THE THEOLOGY OF MISSIONS
Presented to Dr. Scott Edgar
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for
Introduction To World Missions
September 12, 2010
THE ORIGIN OF BIBLICAL MISSIONS
The theology of missions is a biblical concept. A careful reading of scripture will reveal a solid foundation for missions. The Bible alone proves that missions weren’t an afterthought to God, but rather an intention in His providential mind. Missio Dei, Latin for “the sending of God,” is a relatively new term in mission circles. This term “Missio Dei” alludes to the reality that mission begins with God. As the biblical narrative of Genesis chapter three unfolds with the Fall of Man, we find God initiating a rescue mission to recover His created prize, man. In essence, the story of mission from that time on has been the story of God reaching out to humans, who are asked to choose sides. A relevant Old Testament text that discloses the missionary mind of God is Gen. 12:1-3, which describes the Abrahamic Covenant. In this passage, God is captured initiating a covenant with Abram, who would soon be called Abraham. God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation, to bless him, to make his name great, to bless those who bless him, and to curse those who curse him. The end of God’s promise to Abraham reads, “and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” Gen. 12:3 (KJV). The fulfillment of God’s initiated promise is the Person of Jesus Christ. All families of the earth are blessed as they become a part of the spiritual family of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ. The focal point for Israel and the nations of the earth is the Man of Promise, who was to come in Abraham and David’s “seed”: Jesus Christ. A New Testament text that supports a strong biblical foundation for mission is Matt. 28:19-20. This passage has come to be recognized as “The Great Commission.” Upon Jesus’ departure at the end of His earthly ministry, He commands His disciples to go, make disciples, and teach. This commandment asserts that all who have come into a personal relationship with Jesus has this responsibility. Mission in the New Testament is more than a matter of obeying a command. It is, rather, the result of an encounter with Christ. In reading these well-known biblical passages, it is obvious that the heart of God is in mission. The perfections of God who characterizes His divine nature motivate Him to pursue man through mission. God pursues those who are depraved, disconnected, and destitute of His saving grace because of His love and concern for His creation. Such was the case with Jonah and the people of Nineveh. Jonah’s chief compliant in his refusal to obey God’s command to go and preach in the city of Nineveh involved the merciful and kind nature of God. It is easy for one to view the events of the Old Testament through the lenses of a God who is full of anger and wrath, but this passage demonstrates God’s longsuffering and willingness to forgive those who repent and believe on Him.
THE OVERLAPING THEOLOGICAL SPHERE OF BIBLICAL MISSIONS
We discover that the theology of missions is suited in the fabric of scripture because God is a missionary God. Moreover, there is an overlapping theological sphere with mission theology and other aspects of theology. Mission theology should be at the heart of the church’s theology, serving as an anchor for the rest of the theological “house.” Mission theology springs from biblical revelation. Paul Borthwick, Minister of Mission at Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts writes in reference to the biblical perspective of missions, “The first foundation stone we need is the Word of God.” Since theology of missions is established in scripture, it relates to other aspects of theology that have their roots in scripture. The theology of Christ’s atoning and redemptive work is interrelated...
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