A biblical theology of missions starts directly from the source, the Bible. The overall message of the bible is the Gospel, that Jesus Christ came to save His people from their sins by paying the debt that we all owed God upon the cross (Eph. 1). Moreover, God’s mission from the beginning until the end is that God is sovereign in saving his chosen people for Himself to glorify Himself (Eph. 1). Ephesians 1 makes that very clear. We have to realize that this is God’s involvement throughout time and I would suggest is essential to what we called the “Missio Dei.” Because of this, God pursuing His people (the church) started before the foundation of the world, when God chose His people. God the father ordained for this to happen, back before the foundation of the world, as a gift to the Son, to give Him a bride, for the glory of Himself alone. This was done by pure grace through Christ alone for a chosen people that need to be saved because of their sin (Eph. 1). At the start of creation in Genesis, God created Adam and Eve in His image in which they fell by choosing to sin (Moreau, 30). From the result of Adam not being able to live under this covenant of works, the covenant of grace is shown in God promising a coming Savior, Jesus (Gen. 3:15). This grace is shown through this promise, as well as not killing them or even cursing them but instead cursing the ground (Gen. 3:17). Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, God progressively reveals Himself more and more and pursues His people through his grace (Deut. 7:6-8). He does this to glorify Himself through His grace, so that we can serve
Him and be a people of His own (Deut. 7:6-8). This is also shown in Hebrews 11, where all of God’s people lived by faith. Next in Genesis, God works through Abraham and promises his descendents to be a great number (Moreau, 31). This covenant through Abraham is seen working out in Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and further on while the Mosaic covenant is revealed (Moreau, 32). From this we see more of God’s commands defined in the Mosaic Law, showing Abraham’s descendents the depths of their sin, so that they could place their faith in God’s promises of a Savior by grace. As God pursues His people we find that God desires a circumcised heart (Deut. 30:6). God also reveals part of his plan in that He did not choose them because they were great people by any means but His choosing was based on His love for them alone (Deut. 7:6-7). In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God announces a new covenant that is coming with Christ (Moreau, 37). This is when God will fully reveal himself completely in His covenant of grace according to His plan before the foundation of the world. Eventually this culmination of God revealing himself occurs at the Cross where His wrath and mercy is displayed. Christ’s mission in Ephesians 1 to be the Messiah is finished here where the Gospel message is completely revealed to all mankind so that the Son can save His people to glorify Himself (John 17:24). All things were created by the Son, for Him, to glorify Him (John 1). The cross is what glorified Jesus the most and nothing can compare to it. Once this occurs God then sends His Spirit to all of His followers as a seal so that the Great Commission can become a reality in believers (Moreau, 40). His Gospel is to be preached to all nations and we have the wonderful privilege and responsibility to take part in that (Matt. 28:17-20). Just as Jesus was sent by the Father, and God has sent the Spirit, now Jesus sends us so that we can be used as a vessel (2 Cor. 4:6-7) (Moreau, 49).
Moreau states that, “an intriguing element of making disciples of all nations is the implied demand of crossing cultures and discipling those who are different from us” (Moreau, 45). This doesn’t necessarily mean that all of us are to be full-time overseas missionaries, but that we are to be involved in the same process of pursuing people in showing God’s ultimate plan and purpose for them like we’ve been shown. This can take place right here in our own community through Christ’s bride, the local church as we live our daily lives (Acts 1:8). We talked about this idea in class, as the first part of the Great Commission can be translated, “As you are going.” In the book of Acts, we see believers diving into missions. Peter reaches those in Jerusalem at the beginning of the book (Moreau, 52). Members of the church in Jerusalem preach the Gospel in Judea and Philip takes the Gospel to Samaria. Eventually Paul converts to Christianity after an encounter with Jesus and takes the Gospel many places throughout his journey (Moreau, 54). In class, we talked about Paul engaging with the culture he was at with the people who were living there. An important theme to point out here is that Paul went to them. We see Paul observing the culture and religious activities, while having a heart for them in the foolish things they do, and also engaging with the people about it (Acts 17:16-17). In order to engage with them, he had to first know them and their history so that he could pursue them in the best possible and effective way. While doing so, we are to be imitators of God and obedient to Him as we are transformed into His likeness (Eph. 5:1, 2 Cor. 3:18). In order to have a biblical theology of missions we have to know how God has first pursued us. This happened in eternity past, before the foundation of the world, continues through us with the power of the Spirit, and will continue throughout all eternity as God
continues to receive glory through us by what His Son has done (Eph. 1). Throughout history, God is sovereign in saving His people through the work of His son on the cross, in order to send us as a reflection of His character, to all peoples of every tribe, language, and nation for His glory forever.
Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Encountering Mission). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004. Print.