Biblical Basis of Mission
A summary by Chris Bullock
God’s missional heart – Why do we do ‘Mission’? What is it anyway?
Mission’s End goal:
Revelation 7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
Revelation 22:2 On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Mission was God’s idea from the beginning
God made Adam and Eve ‘very good’, and because he wanted to have a relationship with them. God was the initiator of relationship, not people. In the garden, after the fall we see God calling people – “Where are you?” – rather than people searching for God. We see that pattern throughout the Bible. This is a key difference between Christianity and other religions. Mission is about us being sent from where we are most comfortable to go and tell people that God is calling them, that God can save them. Our God is a sending and saving God.
The first couple were told to
“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen 1:28
This first commission was much more than go and have babies. It was to spread Eden across the globe, and to fill it with people in relationship with God. God made people in his image, after his likeness, to go out into the world and act like him.
In Gen 10 and 11 we see nations being formed. In Gen 12 God intervenes again, calling one man – Abram. Here God’s missional purpose is clear.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
God didn’t establish the nation of Israel in order to make a separate people who would worship him. He blessed them to be a blessing, to all peoples, all nations.
And yet for the most part, they are not a blessing. We see glimpses of it, such as in Joseph blessing Egypt, kings coming to Solomon to learn from his wisdom, or in individuals like Rahab and Ruth, but for the most part they remain inward looking, focusing on the blessing they receive, not the blessing they are to give. The period when we see the most blessing to the nations is actually the lowest point of Israel’s existence – the exile – when Judah is taken into Babylon and the likes of Daniel bless even to the king. But throughout the Old Testament we see calls to bless the nations, and hints of what God wanted to happen.
Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God’s missionary heart – his will to send and to save.
From the beginning he is for all nations. Of the five women mentioned in Jesus genealogy Mat 1:1-7, three were gentiles. Jesus is greeted by the wise men from the east, and takes refuge in Egypt. Simeon proclaims that Jesus is a light for revelation to the Gentiles (Luke 2:32)
When Jesus starts his ministry he quotes Isaiah:
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:17-19
In this we see that his mission was about much more than evangelism. It was about wholeness – body, soul and spirit. About making it on earth as it is in heaven.
We all know the great commission – Mat 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The first act of the Holy Spirit for the new church was to make them able to be understood by people of all nations, in essence to reverse the Tower of Babel.
What is mission for?
On earth as in heaven.
Mission is not just overseas, it is more than evangelism. Making disciples of all nations (not in all nations) is about transforming societies as well as individuals. It is seeing the oppressed set free and the blind receiving their sight as well as (though not instead of!!) the good news being proclaimed. Think of the Lord’s Prayer – a missional prayer that embraces all of life
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matt 6:9-13
It is OUR prayer, not mine, asking that we give God his proper place, that God’s will is done on earth (what is God’s will? – sozo – saved, healed, delivered), that OUR physical needs are met, that we are forgiven our sins and forgive each other, and that we are delivered from the evil one.
What are your passions in mission? How do you long to see earth become like heaven? What is the dream that God has placed in your heart? Or are you just starting to explore mission?
Where do you see God already working, and you’re feeling called to join in?
What do you need to help you to grow in this/ start on this journey?
By Chris Bullock
International Missions Assistant
Riverlife Baptist Church
Blogs Index 1: Revivals (briefer than Revivals Index)
Blogs Index 2: Mission (international stories)
Blogs Index 3: Devotional (including Testimonies)
Blogs Index 4: Chapters (Blogs from Books)
Blogs Index 5: Images (photos from Books & Facebook)