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New SBJT examines "Missions to the Glory of God"
February 28, 2006
By Jeff Robinson
The ultimate goal of the task of missions is to shine a spotlight on the glory of God, essayists in the latest edition of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology assert.
The work of missions shines forth the glory of God as He works to save sinful men, journal editor Stephen J. Wellum writes in his editorial. Wellum is associate professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"Jesus the Christ, who inaugurated the kingdom in his coming, has now won victory over all his enemies—including sin, death, and Satan—all of which attempt to rob God of the glory due his name," Wellum writes. "It is from this posture of authority that the risen Lord impels his followers forward, to go and make disciples of all the nations—a command that brings to fulfillment the promises made to Abraham many years ago and that anticipates the climactic consummation of all of God's purposes in the new heaven and new earth.
"But notice: At the heart of the Great Commission is the announcement of the triumph of our sovereign Redeemer-King. Indeed, it is the proclamation of the victory of our triune God who has fulfilled his promise to make all things right by reversing the disastrous consequences of Adam's fall and to bring about a new creation that includes within it the salvation of his people—from the nations—who will forever proclaim his glory, honor and fame."
Three Southern Seminary professors and three other writers offer essays that unpack the theme "Missions to the Glory of God."
Robert L. Plummer, assistant professor of New Testament interpretation, examines all the New Testament passages that give explicit commands or implicit commissions to evangelize. He seeks to answer the question "What does the New Testament teach about Christians' obligation to share the Gospel with non-believers?"
Plummer points out that the oft-quoted Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 is by no means the only New Testament text that makes the task of evangelism the calling of every believer.
"The New Testament authors expect all Christians to be involved in taking the gospel to the unevangelized," Plummer writes. "…it would be a mistake to think of this commission solely in terms of explicit imperatives.
"While some New Testament materials emphasize the command to evangelize, others focus on the role of God's Spirit in empowering and directing the gospel's spread. Still other sections of the New Testament prefer to speak of the gospel spreading from a divine perspective; they picture the gospel as God's dynamic word that inevitably accomplishes his purpose." Chuck Lawless looks at the relationship between spiritual warfare and world evangelization. He critiques contemporary spiritual warfare methods and offers guidelines for preparing missionaries to face the reality of spiritual warfare.
Lawless is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Seminary. He also serves as the William Walker Brookes Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth and is the author of several books, including "Discipled Warriors."
One foundational truth for missions, discipleship and spiritual warfare is the clear recognition of our enemy, Lawless writes.
"Scripture affirms that Satan continues to attack persons who become believers," he writes. "…the enemy works to keep non-believers in darkness. God calls missionaries to take the gospel of light into a world shrouded in this darkness, and the enemy aims his arrows at them…"
David M. Sills, associate professor of missions and cultural anthropology at Southern, writes that the Gospel must be communicated clearly to the different cultures, else it will fall on deaf ears because it will not be understood.
"We are broadcasting the gospel message all around the globe, but often we are transmitting in a frequency that the people of the world cannot hear," Sills writes. "How can we ensure that the proclamation of the gospel will be heard and understood? We must make every effort to be good communicators of the gospel in every culture."
The journal also includes essays by John Piper, Benjamin L. Merkle, and Andreas J. Köstenberger, along with a forum on being missions-minded. Forum participants include Southern Seminary professors Michael A.G. Haykin and Ted Cabal.
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