Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Perspectives) is a fifteen week course about the global purpose of Christians, designed around four vantage points or “perspectives” – Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic. The course has the objective of opening the eyes of Christians to the vision that God has a “world-size” role for every believer in His global mission. The point of this course is to simply show practical examples of how missions can be done wisely and well, against the background that God will fulfill His promises.
Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3).
I have embarked on the Independent Study Online format of the Perspectives study program and will periodically share a perspective on different lessons.
Lesson 1, “The Living God is a Missionary God” with primary text Genesis 12:1-3, highlights God’s purpose for every people through a covenant with Abram.This lesson begins a journey to discover what God has revealed about His purpose through the story of the Bible. God Himself lives for purpose and we were meant to live in this same purpose. “The way to live with significance is to devote yourself to a purpose that is larger than your life.” – Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.
Between Genesis 1 – 11 we find the coming into existence of a people (creation – Genesis 1-2), the disintegration of that people (through sin – Genesis 3) and their division into different language groups (Babel – Genesis 11:1-9). God’s actions and responses in these situations were carried out with love and mercy, though not always seen on the face of it. God created man, clothed them with animal skin after their sin and then choose to divide them into different language groups, as a way of retarding their action in building the tower of Babel. As part of His restorative plan, God later commissions Abram to initiate the process of reuniting all peoples of the earth together, unto Himself. A lesson of hope, significance and purpose.
“1 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3
God’s covenant with Abram discloses His character and purpose for every people. In making the covenant with Abram, God promised to bless him and his descendants (seed) and make them His own special people. Abram and his seed were to then serve as channel through which God’s blessings could flow to the rest of the world. “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”, Gen 12:3b. He is a God of covenant, blessing and mission.
God of covenant – God is gracious enough to make promises, and he always keeps the promise he makes. He is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. Not all promises will be fulfilled immediately. Abraham and Sarah “died in faith not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar” (Hebrews 11:13). Although Isaac was born to them in fulfillment of the promise, their seed was not yet numerous, nor was the land given to them, nor were the nations blessed. All God’s promises come true, but they are inherited “through faith and patience” (Hebrews 6:12). We have to be content to wait for God’s time. We may not now see God’s promises fulfilled but let us be patient knowing that God is faithful and can do all things.
God of blessing – “God said to Abram “I will bless you … and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2). “God…sent him Jesus to us firstly to bless us,” echoed Peter (Acts 3:26). God’s attitude to his people is positive, constructive, enriching. We have much to be thankful for, that God’s primary work is to bless people with salvation.
God of mission – The nations are not gathered in automatically. If God has promised to bless “all the families of the earth,” he has promised to do so “through Abraham’s seed” (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise” – Galatians 3:29. We are Abraham’s seed by faith, and the earth’s families will be blessed only if we go to them with the gospel.
While the material introduced by this lesson is familiar, the treatment of the information is of such that it brings into sharp focus the cohesion and seamlessness of the Bible expressing God’s purpose. This lesson shows God as God of covenant, blessing and mission. A solid foundation on which to build the biblical basis for missions. I pray that God’s purpose of mission will enflame our hearts and that we find significance as we pursue His will – missions. “Some will come from every tribe and tongue if only we who know will simply go. Not all will respond but some will come from every tribe and tongue if only we who know will simply go” – Perspectives Instructor Tom Theriault.
– Garfield Miller, Missionary Society (Jamaica)