Your Doctrine Of The Trinity Is Not Missional Enough

TrinityMissionsHere’s Kostenberger on Trinity and missions:

Rather than being one of several aspects or implications of John’s trinitarian theology, mission was shown to be the nexus and focal point of his presentation of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, individually and in relation to one another. Hence it can truly be said, not only that John’s mission theology is trinitarian (which in and of itself is a significant statement), but that his trinitarian teaching is part of his mission theology – a truly revolutionary insight.

The insight is revolutionary because, if heeded, it calls the church to focus its major energies on acting on and acting out her Lord’s commission, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21), in the power of the Spirit, rather than merely engaging in the study of God or cultivating personal holiness (as important as this may be within the larger framework presented here). The insight is revolutionary also because a proper understanding of John’s trinitarian mission theology ought to lead the church to understand its mission in trinitarian terms – that is, as originating in and initiated by the Father (the “one who sent” Jesus), as redemptively grounded and divinely mediated by Jesus the Son (the “Sent One” turned sender, 20:21), and as continued and empowered by the Spirit, the “other helping presence,” the Spirit of truth. Continue reading

Risk In Missions, Love, and Evangelism

Mission_10.40Window_600Following Christ can be dangerous. But as John Piper argues in Risk is Right, the ephemeral dangers are completely obliterated in the light of the unspeakable rewards that await those who risk all for Christ.

This was brought home to me in two ways. First, Nancy Writebol quoted the words from Risk is Right that speak these truths so eloquently:

There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus. If Christ is so valuable that the hope of his immediate and eternal fellowship after death frees us from the self-serving fear of dying and enables us to lay down our lives for the good of others, such love magnifies the glory of Christ like nothing else in the world.

What makes this amazing is that Nancy is an ebola survivor; she took a huge risk to help others through Christ’s love to her own personal safety.

But the second way was that I was reminded of Nancy’s statement by a missionary that we support at Zion. Continue reading

Calvin on Allah & Idolatry

I’ve looked at the claims of inclusivism, universalism, and exclusivism before, but sometimes the nature Allah confuses these issues. Do Christians and Muslims worship the same g/God? Does Islam and Christianity agree for at least one Person of the Trinity? Again, Calvin is helpful here:

Christ tells his disciples to believe in him, in order that they might have a distinct and complete belief in God, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). For although, properly speaking, faith rises from Christ to the Father, he intimates, that even when it leans on God, it gradually vanishes away, unless he himself interpose to give it solid strength. The majesty of God is too high to be scaled up to by mortals, who creep like worms on the earth. Therefore, the common saying that God is the object of faith (Lactantius, lib. 4 c. 16), requires to be received with some modification. When Christ is called the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the expression is not used without cause, but is designed to remind us that we can have no knowledge of our salvation, until we behold God in Christ …

What I wish to impress upon my readers in this way is, Continue reading

Reformed Exclusivism

How do the various claims to truth of world religions relate to one another? Further, how should Christians think of salvation for those who have never heard? The traditional distinction to answer this question breaks into three categories:

  1. Exclusivism: Jesus is the only Savior of the world, and one must believe God’s special revelation culminating in the gospel of Christ to be saved.
  2. Inclusivism: Jesus is the only Savior of the world, but one does not have to believe the gospel to be saved.
  3. Pluralism: All paths are valid and lead to God.

Andy Naselli points to Christopher W. Morgan’s “Inclusivisms and Exclusivisms” in Faith Comes by Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism (WTS books). Morgan drills down into these categories, and notes that while most theologians still operate within these traditional sectors as a framework, in reality there are nine discernible categories:

  1. Church exclusivism: No, outside the church there is no salvation.
  2. Gospel exclusivism: No, they must hear the gospel and trust Christ to be saved.
  3. Special revelation exclusivism: No, they must hear the gospel and trust Christ to be saved, unless God chooses to send them special revelation in an extraordinary way—by a dream, vision, miracle, or angelic message.
  4. Agnosticism: We cannot know.*
  5. Continue reading

Looking Ahead for 2011

Dear Zion,

It seems like the New Year has snuck up on us again, and with 2011 comes all sorts of new experiences: new hopes and new fears for what the new year may bring, new possibilities, as well as the feelings of regret and loss that can come as time marches on. Many people spend the New Year thinking about new resolutions to make and ways to change. But how should Christians think about the inauguration of 2011? How are we to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16)? While there are surely many ways to think about these issues, here are some especially pertinent, biblical concepts to consider.

The Sovereignty of God in 2011
No matter what the new year brings, we can be sure of this: God is in control of 2011. All times are in His hand, and since He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (Revelation 1:8), we know that He makes the ends known from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Every day that we live in 2011 has already been written in His book (Psalm 139:16), and nothing that happens to us can happen apart from His will. Life and death, health and sickness are in His hands (Deuteronomy 32:39). Neither a sparrow (Matthew 10:39 – 31) nor a hair from your head (Luke 21:16 – 18) can fall apart from God’s will. So for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, the future of the new year doesn’t need to be a scary thing, because He has promised that all things will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). As we make our plans for 2011, we should recognize God’s absolute power and control over all the decisions we make, and ultimately entrust ourselves and our plans to Him (James 4:13 – 17).

The Second Coming and Missions
It could be that 2011 is the year in which Jesus Christ returns “to judge the quick and the dead,” and to bring His people home to God. I can’t think of a more glorious idea! We pray with the saints down through the ages, “Come quickly, O Lord!” (I Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20). When the date is written out 2011 A.D., that stands for anno domini, or “the year of our Lord,” and it reminds us that time is waiting for Christ to return. The Second Coming of Jesus is the blessed hope for all Christians, and one we eagerly await. As we wait, we are to strive to live in a manner worthy of His calling.

But we are also to spread the Good News of God. If Jesus doesn’t return in 2011, may the Lord use this season for the advancement of His Kingdom! Jesus reminds us that in every age “the fields are white for the harvest,” and so we should “pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2; John 4:35). How may God be calling you to support missionaries and evangelistic efforts through prayer, finances, and your own time?

Personal Holiness and Spiritual Growth
No matter what God’s will for 2011 may include, you can be sure of this, that part of God’s will for you is for you to grow in holiness (I Thessalonians 4:3). That is true in all times and all places. Many New Year’s Resolutions include weight loss and stopping bad habits, but how many of us take time to plan how to grow in our faith? How many of us purposefully seek deeper discipleship and richer communion with the Triune God? If it would help you, notice the Bible reading plan included in this newsletter[1]. Perhaps you would like to join or start a prayer meeting. May God grant us all a zeal to be holy, even as He is holy, in 2011 (I Peter 1:16).

Praying with you for faithfulness in 2011,
Pastor Brian
[1] This is referring to M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Plan.