Monday, 21 May 2012

Motives for Mission

The mission of the Church may be defined as “what God has sent the Church into the world to do.” This includes both evangelistic and social responsibilities. Many speak of our mission, but what about our motivations for mission? Scripture has much to say about not only our actions, but also about the reasons and motives behind these actions. It is God who tries (Jeremiah 12:3), knows (Psalm 44:21) and searches (Jeremiah 17:10) the heart. He does not judge by outward appearance. Indeed, even in our worship he discerns whether we are worshipping with both our hearts and our lips (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 15:8). In 2 Corinthians 13:3, Paul declares, “If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” In Philippians 1:15-17, he acknowledges that the gospel can be preached from motives of goodwill and love as well as from envy, rivalry, selfish ambition and insincerity.

The Love of God
It should be understood that the Church’s mission is more than a good or even a great activity that the Church does. Christian mission springs from the very heart of the Godhead. Both the Old and the New Testament have much to say regarding the missio dei and both reveal God’s love for humankind in its spiritual and physical dimensions. The “love of God,” as a motive for mission, contains at least three elements significant for mission:
(1) God’s love for us,
(2) our love for God, which is proved by our obedience to God (John 14:15) and
(3) God’s love working through us to reach others.

The love of the missionary God is seen in the act of the Father giving up his only begotten Son in the incarnation, and his Son being willing to live a life of self-sacrifice and ultimately to die on the cross for humankind (John 3:16; Romans 8:32; Matthew 20:28). In 1 John 4:19 we are also reminded that “we love because he first loved us.” If our response is to truly love Christ in return for what he has done for us, we must obey his commands. God expects his disciples to be motivated by his love. We can do this because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Jesus, who commanded us to love one another, also promised that if we obeyed him, the world would know that we were his (John 13:34-35).

This love is more than just a fleeting emotional feeling; it is an act of the will and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:1). This love also compelled Paul in his mission (2 Corinthians 5:14). Jesus Christ said to his disciples “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). As disciples, we are obliged to follow his example. Our love for God must be shown in “incarnational mission.” We are to identify with those we seek to reach, entering their worlds, their pains and their sorrows.

Many Christians list obedience as being a primary motive for fulfilling the missionary task. I would agree; however, obedience should necessarily flow from our love for God. John R. W. Stott once said that “loving obedience to God and his Christ is the first evangelistic incentive” as obedience is “the fruit and proof of love.”1 If obedience does not come from a heart motivated by the love of God, there is a danger of the missionary task becoming legalistic and lacking God’s blessing.

The Fear of God
It is sometimes perceived that the “fear of the Lord” (meaning, to be concerned with a God of judgment) is not relevant for those living since the New Testament era. It is true that the fear of the Lord seems more prominent in the Old Testament than the New Testament. Nevertheless, the New Testament still concerns itself with this important subject. God is still holy (Hebrews 12:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1) and there is still a final judgment (Matthew 25:41).

The fear of the Lord means living our lives to please the Lord. While on earth, Jesus sought to please his Father. Christians must also seek to please God and live a life worthy of him (Colossians 1:10). In 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul writes that it was his goal to please God. Why was he motivated as he was? Verse 10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” As a result, Paul encouraged his readers to “persuade men” (v.11).

Michael Green notes, “This fear of which he speaks is not the craven fear of the underdog, but the loving fear of the friend and trusted servant who dreads disappointing his beloved Master.”2 He goes on to write, “This fear was a contributory factor in the ceaseless evangelistic activity of the apostle Paul.”3 In seeking to persuade men, we can begin to understand Paul’s concern for those who were not in Christ. Paul saw himself as similar to the prophet Ezekiel, who had been called to be God’s watchman. Similar to Ezekiel, Paul declared to the Ephesian elders, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26). He believed he was “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (2 Timothy 1), a herald and teacher (1 Timothy 1:11) and an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

He was like Isaiah, who having seen God in his awesome majesty, could not refuse his invitation to “go and tell this people” (Isaiah 6:9). Like Jeremiah, Paul could not hold in God’s Word. This holy compulsion was a combination of both the love of God for the people and a grave concern that the trust committed to Paul should be discharged (1 Corinthians 9:17). The Church’s mission should still be motivated by a healthy appreciation of the fear of God, which will give to the Church a sense of its own holy calling to reach the lost. The Church will then become fearless in the midst of fierce opposition. Paul the great missionary had to endure great sufferings in order to fulfill the ministry to which God had called him.

The Glory of God
Perhaps the greatest motive for mission and evangelism is for the glory of God. As with the love of God, the glory of God can have more than one dimension. The first is that we evangelize in order that God would be glorified. The second is that we evangelize in order to receive glory and praise from God (as opposed to man). Both motives are important and biblical. First, we will look at evangelizing to receive glory or praise from God.

