Missions: Is the Gospel Enough?
In our last visit on the issue concerning missional focus, we jumped right into the methodology of missions. However, in starting with the methodology, we have begged another question that needs to be answer: what is the central motivating focus of missional work and why do missions exist? This blog will only afford us to answer the first part of that question in regards to the gospel. Although both questions are so very closely related that they cannot be separated, we will build the foundation so as to strengthen our answer to the second part of the question when we visit again.
Christ is Preeminent
Understanding the gospel is pivotal to understanding the implications it has on missional work. To assume that everyone understands the gospel is unwise at best because of how the gospel has been marred in modern evangelicalism.
Paul gives us the essence of the gospel in Colossians 1 in its simplest form: Christ is preeminent. If Christ is not preeminent in your life, preaching, or any aspect of you then it’s a sure bet that you may not have a biblical grasp on the gospel.
Christ has been and will always be the essence of all things. Verse 17 tells us, “And He is before all things, and by him all things consist.” This is the basis for which Christ, the son of the living God, could come and pay the price of redemption for His people. “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” Looking to anything else as “good news” [i.e. gospel] is to mar and dismantle the very person of Christ. In Him all fullness dwells, and therefore as such, where else could the gospel come from? Christ is the essence of the gospel. He is the consistency. The all.
Christ came to earth and died a brutal death on the cross to reconcile His people who “were sometime alienated and enemies in [their] mind by wicked works [v.21].” Through “the body of His flesh through death [v.22]”, He not only has saved the sinner who looks to him but is working out the implications in His life “to present [Him] holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight.”
My friends, this is what we had to look to in order to know and understand this grace in our lives, and it is what we continue to look to. It is what all of God’s people from every tribe, tongue, and nation must look to. This is what we must proclaim to every soul that our missional endeavors bring us in contact with. We must point them to Christ and none other. To quote a wonderful hymn, “In Christ Alone, my hope is found”.
Be not moved away
After clearly establishing that Christ is the essence of the gospel, Paul gives us a charge and a personal glimpse as to the implications this has made on his life. He charges the Colossian believers to “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the gospel.” And what is it that Paul is so emphatically saying that they must be grounded in and never move away from? The text is clear: the gospel; Jesus Christ and Him crucified; everything that Paul has just finished establishing is to be our bedrock. We are never to be moved away from this in anyway shape or form. The implications are profoundly life changing for the believer because it is his life. Our faith was rooted at the beginning in the gospel and it continues to be rooted till Christ returns. Ephesians tells us, “as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus, so walk ye in Him.” We received the gospel by faith and we must continue in the gospel by faith.
Therefore you are a minister
The personal glimpse that Paul gives us at the end of this charge sheds incredible light on the implications that the gospel is motivating the believer’s missional work. After driving home the solidity that the gospel gives our lives, he builds on this by sharing with us that the gospel is the very thing that has made him a minister. Lets take a look at verse 23: “and be not moved away from the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” Paul has just stated with all clarity that it is the gospel that motivates him, that drives him, that gives him vision to be the minister that God has called him to be. For Paul, there is no greater reason. Paul was missional because of the gospel and so should we.
Proclaiming the gospel and its implications
We have talked a lot about the gospel being our driving motivation as a person who does ministry, but you may be asking: So where in God’s Word do we find the implication of the gospel toward “missional work”? Or, where is the GO in the gospel?
Well, in case you have not seen it already, Matthew 28:16-20 is the most obvious but in many ways the most profound place to turn in answering this question. It is here that we are commanded to, “Go ye therefore, teach all nations.” But what is it that we are to teach? The answer is found in verse 20: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The reason this is so profound is because of the context in which it is being said. Realize that Christ has just died for the sins of His people. Remember that Christ has just spent three years teaching His disciples what the gospel is and all the implications it holds. Christ has just lived the gospel before them both in life and in death and now He is telling them to go and tell all nations the things you have heard, seen, and believed. He is telling them to move from where they now stand and go be missional. He is inspiring them with the pure and fresh unadulterated gospel they have just experienced. He is motivating them to go into all the world for the sake of the glorious gospel. And, the motivation is no less true for us: Let us be missional because of the gospel.
In all honesty, we have been building to one last question that I feel answers itself: is the gospel enough? Is the gospel the only thing that drives us to do missional work? Is it what makes us GO? My answer is simply, yes. And based upon God’s word, I will boldly say that any “missional work” that does not have the gospel as its core and sole motivation is not and will never be “missional work”. The gospel is our life. It is the essence of who we are as believers and should always have profound implications for what we do. I leave you with this: eat, sleep, breath, and teach the gospel.
For His Renown,