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    Oct 12, 2014

    Class 1: Missions? – The goal is the glory of God

    Series: Missions

    Category: Core Seminars, The Glory of God, The Gospel, Evangelism, International Missions

    Detail:

    Theme: Missions exists to increase the worship of God through the praise of His glory in the hearts of His people.

    Instructional Objective: Lord willing, students will hear, consider and understand the Biblical message that God’s passion for His own glory is His central motive for world evangelism in missions.

    I. Introduction:
    State: You have found yourself in the CHBC core seminar class on missions this morning.

    Ask: Where do we begin to have a Biblical study of the topic of missions? Should we look at the demographics of the world and the neediness of those without the Gospel? Should we start with a study of the history of the expansion of the early church moving to modern missions efforts? Should we examine the purpose of evangelism and missions? All are worthy topics but none are the proper starting place for a truly Biblical view of missions?

    To understand missions, and our proper place in it, we must start at the fountainhead, the source, the ground of all …in the excellence of the nature and character of God. As in the book of Genesis, so in our passion for missions, “in the beginning – God!”

    As the puritan Thomas Watson has said “We glorify God when we are God-admirers.”

    The writer Tom Wells puts it especially well in his book “A vision for Missions.” He writes:

    Men must know God. That is the one thing they must do. And this can mean nothing less than that God is eminently worthy to be known in all the length and breadth and height and depth of His Character. The Christian is a God-explorer. The Christian vision is the vision of God.
    The missionary vision is the vision of God also. It is not something different from the Christian vision. It is the same vision being shared rather than merely enjoyed. It is the same vision being shared with men who have no natural taste for it, in the hope that God will create that taste so that they to will become “God-admirers.” Sharing the vision of God – that is the work of missions.

    II. The primacy of worship.

    Ask: Why does missions exist? Why do Christians labor to spread the Gospel message to those who’ve not heard?
    (Well, in light of what we have just considered, the Biblical answer seems obvious.)

    State: According to Scripture, missions exists because God is great and worthy to be known and loved for his infinite excellence. The excellence of God is the ground of missions, and God exalting worship is the goal of missions. That may be a strange statement for some of us to consider. I think many of us might initially say that missions exists because there are so many lost people that God wants to reach with the news of the Gospel. God certainly does long to call His people to repentance and faith. Luke chapter 14, verses 15-23 tell the parable of the banquet for which God the father wants many to come in and sends out his servants to compel them to come in so that his house will be full. God does want to reach the lost with the news of the Kingdom. That is certainly true at one level, but it is not the deepest explanation of God’s motivations. If missions is only about how much God wants fellowship with us then it becomes a man-centered pursuit. We become the point, but that is not what we see in Scripture.

    Cite:

    Psalm 67:3-4 “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.”

    Psalm 96:3 “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

    Psalm 97:1 “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.”

    State: The praise of God’s greatness in the hearts of God’s people is the goal of the world missionary enterprise. Man is not at the center of missions. Man is not the goal of missions. The enjoyment of God’s greatness is actually the gift to man and the goal of all God-centered missions. But God is the goal. We’ll understand that more as we go along.

    III. The greatness of God.

    Understanding the greatness of God is key to understanding a Christian motivation for missions.

    The design of the universe…is very magnificent and shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as a basically very religious man. He must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they had ever imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he’d run across did not have proper respect…for the author of the universe.

    (Charles Misner, in Let the Nations Be Glad, John Piper 1993, p. 12)


    Cite: Isaiah 40:25-26 “To whom with you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great poser and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

    Ask: Why is a clear understanding of God’s greatness central to the missionary effort? Doesn’t that just seem like a true, but peripheral point when we are talking about missions after all…an activity?

    State: Throughout history, a view of God’s greatness and the commitment that God has revealed to make his name great among the nations, has been a driving force motivating missionaries and helping them to persevere. The great pioneer missionary William Carey reflected on his arrival in India in 1763, writing:

    When I left England, my hope of India’s conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, and the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on the sure Word, would rise above all obstructions and overcome every trial. God’s cause will triumph!
    (William Carey Quote, LNBG p. 14 - )

    State: God is good; he has a good plan to gather in every person that Jesus died to save. And God is unquestionably sovereign; his plan to save will succeed because his arm is limitless in its power. Like William Carey, our deep appreciation of those marvelous truths provide the foundation we need for both zeal and perseverance in missions.

