Origin of human culture

God created mankind, male and female, in His own likeness by endowing them with distinctive human faculties – rational, moral, social, creative and spiritual.  He also told them to have children, to fill the earth and to subdue it.  These divine commands are the origin of human culture.

Today we have lost our way.  All our work is accompanied by sweat and struggle and is disfigured by selfishness.

The affirmation that we are made in God’s image still stands, though the divine likeness has been distorted by sin.  I believe that God also is still looking to us to exercise stewardship of the earth and its creatures and that we still have our gift of inventiveness making us resourceful and successful in doing so.

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God’s Spirit implants His standards

We must learn to faithfully listen to the Word of God – for as we do, God’s Spirit will enlighten us —

 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.[b] – Romans 12:2

The Spirit uses the Word in this way to bring individuals and communities to Christian maturity.

The role of culture and community in conditioning our understanding of sin is seen in Romans 14.  In the Roman church some people were vegetarians because they had formerly worshiped idols by eating sacrificed meat.

Paul responded that it is not the act itself that is important, but the underlying character of one’s relationship with God.  A person must do what he or she believes is pleasing to God.  Different people will choose to take different and maybe even opposite actions to please God.  This is why Paul taught that it is wrong to be contemptuous of those who follow rules that seem irrelevant to us; we should not feel more spiritual than those who don’t follow our own ideals of Christian behaviour.  Put another way, each of us is answerable to God.

Instead of teaching biblical principles, the human tendency is to substitute rules about foods, ceremonies, rituals, times and places.  Paul responds —

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. – Romans 14:17-18

As more and more people become believers, a non-national missionary can help the group to discover God’s will for them and of course a national missionary has no difficulty at all.  They will both direct new believers to the Word of God where they will work out their salvation —

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling – Philippians 2:12

 

 

God’s Love Washes and Renews

THE CHRISTIAN CONFESSION OF FAITH

 

Mission exhortations

 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. – Luke 6:33

Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. – Luke 12:33

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister[a] in need and yet refuses help? – 1 John 3:17

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. – James 2:15-17

 

Core identity

Moved by the love of Christ, we seek ways of living and serving that fit who God has made us and that allow us to carry out our purpose with full integrity and wisdom —

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.[a]  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:5-6

 

 

 

Our Core Identity

 

Core Mandate

The mandate to bless the nations began with Abraham.  God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham provides the biblical foundation and the proper heart attitude for ministry.

“Blessings” refers to God’s gracious favour and power bestowed on those who respond to Him by faith.  The blessing so His favour draws us into relationship with Himself, resulting in peace, well-being and salvation.

In Christ, we discover the demonstration of God’s liberating power,  Paul highlights the relational and powerful dimensions of blessing in Christ most explicitly in Galatians.

Implicit in the Abrahamic blessing, we find our mandate as well as our message.

 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” – Galatians 3:8

Our core message of the blessing which is in Christ aligns with our core mandate to bring Christ’s blessing to all nations.

Knowing us well

If our work among an unreached people group proves that our intentions are indeed good for the people – then we know we have been always straightforward about our identity as servants of Jesus Christ.  And as some make decisions to become followers of Christ, it will not come as a surprise to the community as those things gradually are made known.

“… but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed” – 2 Corinthians 6:4,9