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.”


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