We Don’t Just “Do Missions”

This has been a season of lasts for Carly and me. Tonight was our last congregational meeting on missions at Grace Chapel. We came so that I could serve as a pastor. We will be sent out as missionaries one month from today. To begin our meeting tonight, I set the context with three key biblical texts that are always bouncing around my mind. These texts show that we don’t just “do missions.” Missions is not one program of the church or something that a few people have a heart for. Mission is our main task. How do we know?

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). The entire goal of creation is that God would be worshiped and his glory would be cherished. As John Piper has written, “Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” One day, the glory of God will be inescapable just like water in the ocean is inescapable. But global missions is the God-ordained means to that end.

How will we get there?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38). God doesn’t do missions mysteriously apart from our involvement. It’s a human activity. Laborers—missionaries—must be sent out. So we pray for laborers. Commission laborers. Fund laborers. And send laborers out to harvest those God is drawing to himself.

What’s the end result of this?

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10). History will conclude and eternity will endure with a diverse multitude of people singing praise to the Lamb who was slain. The glory of God will be inescapable. Every nook and cranny of human society will dwell with their Creator and Redeemer in sweet fellowship forever.

These are just three texts. Of hundreds. Even thousands. All revealing that we don’t just “do missions.” Missions is our main task because it is a means toward the greatest end: the glory of God embraced and treasured by every kind of person for all eternity. It’s what we were made for. And one day it finally happen.

I can’t wait. What about you?


Day 15: Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14)

Come to Bethlehem and see Christ whose birth the angels sing; come, adore on bended knee, Christ, the Lord, the newborn King. Gloria, in excelsis Deo!  Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

We know these words well from the third verse of the classic Christmas hymn “Angels We Have Heard on High.” They are almost too familiar and common because we sing them every December year after year. Because of that, you might sing them with little or no excitement. It’s rote. It’s ritual.

Often God becomes familiar and common to us. He is not as glorious—valuable, worthy, majestic, splendid—as he once was to us. I know all that already, we think. So we get bored with him. This happens not because God is common. He’s not boring! Rather, it’s because we’ve actually deceived ourselves and been captivated by a cheap substitute. We have exchanged what is beautiful and holy for what is ugly and common. The Bible puts it this way, “[People] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23). We have worshiped what is created and trampled upon the Creator who is worthy of all glory, honor, praise, and blessing.

Christmas is God’s response to this. At Christmas, God entered the common to show us that he is the glorious one who is worthy of our worship. That night in the fields of Judea, God was like a proud father, pulling out all the stops to announce the birth of his Son. And to whom did he send his biggest, best choir of angels? To common people—shepherds! Not the media or Wall Street or Hollywood. The angels sang, Glory to God in the highest! The Creator entered his creation! He’s the best thing in the universe! He’s what you’re looking for! He is the only one who can save you and bring peace!

Do you hear the angels? Will you come and see this Christ? Come! Come adore him on bended knee and give glory to God in the highest!

Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Romans 1:18-25

  1. What created things do you celebrate, value, and delight in more than God?
  2. Why is God worthy of highest glory? What is it about the birth of Messiah that shows his glory?
  3. How has the busyness of this Christmas season distracted you from true glory in God?
  4. Take some time to praise God for his glory. (Consider singing, “Angels We Have Heard on High”!)

From We Look for Light: Readings and Reflections for Advent

Ministry Theology

God’s Glory-Sharing

Two Sundays ago, I preached a sermon called “Jesus’ Missionary Prayer” from John 17. Here’s a snippet:

So because God is complete in his Trinitarian love and glory-sharing, the reason we exist cannot be because God needs us to love and glorify him. The reason for mission cannot be that he needs us to find more people to love him, as if he lacked love. He already has that in himself. The only possibility is that God wants to share his glory with men and women so that we might be filled and complete as we behold his glory. Carly and I did not want to have children to fill a void in our marriage. We wanted to have children to share the love we have for each other. We didn’t need more love, we wanted to spread love so that our kids might know something of it. Listen to Jesus in vv. 22-24:

22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

So, again, let me reiterate that the great goal of mission is that people will behold and experience the glory of God.

But there’s a problem. We have exchanged the glory of God for lesser glories. Money, relationships, power, control, recognition, achievement, or a thousand other things. We want glory in places where glory is menial and temporal.

So we have no right to this glorious divine community—unless, of course, one of the members of the community is cast out to make room for us. And that’s what happened to Jesus on the cross. The cross was his mission—that’s the whole context of this prayer. In v. 1 when he says that his “hour has come,” it’s a term Jesus uses repeatedly throughout John to refer to his appointment with death. The crucifixion has arrived, and Jesus is going to put his glory aside and, in a sense, revolve around us. He is going to willingly step out of sweet fellowship with the Father so that we might be welcomed in and share in God’s glory. But not because God needs us, but because we will never be complete without God.

Listen to the whole sermon.


God’s Glory Is the Goal of Creation

This is adapted from a post that was originally published on September 9, 2011

In case you need to be reminded (as I often do):

  • We were created for God’s glory (Isa. 43:7).
  • We were made in the image of God, to reflect his glory (Gen. 2:27).
  • Everything we do should be for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). But, we fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23).
  • Paul says that the human race has “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:23).
  • Jesus came to earth to reveal God’s glory, “glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).
  • Jesus prayed that God’s people would be with him where he is to see his glory (John 17:24).
  • God has provided a solution to our falling short of his glory. Through Jesus, he has saved us so that we would “be to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12). Jesus has granted us the same glory he and the Father share that we might be one with them (John 17:22).
  • In this salvation, God predestines his own people to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29) who is the “radiance of the glory of God” (Heb. 1:3).
  • One day, God will redeem all of creation by setting “it free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).
  • Forever and ever after, God will receive glory because of Christ’s redemption (Rev. 1:6).
The Bible (and life) is not about us. It’s about God and his glory.

Monday Miscellanies: Happiness is the End of Creation

A guest post by Jonathan Edwards

3. Happiness is the End of Creation

As appears by this, because the creation had as good not be, as not rejoice in its being. For certainly it was the goodness of the Creator that moved him to create; and how can we conceive of another end proposed by goodness, than that he might delight in seeing the creatures he made rejoice in that being that he has given them?

It appears also by this, because the end of the creation is that the creation might glorify him. Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory he has displayed? An understanding of the perfections of God, merely, cannot be the end of the creation; for he had as good not understand it, as see it and not be at all moved with joy at the sight. Neither can the highest end of the creation be the declaring God’s glory to others; for the declaring God’s glory is good for nothing otherwise than to raise joy in ourselves and others at what is declared.

Wherefore, seeing happiness is the highest end of the creation of the universe, and intelligent beings are that consciousness of the creation that is to be the immediate subject of this happiness, how happy may we conclude will be those intelligent beings that are to be made eternally happy!