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Theology of Missions

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There is evidence from the beginning of the Biblical text starting in Genesis, to the conclusion of the text with Revelation that God desires for man to fulfill His call for missions. The story of missions begins with around four thousand years ago when God calls Abraham.

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1 The Scriptures offer a clear explanation of the original calling of Abraham. God commands Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

” (Genesis 12:1 ESV) Genesis 12:1-3 signifies an assurance whose completion extends throughout the Scriptures, it is the original representation of the Abrahamic covenant. This covenant is a fourfold everlasting covenant. First, is the seed, which refers to Christ?

2 Paul replicates this when explaining, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’” (Galatians 3:8) The “Good News” signifies the news of salvation for all the nations.

Faith represents one’s ability to achieve salvation throughout every generation.

3 It was by Abraham’s faith that he desired to fulfill his call to missions, and it was by the faith of the apostles that Christ asked them to fulfill the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) Next, are the land, the nation, and the divine blessing and protection?

4 John MacArthur explains, “This covenant is unconditional in the sense of its ultimate fulfillment of a kingdom and salvation for Israel but conditional in terms of immediate fulfillment.” The apostle Stephen reiterates the importance of this covenant when he states, “Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.” (Acts 7:30) The call of man to go is evident throughout the scriptures. The Lord requested Abraham to go, and by faith, he fulfilled his calling. Through the words of Stephen, it is obvious, that God still expects every individual with faith to continue His mission purpose.

The Lord Jesus Christ demands, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Christ did not ask the disciples to convert individual to a relationship with Christ, He instructed them teach the new believers the commandments of God. The commission continues as the faith grows. The new believer becomes the next individual able to fulfill God’s call. Missions are visible and intended for the past, present, and future. OLD TESTAMENT MISSIONS

Unfortunately, the missionary influence of the Old Testament promotes confusion with the overpowering emphasis upon one country, the Jews.5 Ralph Winter claims, “The greatest scandal in the Old Testament is that Israel tried to be blessed without trying very hard to be a blessing.”6 This is tragic, because from the very beginning God called Israel to fulfill his purpose through missions. There are numerous occasions where the biblical text illustrates missions’ throughout the Old Testament. Some great examples are Noah, Abraham, and Jonah. Each of these individuals produced evidence of God’s heart for missions throughout the ancient world. First, Noah is a representation of both a prophet and a missionary.

Noah preached for 120 years that humanity should repent and turn toward God. According to Peter, Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” The apostle Peter states, “If he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” (II Peter 2:5) Noah’s message to the lost is, God is righteous and holy, and He will judge sin.7It is evident that Noah was mission minded. Noah believed the people needed to repent for their sins, and place their faith in the Creator God.

The Lord Jesus reflects on Noah’s mission when he states, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:38-39) Second, previously mentioned, is the life and mission of Abraham. Genesis 12 gives an account of the Lord commissioning Abraham to “Go.” This was a mandate given to Abraham to become God’s chosen missionary to evangelize a debased civilization.8 Abraham lived within a society that was progressively crumbling. All around him was ethical corrosion, obscurity, and diffusion.

The Creator did not forsake humanity, which He made in His image, but out of a godless civilization, He called Abraham to be a blessing to the entire world.

9 It was Abraham mission to accept and accomplish the promise God. Next, missions are evident in the Old Testament text through the life of Jonah. Jonah is a pure representation of God’s heart for missions. The book of Jonah tells the story of an unenthusiastic missionary who resisted the calling on his life, because of racial and cultural pride. Jonah refused to fulfill his calling, and was unwilling to go to Nineveh because he believed Israel would benefit from the cruel Assyrian enemies to perish.

10 Nevertheless, Jonah’s lack of passion for the lost is not a reflection of God’s desire for Nineveh come to repentance. Eventually, Jonah’s plans were changed, and God utilized him to bring the city of Nineveh to repentance and into a relationship with Him. One is able to visualize the heart of God for humanity throughout the Old Testament. There are multiple examples that reflect God’s passion for humanity to seek forgiveness, and live a life filled with holiness and righteousness. Mission is a reflection of the heart of God. The Bible illustrates multiple examples of Missio Dei, meaning that God initiates and sustains mission.


