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Category: On Mission

The Vehicle For Mission

The Vehicle For Mission

You and I are privileged of God to live in a time when more people, in more places of the world, are ready to respond to the gospel than at any time in all of human history. It is this very truth that should compel us to be more reflective of our participation in this cause of God in Jesus Christ because the times demand our best.

The United Pentecostal Church International presently has around a million adherents in US and Canada and has 102 missionary families outside of The North America working in 134 countries in the world. Our estimated international membership is around 3 million. 400,000 of those are from the Philippines which have around 2,500 pastors and churches all over the archipelago.

Winston Churchill once said, “Our goal is not to survive. It is to prevail.” This is applicable to the Church based on Matthew 16:18. But how should we do this? Here are some thoughts for us to ponder…

A. When the children of Israel were commanded by King Cyrus of Persia to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, almost 50,000 responded. The king ordered those who remained behind to strengthen the hands of those who went, helping “with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:4)

B. Giving and the Corinthian Church – 2 Chapters in 2 Corinthians were devoted to giving, specifically for alms and faith promise. Chapters 8 and 9 show Paul’s attitude and outlook towards giving.

2 Corinthians 8 is a whole chapter in which Paul is pleading with the Corinthian Church to fulfill their financial commitment / pledges / faith promise. Remember that the Corinthian local church is a rich church but that they seem to be lacking with their faith promise giving than the Macedonian churches (v. 2) which are the Philippian and the Thessalonian churches, to be more precise… “Grace” in v. 8 is “chariti” in Greek, a derivative of the Greek noun “charis” which means “gift.” The English word charity is a transliteration of “chariti.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:12, Paul explains why he never ask for any financial assistance from the Corinthian Church. The reason is he’s afraid that the Gospel might be hindered. This means that Paul was afraid the Corinthian Christians are offended with him when it comes to giving. That’s why the apostle Paul said, “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NLT)

2 Corinthians 12:14-18 shows the doubt of the Corinthian Church on trusting Paul with their gifts and offerings.

Is Mission Sunday biblical? The answer is in 1 Corinthian 16:1-4… From today onwards, I will never apologize for boldly asking for Mission.

C. Paul’s commendation of the Philippians in Philippians 4:10-19 – We often quote v. 13 which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” and v. 19 which says “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches…” yet we never fully comprehend the context of these two verses. The context is Mission Giving, as the Philippians who were very poor Christians, was always there to help Paul materially; and they consider themselves Paul’s PIM (Partners in Missions).  

Read Philippians 4:10-18 in Amplified Bible.

10 I was made very happy in the Lord that now you have revived your interest in my welfare after so long a time; you were indeed thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it.

11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be l content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.

12 I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.

13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who minfuses inner strength into me; I am nself-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

14 But it was right and commendable and noble of you to contribute for my needs and to share my difficulties with me.

15 And you Philippians yourselves well know that in the early days of the Gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church (assembly) entered into partnership with me and opened up [a debit and credit] account in giving and receiving except you only.

16 For even in Thessalonica you sent [me contributions] for my needs, not only once but a second time.

17 Not that I seek or am eager for [your] gift, but I do seek and am eager for the fruit which increases to your credit [the harvest of blessing that is accumulating to your account].

18 But I have [your full payment] and more; I have everything I need and am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent me. [They are the] fragrant odor of an offering and sacrifice which God welcomes and in which He delights.

19 And my God will liberally supply (ofill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

D. Other Thoughts On Giving To Mission 

a) It was David Livingstone who said, “I place no value on anything I have or possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ.” Nothing breaks the spirit of materialism like generosity. We’ll never go wrong if we keep remembering what our Master has made so clear: “You’re far happier giving than getting” (Acts 20:35, THE MESSAGE). The enumerator for all our assets is giving. The multiplication depends on the number below the Mathematical fraction for blessings.

b) One of Solomon’s wise observations resonates today more than ever: “Those who love money will never have enough” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NLT). We see this in families, businesses, even churches—everyone wants more than they have. Why has our nation’s debt tripled and quadrupled in recent years? The more we spend, the more we want to spend.

c) Philip Yancey in World Concern Update writes:

I don’t know what comes to your mind when you hear the word fat, but I have a good idea. In America fat is nearly always a dirty word. We spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books, and exercise machines to help us lose excess fat. I hadn’t heard a good word about fat in years—that is, until I met Dr. Paul Brand.

“Fat is absolutely gorgeous,” says Brand, a medical doctor who has worked with lepers in India. “When I perform surgery, I marvel at the shimmering, lush layers of fat that spread apart as I open up the body. Those cells insulate against cold, provide protection for the valuable organs underneath, and give a firm, healthy appearance to the whole body.” I had never thought of fat quite like that!