    IV. God’s zeal for His own glory.

    State: Our passion to trumpet God’s greatness is rooted in His own passion for His own glory. John Piper writes:

    The ultimate foundation for our passion to see God glorified is his own passion to be glorified. God is central and supreme in his own affections. There are no rivals for the supremacy of God’s glory in his own heart. God is not an idolater. He does not disobey the first and great commandment. With all his heart and soul and strength and mind he delights in the glory of his manifold perfection. The most passionate heart for God in all the universe is God’s heart.

    Cite: Isaiah 48:9-11.


    V. Harmony with humility.

    Ask: So…does God’s passion for His glory make him unloving? Does this turn missions into a utilitarian enterprise? Often a consideration of the God-centeredness of missions can make it seem cold. But that stems from a couple of key misunderstandings about who we are and who God is.

    Cite: 1 Corinthians 13:5 “Love seeks not its own.”

    1. Not all self-love is wrong.

    2. We are not God…the sin of imitating God.

    State: God himself is the most excellent and glorious being in the universe, for God to be truthful He must exalt his own glory above all else. And the enjoyment of him is the best and kindest gift he can bestow on his creatures.


    VI. For the glory of His grace.

    State: But how is all this good news for humans? How is this a message that we can find our good within and trumpet to a world under God’s just judgment for sin? The connection between God’s passion for His grace & missions is found in this…Piper writes “the glory God seeks to magnify is supremely the glory of His Mercy.”

    The gospel message tells of the surprising way in which God has chosen to be glorified. He has aligned Himself with us in His desire to receive the glory that He deserves. He could have decided to judge us to eternal condemnation for His glory. But instead, He has decided to glorify Himself through showing mercy to sinners. Please listen to what Paul writes to the Ephesians regarding God’s motive in saving His people.

    Cite: Ephesians 1: 5-6, 11-12, 14

    Why did God predestine us for adoption? Why did He cause us to hope in Christ? Why did He give us an inheritance? God did all this in order to be glorified. Did you notice how Paul repeats this theme of God’s glory over and over again? The gospel (and missions) cannot be and must not be separated from God’s desire to glorify Himself.

    Listen to what Paul writes particularly regarding Christ’s mission on earth.

    Cite: Romans 15:8-9

    1. Zeal for God’s glory motivates missions
    2. A servant spirit and a heart of mercy motivates world missions.

    Christ Himself chose to come to earth and become a servant, even unto death on a cross, “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy” (Rom. 15:9). Christ became poor for our sakes so that we here, members of CHBC, might glorify God for His mercy. He died on a cross so that not only we, but people around the world would glorify God for His mercy. That is a motivation for us, then, to spread this message of the gospel to those who have not yet heard, so that all who have been called by God might glorify God for His mercy. We see this idea also expressed in Christ’s reaction when he saw crowds who did not believe.

    Cite: Matthew 9: 36-38

    - Christ’s compassion expressed itself in a call to pray for more missionaries.
    - His two passions, glory and mercy, are actually one.

    Christ makes it clear here that in order for the harvest to be gathered, that is, for His mercy to be communicated to the crowd, workers must be sent. He has chosen for these workers, those who compose His church, to be part of this display of His glory. And so we, through telling the gospel message, play a part in God’s glorifying of Himself. He does not need us in any way to do this, but God has chosen us that we might be part of this glorious work He is accomplishing by redeeming a people for His Name – for His glory.

    You might think, “if God’s glory is so wrapped up with His church, His plan seems so precarious.” After all, the mission to spread the gospel to all the earth hasn’t been completed, even after 2000 years. Does it seem like God has failed in His purposes, or at least planned foolishly?

    No, God has not failed. Indeed, as Christians, we believe that God is the only wise God. That means that we believe that He knows and has chosen the best way in which to glorify Himself. This plan that He has to receive glory from His people is a perfect one; it cannot be improved on. God’s wisdom means that he always chooses the best way to accomplish the end he has in view. This is the plan that God knows will most bring glory to Himself.

    Cite: Ephesians 3:10

    God has chosen for His manifold wisdom to be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places through His church! The way in which we live our lives here in DC and the way in which God’s kingdom expands throughout the world both bring God glory. In His infinite wisdom, He has chosen these means of spreading His gospel. We may feel inadequate for the task or dismayed by the challenge, but God even works through our limitations to show His sufficiency, and thus expand the praise of His glory.

    We can therefore see that God has decided to glorify Himself through showing mercy to sinners. And not only that, but this way of glorifying Himself—in calling us to worship Him and also to spread His fame to the nations—is the best way for Him to receive glory. What a great God we serve! He is worthy of all our praise and of our lives.


    VII. Conclusion.

    - God’s passion for His glory exults in the joy of His people through their praise for His mercy.
    - The real power of missions comes as God’s people are caught up in His passion and goal…worship.