such a narrow and selfish view of Israel was not only believed to be true but also just and proper. For according to her the Gentile or heathen nations did not possess the qualities which would merit God s love and concern. The very thought of the heathen Gentiles in Ninevah listening to the message of Yahweh and possibly

6 6 embracing His offer of mercy and grace was repulsive to the mind of a true and loyal son of Israel, the people of God, like Jonah. Thus he flatly refused to accept this mission which God called him to. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which He had said He would do to them; and He did not do it. But it displeased Jonah very much, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, I pray, Lord, is not this what I said when I was still in my country? This is why I fled quickly to Tarshish; for I knew that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, and full of steadfast love, and repents of evil (Jnh 3:10-4:2). NEW TESTAMENT THE CENTER OF MISSIONS IS CHRIST Our God is a missionary God! God had one Son, and that one and only Son was a missionary... a missionary from heaven to earth. A missionary is a sent one who communicates the gospel across another culture. Jesus was sent by God the Father to communicate His love in the culture of mankind--sinful mankind. Paul put it: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Co 8:9). Jesus left the majesty and glory of the heavens to incarnate the good news of the kingdom. He left the riches of the heavens to proclaim His Word to poor sinners such as you and me. Though He was rich, for our sakes, he became poor. This is our missionary God. The mission of God has its historic expression in Jesus who quoted the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2) saying: 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, to proclaim the year of the Lord s favor (Lk 4:18-19).

7 The phrase, the year of the Lord s favor is not a calendar year, but the period when salvation would be proclaimed the Messianic age. Although Isaiah predicted primarily the liberation of Israel from the future Babylonian captivity, Jesus proclaimed liberation from sin and all its consequences. 7 The mission of God has found its sharpest focus and fullest expression in Christ and the deliverance He came to bring. Three of Jesus parables have to do with finding the lost: The Lost Lamb, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son. Each of these parables portray the lost, unregenerate sinner. Each is to be sought by God s people, His ambassadors. Lost people matter to God! And they ought to matter to God s people. To know the Christian God is to know a missionary God, a God who seek and saves the lost. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). In Paul s letter to the churches in the region of Ephesus he writes in the form of a prayer that they may be rooted and established in love and grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. He prays that they may know this love that surpasses knowledge. To know such love is to understand, to grasp, how much God loves all His creation. To know the heart of God is to feel His heart beating for missions because He wants His lost children to be found. THE PURPOSE OF MANKIND The Bible is clear that God created man for His own glory (Isa 43:7). Although God s primary purpose in the world is not the well-being the salvation of mankind, in revealing His glory in the world (Ps 76:10; Eph 1) mankind is included, for it is God s plan that mankind is to glorify God with one voice (Ro 15:6). THE MISSION The mission of the church then can be described as the method by which people, through enabling others to glorify God for His mercy (Ro 15:9), participate in the multiplication of thanksgiving to the glory of God (2 Co 4:15).

8 8 THE MOTIVE Jesus motive for service was God s glory. He summarized His ministry on earth by the statement: I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do (Jn 17:4). Then Jesus adds the request, And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began (Jn 17:5). Jesus had honored His Father and demonstrated His holiness by His perfect life and obedience unto death. Therefore the Father now magnifies His Son. He has exalted Him to the throne on high and bestowed upon Him all power in heaven and on earth. It is there that He shall rule until, as Paul puts it, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Php 2:10=11).

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