John said of the Pharisees that “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43). Jesus himself declared that he did not receive glory from men (John 5:41); rather, he was approved by his Father at his baptism (Mark 1:11) and exalted because of his obedience on earth (Philippians 2:9-11). The idea that we should not strive for a reward from God is unbiblical. The Bible is clear that all will be judged by Christ (Daniel 12:3; Romans 14:10,12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12,15). Though there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), it would appear that judgment for believers is for reward instead of punishment. Luke 19:17 implies there may be different degrees of rewards for believers for service rendered. Paul in his ministry was careful to build with quality material so he would not be put to shame when God put his work to the test (1 Corinthians 3:15). Whatever our reward may be, it should be a strong incentive for evangelism and mission.

We will now look at what I believe to be the purest motive for mission: that God himself would be glorified and honored. God the Father “exalted (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:9-10). Paul instructed the Corinthians that even ordinary things should be done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 3:1). How much more should we seek to honor and glorify the name of Jesus Christ in the work of evangelism! The Church also seeks to win over those under the control of Satan, that they may serve and honor the true and living God. As Elijah declared himself to be “very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts” (1 Kings 19:14), so Paul also claimed that his own ministry was “for (Christ’s) name’s sake” (Romans 1:5). Likewise, the missional Church as the bride of Christ must be spurred on with a holy jealousy to bring honor to his name. M. Thomas Thangaraj rightly points out that “an adoration of God leads to a profound sense of love and gratitude to God, which in turn motivates us for engagement with others in mission.”4

The prophet Jeremiah warns us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure”(Jeremiah 17:9). It is not surprising that an assessment of motivations for mission should prove to have a sobering effect on the Church. The Church should therefore be prepared to listen to both the Word and the world in its criticisms of it, so as not to become self-deceived (Hebrews 4:12; Proverbs 18:13). The three positive motives for assessing mission listed above naturally intertwine like a threefold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Mission and the motivation for mission should be seen as originating from God and should result in the Church following the example of Jesus, who in holy obedience, love and seeking to glorify the Father, came “to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). AK


1. Stott, John. 1967. Our Guilty Silence. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 18.
2. Green, Michael. 1995. Evangelism in the Early Church. Guildford: Eagle. 29.
3. Ibid. 297.
4. Thangaraj, M. Thomas. 1999. The Common Task. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 149.


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Genesis 46:3,4 'Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again.” Spurgeon

Mission involves leaving the comfortable and going out into the uncomfortable. Jesus calls to us: 'come follow me' then, when we are strong and have  been taught by him he says: 'Go into all the world' preach the gospel and make disciples. But we must be strong in his strength. The enemy wants us to stay where it is safe- but no souls are saved if we stay there. The Lord may even have to push us out of the nest-through circumstances, even  persecution as he did with the early Church. But they had the Lord's great promise 'I am with you always'!AK

Jacob must have shuddered at the thought of leaving the land of his father’s sojourning, and dwelling among heathen strangers. It was a new scene, and likely to be a trying one: who shall venture among couriers of a foreign monarch without anxiety? Yet the way was evidently appointed for him, and therefore he resolved to go.

This is frequently the position of believers now—they are called to perils and temptations altogether untried: at such seasons let them imitate Jacob’s example by offering sacrifices of prayer unto God, and seeking his direction; let them not take a step until they have waited upon the Lord for his blessing: then they will have Jacob’s companion to be their friend and helper. How blessed to feel assured that the Lord is with us in all our ways, and condescends to go down into our humiliations and banishments with us! Even beyond the ocean our Father’s love beams like the sun in its strength. We cannot hesitate to go where Jehovah promises his presence; even the valley of deathshade grows bright with the radiance of this assurance.

Marching onwards with faith in their God, believers shall have Jacob’s promise. They shall be brought up again, whether it be from the troubles of life or the chambers of death. Jacob’s seed came out of Egypt in due time, and so shall all the faithful pass unscathed through the tribulation of life, and the terror of death. Let us exercise Jacob’s confidence. “Fear not,” is the Lord’s command and his divine encouragement to those who at his bidding are launching upon new seas; the divine presence and preservation forbid so much as one unbelieving fear. Without our God we should fear to move; but when he bids us to, it would be dangerous to tarry. Reader, go forward, and fear not.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Do Men Hate Going to Church? By David Murrow

Below is a plug for David Morrow's book 'Why men hate going to church'. It is a little tongue in cheek  (I think) but it does often hit the nail right on the head. Chruch is not really men friendly, or at least, a place where a man can feel great that he is a man, that God wants to use him, challenge him and even push him to his macho limit. It was hearing of the likes of the Russian Christian soldier Vanya and how he was prepared to undergo even torture for his faith that finally convinced me that I could be a real man and still be a Christian, in fact I came to the conclusion at 15 that to be a Christian you had to BE a real man.

I've also included a video of Mr Bean falling asleep in church. Sadly going to church does put some men to sleep. We must therefore aim not to waterdown but rather keep the message relevant, interesting and passionate as well as biblical. A K

Five years ago, my faith in Christ was hanging by a thread. I loved God, but I hated going to church. Sunday morning would find my body in the pews, but my heart was elsewhere. I was so desperate I began exploring alternative religions, including Islam. Did I mention I was an elder in my church?

