It is our belief that God is glorified when his Son is recognised and worshipped as Lord and Saviour. Therefore, our aim is to introduce people to the Lord Jesus, through our worship and our daily lives. We recognise that only God can give people new life in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we place great importance on prayer: asking God to do what he alone can do. Furthermore, we believe prayer is God’s main way of bringing about his purposes in this world. Therefore, we pray not just for new life for ourselves and others; but about everything and anything, remembering to give thanks to God as we do so.
The following paper is an outline of an address given to a gathering of the Highland International Church on Wednesday 3rd October 2012 by James Torrens.
It is hard to better the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
We glorify God when we make God appear as he really is. The bible shows us God as he ‘really is’ and tells us that he is the One from whom and through whom and to whom are all thing. No wonder the apostle Paul concludes, to him be the glory for ever (Romans 11 v 36)! If we have the same exalted (and true) view of God as Paul had, then we too will come to the same God-glorifying conclusion.
God is not only to be glorified for ever, but also in everything. The apostle instructs us: whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10 v 31).
One of the ways we bring glory to God is when we learn to enjoy all that he is, as well as all that he has done for us and given to us. Such enjoyment comes as a result of knowing and receiving the love God has for us in Christ Jesus and in the obeying of his commands. Jesus links these themes together in John 15 v 9 – 11: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. God is no kill-joy; he is, in fact, the ultimate joy-giver!
One of the chief ways we fulfil our purpose as Christians (ie, to glorify God and enjoy him forever) is by growing in our love and knowledge of Jesus Christ and by making him known to others. These two things go together. Like Laurel and Hardy or Ant and Dec, they are separate, but cannot be separated.
We cannot share what we do not have. We cannot commend what we do not cherish (John Piper). So before we can make Jesus known to others, we need to know him ourselves: truly, relationally, experientially.
Therefore, if we want to be effective in our mission, we need to nurture and cultivate our knowledge and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s words in Philippians 3 v 10 are striking, when you consider how well Paul already knew his Saviour and Lord: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. This was the dynamic that lay behind Paul’s amazing exertions for the gospel: the desire for more of Christ in his resurrection power and the privileged partnership of sharing in his sufferings.
In ‘The Mission of God’, Chris Wright writes: ‘I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should ask what kind of me God wants for his mission.’
When we come to know Jesus, we discover he wants others to come to know him too. God’s Word tells us it is our duty; God’s Spirit gives us the desire.
a) Duty: Matthew 28 v 18ff contains what is often called the ‘Great Commission’. As someone has wryly observed, we tend to treat it like the ‘great suggestion’! But it’s a command from the One to whom all authority on heaven and earth has been given: go and make disciples of all nations.
b) Desire: As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus (not least in recognising that he is the One to whom all authority has been given), our desire for his name to be glorified increases. The 19th century missionary, Henry Martyn, once said: ‘I could not endure existence if Jesus were not glorified.’ John Stott, commenting on this, says ‘This is the highest of all missionary motives. It is not obedience to the Great Commission, nor love for sinners who are perishing, but zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ.’ See also Romans 10 v 1.
So knowing Jesus and making him known are inescapably linked. One leads to the other.
But the flow is not just one way. It is not simply that as we come to know the Lord Jesus we are able to make him known to others. For it is also true that as we share our faith with others – making Jesus known to others – our own knowledge and understanding of Jesus increases. Philemon 1 v 6: I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Making Jesus known helps us to know Jesus.
God’s strategy involves people, both non-Christians and Christians.
a) Non-Christians: When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9 v 36. Notice how Jesus’ compassion for the crowds leads directly to his instructions to his disciples…..
b) Christians: Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”…. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Matthew 9 v 37 – 10 v 7.
Romans 12 v 4 – 6: Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
Jim Philip: ‘We all have our part to play, and only a part; the most richly endowed member is still only one member, not the whole body. Not even he can ”go it alone.” It is only in fellowship with others that true destiny is achieved. We cannot be ”ourselves” by ourselves.’
The bible is full of instruction about the necessity of prayer; it is also full of examples of God’s powerful intervention in response to his people’s prayers.
Romans 12 v 12: Be faithful in prayer.
Ephesians 6 v 18-20: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
We are engaged in spiritual warfare. Without God’s help, protection and deliverance, any task we undertake for him is doomed to frustration and failure. Happily, God’s help, protection and deliverance are freely given! But we need to ask God to do what God alone can do.
Colossians 4 v 2 – 4: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
God’s Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to regenerate people, to bring them to that new birth without which no-one can see the kingdom of God.
James 1 v 18: He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.
1 Peter 1 v 23: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
The Gospel is not just to be proclaimed, but propagated – by our lives as well as our lips.
Colossians 4 v 5,6: Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
1 Thessalonians 2 v 8: We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
Words alone are not enough. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1 v 5: Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. It is the Holy Spirit who carries on ministry of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus here on earth. It is he alone who leads us to know Jesus and makes Jesus known to others: through God’s Word and through our witness to that Word.
Francis Schaeffer: “Let us not think that waiting on the Lord will mean getting less done. The truth is that by doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way we will accomplish more, not less. You need not fear that if you wait for God’s Spirit you will not get as much done as if you charge ahead in the flesh. After all who can do the most, you or the God of Heaven and earth?”
These are some of the vital aspects of God’s strategy regarding his mission in his world. It’s important that they are in place before we consider….
The practicalities we undertake as a church are meant to serve the purpose and mission we have outlined above: to bring glory to God; to help us to know Jesus Christ and to make him known; to help us love people who are without Christ; to help us be the people Christ would have us be; to help us in our prayers; and to help us proclaim and propagate the gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3 v 6,7: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.