Mission Monday: Moving the Church to Embrace the Mission Through the Word of God

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For today’s Mission Monday, I want to continue the discussion  I started last week about how we motivate the church to go on mission.  Last week we discussed the importance of distinguishing between “the mission” and “missions.”  This week I want to to talk about the primacy of the Word of God in leading people to embrace the mission of God.

One of the key theological debates during the Reformation of the 16th century concerned the relationship between the church and the Bible.  The Roman Catholic church taught that the church formed the Bible, whereas the Reformers correctly taught that the Bible/Gospel creates or forms the church.  We see this idea in several places in Scripture.  For instance, in Romans 10:17 Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”  In other words, it is through the hearing of the Word of God/Gospel that faith is formed in the human heart.  In Acts 6:7 the growth of the church is attributed to the Word of God, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many priests became obedient to the faith.”  In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul says that the believers Spiritual growth in righteousness is directly related to the Word of God.  Martin Luther summarized the role of the Scripture by saying, “The church was born by the word of promise through faith, and by this same word is nourished and preserved.  That is to say, it is the promises of God that make the church and not the church the makes the promises of God.”

Here is where our theology must be put into practice.  If we believe that the church is formed and shaped by the Word of God, then the best way to motivate our people to go on mission is through the careful, deliberate and systematic preaching/teaching of the Bible.  Let me nuance this a little more, because many of you will read my last statement and think to yourself, “but I already do that and my people are not going on mission.” If we want people to go on mission we must make sure that we are interpreting and preaching the Scripture in a Christocentric manner.  In other words, we must make sure that we are always looking to see what the passage we are preaching teaches about Jesus and His mission.  This practice stems from the conviction that first and foremost the Bible is centered and focused on the person and work of Jesus.

Far too many sermons that I hear today are focused on self-help and motivational messages that have little to do with the Gospel of Jesus.  Sure, the preacher added a plea to repent and believe at the end of the message, but nothing else in the sermon had a distinctively Christian message.  This is not a new complaint and many have recognized this problem before me, but I think it bears repeating.  As Bible preachers and teachers, it is our responsibility to show our people how every passage of Scripture we preach connects to Christ and His mission. This is the single best way we can motivate people to go on mission.

Once again, let me come back to what I said last week.  If we merely motivate people to go on “missions” their passion is going to be grounded in mere circumstances. If they had a good trip or heard a good speaker they will be temporarily committed.  But if we can help them to see “the mission” of God as it has played out through the pages of the Bible and in their lives, they will move beyond mere commitment to actually being shaped by the “the mission of God.”  Being shaped by the mission is never the product of a mere program or promotion within the church.  If we want people to be shaped by the “the mission” of God, we must trust in the sole sufficiency of the Word of God to being transformation.

If you found this post helpful please take a moment to look through some of the past posts in the Archive and then “follow” me to receive updates.   Right now I am entering every new follower of the blog into a drawing to receive a copy of “The Case for Antioch” by Jeff Iorg.  The winner will be selected on Wednesday, December 5th.  So please sign up now for a chance to win.

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2 thoughts on “Mission Monday: Moving the Church to Embrace the Mission Through the Word of God

  1. I agree completely Brother Joe. Therapeutic sermons have reached epidemic proportions from what I see from the most popular speakers and evangelists of our day. I have mentioned some by name at times to people, such as Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, or Ed Young, and received some strong reactions from devout members of the church. “I went to see him in St Louis and he was wonderful!” The trouble is that it’s not just “gospel light” they’re preaching, it’s no gospel at all. As you have well stated, the power of the Gospel is found in the message of the cross of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God at work in the hearts of people as they are confronted with the truth. It’s not found in tickling people’s ears with another “how to add spice to your marriage,” “how to have your best life now,” or “how God wants to give you everything you ever wanted” kind of message that will fill an arena but leave people empty.

    I really believe this is what it comes down to: how exactly do we think Christians are motivated to share the Gospel and reach out to people around them? Do we motivate them with fancy presentations and manipulative words or does God call them and inspire them? If we believe it’s our job to twist their arms or give them a guilt trip, we’ll spend ourselves attempting to accomplish something that is not ours to perform. But if we see this as a work of God in the hearts of His people as a response to His Gospel and His Word, then we will just be certain to honor Him in every way we possibly can and preach and teach His Word as truthfully and accurately as possible, and we’ll abandon all our methods and strategies to trust Him alone. Good word brother. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Courtney,

    You are exactly right! The deeper we can help people to meditate on the gospel the more motivated they will be to share the gospel.

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