I’m going to enter on an on-going, intermittent journey to briefly discuss some of what is standing out to me from our Perspectives classes. I’m undertaking this mission to share with others what we are learning, and also to spark interest in this class for others. My synopsis should in no way be substituted for the class, as it is a brief overview of our 3 hour lecture, plus multiple hours of assigned homework reading articles and curriculum. I would just like to give others an understanding of what the class is, in the case that they may be interested themselves. Or share the material for those who don’t have the time or finances to take the class themselves. If you are interested in taking Perspectives on the World Christian Movement you can attend a class (if one is being held) in your local area for free of charge just to get an idea of the format and content. You can also find out more information at http://www.perspectives.org/. Again, in no way will my summary compete with the years knowledge of the professors that have spoken with us, and their multitude of years of experience on the mission field. Please accept my feeble attempt for what it is. Also understand that a good amount of what I’m writing will be a combination of my particular views, convictions and theology, along with the material that was presented in the class. Obviously the material that I’m presenting is what was most meaningful to me, and my take on it, someone else could have attended the same class and walk away with a very different outlook.
Week 1… The Living God is a Missionary God
God’s Covenant with Abram/ Abraham- a form of this appears in Scripture 5 times, just in the book of Gensis.
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Some translations read “in you” or “by you” for the last line. The NIV reads “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” This use of “through you” takes the focus off of Abram, and keeps it on God and His action. (I note this because I don’t typically read the NIV translation, but I agree with our teacher for that lesson that the NIV translation of this verse does end up bringing God the greater glory).
From the final line of God’s covenant with Abraham you can see His plans to reach all of the “families of the earth” through/ by/ in Abraham. Is this God revealing His plan to bring a Savior for the gentiles into the world? Maybe, but did He intend to wait until Christ came? As much as Pharisees would have liked to have overlooked it, gentiles were being saved and brought into faith through Jews long before Christ was born. Naomi discipled Ruth, a Moabites, took her back to her own country, and shared her home and God with Ruth. Jonah led the Ninevites to repentance. Moses’ father in law praised God and became a believer after he had witnessed His glory at work. Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, and the list goes on and on… The Old Testament is filled with God using missionaries for His glory, to reach the nations… and somehow the Pharisees still missed it, and it still took a while for this message to sink in with the disciples. Just how much are we also missing it today? (This will come up more in additional posts, so I won’t linger here yet). Just how much are we focused on our family, church, or nation that we miss out on the much bigger picture of how God is at work in all of the nations?
As I was reading 2 Chronicles this evening (yes, our church is up to 2 Chronicles on our read through the Bible in a year plan :-)) this verse stood out to me.
2 Chronicles 6:32-33 “Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your great name’s sake and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name…”.
When Solomon was in his prayer of dedication for the temple he even took out the time to acknowledge the foreigners/ gentiles. He clearly understood (despite his many downfalls) that the mission was all about God’s glory, and that His glory should be carried to all the peoples of the earth.
One of the biggest changes that I have noticed is that once I have really gained a heart for the nations (and not just my nation), now that I’m starting to understand the much bigger picture of God’s plan and where and how He’s at work now, scripture has changed significantly to me. Each page now comes alive with phrases like “to all peoples”, “to all nations”, “every tongue”, “every tribe” and so forth. Instead of seeing the much smaller picture of scripture that I had previously been trapped in, God has opened my eyes and heart to how much more there is to His word. It has been an exciting journey so far, and I’m looking forward to unfolding it in our blog.