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Category Archives: Foundations in Missions

Why Missions?

Why Missions?  This is both a legitimate and weighty question which demands a significant answer.  While often unstated, it is the question of the hour by many of my peers, especially those with a different world view.  Our answer must flow directly from Scripture, and I believe Psalm 96 captures it well:

O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”

God demands that all His creatures bring Him glory through passionate worship, therefore those who have been redeemed are responsible to proclaim His glory throughout all nations.  Notice this string of quotes from John Piper’s book Let the Nations be Glad, which reflect the purpose of missions as stated in Psalm 96:

“A heart for the glory of God and a heart of mercy for the nations make a Christ-like missionary.’ These must be kept together. If we have no zeal for the glory of God, our mercy becomes superficial, man-centered human improvement with no eternal significance. And if our zeal for the glory of God is not a reveling in his mercy, then our so-called zeal, in spite of all its protests, is out of touch with God and hypocritical (cf. Matt. 9:13).”[1]

“The gospel demand that flows from such a God to the nations is an eminently shareable, doable demand, namely, to rejoice and be glad in God. The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Ps. 97:1). “Let the peoples praise you, 0 God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for jot’!” (Ps. 67:3-4). “Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive” (Ps. 69:32 Rsv). “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!”‘ (Ps. 70:4). What message would missionaries rather take than the message, “Be glad in God! Rejoice in God! Sing for joy in God! For God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him! God loves to exalt himself by showing mercy to sinners.”[2]

“The human race has failed to work for God so as to increase his glory but that we have failed to delight in God so as to reflect his glory, for God’s glory is most reflected in us when we are most delighted in him.”[3]

“The motive of compassion and the motive of zeal for the glory of God are not separate… No one will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the magnificence of Christ. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our worship where there is no passion for worship.[4]

I am thoroughly convinced that if we would genuinely grow daily in the glorious privilege of an intimate knowledge of our Redeemer, we would become passionate lovers and worshippers of Him.  This alone will properly position us to be faithful ministers of the Gospel wherever He might direct us in His great work of drawing men to Himself.  Are you growing in this love?

Oh that Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith; that we, would be rooted and grounded in love, able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and that we would know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, and that we might be filled with all the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:17-19

For the transcript of a fantastic message by a friend on this topic see the following message by Lukus Counterman Wichita Falls Baptist Church November 13, 2011

 

 

 

 


[1] John Piper. Let the Nations Be Glad! 2nd Edition (p. 35). Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid, (p. 37). Kindle Edition.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, (p. 42-44). Kindle Edition.

 

 
 

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Why Should Anyone be a Missionary?

There are many biblical passages dear to heart, but few are as heart gripping and motivational as Psalm 96. In this Psalm, the psalmist presents God’s program for missions from the Old Testament perspective. He commands every element of God’s creation to proclaim His glory in passionate worship. God’s people must proclaim His glory among the nations, so that all will praise Him. The following excerpt from John Piper’s book Let the Nations be Glad captures precisely the point of the psalmist, as well as two of the foundational constants from this Psalm, a knowledge of God and an understanding of the condition of men, which should press our heats into passionate worship and proclamation of His gospel among the nations. He writes:

“A heart for the glory of God and a heart of mercy for the nations make a Christlike missionary.’ These must be kept together. If we have no zeal for the glory of God, our mercy becomes superficial, man-centered human improvement with no eternal significance. And if our zeal for the glory of God is not a reveling in his mercy, then our so-called zeal, in spite of all its protests, is out of touch with God and hypocritical (cf. Matt. 9:13).”[1]

May we be lovers of God who grow daily in an intimate knowledge of Him which will cause us to strive day by day to proclaim His glories in the gospel among the nations!


[1] John Piper. Let the Nations Be Glad! 2nd Edition (p. 35). Kindle Edition.

 

 

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A Biblical Foundation for Service: Conclusion

Conclusion on the Foundation of all Christian Service…

Questions for the teacher…

  • How do you present ministry to young and old? 
  • Do you “brow beat” people into service, putting them on a guilt trip?
  • Do you manipulate their emotions to produce an immediate response?
  • Do you appeal to their flesh by presenting service to God as the popular thing to do?
  • Do you appeal to people theologically as Paul did in Romans 12?
  • Do you approach your people as Paul approached the church at Rome: brutally honestly (it will cost you something,) theologically (the mercies of God and your position in Christ make this your logical service,) and as a coach (exhorting as you come alongside them?)
  • Do you appeal to service from a God centered perspective, or from a man centered perspective?
  • Is there a humble dependence upon the Spirit of God to work through His word, or is there a fleshly dependence upon charisma, whit, “tear jerk” stories, or the “shock” factor.