“But those are just side benefits,” he continues. “The real value of fat is as a storehouse. Locked in those fat cells are the treasures of the human body. When I run or work or expend any energy, fat cells make that possible. They act as banker cells. It’s absolutely beautiful to observe the cooperation among those cells!”

Dr. Brand applies the analogy of fat to the body of Christ. Each individual Christian with a relatively wealthy income is called to be a fat cell.

The People of God and Mission

The People of God and Mission

God is a person, not a theological principle, so he shows up in people’s stories. We can abstract those stories into principles that help us comprehend him: that’s fine, but God is found not in the principles but in the stories.

God is known through people and their stories. He always planned to be known through people. We are people whose stories reflect (image) God to each other. Israel’s calling was to be the people through whom other nations would know God. The ultimate revelation of God was through a person. Corporately, our stories are the revelation of God, known through his body.

Mission starts from God and its primary content is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its vital power is the power of the Holy Ghost and its primary instrument is God’s people.

1) ISRAEL WAS CHOSEN TO BE GOD’S MISSIONARY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

To begin, it seems helpful to recall that the church serves a mission similar to that of Israel prior to the coming of God’s Son into the world. Peter writes the defining comparison, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). This is the same way the writer of Deuteronomy describes Israel’s calling in the world.

“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)

Exodus 19:5-6 agreeably said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation…”

“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen”—this was the Lord’s charge to Israel. Thrice He called Israel “witnesses” (Isaiah 43:10, 12, and 44:8) and twenty-one times in Isaiah 40–54 He spoke of “servants.” Israel was not an end in itself; God had the world in mind. The “Missio Dei” through Israel is emphasized throughout the Old Testament and greatly amplified and described.

2) ISRAEL FAILED IN BEING GOD’S MISSIONARY TO THE WORLD

Ezekiel 36:20-21 pictures God as having pity on his own name because Israel was a failure in her missionary work even when God had scattered them through the Dispersion.

Many view the Book of Jonah as a narrative whose purpose is to drive home to Israel her sin in her national failure to fulfill God’s mission among the nations. Related to this view is the idea that the book is basically a missionary tractate or a short dissertation that promotes missionary work in Judaism and is designed to rebuke and break down Hebrew particularism and exclusiveness. Jonah is the only biblical missionary we know who doesn’t want his audience to be converted, but his attitude is the general consensus on Mission amongst Israelites during the Pre-exilic period of Israel’s history.

Clearly, God’s mission concern is inclusive, not exclusive. As indicated in the listing of the nations in Gen. 10, God’s interest has been in all people, not just in Israel. When God called Abraham and his descendants, they were chosen, not to be exclusive vessels, but rather to be a means of blessing “all families of the earth” (Gen. 12:1–3; 18:16–19; 22:9–19; 26:1–5; 28:10–14).

3) “MISSIO DEI” IS NOW “MISSIO ECCLESIAE.” THE MISSION OF GOD IS THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH.

Ephesians 3:10 tells us that God has chosen the church to make known his manifold wisdom. The church is the instrument and the vessel that God has chosen to use to reach your community. If the church is so central to God’s redemptive purpose, then we should have a passionate desire to know how to make it more effective in its mission.

Paul’s commendation of the Thessalonians which is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9. V. 8 say, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place…” (AV)

We Oneness Apostolics claim that we are “a people of the Name.” But the very name of Jesus implies that he is a Savior for it means Yahweh has become my Savior. Salvation flows from His name, His person, His office, and His work. If we are a people of the name, then we should also be a people of the work that carries that name. And that work is Mission. When the New Testament refers to people as lost, it is not a derogatory term. It means people are of value that Jesus came to seek and to save them.

Base on John 1:9, I believe that every man born into this world should have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. You may ask me as to what of the people during the times when the Apostolic Message was not preached or were they able to hear. My only answer is that the preachers of their generation are the one responsible for their souls and we are the ones responsible for the souls of our generation. We will not let the next generation, if there’s still another one to come, ask the same question when they pertain to us.

We must understand that the message of the Cross is tragically mute without preachers who will proclaim it. “How shall they hear without a preacher..? as the Bible says it.” William Booth once said to the king of England: “Sir, some men’s passion is for gold, other men’s passion is for fame, but my passion is for souls.”

In conclusion, Hugh Thomson Kerr once said, “We are sent not to preach sociology but salvation; not economics but evangelism; not reform but redemption; not culture but conversion; not progress but pardon; not a new social order but a new birth; not revolution but regeneration; not renovation but revival; not resuscitation but resurrection; not a new organization but a new creation; not democracy but the gospel; not civilization but Christ; we are ambassadors not diplomats.”

God and Mission

God and Mission

Why is Mission important? The simple answer is because it is very important to God. The first question ever asked in the Bible is a Mission question… “Adam, where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9) What we see is God reaching out to Adam and Eve, not to abruptly judge them but to first seek a way for redemption. God demands Mission and a complete understanding of Mission requires a look on the essential nature of God. We begin, then, where mission begins, with God.