I was not alone. Truth is, a lot faithful, churchgoing men are not all that excited come Sunday morning. Quite a few attend out of habit, surviving on the memories of victories won years ago. Others attend services simply to keep their wives happy. Most guys do nothing midweek to grow in faith. Few churches are able to sustain a viable men’s ministry.

Why are men so bored in our churches? Of course, there are the hypocrites. But even men who are born-again, Spirit-filled, longtime Christians are clamming up and dropping out. What’s going on?

A business guru once said, “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.” Christianity’s primary delivery system, the local church, is perfectly designed to reach women and older folks. That’s why our pews are filled with them. But this church system offers little to stir the masculine heart, so men find it dull and irrelevant. The more masculine the man, the more likely he is to dislike church.

What do I mean? Men and young adults are drawn to risk, challenge and adventure. But these things are discouraged in the local church. Instead, most congregations offer a safe, nurturing community-an oasis of stability and predictability. Studies show that women and seniors gravitate toward these things. Although our official mission is one of adventure, the actual mission of most congregations is making people feel comfortable and safe-especially longtime members.

How did Christianity, founded by a man and his 12 male disciples, become the province of women? There is a pattern of feminization in Christianity going back at least 700 years, according to Dr. Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity. But the ball really got rolling in the 1800s. With the dawning of the industrial revolution, large numbers of men sought work in mines, mills and factories, far from home and familiar parish. Women stayed behind, and began remaking the church in their image. The Victorian era saw the rise of church nurseries, Sunday schools, lay choirs, quilting circles, ladies’ teas, soup kitchens, girls’ societies, potluck dinners, etc.

Soon, the very definition of a good Christian had changed: boldness and aggression were out; passivity and receptivity were in. Christians were to be gentle, sensitive and nurturing, focused on home and family rather than accomplishment and career. Believers were not supposed to like sex, tobacco, dancing or other worldly pleasures. The godly were always calm, polite and sociable.This feminine spirituality still dominates our churches. Those of us who grew up in church hardly notice it; we can’t imagine things any other way. But a male visitor detects the feminine spirit the moment he walks in the sanctuary door. He may feel like Tom Sawyer in Aunt Polly’s parlor; he must watch his language, mind his manners and be extra polite. It’s hard for a man to be real in church because he must squeeze himself into this feminine religious mold.

Men, if you’ve felt out of place in church, it’s not your fault. If you’ve tried and failed to get a men’s ministry going in your church, it’s not your fault. If you can’t get your buddies interested in church, it’s not your fault. The church system is getting the results it’s designed to get. Until that system changes, men will continue to perish, both inside and outside our congregations.

Some of you don’t know what I’m talking about. A feminized church? Some guys are happy with church just as it is, and see no need for change. Others are the sensitive type and actually like the macho-deficit. But try to see church through the eyes of a typical guy. It’s intimidating for a man to hold hands in a circle, to cry in public, or to imagine falling deeply in love with another man (even if his name is Jesus).

If we’re going to be fishers of men, we’ve got to do a better job considering men’s needs and expectations. Jesus did it; so must we.

My book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, offers more than 60 pages of practical ideas for bringing a healthy, life-giving masculine spirit to your congregation – and to your own walk with God.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

''We dwell in him.” C.H. SPURGEON

Mr Spurgeon really gets into a passion about this verse ''We dwell in Him," and rightly so. How often believers miss out on the greatest blessing that the Christian life gives us- our dwelling in God. Faithful soul go now to Christ and tell him you want to dwell in Him forever! ak

Do you want a house for your soul?
Do you ask, “What is the purchase?”
It is something less than proud human nature will like to give.
It is without money and without price.
Ah! you would like to pay a respectable rent!
You would love to do something to win Christ?
Then you cannot have the house, for it is “without price.”
Will you take my Master’s house on a lease for all eternity,
with nothing to pay for it,
nothing but the ground-rent of loving and serving him forever?
Will you take Jesus and “dwell in him?”
See, this house is furnished with all you want,
it is filled with riches more than you will spend as long as you live.
Here you can have intimate communion with Christ and feast on his love;
here are tables well-stored with food for you to live on forever;
in it, when weary, you can find rest with Jesus;
and from it you can look out and see heaven itself.
Will you have the house?
Ah! if you are houseless, you will say, “I should like to have the house; but may I have it?”
Yes; there is the key—the key is, “Come to Jesus.”
“But,” you say, “I am too shabby for such a house.”
Never mind; there are garments inside.
If you feel guilty and condemned, come;
and though the house is too good for you, Christ will make you good enough for the house by-and-by.
He will wash you and cleanse you, and you will yet be able to sing, “We dwell in him.”
Believer: thrice happy are you to have such a dwelling-place!
Greatly privileged you are, for you have a “strong habitation” in which you are ever safe.
And “dwelling in him,” you hae not only a perfect and secure house, but an everlasting one.
When this world shall have melted like a dream, our house shall live,
and stand more imperishable than marble,
more solid than granite,
self-existent as God,
for it is God himself
—“We dwell in him.”