Last night I went along to The King’s Centre in Chessington to hear Matt Chandler speak at an event put on by FIEC and Acts 29. He was speaking on the church as God’s mission strategy for the world. You can listen to the talk HERE but here are some notes I made that capture the gist of what he said – he speaks far too fast to write in any real detail!
Chandler begins by pointing out that our lives are being played out in the middle of the action. We are living in the space between, the narrow place, which is both hostile and beautiful, but also where the tendency to lose heart is high. I want to paint a picture of what God is up to.
Genesis 1: God creates all things and all things good. Everything is created to roll up to worship of God. If it doesn’t, it hasn’t fulfilled its purpose. But there is only 2 chapters of that goodness.
Genesis 3: Sin enters and fractures all of it. Everything doesn’t bring gratitude anymore. Name anything in the created world and instead of rolling up into worship of God, it ends on itself.
Genesis 12: God appears to Abraham. The first Jew is actually an Iraqi. God comes with an astonishing promise. He comes in the midst of chaos, broken world, and says I’m going to fix it by creating a people of my possession, tell you how to live and you will flourish under my headship, and from the beginning God is talking about the nations.
Exodus 19: Moses and Israel gets to Sinai and God tells them that they are going to be a kingdom of priests. What do priests do? A priest stands between God and the people. They are going to stand between God and the nations, and out of this nation will come the one who will redeem the world.
When Christ comes He fulfils all the Old Testament promises. He is the one who will redeem the world. But He also speaks of an Israel that is bigger than Israel. In John 10 He speaks of other sheep outside the fold (of national Israel). Jesus continually paints this broader picture.
Matthew 28:16-20: Jesus gathers His disciples. Some doubt. We have a tendency to make bargains with God if He would just do this or show this. This people had seen the crucifixion and resurrection and is about to ascend to heaven and people are still saying I’m not sure.
Whatever the charge Jesus then gives, it will succeed because Jesus has all authority. Now Christ says it’s go time – go get them. The Spirit comes and Peter preaches the most unseeker sensitive sermon in the history of Christendom.
But in the early chapters of Acts, the problem is that with all the converts it’s still entirely Jewish.
Acts 15: After Peter has vision with the blanket of unclean food, preaches the gospel to Cornelius and his family who are saved, the church gathers to decide whether God is allowed to save Gentiles believers after he already has. Acts 15 serves as a springboard for you and I and millions others coming into the covenant faith by trusting in Jesus.
Do you think Abraham had any idea what God meant by blessing the nations? No, but by faith he believed God accomplished it, and it has come to fruition in our time through the church.
In the modern day where there is much darkness we are seeing around the world beautiful things happen as people are saved and brought into God’s people. Please do not believe the church and the gospel is in trouble.
But all the places around the world in all their beauty are only a shadow of what God made them to be. One day God is going to renew the earth. Don’t believe God is going Death Star the earth. One day the deserts will bloom and the mountains will produce fine wine – not the stuff you get in boxes!
In the meantime we are in the middle of the action (between Genesis 12 and the New Creation) and what is needed to reach the world are faithful covenant communities of faith with open hands with a desire to train up men and women and to release them for gospel ministry.
Church leaders and members – diligently pursue how you can get involved in church planting. Through the church the world is reached with the good news of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what denomination it is with, in heaven only one Name that will be made much of. Get involved in it.
Young people who are church hoppers and shoppers – you are not participating in God’s plan. Don’t go to church, belong to one. Quit romanticizing about church – they are a mess, but it is a must. Church is not an ecclesiological buffet!