The definition of mission

The cultural mandate, which is often referred to as social responsibility, goes as far back as the Garden of Eden.

 God gave them his blessing and said: Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the ocean, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth. – Genesis 1:28

We are held accountable for the well-being of God’s creation.  In the New Testament we are told that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. The concept of neighbour, as the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches includes all of humanity.

With the evangelical mandate, humans had been alienated from God.  God’s nature was made clear by the first words He spoke —

The Lord called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:9

God immediately began seeking Adam.

 How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them?  And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news. – Romans 10:14-15

Bearing the gospel which brings people from darkness to light is fulfilling the evangelistic mandate.

Prioritization of evangelism however best reflects the New Testament doctrine of mission and that is Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and we move out in Jesus’ name to do the same.

This is rooted in the Great Commission which appears in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts.

Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,  and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. – Matthew 28:19-20

What is a disciple? A disciple is one who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, a new creature in Christ. and who is known by their fruit.

Is setting goals and placing strategy based on the Great Commission a way of expressing faith? It is putting substance in things hoped for.

We are to strategically go into the world, preach the gospel to every person and make disciples of all nations – panta ta ethne.  God is not willing that any should perish.

A steward is entrusted to fulfill great responsibilities – we are stewards of the mysteries of God – a parallel expression of the gospel.  What is the gospel for? It is the power of God for salvation. Stewards are to be found faithful and successful.

In other words, if we are investing resources of time, personnel and money in programs which are supposed to make disciples but are not, we need to reconsider them and be willing to change the program if needed. Jesus’ parable suggests hat if the fig tree does not bear fruit after an appropriate lapse of time, it should be cut down and the ground used for something more productive.

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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.

Blessing pronounced

PlanetEarth

“Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”  “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”  “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.  “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.”

Genesis 32:26-29

God pronounced blessing as early as the fifth day of creation. Blessing is God’s goodness made “gooder.”

Further into the record of Genesis, we see more occasions in which the words of blessing are pronounced.  Jacob’s struggle with Esau to obtain his father’s pronouncement of blessing is the most prominent instance.  His struggle with an angel (or with God?) to obtain a pronouncement of blessing is noteworthy.  In every case, this verbal giving of blessing was understood as far more than words, but as an irrevocable transfer of God’s special enablement and abundance.