Theology of Missions Paper

Liberty University

 

 

 

Research Paper

Theology of Missions Paper

A Paper Submitted To Dr. hoyt lovelace

In Partial Fulfillment Of The Requirements For

The Course ICST 500

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

By

Anthony D. Padgett

JONESBOROUGH, TN

Monday, May 30, 2011

 

Contents

Thesis Statement___________________________________________________________1

Introduction _______________________________________________________________1

Old Testament Text As Related to Mission ___________________________________2

New Testament Text As Related to Mission___________________________________3

Mission Theology___________________________________________________________4

Key Themes Of Mission Theology ____________________________________________5

Conclusion _________________________________________________________________7

Bibliography _______________________________________________________________8

 

 

 

 Thesis Statement

 

Is it not the responsibility of all Christians to do missions and mission work?

Introduction

 

To oversee His creation God created Adam and Eve, and they were made pure and without blemish. They were created with the ability to choose and were innocent in the beginning.  God placed them together so that they would have each other to love and grow with one another. He also put them together in the Garden of Eden to test them for eternity.  If as the first humans they were to rule the earth, they must be trustworthy and be willing to follow God’s will for their lives.  However we know from the Bible that Adam and Eve failed to follow God’s simple instructions and sin entered into the world.

God desires for all to be in heaven with Him for eternity, and through the coming of His son Jesus Christ He gave the ability to turn from sin and ask for His grace and mercy upon all. It is for that reason Christians are called to spread His word to all nations and to save men from their wicked ways until the coming of God’s Kingdom.  This can be clearly seen in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28: NIV[1]

   “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

 

Mankind will serve under God forever and ever in His Kingdom. There will be no sin, sadness, or sickness; only peace, joy, and love. All things of this earth will be subject under His feet according this scripture. God does not desire for any to perish, it is for that reason that Christians are to reach as many of the lost as possible until the day of God’s judgment and when His Kingdom on earth will once again be restored.

Old Testament Text As Related to Mission

            Jesus Christ continually associated Himself and His message and work to the Old Testament. He never did contradict anything of the Old Testament, but He did modify or expand on many of the issues or topics. Jesus only claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament, not to dispel it, only to supersede it. Some argue that the Old Testament is more about the legalistic view rather than God’s beginning for saving the world. Genesis 1 -11 should be viewed not only for creation but as the first missionary instructions.  Genesis 1 – 11 records the fact that the entire human race is subject to the revelations that are shown. However starting in Genesis 12 and through the rest of the Old Testament, God reveals Himself as exclusively to and through Israel, although the revelation applies to the whole world.[2]

In Genesis 12:1-3 God began to show how He would raise one group of people to carry out His plan of salvation and restoration. Through Abram and his descendants eternal life could be made through the blessings of God.  The purposes of these blessings to Abram were not for eternal life for just Abram’s descendants but to all the Gentiles both past and present.  Both Peter and Paul quote these verses from Hosea. Abram was chosen to further God’s plan and to make new what Adam had lost. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham which meant the father of a multitude. Abraham fathered Isaac who then fathered Jacob, and his name was changed to Israel later which meant prince of God. These blessing that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received where not only for them but for everyone to come.[3]

Just as God had called one person, Abraham, He also named one land, Israel, to renew what Adam had destroyed. The beginning was only with Israel, but God’s plan went so much further than that.  Leviticus 19:33-34 shows that strangers were allowed to dwell among the people of Israel, and they were to be shown love as if they were Israelites. They were allowed to worship at the temple and access to God was not just for the Israelites. Again Israel was just the starting point and all the people of the world would come to know God through Israel.[4]

Psalms 67:1-7 is one of the most important verses when looking at missions in the Old Testament. Psalm 67:1-7 is a request to God that He bless Israel so that the entire world will look at them and see God’s hand on them.[5]  Psalms 67 three times refers to the blessing from God and is almost exactly like Genesis 12:2-3. The principle here is to ask for God’s blessing so that all the nations will come to know God through what was being done in Israel. God has blessed them so that others could be blessed through them.[6]

 

New Testament Text As Related to Mission

            The New Testament is filled with mission minded verses, but probably none so well known as Matthew 28:16-20 or The Great Commission. In these verses are seen that “All” authority has been given to Jesus and through His instructions, the disciples are to go out to “All” nations. As disciples it must be taught that we are to obey “All” of God’s commandments and words and that He will be with them “All” of their days.  The Great Commission is so powerful because it clearly defines that Jesus has authority over everything, including the angels, demons and even Satan. Yet more importantly as related to missions it clearly shows that disciples are to go out and reach all the nations under the divine authority of Jesus.[7]

The Great Commission is not the only verse that commands His disciples to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24: 46-48, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8, all do the same. The mission of making disciples is paramount to the church’s work in missions. This role has now been taken by the New Testament believer as seen in 1 Peter 2:9  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The primary task of missions is to “call out the messianic, saved community from among all people.” As a body of Christ or “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), it is the goal to reach the lost and dying and spread the knowledge of Jesus and bring as many to Christ as possible.[8]

                                                                       Mission Theology

 

