Introduction & definition
In order to understand concept of mission in the Bible we first need to understand and know what mission is.
The singular form, “mission” comes from the Latin language, and means most basically, “the act or an instance of sending” (Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dict.). When it is used with reference to the Christian faith, it refers to “The sending forth of men with authority to preach or spread the gospel” (Funk ; Wagnalls Standard Dict., International Edition). This then is the meaning which men have assigned to the word “missions”.
Mission is a propagation of faith, expansion of the reign of God, conversion of heathen and the founding of the new church.
According to Robert Reeves, in his article What the Bible Says About Missions. “Mission is the sending across cultural barriers by Christ through the church evangelists whose primary function is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by proclaiming the good news about Jesus.”
According to George Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions, “Missions is a specialized term. By it I mean the sending forth of authorized persons beyond the borders of the New Testament church and her immediate gospel influence to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in gospel-destitute areas, to win converts from other faiths or non-faiths to Jesus Christ, and to establish functioning, multiplying local congregations who will bear the fruit of Christianity in that community and to that country.”
A. The Storyline of Scripture
• Creation — How did we get here?
• Fall — What went wrong?
• Redemption — Can it be fixed?
• Consummation — Where is it going?
II. Biblical Theology of Mission in Overview
A. Creation — How did we get here?
Last week we discussed that the goal of mission is the glory of God and so we begin in Genesis with the created world perfectly reflecting the glory of God, after all everything that God made was good. In particular God created man as His image-bearer to both reflect and enjoy His glory as His representative and the mediator of His presence who would care for His creation.
B. Fall — What went wrong?
But then something goes terribly wrong; man rebels. Rather than reflect God’s glory man seeks to rival it. Rather than represent God’s authority and rule man seeks to live by his own authority and to exercise his own rule. Because of this the whole of creation is stricken with a curse. This ground which once brought life will now bring hardship, pain, frustration, and death. The harmony of God’s good creation is shattered and man is now at war with creation, with his fellow man, even with himself, and ultimately with God. This perfect picture of God’s glory has become a cosmic revelation of His judgment and wrath.
C. Redemption — Can it be fixed?
1. Seeing Mission in the Garden – The Adamic Covenant
Man does not seek out God in repentance; he does not attempt to atone for his sins. No, man hides from God in the garden. This is still man’s tendency (Romans 3:9-18). From this narrative it is clear that man is both unwilling and unable to turn to God in repentance on his own accord. God must intervene and intervene He does. “God comes into the Garden from without, seeks out Adam, and both judges and shares the redemptive promise with him . . . God was on a mission to Adam. He had no other man to send, so he sent himself.” God is a missional God. He seeks out rebellious man to redeem him (Genesis 3:9). God promises and provides for redemption (Genesis 3:15). By the shedding of blood God covers their shame (Genesis 3:21). And it is God who provides a means by which rebellious humanity may enter into relationship with him (Genesis 4:1-5).
This is our first glimpse of mission in Scripture; this is the defining moment for everything that follows. From the Genesis narrative it is clear that “Mission is not ours; mission is God’s. Certainly the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or, as it has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that God has a mission for