The Importance of Being Sent

In the New Testament epistles and the Revelation of John, the arrival of the Messiah in the world is seen as a part of the sending motif in Scripture. Noted from John’s first epistle, insight is given into the motivation for God’s sending activity. John wrote, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10).

The motivating force in God’s mission and subsequent commission of the church is shown to be His love and desire to have people reconciled to Him. In Galatians 4:4–6, Paul wrote that God had sent the Son for the work of redemption and “sent the Spirit of His Son, into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’”

Consequently, the church is now a commissioned group in the world, having been sent so people can hear the witness of the Gospel (Rom 10:15). The mission of God and the commission of the church would appear to have love as one of the motivating factors. In 1 Cor 5:14–15, Paul wrote of the reason for ministry and mission, “For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

Additionally, the final book of the Bible includes some the language of sending as well. John wrote that the revelation was sent to him and verified by an angel (Rev 1:1). The messages John received in the first three chapters were sent to the seven churches named in them (1:11). In the closing chapter of the book, John records that “These words are faithful and true,” because the Lord “has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place” (22:6). The epistles and Revelation continue the teaching that God sends both the message of salvation and the power by which believers may live out their redemptive calling of mission and ministry.

From the banishment (sending out) of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to the revelation of insight about the end of days, God is a sender. Throughout the Scriptures, God presents Himself as on mission for His glory and His redemptive purposes. In Missional Church, Darrell Guder wrote,

We have come to see that mission is not merely an activity of the church. Rather, mission is the result of God’s initiative, rooted in God’s purposes to restore and heal creation. . . . God’s mission unfolded in the history of God’s people across the centuries recorded in Scripture, and it reached its revelatory climax in the incarnation of God’s work of salvation in Jesus ministering, crucified, and resurrected. God’s mission continued then in the sending of the Spirit to call forth and empower the church as the witness to God’s good news in Jesus Christ. . . . and it moves toward the promised consummation of God’s salvation in the eschaton (“last” or “final day”).

The Scriptures are quite clear that God is on mission, and that He is sending His people out into the world to participate in that mission as well.

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Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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