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Tom Shetler and the Theology of Missions (part 2)

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Written by BGU

Theology of MissionsJesus was the expression of God’s deep love for this lost world.  He sent Jesus to be our savior, but as well, to reveal the heart of compassion, mercy, and justice that lies at the core of His being.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8)  Herein lies the expression and validation of God’s love; He sent His Son to give His life for us.  This was Christ’s purpose and calling, to be sent to the world in order to rescue the world from sin.

So, back to Jesus’ statement.   If God so loved the world that He gave His Son, then Jesus, in declaring His mission to be our mission, is saying that God so loves the world that He is giving us to that world.   We, the Christian church in the world, are now God’s living expression of His love and concern for the lost.  We are the agents through whom God will pour out His salvation upon all mankind.

Think of it, Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead broke the power of sin and death and opened the door for men to be saved.  Yet, those actions only created the potential for individuals to be saved.  Their actual salvation hinged upon their believing and receiving the redemption Christ had provided.  “How will they call on Him (for salvation) in whom they have not believed?  And how will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).  I have always marveled at the fact that Jesus left so much of the work of establishing the church and preaching the Gospel to the disciples.  It seems to me that the reason for this is found in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you.”

For me, this is still too general a statement.  It is insufficient to tell us the how of our mission.  As evangelical Christians, we believe completely in the need for evangelism by the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  I’m convinced that our mission is more detailed than just going and preaching, as essential as those two things are.  We must ask what do we do when we get there, and what are the different ways and means of preaching?   In addition, there must be some way for those of us who do not feel called to go or to preach in order to participate in God’s great mission of mercy.  Let’s take a deeper look at the reasons the Bible gives for the Father sending Jesus.  And remember, His mission is our mission.

First, Jesus was sent in order to be a revelation of God and of God’s wisdom to the world.  “And the Word (logos) became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). Jesus told His disciples, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  As the incarnate Son of God, He revealed the character of God to all.  In other words, if we want to know what God is like, just look at Jesus.

This post was written by Tom Shetler, one of the BCOM faculty. His life experience demonstrates itself in the classroom repeatedly as he clearly communicates God’s Word to the student’s hungry ears.

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