A) GOD IS A MISSIONARY GOD

If God is a reaching-out-God, then He is a missionary God. It was Jesus himself who said “I am come to seek and to save that which was lost.” As the book Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church states, “God is a missionary God—he doesn’t wait for us to find him (as if we could). Rather, he moves into the neighborhood and finds us.”

Let me introduce a term that is well known in Mission books, forums, and debates on the validity of World Mission. “Missio Dei” is a Latin phrase that means “Mission of God” or “God’s Mission.” It was the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth who, at a missionary conference in 1932, “became one of the first theologians to define Mission as the activity not of men primarily, but of God himself.”

An article about “Missio Dei” in Wikipedia says that “Mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. GOD IS A MISSIONARY GOD. It is not primarily the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of God.” I do believe that we are just laborers of the Lord of the Harvest as stated in Luke 10:2. Mission is the harvest of God. It only becomes one of the primary activities of the Church because Jesus has delegated it to us. (John 20:21) This truth confirms that which we believe – a Christian is just an instrument and a mouthpiece. It is God himself who does the conversion.

When we say that Mission is theocentric, we do mean that God is the source, motive, and end of Mission. (Romans 11:36)

B) GOD IS NOT A GOD OF ISOLATION

While God is self-contained, His very nature of light and love demands Him to shine forth and to reach out. (John 1:9) He’s nature of Light (1 John 1:5) and Love (1 John 4:16) are the Divine impulse behind Creation itself. It is also the Divine impulse behind His act of Salvation. GOD IS NOT A GOD OF ISOLATION. He may be hidden because of sin but He is not absent. Neither is He uninvolved nor is He passive. God is an ACTIVE God. This is the very first characteristic of God revealed in Genesis 1:2. He “…MOVES upon the face of the waters…” The root word for active is ACT. And that is what God is all about.

Mission is not a human invention. Neither is it a human institution nor a human enterprise made up of loving but simplistic individuals, or volunteers of compassionate or sanctimonious people. MISSION IS MADE UP OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE PARTAKEN OF THE NATURE OF GOD, who entered fully into the purpose of God, and who became co-laborers in the Plan and Will of God. God is foremost the subject of Christian Mission. Where God is most prominent, Mission is most obvious and intense. When God is the center of a local church, that local church automatically becomes Missional.

C) GOD’S DESIRE FOR MISSION IS UNIVERSAL

John 3:16 is actually the “Missio Dei” in Biblical History context. This verse is a snapshot of the all-encompassing view of God’s Mission. In this single verse alone, God has illuminated us on what we could call “The Three Ds of Mission.” The first D is the Dynamics of Mission – “God so love… that He gave.” The second D is the Dimension of Mission – “the world… that whosoever.” And the last D is the Demand of Mission – “whosoever believeth.”

If the subject of Mission in John 3:16 is God, then its object is the world. Hence, “For God so loved the world…” Because the promise of redemption was given to Eve in the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15, therefore it is only logical that every offspring of Eve must hear the Call to Salvation. This Call is a rightful opportunity for all humanity and God is not willing that even a single soul will be deprived of the opportunity to hear the Gospel. 1 Timothy 2:4 describes God as one “Who will have all men to be saved…” Even Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that “…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some…” implying to us that while he hopes even for just “some” to be saved, his Missional audience is actually “all men.”

Even after The Fall, man is still man. He might be marred, depraved, and defiled, but He’s still man. He has not become a beast, neither has he become a demon. He’s still man and God’s light and love should shine on and reach him through Mission.

D) THE GLORY OF GOD IS THE PURPOSE AND GOAL OF MISSION

I agree with John Piper when he writes, “Missions is about the worship of Jesus. The goal of missions is the global worship of Jesus by his redeemed people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. The outcome of missions is all people delighting to praise Jesus. And the motivation for missions is the enjoyment that His people have in him. Missions aim at, brings about, and is fueled by the worship of Jesus.”

The Church exists to worship, but where worship is absent, mission begins. Only as Mission has its source in and derives its nature and authority from the Glory of God can it truly generate lasting and enduring motivation and become really Christian, really meaningful. On any other level it remains humanism, no matter how “religionized” or “Christianized” such humanism may be.

Defining a Biblical Apostolic Missiology

Defining a Biblical Apostolic Missiology

Mission is one of the central themes that propels the narrative of Scripture. To understand “mission,” one must consider its function within the entirety of the biblical narrative. It is proper to lay a biblical foundation for Mission before we address the need to do Mission.  

A) WHAT IS MISSION AND MISSIOLOGY?  

