The Church’s Task in the Mission of God

By Micah Colbert. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

What is the church’s mission? How does the mission of the church relate to the mission of God? Are they the same, or different?

Clarifying Mission

Mission is one of those buzzwords that Christians frequently use but struggle to define. It seems like everything from preaching the gospel to digging wells in Africa is considered mission. Over the past few years, churches, small groups, and even clothing have suddenly become “missional.” But is mission really that broad or generic? In their clarifying book, What is the Mission of the Church?, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert wisely point out that “mission… is not everything we do in Jesus’s name, nor everything we do in obedience to Christ. Mission is the task we are given to fulfill.”1

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Pentecost: The Church is Born! (Part 2)

The rich symbolism prescribed for the ancient Hebrew celebration of Pentecost culminated in the inauguration of a brand-new entity in the program of God. It all occurred, according to His perfect plan, on the Pentecost Sunday which was the 50th day following the resurrection of Christ.

As Bruce Scott stated, even in the Hebrew Bible, “Both the so-called Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks are inextricably linked” (The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of the Messiah [Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1997], 58).

When we come to the New Testament, we find that Jesus rose from the dead on the day of firstfruits, “and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Then—linked to His resurrection and ascension—He promised that something monumental would transpire on the day of Pentecost, which the Christian world marked last Sunday.

And that day is remembered with good reason! It is the day in which the Holy Spirit would work within Jesus’ apostles and, by implication, their own disciples, in a very different way.

Jesus summarized it by saying: “He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

By contrast, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit worked within those people who were given a unique place of responsibility in the theocracy of Israel, and He did so only for particular purposes and periods of time (see, for instance, 1 Sam. 10:6; 16:13-14; Ps. 51:11).

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Pentecost: The Church is Born! (Part 1)

Christians throughout the world will celebrate Pentecost Sunday and the coming of the Holy Spirit—in a new and fresh way, to begin the church age—this coming Sunday.

Interestingly, these celebrations may not involve many of our readers, as oftentimes the churches in our circles do not make much of this day on the calendar.

If you were like me, however—raised in a liturgical church that celebrated Pentecost Sunday every year—its chronological relation to the resurrection was likely fixed clearly in your mind. But, regardless of how we remember Pentecost, we certainly need to be familiar with it and understand its vast significance.

In this two-part blog series, we are going to consider the day of Pentecost as the birthday of the church and the launch of the church age—focusing on the fact that the church did not begin before that signal day, nor did it begin after it.

One very strong evidence that the church did not begin before the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 is Jesus’ teaching given prophetically to the disciples in His Upper Room Discourse in John 13 to 16. He is clearly speaking of a major change that the apostles were about to experience, following His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

Jesus, in fact, spoke precisely about “that day” when His disciples would “know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). In other words, this was the specific day on which the body of Christ would be formed by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:5; 2:2-3; 1 Cor. 12:13).

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When Is a Church Not a Church?

I want to talk about what “the church” is. This will be a high-level discussion, not a defense of a particular kind of church (Baptists v. Methodists, etc.). I want to talk about this because I fear we forget just how important it is to get this right. As sectarian battles light up social media and the news (with no end in sight), this deceptively simple issue deserves some consideration. 

There are different ways we use the word “church:”

  1. The building where the congregation meets. This is common language, and I get it, but it’s wrong.
  2. In a wholistic sense, considering the entire congregation of the faithful throughout the world. We’ll begin with this.
  3. In an institutional sense—a local place that exists somewhere. This is the sense which we’ll spend most of our time pondering.1

Wholistic Sense—Church as Brotherhood of Christ-followers

Three strikingly different theologians offer up similar definitions for “the church” in a wholistic sense.

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The Danger of Replacing Israel (Part 3)

In this series we have learned how it is always dangerous to replace Israel.

Replacing Israel occurs when one interprets the word Israel in the text of Scripture to mean the church or all believers—understanding them to be the new Israel or the spiritual Israel. It is taking the concept of Israel (the people, the nation, or the land) in a non-literal sense.

We are concluding this series with a practical case study, showing how these issues worked out in the life, ministry, and influence of one of the greatest Reformers in the history of the church.

That man, who ultimately stumbled over his attempt to relate biblically to the Jewish people, was, of course, Dr. Martin Luther.

On October 31, we will remember and celebrate the 504th anniversary of the Reformation, which Luther began by posting the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, protesting the abuses of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Luther’s brave stand for salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, on the basis of Scripture alone, all for the glory of God alone, brought spiritual freedom to masses of people, and ultimately began the transformation of Western civilization.

Luther was a man of great courage and conviction—and he boldly challenged the greatest worldly powers of his day, willing to stand on the Word of God alone even when facing the threat of death.

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