If we appeal to people Biblically, humbly dependent upon the Spirit of God to work through His word, carefully laying open the texts of Scripture where God addresses these issues rather than appealing to fleshly means, I believe we will see the Spirit move in the hearts of His people.  People will see that this surrender of self to God is the logical response of every believer.  God will stir the hearts of those whom He has uniquely gifted for these works, and we will see the body in all its parts properly motivated and functioning together to accomplish God’s purposes in His local assemblies. 

Questions for the layman…

  • Is your entire person genuinely and completely surrender to God’s service?
  • Is your motivation God focused love and gratitude or fear and guilt?
  • Are you being duped by the world to believe that whole hearted surrender of self to God is less that logical?
  • What excuses do you present when confronted with a divided heart?
  • Do you view even mundane activities as potential actions of holy, acceptable worship to God?
  • Are you being transformed daily to reflect more clearly the glory of God?
  • Are you refusing to be conformed to the world in your values, desires, actions, and character?
  • Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to gut your pre-conversion thinking and replace it with the word of God so that you will grow daily into Christ-likeness?

If we daily walk in fellowship with God, in the light of His word, He will progressively change our thinking which will transform our character and actions to reflect more clearly the glory of God in our lives.  This renovated thinking will help us recognize worldly deception so we will reject it and walk in submission to God.  May we all walk daily as a living sacrifice of acceptable worship to God! This is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for every believer.

 
 

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A Biblical Foundation for Service Part 6: The renewing of your mind…

The renewing of your mind…

I want to summarize this series by saying that the foundation to every form of Christian service, specifically cross-cultural church planting, is our willingness to yield our entire person unreservedly to God’s use.  This disposition toward God makes our actions acceptable worship to Him.  We maintain this disposition by refusing to be conformed to this world’s system, by allowing God to transform our total personal and through the renewing of the mind.  As my mind is renewed, God’s glory is more purely reflected in me.  These truths lead us to one final critical question. How does God renew my mind?

How does God renew my mind?

II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Romans 8:28-29And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…

According to these passages, there are two primary tools that the indwelling Holy Spirit uses to renovate our minds, and change us into the image of Christ in character and conduct.  First, He uses the word of God.  In James 1 and II Corinthians 3, God’s Word is compared to a mirror.  God’s Word like a mirror is God’s self revelation.  We see the reflection of God’s glory through His word.  Like Moses who glowed physically after having spent significant time in God’s presence, on Mount Sinai, we will reflect His glory when we see His glory reflected in His word.  This reflection is not a physical reflection like the glory of the transfiguration or Moses on Sinai; rather it is a reflection of the glory of God in our character and conduct.  God’s word also reveals our current character and conduct in the light of the character and expectations of God.  John refers to the presence of God and His revelation as being in the light.  He uses this analogy, because the light exposes what could not be seen before it was introduced.  God’s word as it reveals God to us, progressively exposes areas of character and living that are not conformed to His character and expectations.  The Holy Spirit illumines our minds to the personal significance of God’s word, as well as enables us as we make decisions of obedience.  God change us primarily through His word.  Secondly, God uses the circumstances of life in this process of growth into Christ-likeness.  All things in the believer’s life work together in God’s plan for the believer’s good.  Sadly, many believers manipulate this passage to say things that God never intended for it to mean.  This passage does not teach that God will work everything to a pleasant end in this life, that you will be healed, get a raise, or get what you think is good and best.  This passage teaches that the good that Paul mentions is God’s conforming the believer to the image of Christ.  The good work of God is Christian growth, and sometimes this growth is painful.

Let me ask you first how often are you in the Word of God? You will not grow if you are not walking in the light of God’s word and fellowship.  Secondly, how are you responding to the circumstances of life?  God has allowed you into the unique circumstances that you are facing that you would obey Him in those circumstances, so He can change your thinking, character, and living.  May we all have the needed grace of God to respond obediently to His word in the various circumstances of life! He is doing a good work of transforming you into a trophy of grace reflecting more purely each day the glory of God!

 
 

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A Biblical Foundation for Service Part 5: Be not conformed to this world…

What is to change?

The object of this study from the beginning has focused primarily on the mind; however, two aspects of the man need to change.  One aspect must be transformed while the other must be renewed.  First we see that the totality of the man must be transformed.  The word transformed is found four times in the New Testament.  Two of these passages give us a better understanding of this word. 

Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

In both passages this transformation took place so that God’s glory would be seen in that individual.  Christ’s glory was revealed in Himself on the mount, and God’s glory is to be revealed in the believer’s life.  Paul’s use of transformed in Romans 12 is very similar.  The entire man is to be transformed, meaning that his entire person is changed to reflect more purely the glory of God.  The believer’s thinking, values, desires, character, will, passions, and countenance must be transformed to reflect more purely the glory of God.  Not only is his entire being to be transformed, but secondly, his thinking must change. 

The word renewed means to be renovated or completely changed.  When I was in college my family was displaced from their home after a major hurricane that caused extensive flood damage.  I remember helping my parents by pulling carpet, dry wall, insulation, and furniture that was saturated with mud, flood water, and sedge.  The house needed to be gutted, dried out, swept, bleached, and completely renovated.  It needed to be renewed in the same sense as our minds need to be renewed.  Our minds are…deceitful above all things and desperately wicked… Jeremiah 17:9.  We do not need Satan to deceive us, we are naturally deceived, but his deceptive influence leaves us more deeply blinded.  God says that we need our minds to be renovated.  The old way of thinking, so deceived and full of lies needs to be replaced with truth.

How many times do I need to make this decision?

I now want to refer back to our introduction.  How often must I make the decisions to present my body a living sacrifice, not be conformed to this world, and be transformed by the renewing of my mind?  First, how often should I present my body a living sacrifice to God?  The tense of present does not emphasize the time element. In other words the way it is written does not present it as a once and for all event or as a repeated action/way of life.  Paul simply emphasizes that this is to be the believer’s disposition before God.  If you view it as a once and for all commitment or presentation, then every time the believer drifts in his heart, he must confess his sin and walk in light of it again.  If you view it as a repeated action, then we must constantly be renewing our commitment as we drift.  The point is that this ought to be our constant attitude toward God.  I am yours to use as you choose.  Secondly, notice the tense of the phrase and be not conformed to this world.  The construction of this phrase emphasizes that the people’s current character and thinking was like the world.  Paul says stop thinking and acting like the world!  By the way the specific issues in last section of the book reveal specific areas where the church was worldly not Christ-like.  Lastly, Paul commands them to be transformed by the renewing of their mind.  The tense of this command tells us that the transforming and renewing that needed to take place in their minds and lives was a lifelong process. 

The believer’s disposition toward God should be living life as a sacrifice of worship to God.  This disposition is maintained by steady growth in Christ-likeness through the renewing of our minds.  This steady growth must be maintained daily, and will result in the believer’s thinking, values, desires, character, will, passions, and countenance being transformed to reflect more purely the glory of God.  How has your thinking changed over the past year?  How has this thinking caused the glory of God to be reflected more purely in your life?  Are you currently living a life of acceptable, holy worship to God, free to be used as He directs?

 
 

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A Biblical Foundation for Service Part 4: Be not conformed to this world…

Be not conformed to this world…Part 1

Can you remember the first time you responded publicly at an invitation?  Maybe you were at camp as a teenager.  Under deep conviction, you swallowed your pride and sheepishly walked to the front of the church.  After trying to pray with people moving, piano playing, and the preacher calling for response, you got up and returned to your seat thinking that your problem was now conquered forever.  Sadly, the next day you found that the battle was far from over.  The next phrase…be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…sheds light on your experience.  There are four questions I want to address in this section: what is the world, why am I not to be conformed to it, what is to change, and how many times do I need to make this decision?

What is the world?

There are many passages that use the term world in the sense that Paul is using it is Romans 12, but focus our understanding we will study four key passages:

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath…

Romans 12:2be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind

John 1:10the world knew him not.

John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

From these passages, we can conclude that the world is the following:

  • It is a system
  • It is organized by Satan and his demons
  • This system attacks the mind
  • This systems thinking produces a way of living
  • This system of thought and its product are in rebellion to God
  • This system dominates people through deception
  • The deceived do not know God
  • The deceived hate God and His people
  • The deceived actively oppose God
  • The deceived value the temporal in opposition to the spiritual
  • The deceived are under God’s wrath

The world is: A system organized by Satan and his demons that attack the mind, producing a way of thinking and living that is in rebellion to God.  This system dominates people through deception by blinding them to a correct knowledge of God causing them to hate and actively oppose Him. These deceived people value the temporal in opposition to the spiritual, and if not delivered by God’s grace from this blindness, will bear the full weight of His wrath eternally.

Why am I not to be conformed to it?

