Comprehensive Gospel, Comprehensive Mission. Michael Goheen Burnaby, B.C. Good news of the kingdom. The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! Mark 1.15. Headline news!.
The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!
God is acting in love and power in Jesus by the Spirit to restore the whole creation and all of human life to again live under His gracious rule.
A fox compliments a crow: “My you have a lovely voice; won’t you sing me a song?”
What is the meaning of this event?
The crow sits perched high in a tree with a piece of meat. There is a famine in the forest and all the animals use different strategies in an attempt to get the meat. The fox compliments the crow. It opens its mouth; the meat falls out and the fox runs away with it.
Don’t be deceived by flattery!
“The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is part?” (Newbigin)
“. . . a story . . . is . . . the best way of talking about the way the world actually is.” (Wright)
“ . . . the whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story which is the story of the whole world. It is public truth” (Wright)
I can’t understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us in India as a book of religion. It is not a book of religion–and anyway we have plenty of books of religion in India. We don’t need any more! I find in your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history, the history of the whole of creation and the history of the human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. That is unique. There is nothing else in the whole religious literature of the world to put alongside it (Badrinath).
While justly angry, God did not turn away from a world bent on destruction but turned to face it in love. With patience and tender care the Lord set out on the long road of redemption to reclaim the lost as his people and the world as his kingdom (Our World Belongs to God, 18).
“The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation.” (C. Wright)
God’s mission: Restore whole creation and bodily life of humankind.
If the gospel is comprehensive in scope, then the church’s mission is as wide as creation!
There is not one square inch of the entire domain of human life of which Christ, the rightful Lord over all, does not proclaim: “This is Mine!” (Abraham Kuyper)
The Spirit thrusts God’s people into worldwide mission.
He impels young and old, men and women,
to go next door and far away
into science and art, media and marketplace
with the good news of God’s grace. . . . (32)
Following the apostles, the church is sent—
sent with the gospel of the kingdom . . .
In a world estranged from God,
where millions face confusing choices,
this mission is central to our being . . . (44)
The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world.
To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere,
without fitting in,
as light in the darkness, as salt in a spoiling world. (45)
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (Jn. 20.21)
In our contemporary culture . . . two quite different stories are told. One is the story of evolution, of the development of the species through the survival of the strong, and the story of the rise of civilization, our type of civilization, and its success in giving humankind mastery of nature. The other story is the one embodied in the Bible, the story of creation and fall, of God’s election of a people to be the bearers of his purpose for humankind, and of the coming of the one in whom that purpose is to be fulfilled. These are two different and incompatible stories (Newbigin).
‘There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.’ (CS Lewis)
The early Christian belief [i.e.,Scriptural belief] that the Fall and Redemption pertained not just to man, but to the entire cosmos, a doctrine already fading after the Reformation, now [under secularism of 19th c.] disappeared altogether: the process of salvation, if it had any meaning at all, pertained solely to the personal relation between God and man (Richard Tarnas).
Ever since the Enlightenment, western culture has found it difficult to articulate a clear and compelling vision of God’s relationship to the world. In reaction to the Enlightenment, the theological stream of pietism has tended to confine the presence and action of God to the interior subjectivities of the individual believers: “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!” . . . Since we find ourselves in a scientific, rationalistic, technologically driven society that leaves little room for God, it is simpler and more accessible to shift the focus to human experience instead (James Brownson et al.)
I look at this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat, and said to me, “Moody, save all you can. God will come in judgement and burn up this world . . . The world is getting darker and darker; its ruin is coming nearer and nearer. If you have any friends on this wreck unsaved, you had better lose no time in getting them off.” (DL Moody)
No one, I think, whose eyes are open to the signs of the times, can fail to perceive that if Christianity is to be effectually defended from the attacks made upon it, it is the comprehensive method that is rapidly becoming the more urgent. The opposition which Christianity has to encounter is no longer confined to special doctrines . . . but extends to the whole manner of conceiving the world. . . . It is no longer an opposition of detail, but of principle. The circumstance necessitates an equal extension of the line of defence. It is the Christian view of things in general which is attacked, and it is by an exposition and vindication of the Christian view of things as a whole that the attack can most successfully be met (James Orr).
If the battle is to be fought with honour and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power. (Abraham Kuyper).