The Gospel (Chapter 5) marks the beginning of the second of three sections on the journey through the book, Life On Mission. The authors kick off section two – Gospel Foundations – positing that “A life on mission is a calling of abandonment. It is the confession of our willingness to set aside – to abandon – our preferences to follow God’s mission.” Walking through this chapter you will come to the realization that the more we grasp what Jesus has done for us and in us, (the gospel), the more we will be compelled by grace to communicate Jesus to our neighbors around the globe, near and far.
Section 2/Chapter 5 – Gospel Foundations/The Gospel
In this chapter the authors (Willis and Coe) introduce the point that living out a gospel mission is not a guilt or fear-driven task but “the good life”, which alludes to the Tim Chester quote, “The secret of gospel change is being convicted that Jesus is the good life and the fountain of joy”. They explain that the only way to truly evaluate ourselves is through an honest view of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness. The scary yet comforting thought is expressed that “Though we are more sinful than we’ll ever truly know, we are still loved by God more than we could ever imagine.” Hence the basis for our hope is that God is rich in mercy.
Readers are directed to Isaiah chapter 6, which outlines Isaiah’s divine encounter and cleansing by God. The authors consider this event a powerful foreshadowing of the gospel. The gospel is explained as the starting point, the sustaining point and the finishing point to all missions, to all of life. Willis’ and Coe’s simple message here is that the gospel is how we become Christians, but it is also how we grow as believers, through meditating on God’s Word and applying it to every fabric of our lives. The gospel commission is described as a calling that is in direct conflict with our innate selfishness and that it is only after we experience grace that we are propelled to great efforts in revealing God’s glory to the world. It is then declared that a missionary who isn’t grounded in the good news of Jesus is no missionary at all because he or she does not have good news to proclaim.
Chapter five makes it clear that the gospel is the heart of the Bible. The summation of the Scriptures is the message of the gospel; therefore, the gospel should transform every fabric of our lives.
It can be a struggle to believe that if Jesus is your Savior, the pressure is off. We live in a world where we hardly receive anything without a cost, so thinking that I don’t have to pay for the most costly thing in life, salvation, can be difficult to accept. I am kept grounded by verses like Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. This removed the pressure but not the responsibility. We depend on Jesus for our Salvation and have the responsibility to honor this gift by living the life that Philippians 2:12 speaks of, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. This we do through the working of God in us, thereby enabling us to be lights in the world.
There is always the thought that when we sin we are separated from God and this leads us to the misunderstanding that God’s love towards us rises and fall based on our spiritual performance. It is important that we come to the knowledge that God never changes – Malachi 3:6 says “I the LORD do not change”. Man, on the other hand is swept to and fro by emotions, circumstances and life in general. When we sin, like Adam we separate or hide ourselves from God. The great news is that like that account in Genesis 3 God is always on a mission to redeem us back to himself. Adam where are thou? Man where are you? It is comforting to know that our future is in the unshakable hands of the creator and sustainer of the universe. It is also encouraging that we are secured by Jesus’ righteousness – Ephesians 2: 22-24 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We thank you Jesus!
Finally, the quote “The gospel is not something you simply “get.” It is something you grow deeper in throughout your life” resonates with me. The account in Isaiah chapter 6 is very instructive. Isaiah acknowledged his sin, got cleansed and was then compelled to go on mission, not to be cleansed but because he is cleansed. Experiencing the grace of God humbled him, changed him, gave him hope and he was then compelled to join God on mission. The pressure is off us knowing that the gospel is not based on what you do for God, but what God has done for us. It is not “you do” but “Jesus did.” Hence our ability to trust Jesus and hold our own plans in abeyance is not achieved by our own strength, character or deserving. “Understanding God’s grace leads us more and more to a place of humble confidence, due to the weight of our sin and grace through Jesus Christ.”
The more we grasp what Jesus has done for us and in us, the more we will be compelled by grace to go deeper, becoming missionaries; communicate Jesus to our global neighbors, near and far.
Isaiah 6:5-8 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
What are your thoughts?
See you for Section 2/Chapter 6 next week.
~ Garfield Miller, Missions Coordinator, Jamaica