The term mission springs from the words “missio” (singular) and “missiones” (plural) which are Latin translations of the Greek “apostellein,” used in Mark 6:7 as “sent.” It is the infinitive form of the root verb “apostello” which means “to dispatch, or to cause someone to depart for a particular purpose—‘to send.’ The noun form for these words is “apostolos” from which we get the English word “apostle” but “apostello” is not exclusively used for the sending of the apostles only but in a much broader sense like in Acts 15:22 and Philippians 2:19.  

Mission conveys the biblical idea of being sent. The church is sent because Jesus was sent, in terms of the words of Jesus: “As the Father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21).  

The word “apostellein” carries with it the idea of official representation. This means that Christians are official representative of Christ to this world with the purpose of bringing them to a position of redemptive relationship with God. When we call ourselves “Apostolic,” it means that we are Missional.  

Missiology, as EDWM puts it, “…is the conscious, intentional, and ongoing study and teaching on the doing of mission.”   


B) WHY SHOULD WE DO MISSION?   


1) Because the Nature of God Demands Mission
 

MISSION is “theocentric.” It is God centered for it is the ramification of God’s nature as light (1 John 1:5) and love (1 John 4:16). Light and Love are the primary attractions which draws men and it is not overly emphatic to say that because these two are God’s nature, men will ultimately be drawn to God. “And I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.”  

As G. W. Peters, in his book entitled A Biblical Theology of Missions writes, “…Not the welfare and glory of man, not the growth and expansion of the church, but the Glory of God forms the highest goal of Mission because the nature, being, and character of God are the deepest grounds of Missions.”  


2) Because the Nature of Our Calling Demands Mission  

Matthew 28:19 is oftentimes referred to as the Great Commission. It is the call of Christ to His disciples (not only apostles) to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” Other translations render this as “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” The Gospel and Mission are tightly tied together. Luke 24:46-48 says, “And said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”  

The whole duty of the whole Church is to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world. Christ’s last command should be the believer’s first concern.  


3) Because the Nature of Eschatology Demands Mission
 

Matthew 28:20 says, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” This promise is the epitome of the justification for Mission in the last days. Christ is with the Church because the Church engages in Mission. Christ expects Christians in the last days, that is, unto the end of the world, to engage in Mission. To radical thinkers, eschatology is a study of where things are going, and as such it controls their lifestyle and concept of ministry and mission. Our Eschatology will determine the urgency in which we define the “when” of Mission.  


4) Because the Nature of God’s Blessing Demands Mission  

Abraham was blessed by God and God expects him to be a blessing to all nations. While the hermeneutical value of Genesis 12:1-2 is that the blessing to all nations is Christ and his redemptive work, we should never underscore an underlying principle in this text. God’s blessing is a cause for the recipient to also be a blessing to others. Biblical stewardship does not only mean how well we manage and keep God’s blessings in our life. It also means how well we give to God’s Mission in proportion to what He has entrusted to us. On the spiritual side, life begets life and your salvation should beget another man’s salvation. On the financial side, as much as God’s abundance fills your needs, your abundance should also fill another man’s need. This is the true biblical nature of blessings.  

When Jesus sent the 12 apostles on their first Galilean mission in Matthew 10:6-8, Jesus said to them, freely ye have received, freely give. This is one of a host of “Giving” verses that has Mission as its context. We’ll be amazed to find that many of our favorite “Giving” verses in the Bible are in the context of Mission.  


5) Because the Holy Ghost Demands Mission  

When the Church was born on the Day of Pentecost, after it was engulfed with the power and presence of the Holy Ghost, the first thing that it did was not to write a theological discourse. Neither did they gather and held a synod or a council to established and fixed doctrinal matters. The first thing that the first Church did was to preach and to baptize 3,000 souls. Primarily, they did Mission.  

The very first impact of Holy Ghost baptism in our Christian life is to empower us to do Mission. Acts 1:8 declares, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES unto me…”  

The phrase “ye shall be” is “esesthe” in Greek which is a derivative of the root verb “eimi.” It means to have a quality of being. It is in the indicative mood in “…which the action of the verb or the state of being it describes is presented by the writer as real. It is the mood of assertion, where the writer portrays something as actual (as opposed to possible or contingent on intention).” The indicative mood of “ye shall be” implies to us that the Holy Ghost is affirming to us through Luke (the writer of Acts) that once we have received the Holy Ghost, our nature becomes Missional. Mission is not just a possibility but becomes instinct for a Spirit filled person.  


C) THE UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INTERNATIONAL MISSION STATEMENT  

How Apostolic Pentecostals view Mission is reflected on the UPCI’s Mission Statement: “The purpose of the United Pentecostal Church International is to carry the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church; to establish an effective organized effort; to encourage the opening and establishing of new works; to evangelize the world by every means possible; and to produce and maintain a clean ministry and fellowship.”