Missio Dei: The Sending by God
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:34–40).
The classical doctrine on the missio Dei (the sending by God) is tied to the trinity as God the Father sends the Son, God the Father and the Son send the Spirit. There is today another movement: The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit send the church into the world.
Mission, is seen as a movement from God to the world; the church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. To participate in the sending by God (mission) is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people. The Church has an opportunity to share in the redemption of humanity and to be the instrument by which God, through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit calls humanity back into a relationship with their creator. Back to mankind’s original purpose, to love the Lord God with all of our hearts!
Our body, the Church of God of Prophecy, must know that everything we do, every event, every service, every strategy and every ministry must fit into two categories if it is to please God (faith) and fit into the sending by God, our mission.
We must live out God’s original purpose for creating us: to be in relationship with Him.
We must fulfill the will of God in the earth. We must go and call fallen people back into relationship with their Creator, back to their original purpose!
Our Original Purpose
First, we must learn to love God with all of our hearts and grow in our relationship with Him. This is our purpose for being, to be in relationship with our Creator. Genesis 2:7 says: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
The word “formed” comes from the Hebrew word “yatsar,” which means to shape with pressure, in the same way a potter would shape clay into a vessel. This Scripture verse shows the great care the Creator took in “forming” mankind. He shaped us with loving pressure. In every other instance of creation throughout Genesis 1, God simply commanded, “Let there be,” and it was done. God spoke the world and everything in it into existence just by His command. But the creation of man was different. When God created man, He formed, built, and breathed life into His creation.
The love and tenderness of the Creator toward mankind is evident as He provided man with a home and created a woman to be his partner and helpmate. No other creature was created with the potential and possibility to be in a personal relationship with God—only humans.
The phrase, “became a living soul” contains the Hebrew word, “lenefesh,” which means “a soul, living being, self, person with desire, passion, appetite, emotion, to be made alive relationally.” Man did not evolve; instantly, with a gasp of air, with the breath of God and the quickening of the Holy Spirit, mankind began to breathe, and the intellect, the emotions, and the will, (the soul of man) was brought into existence. The soul of mankind was made alive in a relationship where the intellect (what man knew) was designed to know God and the emotions (the inward appetites or passions) were set towards obeying God.
The will of man was regulated by the choices of man and how he allowed those choices to affect his actions. Choosing whether to obey or not to obey God’s commands determined mankind’s eternal destiny. God created mankind to be in relationship with his Creator. In the Garden of Eden, that relationship was perfect—mankind and God were in harmony. They enjoyed fellowship and relationship.
Not only did God want to have a relationship with man, He also wanted man to be able to freely choose to have a relationship with Him. God created within man the ability to make choices and decisions. The original choice between right and wrong that was presented to man was whether or not to eat from the tree that God had planted in midst of the Garden. The consequences of disobedience and eating from the tree were in God’s command to mankind when He said, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’” (Genesis 2:16, 17). The choice was clear: Eat from any of the trees or plants in the Garden and live forever in relationship with God, or eat from the one forbidden tree and face physical and spiritual death and separation from God.
Adam and Eve made their choice, and that choice affected all of mankind. In listening to the serpent, they:
- Looked at the fruit. They used their intellect to judge from the standard of what was right and wrong. “Thou shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
- Desired the fruit. Their emotions, appetites and passions fueled their desire.
- They took the fruit and ate it. They used their will to make a choice.
Because of the choice they made, their relationship with God was changed. Disobeying God’s command caused separation from the original, created relationship with God. When mankind took and ate the fruit (a choice), sin entered the world causing mankind to be separated from God and the relationship between man and God to be broken. The problem that mankind faced in the Garden is still faced by mankind today.
Because of sin entering the world, and the separation of the relationship with God that it caused, mankind now needs a way, through choice, to come back into relationship with his creator.
In spite of mankind’s choice, God’s original design has always been to be in relationship with His creation. His love for us was so great that He provided a way to bring reconciliation between Himself and His creation. The provision for reconciliation came through the sending of His son, in the person of Jesus.
Colossians 1:21-22 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Sin brought separation and death, but Jesus brought reconciliation and life. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:4, 5).
Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead provided the way for us to fulfill the purpose we were created for—to come back into a reconciled relationship with God. Your purpose in life is to live in relationship with God. Because of sin, the only possible way to have a relationship with God is to accept Jesus as Savior (a choice) and obey his commands.
God Sends! (God’s Will)
The second commandment for our lives is like the first, we must love humanity as ourselves. It is the will of God that seeks to restore humanity and heal creation. God’s original plan for mankind was that his creation might know Him. The Church today is the instrument to fulfill God’s will by taking the Gospel of Jesus to mankind so that salvation might be obtained. Not just for this life, but into the next, unto eternity. God’s will for the Church is to bring lost man into a relationship with the Creator, and disciple them to do the same.
God’s Will for the Son
Jesus lived out the will of the Father while He was on earth. John 4:34-35 tells us, “Then Jesus explained: ‘My nourishment comes from doing the will of God who sent me, and from finishing His work.’” Jesus came to earth to do the will of the Father—to bring mankind back into a relationship with God. Through His death and resurrection, the Son made reconciliation between creature and creator possible again.
Jesus was the Messiah—God in flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:1–5, 14, 16–18). It is by choosing to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by living a life of obedience to his Lordship, that mankind can be brought back into a right relationship with the Father and spend eternity in God’s presence. The relationship between God and mankind isn’t only for a lifetime; it is an eternal relationship.
Christ’s Finished Work (Revelation and Sending)
What is the finished work of Christ? John 17:2–4 and 6–8 give us insight to the finished work of Jesus while here on earth. “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Jesus did God’s will by restoring the original relationship between man and the Creator. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do…I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. Jesus finished the work the Father gave Him to do.”
The finished work was that the disciples received the revelation, by the Holy Spirit, that Jesus was the Christ. That a relationship between mankind and God could be restored, and mankind through choice could accept God’s word and live the standard of obedience to Him.
Jesus was the Christ! When Jesus’ disciples accepted the revelation of the truth of who Jesus was and God’s Word was placed in the hearts of the disciples, the work of the Son of God was completed. He could then go to the cross so that through His death, burial, and resurrection humanity (through choice) could believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah. The Holy Spirit today, though revelation, is revealing Jesus as the one true Savior of humanity. The same revelation that Peter experienced in Matthew 16:16 when he answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This revelation must be pronounced and proclaim by Christ’s body, the church, in the earth today!
Jesus’ Will for His Disciples
After His resurrection, Jesus told the disciples His will for their life: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-19). God’s will for all who believe is to go (a choice) and share the message of reconciliation back to God, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, to every part of the world. We must disciple others to live in relationship with God throughout their earthly lives, into eternity.
God’s Will for You and Me
In John 17, Jesus prays for you and me, and His prayer gives us insight into God’s will for us: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:20, 21). Jesus prayed that we make the choice to believe in Him, and that we would share the Good News with others so that they could make the same choice.
The will of God is the same for all disciples of Jesus. Regardless of age, occupation, stage of life or location in the world, the purpose and will of God remains the same—that we would be in relationship with God (“may they also be in us”) so that others would believe in the reconciliation provided by Jesus’ death and resurrection (“that the world may believe that you sent me”). It is God’s will that we point others toward a relationship with their Creator and disciple them to continue to live in relationship with God. We have the promise of Jesus that as we live out our purpose for being, to know Him, and carry out the will of God by engaging humanity with the Gospel, Jesus said, “ . . . and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-19).
Questions We Must Answer
If our purpose for being is to be in relationship with God, and the will of God for our lives is that we call mankind back into a relationship with their Creator, we must ask ourselves:
Will you and I as individuals, choose to be and grow in relationship with the Creator of the Universe?
Will we as the Church of Jesus, in our daily lives, choose to call humanity back into a relationship with God and teach them to do the same to others?
Will we choose to grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit as He opens our eyes to the lost and develops in us a heart of courage to share the Gospel of Jesus? Missio Dei. Will you and I participate in the mission of God as He sends us to lost humanity? Will We?
This article appeared in the June 2017 issue of The White Wing Messenger, the official publication of the Church of God of Prophecy. To preview or download the issue, click here. For an annual print subscription, click here.
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