The Christian Life is About Making God Known: The Gospel and Mission pt 6

The Christian Life is About Making God Known: The Gospel and Mission pt 6 January 27, 2020

 


I have been asking in this series of blogs, “what is the purpose of the Christian life?” To this point, I have been suggesting that it is to imitate and fulfill the mission of Jesus. In the last few posts I have been arguing that the coming of Jesus was in fulfillment of all that the OT promised. In particular, Jesus fulfilled the mission of the OT people of God to make God known.I have noted that one of the great promises of Scripture is the “Immanuel Principle:” the promise that God will dwell among His people: see Lev 26:11-13 and Ezek 37:24-27.There are often two significant misunderstandings in the church when it comes to missions. First, many Christians consider the work of missions to be someone else’s responsibility. Secondly, many conceive of missions strictly in terms of persons who are in need of salvation. As a result, missions is often not accomplished; and when it is the goal, and often the primary focus, is on making converts.

The biblical focus is on making God known (intimately, personally, relationally). This is the mission of God. And it is this mission to which we have been called to participate.

The Mission of God: God made known
The Bible is a story about the mission of God. That mission is for God to be made known! The goal of the entire biblical story is that God will be known by those within all nations.[1] Deuteronomy declares that the purpose for giving the Law to Israel, we so that the nations might know the Lord: “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deut 4:7).

The book of Exodus repeatedly declares that God acted in Egypt so that all will know Him. First, we learn that the result of God’s actions in Egypt includes the fact that Israel will know Him: “you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exod 6:7; cf 8:10, 22; 9:13-14, 29; 10:2). In addition to the Israelites coming to know the Lord, Egypt will also know Him: “the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD” (Exod 14:4; cf 14:18).

Finally, through the Lord’s work in Egypt, God will also be known among the nations: “in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth” (Exod 9:16).

The theme continues throughout the historical books of the OT. In the account of the crossing of the Jordan, we are told that the waters dried up, “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty” (Josh 4:24; cf 2:10-11).

In the account of David and Goliath, David defiantly contends with Goliath and declares that God will deliver him into his hands so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Sam 17:45-46). Solomon declares that the answer to his prayer is: “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God” (1 Kings 8:60; cf 8:41-43).

God’s delivering Jerusalem from the Assyrians was so that, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God” (2 Kings 19:19; cf Isa 37:20).

The prophetic books also continue this theme. The prophet Jeremiah declares that God’s promise to bring Israel back from exile is so the nations will learn of the Lord: “It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it” (Jer 33:9; cf Isa 45:6; Ezek 36:23).

​Perhaps the most explicit account of all this found in the book of Ezekiel. Seventy times Ezekiel is told something along the lines of: “you will know that I am the LORD.”[2]

God’s desire to be made known is summed up in Psalm 22: “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. . . . It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it” (Psalm 22:27, 30-31).

It is because of this role of making God known that Isaiah affirms that God has appointed Israel, “as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations” (Isa 42:6). The same point is reiterated by Isaiah a few chapters later when he says, “I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa 49:6).

In other words, God wills to be made known. And He chose Israel for this task!

And if Jesus is the fulfillment of this task, and if we are called to carry forth the mission of Jesus, then the primary purpose for the people of God is to make God known!

 

[1] I do not believe that everyone within every nation will be redeemed. Only that some from every nation will.

[2] Cf Ezek 6:7; cf 6:10, 13, 14; 7:4, 9, 27; 11:10, 12; 12:16, 20; 13:21, 23; 14:8; 15:7; 16:62; 17:24; 20:12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44; 21:5; 22:16, 22; 23:49; 24:24; 25:5, 7, 11, 14, 17; 26:6; 28:22, 23, 26; 29:6, 9; 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, 26; 32:15; 34:27, 30; 35:4, 15; 36:11,23, 38; 37:6, 13, 27; 38:16, 23; 39:6, 7, 22, 28



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