This question seems elementary, and it is.  The world is in rebellion against God, it opposes Him constantly, it hates you, and God has by the power of the Spirit’s work through the gospel delivered you from its most serious deception; however, there is far more in the balances in light of this passage.  The objections that we mentioned in our last post are serious weights that keep many genuine believers from viewing Paul’s command as less than reasonable or logical.  The world’s deceptive objections always fly in the face of truth and God’s revealed will.  I cannot be conformed to this world in my thinking, or else I will refuse to present my body to God.  It will seem unreasonable.  If you view this, reasonable service, as anything less that logical, then clearly you are being duped by the world as you read this section.  Be not conformed to this world, or you will refuse to present yourself to God’s use.

 
 

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A Biblical Foundation for Service Part 3: Your reasonable service…

Your reasonable service…

We have gone phrase by phrase through Romans 12 trying to grasp the weight and thrust of this command which is the foundation for missions and any form of genuine Christian labor.  The phrase which is your reasonable service is perhaps one of the most critical phrases in this section.  Three questions must be addresses: what does this phrase mean, what objections naturally rise against this statement, and what facts stand to demonstrate the precision of this statement? By answering these questions carefully, every believer should come to the place where he willingly and immediately presents himself fully to the use and service of God to live unreservedly for His glory. 

What does this phrase mean?

This phrase which is your reasonable service is taken two ways.  Many interpret the phrase as your spiritual act of worship, while others interpret it as your reasonable or logical service.  While it is true that the presentation of our bodies to the service of Christ is an act of acceptable worship to God, this does not follow the meaning of reasonable and takes away from the foundation of the decision to make this sacrifice.  I have emphasized the connection of Romans 1-11 by the command to the rest of the book, because this connection comes to a head in the phrase reasonable service.  Paul is saying that it makes good sense or it is a logical for a believer to conclude that he should present his body as a living sacrifice to God.  When a person has just been presented with the message of the Gospel and their eyes have been opened to their unrighteousness, the justice of God, and the grace of God, their humility, gratitude, and desire to follow Christ are often overwhelmingly evident.  The child yearns to tell others about Christ or the adult is instantly ready to go to Bible College to learn all that he has missed in Biblical ignorance.  The zeal of a young believer whose perspective of the grace of God is refreshing to the soul, yet over time the sweetness of God’s grace is often forgotten.  These young believers are like love smitten Jacob in Genesis 29, who saw seven years of manual labor for his father-in-law Laban as a good trade for his beloved Rachel.  The personal sacrifice meant nothing to him.  He believed it was a reasonable trade.  Sadly, for some believers, the decision is not as simple.  Notice the following objects.

What objections naturally rise against this statement?

I think of the young man who came to Christ in Luke 9:57-62 …A certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.  And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.  Did this man follow Christ?  We do not know. Was he a part of the seventy witnesses sent out in Lune 10?  We do not know, but if he was not, he chose physical comfort and temporal security over whole-hearted service to Christ.  In the next two verses, Jesus said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.  Did this man follow Christ, or did he go back home to wait until his father would die?  We do not know; but we do know that if he left following Christ, he valued either his time with family or receiving an inheritance above following Christ and preaching the gospel that eternally saves the souls of men.  A third man said to Christ: Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.  Did this man follow Christ, or did he return to his family?  We will never know, but if he returned home, he chose to value the security of family over fitness for service in the kingdom of God.  All three of these men had a decision to make based upon their personal values system, and we often do the same thing with God.  How humanly impossible is it to love to the degree that Paul commands believers to love in Romans 12:9-21? Let love be without dissimulation [genuine, sincere, without hypocrisy]. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

  • Genuine love cannot be superficial.
  • Genuine love involves the tender affection of the heart.
  • Genuine love denies self
  • Genuine love is active not passive (driven by a supreme love for God)
  • Genuine love gives of its resources to meet the needs of other.
  • Genuine love is hospitable.
  • Genuine love experiences the joys and sorrows of others.
  • Genuine love brings Biblical unity.
  • Genuine love ignores the stigmas of social status
  • Genuine love pursues peace to the degree that it depends upon them.
  • Genuine love conquers evil by good.
  • Genuine love is the fundamental mark of Christian maturity.

This list is just part of God’s expectations for every believer, and living by this ethic will involve personal sacrifice in every aspect of your life.  Absolute surrender is not easy, and to the Christian whose perspective is not Biblical it does not make any sense.  Many Christians object to God’s standards of holiness in their daily living, because it is just too much to bear and unreasonable; however, Paul says that this is our reasonable/logical service.  Paul is not mistaken.  This is our reasonable service.

What facts stand to demonstrate the precision of this statement?

My point is not to be redundant, but to make the point that Paul has already made.  This commitment is reasonable because of the doctrinal truths of Romans 1-11.  The believer’s past condition, present position, and the goodness of God are reasons enough to recognize the reasonability of this commitment.

 
 

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