mission of God

or mission of the church?

consider this….

Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation… It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission

-Christopher Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative.

That’s right folks!  it’s the mission of God in which the church participates in fulfilling.  It is the mission for which the church was made.  If any church should wonder what is our purpose, why are we here, what are we supposed to be doing?  Well, in the broadest sense this is – our purpose is the mission of God.  Mission is purpose.  Our purpose is mission.

What is the mission?

Why nothing less than Isa 49:6:

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

How might that happen?  How do we go about accomplishing that in practical terms?

Well, I think the “great commission” might provide and answer:

Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

That’s pretty much it!  The way we’re to mission the church made for is to

  • Make Disciples
    • Baptize those Disciples
    • Teach those Disciples
      • teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded..

So some might be thinking ‘Right!  So HOW do you do that??!!”

Well….. I my personal opinion, as an Arminian Synergist is that it’s in part up to you how you decide to do that.  :-)

and… I guess that’s why we write blogs and books and curriculum so on, yes?  :-)


Substitutionary Atonement…

is still a vital teaching of the Bible, in my not so humble opinion.  I know many are dropping it like a hot potato, but I think they are wrong.  Yes, perhaps here are elements of all theories in the atonement, but if you ask me, I think Substitutionary Atonement is still front and center of the gospel message.

Michael Kruger writes about how it goes back to the early church (most say it can’t be found before Anslem, but Kruger differs. How so?  Read his post.   Here is part:

The Epistle to Diognetus shows that the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness are not wholesale inventions of later Christians, but were present, at least in seed form, early in the history of Christianity. Did some Christian groups hold other views of such matters? Sure. But the continuity between the teachings of this epistle and the writings of Paul himself (see especially Romans 5) make it evident that the substitutionary atonement/imputation view goes back very early indeed.

It seems to me that for the longest time, and I mean hundreds of years, the primary theory of the atonement has been penal substitutionary theory (PSA) of the atonement. Then, in the last decade or so some theologians have been leading the charge to in claiming that PSA is un-Christian and “cosmic child abuse.”  They’ve done the ‘ol switcheroo.  The benched PSA and put Christus Victor (CV) out as the main theory that is most biblical.  I disagree, and I know I stand alone in this.  For me the primary model of the atonement is PSA and then all others are subordinate to it.  I know its bad to build a theology on one verse and I really don’t want to do that here but I really like the book of Galatians (Paul’s first letter) and it kind of gets right to the heart of the issue right off the bat there…  In Galatians 1:3-4 Paul writes:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Well, there you have it – straight from Paul.  Jesus gave himself over… he substituted himself on our behalf. Why? To deliever us from the present evil age.  K.  For me, that kind of settles it.  Yeah, its a bit strange I know.  But I see substitutionary atonement coming first in way that results in our deliverance from the effects of the present evil age.

This is the message of the cross… Jesus gave himself over voluntarily for our sins that we might be delivered and set free from the present evil age.

Now, if you ask me, that’s powerful stuff.


Frank Macchia on Rev 5:13-14

Frank Macchia offers here a

Palm Sunday Reflection:

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev. 5:13-14)

This passage in chapter 5 of Revelation depicts all of creation implicitly exalting the Lamb of God as the place where God reveals wounded and suffering love for the sake of redemption and liberation. This text occurs at the front of the book, just before John reports on the riders that will bring the violence of the nations to expression, spreading plague and death (which opens the very next scene in ch.6). The readers of chapter 6 are meant to ponder: What will make the violence against the earth so egregious is the fact that the creation is already devoted to the Lamb and the Lamb is already exalted as its God-intended destiny. Though bruised and wounded by violence, the creation according to Revelation will surely rise again in fulfillment of its long-standing song of praise to the Lamb. The violent forces of antichrist will attempt to seize Lordship but will not succeed, for God will act decisively to put an end to the forces that seek to destroy the earth (11:18). The praise of creation will not be silenced by the madness of violence and will end up having the final word! Think on this: Palm Sunday led to crucifixion but resurrection was on the horizon. Crucifixion was not able to silence the authentic praises of Palm Sunday. So also in this present age: The violence will not be able to overthrow the reality that praise affirms and prophetically grasps. Praise and protest connect and nourish one another. To those who suffer from violence: Keep singing. Your praises will have the final word, not only in the eschaton, but right now as a light that shines in darkness, as a witness to human dignity and its destiny in God.

