Friday, December 1, 2017

The Basis for Our Evangelistic Mission

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17).

The church’s mission to take the Gospel to the lost has its origin in the activity of God Himself. It was God the Father who sent Jesus Christ to us, and following upon that it is Jesus who sends us. Notice that God did not send Jesus on a mission to destroy or judge the world, but rather on a mission to save it. That is also the mission Jesus has given His people. Toward the end of John 3 we see that Jesus came speaking God’s Word and ministering by means of the Spirit.

When we turn over to John 17:8, we find Jesus praying for His people: “For I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” The issue before the Jews in Jesus’ day was this: Who sent this man? The Pharisees and others thought that Jesus was of Satan and spoke the words of Satan. The disciples, however, recognized that Jesus had been sent by God, because they recognized the words of God.

Toward the end of His prayer, Jesus says, “As you sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). How did God the Father send Jesus? As we have seen, God sent Jesus with the Word of God. Thus, we are sent with the Word of God. Why did God the Father send Jesus? God sent Jesus to save the world, not to condemn it. Thus, we are sent to proclaim that same saving intention.

This is the biblical foundation for mission: The Word of God spoken with divine authority. God sent Jesus, and Jesus sends us. Just as Jesus came in the power of the Spirit, so God has sent the Spirit upon the church, after Pentecost, to empower her for world mission.

Christians need to be the aggressors in a culture which increasingly seeks to contain the church. We are sent to proclaim the message of salvation to the world. We do not use weapons of steel, but rather the armament of the Gospel: the Word of God, changed lives, and a new community. If you have fallen into feeling that you are on the defensive before an aggressive world, ask God to restore your sense of mission and to send you forth again!