In his final attempt to divert Jesus from his mission Satan took Jesus to a mountain top and revealed the kingdoms of this world in all their glory. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me” (Matt 4:8-10).
Satan was offering political and cultural power without the cross. Jesus can have everything he’s come for, without the horror of a shameful death for the sins of the world. The devil was offering him a way out. A painless road to victory.
Jesus answered, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’
What did Jesus choose instead? To worship the Lord his God, and serve him only. This worship goes beyond the singing of praises. This is the worship of a surrendered life. The worship of a Servant humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death. Even death on a cross.
Our enemy continues to divert God’s people from their mission with the offer of a kingdom without the cross. A mission without the gospel. Heaven on earth without repentance and faith in the crucified One.
But there is no kingdom without the King. No salvation without the Savior.
Jesus’ commission to his disciples was clear. This message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations (Luke 24:47). The core missionary task is to make disciples of the nations by going and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
Through Christ we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Wherever the Word goes in the power of the Spirit, the fruit of our mission is disciples and churches (Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20).
That’s the core missionary task. Don’t be distracted.
We want the church to remember that there is something worse than death and something better than human flourishing. If we hope only for renewed cities and restored bodies in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied.
A "missional fog" has descended on the church, turning everything into mission and neglecting the spread of the gospel and the multiplication of disciples and churches.
Watch the video. Do the exercises. Read these three excellent articles. The only way through the fog is to stay close to what Jesus did, what he trained his disciples to do, and what the risen Lord continued to do through the church in Acts.
- Twelve Theses on the Church’s Mission in the Twenty-first Century — Andreas Kostenberger
- Mission: A Problem of Deﬁnition — Keith Ferdinando
- What Makes Mission Christian? — Christopher Little
UPDATE: A good book on Biblical foundations for our mission. The Kindle version is on sale for $6.77.
While you're there... on sale for $1.59.
NT Wright is probably the leading New Testament scholar of our generation. He's certainly the most prolific. After examining the Ressurection of Jesus here's what he concludes is central to the church's mission:
Thus the church that takes sacred space seriously not as a retreat from the world but as a bridgehead into it will go straight from worshipping in the sanctuary to debating in the council chamber— discussing matters of town planning, of harmonizing and humanizing beauty in architecture, in green spaces, in road traffic schemes, and (not least in the rural areas, which are every bit as needy) in environmental work, creative and healthy farming methods, and proper use of resources.
If it is true, as I have argued, that the whole world is now God’s holy land, we must not rest as long as that land is spoiled and defaced.
This is not an extra to the church’s mission. It is central.
Politics, town planning, architecture, green spaces, traffic flow, environmental work, farming methods, proper use of resources? Really. Central? This is what Jesus did? This is why he died and rose again? This is what he sent his disciples into the world to do?
Turn the fruit of the gospel into the gospel itself, and we lose the gospel.
What did Jesus do? What did he train the disciples to do? What does the risen Lord continue to do in the Book of Acts? Keep that central.
Ask five missiologists what the mission of Jesus looks like today and you’ll get six different answers. One of them will have two opinions.
Every profession is a conspiracy against ordinary people.
Who’s word guides us today in pursuing God’s purposes in the world and for the world? The traditions of men or the example and teaching of Jesus and the story of what the Risen Lord did through his followers in the Acts and the Epistles?
Missional is a tired and weary term.
What counts is not endless missional conversations, books and blogs. Jesus’s teaching and example counts. The teaching and example inspired by the Risen Lord through the Holy Spirit counts. All else is speculation. The chasing of wind.
Follow the stories.
Lately I’ve been thinking (with a lot of help from John Frame) about the living word of God as the foundation for movements that multiply disciples and churches everywhere.
The God of the Bible is a God who speaks, and when he speaks things happen. He speaks to us personally in ways we can understand. He speaks with authority as our Creator and King.
Faith is hearing the word of God and doing it.
Jesus was both perfect God and perfect man. He was the Word of God speaking the very words of God with authority. He is the Son of God submitted totally to the Father’s will.
Jesus speaks what his Father teaches him (John 8:28; 10:18; 12:49–50; 14:10; 15:15). His words are God’s words. As a man he lived in surrender to the Father’s will. He obeyed the Father’s word (John 5:36; 8:42). He did nothing on his own authority. He only spoke what the Father gave him.
Jesus obeyed what the Father told him directly and he obeyed the written words of God in the OT. He acted and spoke in a way that fulfilled Scripture (Matt. 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 26:54).
He broke with some Jewish traditions and interpretations of the OT, but Jesus treated the OT as the authoritative words of God. The whole of the OT bears witness to him.
Obedience to his word is the criteria for discipleship. Those who hear his words and obey are like the wise man who builds his house on the rock. His mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 8:21). True disciples are not ashamed of his words (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26).
Our love for Christ is shown by our obedience to his commands (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:7, 10, 14; 17:6, 17).
More to come on how this relates to movements of multiplying disciples and churches.