QOTD: Moisés Silva on learning the biblical languages

Quite possibly the most significant benefit of acquiring a knowledge of the biblical languages is intangible. Most of us are conditioned to think that nothing is truly valuable that does not have an immediate and concrete payoff, but a little reflection dispels that illusion. Consider the teaching we all received from birth. Has most of it been immediately rewarding? We are simply not conscious of how deeply we have been molded by countless experiences that affect our perspective, our thinking, our decisions. Similarly, a measure of proficiency in the biblical languages provides the framework that promotes responsibility in the handling of the text. Continued exposure to the original text expands our horizon and furnishes us with a fresh and more authentic perspective than that which we bring from our modern, English-speaking situation.

Moisés Silva, God, Language and Scripture, page 278.

I come from a faith tradition that is in desperate need to get this deeply rooted into their understanding.  In my tradition, its not the biblical languages they want to know but the language of the Spirit (I’ve never heard anyone actually say this but it is the gist of it).  Its a false dichotomy really.  Many pastors just do not see the value of learning Greek or Hebrew.  They say they are too busy or they do not see the relevance of it for their ministry.  My concern is how can they not?  I say a good pastor to teaches the Bible in some capacity in the church should at the very least know how to use the tools, if not as one of my professors in seminary encouraged his students “know what you need to know so you can know what you need to know.” Would it be great if the average pastor could sight read from the Greek and Hebrew? Well, yeah!  Sure!  Will it happen, I doubt it.  But is it unrealistic to think the average pastor could have some degree of humility to at least “have a measure of proficiency” in the languages?  No, I don’t think that is an unrealistic expectation.

Food for thought: you can learn just about anything you want in 15 minutes a day….

Here is one place to get a “dose of Greek” a day (2 minutes, just 2 stinkin minutes..”

an update

This week I’ve started my third Unit of CPE – our focus?  The On Purpose Chaplain: Intentional Professionalism.  We’ll be reading through Kevin McCarthy’s The On-Purpose Person: Making Your Life Make Sense and using that to guide us through parts of the Unit.  Yes, it’s more of a business book, but we’ll be using it to give direction as we learn about being intentional in our personal and ministerial formation as Chaplains.  That’s the most I know about it at the moment.

OnPurposePersonSo.. this means I am halfway through my residency and while I’ve learned much about myself in the process (and especially how I need to see and refer to myself in positive terms and not negatively) and hopefully have grown in ministry (I have long ways to go still) (CPE focuses on Pastoral Identity, Authority, and Formation as it relates to Pastoral Functioning), my understanding is we’ll be upping the ante and engaging in some even more courageous conversation particularly in areas of personal growth and change.  What are some of our weaknesses?  Are we willing to acknowledge those and will we be willing to make necessary changes to help ourselves grow?  Increasing in self awareness has to be an intentional act.  We have to be willing to “go there.”  While many people tend to avoid growing in self awareness (“it’s all psycho babble!”), it often keeps people in lower levels of functioning in their lives.  Growth and maturity in our personal lives comes when we allow ourselves to be open and known to others, and even to ourselves (no, many do not know themselves too well; many tend to live in a mythological world (or they put up a front or a facade) – they only present that part of themselves they have made up or want people to think is the real them when it’s not.  Part of the CPE process is learning to venture into places of our own self awareness that needs exploring so we can see those things in us and about ourselves that can prevent true ministry from taking place.

Well, like I said, I’ll be learning more.  I’ll try to share more too.

O, The Blood of Jesus!

Been reading through Hebrews lately.  Thankful for the work of Christ on the Cross and his resurrection!  Consider Hebrews 9:

11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands,that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifersprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

16 In the case of a will,[d] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it,17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[e] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

I know I am waiting…. are you?