Questions worth answering?
Here are a few questions that I believe might be of some value for every church planter to ponder and hopefully answer prior to beginning the glorious but arduous task of pioneering a new church. Those pastoring existing churches that might be frustrated with their members’ unwillingness to take God’s calling seriously might also benefit from considering these questions:
1. Does God’s Word give us a glimpse of where the future history of mankind is headed?
2. Is it possible that Rev 5:9 and 7:9 give us a partial picture of what a portion of mankind will be doing in the future?
3. Based on what the God of the bible has revealed about Himself at previous points in the past: )see Gen 12:3, 26:3, 28:14, Psalm 86:8-10, 96:3, 2 Chron 6:32, Isa 42:1-7, 49:5,6, Luke 2:10,14, Matt 8:11-13, 28:18-20, and Acts 1:8, along with dozens of other verses), should we be surprised by what is described in Rev. 5:9 and 7:9?
4. Would we be wrong to conclude that bringing Rev 5:9 and 7:9 into reality might be one of God’s priorities?
5. Is it possible it should be one of our priorities too?
6. Did Jesus ever intentionally challenge His naturally SELF-focused followers to view things from the perspective of the bigger work that God is going to do? (Luke 10:2 John 4:35)
7. Does it take any effort on the part of a church leader to convince the members of his church to be concerned about themselves or the people in their inner circle of family and friends?
8. At what point did Jesus introduce His first followers to the idea that their following Him, their relationship with Him was for God’s larger purposes and interests, not their own? (Matt 4:19)
9. Did Paul see any value in helping a local church to understand that what he was called to and what God has done in and for them is a part of something larger that He is doing globally? (Rom 1:5 Col 1:6)
Based on the questions and the probable answers to these questions, what priority should God’s global purposes and one of His “end game” plans have in the vision and actual ministry of a local church from it’s inception forward?
Hey Jeff – I totally agree that we should lift our eyes to see the bigger picture of God’s plan for humanity. Loved the perspectives class; I’m quite sure that it adjusted the perspective of a lot of people at CCEsco. I do have a question though…
It seems that many in the perspectives camp seem to have something of a conditional view of the second coming… as if Jesus is waiting to come back until we’ve reached every tribe, tongue and people. So, if we’d just get our act together, then Jesus would be able to return. Is that a bad evaluation/observation?
I’m curious about this as well, Jeff. Is this, indeed, the position/opinion of yourself or those involved in the class?
I don’t think it’s an unfair observation to conclude that some within the realm of the Perspectives movement do adamantly believe Jesus’ return is hinging on the successful efforts of the church in obeying the great commission of Matt 28. I can understand why they are convinced of that from Matt 24:14 and of course, the great commission in Matt 28 and what He told the apostles before he ascended in Acts 1:8.
Would He commission the church to do something it wasn’t capable of doing?
I wrestle with this too and I haven’t totally resolved it. I understand it in a way similar to what Mordecai told Esther in Esther 4:14. God’s going to do this, you can be a part of it or suffer the consequences of not wholeheartedly getting on board with what He said he’s going to do.
And I wrestle with how Rev. 14:6,7 figures in. Certainly the gospel is preached there–maybe to cover the lack of success of the church.
Good stuff to ponder for sure. The bottom-line for me is that He has said what He wants to happen and has revealed it will happen. Woe unto those who don’t actively participate in being a part of what they know He’s told them is one of their greatest responsibilites and has even given them a picture that what He’s told them to work towards will be accomplished. I believe they ignore Him at great peril to themselves and those they lead.
Personally I think it’s dangerous to put the onus of Christ’s second coming on the performance of His subjects in the mission of reconciliation. I track well with the idea that Revelation 14:6-7 is the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. And yet this doesn’t remove the call or command to the church to fulfill “The Great Commission”. To me it’s a Biblical antinomy or divine tension whereby we are responsible and yet He is sovereign. I don’t change God’s will by prayer, and yet He commands me to pray. I don’t think that the timing of the last things hinges on the last soul on earth being reached with the good news by a foreign missionary, and yet there will be a last soul reached, naturally. It’s just like every other command upon true disciples in Scripture: if we are truly disciples we just do it in loving obedience and not because we have a perfect grasp on God’s plan and how we’re accomplishing it.
Definitely good stuff to ponder.
Like I said, perspectives is great and we’ll likely hold the class here again in 2012. I was a bit surprised by a replacement bent in some of the material as well as the idea of us hindering the 2nd coming by being unsuccessful in finishing the mission. Matthew 24:14 is a very good proof text though — there still remains much work to be done.
In some ways I’m brought back to the question of God revealing Himself in a salvific way apart from the direct preaching of the gospel (i.e. an angel, a dream, a vision, general revelation, etc…).
Jeff — I’ve never read the point you’re making framed in that particular way before. It actually creates an intriguing web that ties together common themes in my own thoughts that I’ve been preaching/teaching of late: Christ as the ultimate missionary (Phil 2), the cost of discipleship (Luke 14), and the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5).
Thanks for another great post, brother.
Thanks. In the biblical basis of missions class I taught at the bible college years ago, I went from Gen to Rev unpackaging the thread and the theme that God has revealed Himself as the Missionary God.
Regarding Jesus as the ultimate missionary, in that course and from then forward, I teach that John 17 is not just the high priestly prayer, it’s also the final newsletter from the Ultimate Missionary as He reports in at the conclusion of His mission. I extract 34 characteristics that every missionary can learn from the Ultimate Missionary in His final newsletter. I’d be happy to send you those notes if you want them.
I’d love that, brother. I knew we had similar lines of thinking but I didn’t realize you’d already done all the work for me! 🙂
I spent last year teaching from Philippians 2 (and other passages) about “The Ultimate Missionary” and how he established the first “mission” amongst the foreign people called “sinners” and has now appointed “missionaries” or “ambassadors” of the “mission” to complete the work (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 and many other verses) under His authority. I love to point out to my fellow “missionaries” or “ambassadors” that culture/worldview is exactly how we tell who is a “foreigner” (sinner) and who is a “local” (in the mission, or Kingdom).
I like the example of removing the shoes before entering a home. Let’s call that the “Kingdom culture” and all other behaviour “foreign”. So how do we tell who is not yet in the Kingdom and therefore falls within the scope of our mission? Those who don’t remove their shoes before entering a home.
Likewise, we as believers often see those whose behaviour is NOT “Kingdom-like” and we are repulsed and annoyed and “go around Samaria” so to speak. Instead we should recognize all other cultural behaviours that aren’t “Kingdom culture” behaviours as “foreign” and therefore the exact people that our Head Missionary came to establish a “mission” amongst and the exact people we are called as “missionaries” and “ambassadors” to minister the good news of reconciliation to!
Okay, sorry. I’m preaching (and to the choir nonetheless!). I would love to get the notes you described. You have my email.
Jeff, you should post those up on CrossConnection! (or send them to me too ;))
Miles — I’m in San Diego now. We should get together. Email me or call.
Jeff — thanks for the email. I’m also curious about the class you mentioned where you unpackaged from Gen to Rev the theme of God as a missionary God. Do you know if there are mp3s available. I’d love to fill in the surely many gaps in my own studies of that same topic.
The whole series is up on the Shepherd’s Staff website: http://www.shepsstaff.org along with the whole class on church planting in foreign countries I did back then.