The New Testament is abundant with examples of missions. First, one must consider the core theme of the New Testament text. The New Testament begins with the Gospels explaining the life and mission of Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior. First, God confirms that he sent Jesus to “Go” and fulfill His calling. Jesus clarifies, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.” (John 8:42) God’s mission is evident through this passage. First, Jesus declares that God is obviously not their Father. The Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. This illustrates the Jews spiritual depravity. If the Jews were true children of God, they would have loved His Son Jesus.12 Again, the life of Jesus illustrates God’s ability and desire to send a means for humanity and the children of Israel to come to repentance. God sent Jesus, and Jesus eventually sends his apostles and all believers. Jesus commands, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) It is evident through the words of Jesus Christ that God desires for all humanity to come and surrender their lives to him. Following the Gospels, Luke writes a descriptive history of the apostles desire to fulfill the spreading of the Gospel. Luke records the words of the resurrected Christ, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus instructs the apostles to fulfill the Great Commission by proclaiming His message of forgiveness of sin to the “end of the earth.” Following, Luke places a large amount of emphasis on both the apostle Peter and Paul.

Luke’s explanation of God sending Peter outside of the Jewish community offers an excellent example of God’s intention to “proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) Peter adds, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35) Again, God reveals to His servant humanities need for his love. Here in Acts 10 the reader is able to observe God’s intentions to move beyond the realms of Israel, and utilize His servant Peter to proclaim the Gospel to the “whole creation.” Second, the New Testament utilizes the ministry of Paul to proclaim the mission of God. Paul proclaims, “Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:5-6) Evidently, Paul and Peter both understood their need to continue mission throughout the world. Paul illustrates his understanding of his mission with his epistle to the Romans, by starting his epistle with this explanation of the need of faith in Christ throughout all nations. Paul and Peter continue their efforts and the illuminate their efforts through the content in their epistles throughout the New Testament. NATURE OF GOD AND MISSIONS

The greatest evidence of the nature of God in missions is His desire to accomplish missions in a personal way. God utilizes His people through the gifts He gives them, which enable the messenger to fulfill His purpose.

13 Amos declares, “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) God reveals his nature, which is love, because prior to judgment, He graciously warns the fallen man through His vessels the prophets, and apostles.14 The apostle John asserts, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and know God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (I John 4:7-8) Charles Ryrie explains, “The absence of the article before ‘love’ indicates that this is the very nature of God.”15 However, the author further explains that this definition is not reversible, one cannot say, “Love is God.”16 John MacArthur adds, “Love is inherent in all he is and does. Even his judgment and wrath are perfectly harmonized with his love.”17 Therefore, the apostle John proclaims the epitome of God’s love by explaining, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) These words illustrate God’s love reflected through grace. God allows Himself to love sinners, and in return offers salvation through the crucifixion of His son. Through His Son, God illustrates His nature in missions because He offered His son as a propitiation for the entire world. MISSION THEOLOGY AND THEOLOGY

According to Introducing World Missions, mission theology should be the core of theology, acting as an anchor for the entire “theological” foundation.18 First, one must understand the definition of mission and missions to attribute similarities between mission theology and theology. Missions according to Introducing World Missions are, “the specific work of the church and agencies in the task of reaching people for Christ by crossing cultural boundaries.19 So, what is the church? During the Jesus’ mission on earth, he announces that he would do new things in establishing His church. (Matthew 16:18) After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church establishes itself after the arrival of the Spirit at Pentecost.

20 R. G. Clouse states, “The church is the spiritual family of God, the Christian fellowship created by the Holy Spirit through the testimony of the mighty acts of God in Christ Jesus.”

21 Therefore, ecclesiology integrates itself with the theology of missions. The mission of the church revolves around Jesus Christ. A key concept of the church and missions is evangelism. Evangelism involves, calling men to the Savior, publishing the law of God by proclaiming His lordship, feeding the flock with Christian nurture, and continuing the work of Jesus Christ by ministering to the lost.

22 Second, theology of missions saturates itself with the soteriology. Soteriology comes from two Greek terms, soter, which means “savior” or “deliverer” and logos, which means “word”, “matter”, or “thing.”

