Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The GCR. A Car Without Fuel?

The 2010 messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention voted on moving towards a Great Commission Resurgence.  I happily voted for the GCR because I am passionate about seeing the gospel spread to the nations.  (Although, I am certain that my passion should/could increase all the more). 

As excited as I am to see a Great Commission Resurgence I wonder if maybe we should call it something else—or perhaps change it’s emphasis.  Biblically, I see something else motivating Paul’s mission—and honestly something that undergirds Jesus’ Great Commission. 

I am beginning to study Romans (and am anxiously awaiting my first day of class with Dr. Schreiner to go through this letter).  Today, I began by studying the first 7 verses.  Notice verse 5:

[5] through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, (Romans 1:5 ESV)

Paul is saying that he has gracious received his apostleship (in other words his salvation and calling to ministry were by grace).  The purpose of this gift—or the purpose of Paul’s ministry—is to bring about the obedience of faith.  This is either saying the obedience that springs from faith or the obedience that is faith.  Either way, notice the purpose; “for the sake of his name among all the nations”.  What is the motivation for missions?  That Jesus may be praised. 

To this end Dr. Schreiner quotes John Stott:

“the highest of missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God, verse 18), but rather zeal—burning and passionate zeal—for the glory of Jesus Christ.”

So perhaps what we need prior to a Great Commission Resurgence is a Great Commandment Resurgence.  If worship (passionate love for God) is the fuel of missions, a Great Commission Resurgence without a prior Great Commandment  Resurgence will be like a souped-up car that doesn’t have any fuel.  It looks nice, it has potential, and might win the acclaim of on-lookers but it won’t get you to the grocery store. 

As I look at many of the great missionaries of the past, and even those today (like David Platt) what inspires them is a deep love for Christ and an abiding belief that Jesus deserves the praise of the nations.  The missionary heart lives these sentiments of John Piper:

But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!” who cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord...I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High” (Ps 104:34, 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship. 

(Piper, Let the Nations be Glad)

So while we are encouraging our churches to be actively involved in mission we had better be equally intentional about providing them fuel. 

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