Friday, May 1, 2015

God's greatness shown from the Father explains evangelism

Psalm 67:1-2 "God be gracious to us and bless us,And cause His face to shine upon us— Selah. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations."

Why does the church engage in the activity of evangelism? Over the past couple of posts we have proposed that the only answer that makes sense is for the greatness and glory of God. God's glory and greatness is the mission of the church and the message of the Gospel. We have seen that God's greatness through the Person of the Son, Jesus Christ, establishes evangelism's foundation. He is why we do what we do. We aim to make Him known and aim to know Him. We then considered that by the Person of the Holy Spirit, the greatness of God empowers the work of the great commission. Through both the Son and the Spirit, the greatness of God is the driving motivation and message of the mission. God's greatness is shared co-equally and eternally by the Son, the Spirit and the Father. In today's post we want to understand how God's greatness from the Father explains evangelism.

God's greatness from the Father explains why we do evangelism as Christians
Inasmuch sinners need to hear the gospel and be saved from the wrath to come, unless God's glory is the chief reason for our evangelism, we won't do our evangelism out of desire. Certainly seeing our families, loved-ones and friends saved from sin, satan and the coming judgment ought to be motivation enough. Sadly, as Christians we battle with left over sin and if God's glory and greatness is not our chief motivation, we will do what we do out of guilt, emotional manipulation and duty. Our depth of commitment to sharing Jesus with unconverted people will be no deeper than our highest view of God's greatness. 

Missions and evangelism are the Father's idea, not our own. Henceforth our evangelism must begin with God, go to man and end up back at God. Consider some passages below that reinforce this line of thinking. Psalm 67:1-2 "God be gracious to us and bless us,And cause His face to shine upon us— Selah. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations." Unless the greatness and glory of God (which is His greatness put on display) is frontloaded into our missionary strategy, both His way and salvation won't be made fully known among all peoples. Psalm 99:1-3 proclaims - "The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble;He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion, and He is exalted above all the peoples.
3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He." Isn't this the goal of our evangelism - to tell sinners that God reigns and that He has claim on their lives and that they need to surrender to King Jesus by faith? 

Prophetic texts repeatedly state that the Messiah, the Savior, would be "sent" by God. This act of sending entails two Persons. Isaiah 52:13-53:1 states -
"Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. 15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. 53:1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" We know that the "arm of the Lord" is none other than Jesus Christ, since New Testament passages like 1 Peter 2:24 expound on Isaiah 53 as being about the sufferings of Christ in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecies. The Father is the One who sent the Son into the world, as explained by the very familiar text of John 3:16. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 gives us the clearest statement regarding the Father's plan of worldwide missions - "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God,who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." The text of 2 Corinthians goes onto explain how we are God's ambassadors. What do ambassadors do? They represent the interests of the sending nation or monarch. We proclaim God's greatness to a people who think that other things are great but not God. Scripture reminds us that mankind has been blinded to the truth of God's greatness (2 Corinthians 4:1-4); is spiritually dead to such truth (Ephesians 2:1-3) and gladly exchanges His glory for created things (Romans 1:21-25). Mankind intutitvely knows of the greatness of God as seen in the general revelation of creation (Psalm 19:1-2; Romans 1:18-20). Despite knowing about God, unbelieving man suppresses such knowledge and knowingly rejects Him. God the Creator of all men only becomes the Father to believers once the Spirit's convincing work of receiving Jesus Christ by faith is confirmed by a response of faith from the sinner's heart. (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6). 

Unless God's greatness is made the priority starting point and endpoint of our evangelistic efforts, reaching lost souls for His sake will have no lasting passion nor ultimate purpose. Today I want to close with this amazing insight from John Piper regarding God's greatness as our mission as Christians and the church - "God is calling us above all else to be the kind of people whose theme and passion is the supremacy of God in all life. No one will be able to rise to the magificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the maginificence of Christ. The will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our world where there is no passion for worship." Piper later adds: "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn't." May that be our mission: the greatness of God from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit explaining, empowering and establishing the mission of the church. How great is our God!

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