In the early 1950s there began to be several terms developed to concentrate on mission theology.[9] The word “missions” with the final “s” is defined as “a specific task of making disciples of all nations.” This work is completed by churches, missionaries and other Christian affiliated organizations around the world. While the word “mission” without the final “s” is used more towards the work the church does in pointing others towards the kingdom of God.[10]

Missio Dei, is Latin for “the sending of God.” It is a new term and it describes “everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do.”[11] The word was popularized by the World Council of Churches in Mexico City in 1963. It was used to integrate into the mission theology that missions are God – inspired and – centered and that the churches are honored to do His work. It must be noted that God’s work is so much bigger than that of the churches. Moreau shows a great diagram that explains it this way, “Missio Dei: All that God does to build the Kingdom; Missions: What the church does for God in the World; and Missions: Evangelism, Discipleship, and Church Planting.”[12] Each level in the diagram builds off of each other to accomplish the same task of building God’s Kingdom.

Missiology is the formal word used to describe the academic study of missions. It revolves around applied discipline to bring Christ to the world. Missiologists build on biblical and theological studies and apply them to their work in the field so that they may better understand the individuals or group they are trying to reach.[13]

Key Themes Of Mission Theology

 

Mission Theology is a “specialized study usually confined to the mission departments” as described by Moreau. Mission should be the center of Theology of God, Theology of Created Order, and Theology of Humanity, with the fall and sin at the bottom of the pyramid. Connecting the sides is Bible-Church-Salvation on one side with Creation-Sustaining Work on the other. This puts the work of mission clearly in the middle with God at the top and the goal of all mission work.[14]

Every theology must be built on a foundation and mission theology is no different. The foundation that mission theology is built on is the Bible; there can be no stronger foundation.  The Bible alone has complete authority to move the church forward and answer any questions that as a generation may be faced.  With any theology also comes a guiding theme that must be followed.  In mission theology there are several that can be followed from Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God, to the Great Commission. Each and every theme can stand alone and guide a church or organization. New contemporary writers have added more ideas to include liberation, justice and mission Dei as guiding themes.[15]

Once the theme is decided upon then it is split into three elements: (1) calling those who do not know Christ through the activities of evangelism and church planting; (2) growing in the capacity to live God-glorifying lives through the processes of discipleship and church growth; and (3) reflecting God’s glory to a needy world through living lives of salt and light.[16] These are not exclusive and the only things that are important in church ministry, however they do lay the ground work to build upon once a theme or Biblical revelation is adopted.

A motif “is a recurring pattern or element that reinforces the central guiding theme.”  There are too many illustrations to list here so for space sake the following is a list of the motifs found in Moreau, Corwin, and McGee; The Kingdom of God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, The Church, Shalom, and The Return of Jesus. Each one listed can be thought of as a recurring idea that reinforces the central theme as described earlier. Another words what motif in mission will support the guiding theme chosen and so that there is a better understanding of the whole theology of mission.[17]

Conclusion

 

Fulfilling the Great Commission should be easier than ever with the growing internet and communication age reaching more and more people; however it is not without challenges. The North American church has become complacent with the information overload so readily available. Yet for most Christians and the church, it “will always need an eschatological perspective, a vision of the end, so that it will know how to live in the present.”[18]

Christians today proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the good news of salvation and the coming of His kingdom. Now more than ever is the world closer to the end with supposed prophets claiming they can tell when the end is coming. Yet, the Bible is very clear that not even the angels in heaven know the exact date of Jesus’ glorious return to earth. It is for this reason that God is working through the church to bring heaven to earth and repair what was lost when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden. As long as there is life on earth and the hope of our Lord and Savior, missions and missions work will always continue.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Guthrie, Stan, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century.
Waynesboro, GA. Paternoster Press. 2005.

 

Kaiser, Walter C., “Israel’s Missionary Call.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.
  ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, Pasadena, CA. William Carey Library,
2009.

 

Moreau, Scott A.; Corwin, Gary R.; McGee, Gar B.  Introducing World Missions: A Biblical,
Historical, and Practical Survey
, Grand Rapids, MI.  Baker Publishing Group. 2004.

 

Peters, George W., A Biblical Theology of Missions. Chicago, Ill. The Moody Bible Institute.
1972.

 

 


[1] All Scripture quotations are from the NIV Version unless otherwise noted.

[2] Peters, George W., A Biblical Theology of Missions. (Chicago, Ill. The Moody Bible Institute. 1972), 83.

 

[3] Moreau, Scott A.; Corwin, Gary R.; McGee, Gary B., Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey, (Grand Rapids: MI.  Baker Publishing Group. 2004), 31.

[4] Ibid, 34.

[5] Ibid.

 

[6] Kaiser, Walter C., “Israel’s Missionary Call.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (William Carey Library, 2009), 14-15

[7] Moreau; Corwin; McGee, 42.

[8] Ibid, 78.

 

[9] Ibid, 71.

 

[10] Ibid, 72.

 

[11] Moreau; Corwin; McGee, 73.

 

[12] Ibid.

 

[13] Ibid.

 

[14] Ibid, 76.

 

[15] Moreau; Corwin; McGee, 77.

 

[16] Ibid, 78.

 

[17] Moreau; Corwin; McGee, 79-80.

 

[18] Guthrie, Stan, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century.
(Waynesboro, GA. Paternoster Press. 2005), 247.

 

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