23 However, the actual meaning among Christians is the study of salvation. Soteriology is essential to missions because it enables the missionary to explain to the lost their need of salvation. The missionary must explain that salvation offers a freedom from sin and death, it is a gift from God given freely, and it attains distinguishing aspects.

24 Without the need of salvation, one would not need missions. Christ offered salvation through the Cross. Christ demands the apostle to proclaim the need of salvation to anyone who is lost after His resurrection. Therefore, Christ demand for the Great Commission is a demand for the church to maintain a biblical understanding of the importance of missions. Patrick Johnstone asserts, “Missiology acts as the gadfly of theology.”

25 Essentially, Mission theology should be the core of the churches theology.


Essentially, a motif is a persisting repetition or component that strengthens the dominant guiding subject. However, for Mission Theology, a motif is a repeating notion that emphasizes the dominant subjects of missions.

27 Effectively, a theme will create a better understanding of the whole theology of mission. According to Introducing World Missions, there are six motifs within mission theology. The author states there are the Kingdom of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Shalom, and The Return of Jesus.

28 However, only two themes will be sufficed for this paper. First, the motif of Jesus Christ is significant because it is the core of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ enabled missions through His death, by offering salvation. Jesus demanded that His believers fulfill missions by asking them to be witnesses of His resurrection to Jerusalem, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.

29 The Great Commission illustrates Jesus’ concerns far past the children of Israel. In reality, the Great Commission affirms the fact that Jesus desired the disciple to continue his work past the realms of His ministry. Jesus foretells, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) Jesus understood His disciples’ were able to go beyond the boundaries of Israel and reach the known world. The second significant motif is the return of Jesus. The return of Christ is the essential declaration of the church. This motif contains a deep impact on missionary theology and practice.

30 This is essential to mission theology because apart from Christ the lost are destined to eternal damnation.

Missions offer individual a means to escape damnation by the proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ. Second, mission theology offers individuals hope in the return of their Savior. This hope enables the believer and the church the ability to press forward through trials and tribulations. Lastly, the second coming inspires Christians to be protectors in a fallen world. The second coming offers the hope that the old will eventually pass away, and through Christ, the new will arrive in His second coming.31 Without the hope of the second coming, missions are insignificant. The second coming encourages the missionary to continue missions. CONCLUSION

Mission theology is essential to both the church leaders and the lay people not in full time ministry. Each of these individuals should take time to educate themselves about opportunities to support mission and enable those willing to utilize their lives throughout the mission fields with assistance. Pastors and local church leaders need to involve themselves in mission conferences and mission educating information.32 Mission conferences allow both the church and the pastor to focus on what God is asking from each individual. These conferences promote enthusiasm toward missions, and educate individual about the needs within the mission field. In addition, mission conferences reflect the value the pastor and the church place on fulfilling the churches call to missions. Second, every believer needs to educate themselves about the missionaries their church supports, and other missionaries that are in need. This need is not solely financially, but every believer needs to be involved in praying for those in full time mission work.33 Lastly, the church and its congregation should be promoting
financial support to further the kingdom through mission.34 In reality, all money given to the church, and every dollar a church attains should continue the call of missions. The reality is if a church is promoting conferences, educating its congregation, and supporting missions it will reflect a church focused on the Great Commission.

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2001. Herrick, Greg. Soteriology: Salvation. http://https://bible.org/seriespage/soteriology-salvation (accessed September 8, 2013). Johnstone, Patrick. The Church Is Bigger Than You Think: The Unfinished Work of World Evangelization. Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2000. MacArthur, John. MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2005. Mareau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academics, 2004. Olson, C. Gordon. What in the World Is God Doing? Forest, VA: Branches Publication, 2011. Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 1999. Winter, Ralph D. Four Men, Three Eras, Two Transitions: Modern Missions. http://www.worldevangelicals.org/resources/rfiles/res3_429_link_1342028689.pdf (accessed September 8, 2013). Winter, Ralph D., and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Pasadena, California: William Carey Library, 2009.

Cite this Theology of Missions

Theology of Missions. (2016, Nov 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/theology-of-missions/

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