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Thursday: The Mission Call — 12 Comments

  1. Paul has the competence and strength of character to execute his zeal for the appointed job. ....as Missionaries, we must demonstrate a passion for the appointment through Jesus Christ!

    ..Paul was an exceptional Missionary and Ambassador to different and many people of ethnic backgrounds, so God has appointed him because of his Contextual Intelligence. Hence, his comment, 'I have become all things to all people'. This is a way to have things done effectively and remain done!

  2. There may be the temptation to assess the plan of salvation for all people based on human ideas of fairness and entitlement. It bears noting God’s thoughts and ways are above human reason and methods (Isaiah 55:7-9).

    As well the Self Existent One and Creator reserves the peculiar right and privilege to define fairness and love (Matthew 20:8-15). No union or rights advocate may overrule His Wisdom or Authority (Ezekiel 18:25).

    The Father permitted sin with all its misery to run its course and paid the price, not a risk since Omniscience knows no risk, to gain the trust of created beings. He reveals sufficient to satisfy the intellect which is not puffed up and then proposes, will you trust and marry me? (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7) Whatever claims they may have none who decline to trust God will inherit the kingdom of Glory.

    God has set the conditions for salvation and issues the instructions, including in mission. Jehovah does not measure success by human standards and apparent outward observations. Both Noah, with only his family saved (Genesis 7:1), and Jonah, with a whole wicked city converted (Jonah 3:1-10), were successful by the measure which matters. They did what God said.

    There is no place for rebels and no plan for a second rebellion in heaven (Nahum 1:9). O that men and women might develop implicit (unquestioning) trust in the Redeemer (proverbs 3:5).

    The words of the wise man still ring true – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” - Ecclesiastes 12:13. A lawyer who came to test Jesus rightly summarized it as supreme love for God and unwavering love for others (Luke 10:25-28).

    • Appreciate your comments, Hugh. However, I would like to address the thought of God's omniscience, vs. risk. I believe that God did take a risk in creating man, and He took a greater risk in becoming incarnate in humanity. Omniscience and risk do not seem compatible to the human mind, but the reality is that the incarnation and salvation story is built on a number of paradoxes. Regarding the risk God took in becoming incarnate, I can say it no better then Ellen White:

      Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss. (Desire of Ages, p. 49)

      The fact that it was a *genuine* risk for Christ to come to this planet makes His sacrifice real. When I was teaching church school for another denomination a young colleague was studying his Bible when I stopped by his room, and he asked me, "Was it possible for Christ to fail?" When I said, I believe it was, he concurred, saying that without the possibility of failure, it would not have been a genuine sacrifice, and it would still leave God open to the accusation of being selfish.

      How that could be is one of the mysteries of the plan of salvation.

      • Inge,
        Thanks for your response. The risk or exposure (likely intended by EGW) was on the human side, not on the divine side, somewhat like Christ died, but God did not die, for He is immortal.

        The Omniscient one seeing the end from the beginning cannot be caught by surprise. It does not mean that God fixed it so that Jesus could not fail anymore than fixing our destiny (Romans 8:29). Jehovah was not uncertainly wondering if the cross venture would work every step of the way. In making the decision He knew it would not fail.

        He will not be surprised by who makes it to Heaven, and He probably applies this in deciding who of those will make it who did not hear the gospel, but will not rebel when they hear it later.

        Similarly we understand rebellion will not rise a second time. From the free thinking created beings side there may be a risk. From God's side He knows for sure.

        Before Christ came assurance was given to Adam, Job, Enoch, Moses, Elijah, among others that the outcome would be glorious. Jehovah was not unsure about that. God does not make gamble with the universe, which is one reason we can trust Him.

  3. Paul was an accomplished missionary. His academic background qualified him as an intelligent cross-cultural worker. As noted in lesson 11, his zeal to persecute Christians, at least in ignorance of Christ; and his Greeco-Jewish background, prepared him for the great task of missions. This implies a need for well trained multi-cultural missionaries in the 21st century too. Packaging the gospel in the context of the people, without being syncretic is the challenge of everyone who goes on mission today. Reliance upon the Spirit of God through prayer and the study of His word for a thorough knowledge and belief in Christ is the number one requirement for a missionary. It is hard, expensive, but a possible venture.

  4. What does it mean to become as another person in order to save them?
    If I meet some cannibals must I start eating people so the cannibals will listen to me sharing the gospel?

    • No! When that is done it becomes syncretism - accommodating the fallacy of the other culture in the name of winning them to Christ. After that you may never win any at all because you have set a precedence. I believe we don't have to go that far. But what it means to become the other person in order to bring one to Christ means we have to mingle with them in their unique culture without blaming them or criticizing them for what we think is abnormal.
      There is nothing wrong with telling the people that you don't eat human flesh but you love them because Christ died for them. Telling them why human flesh is not eaten should only be done at their request. Even so, care should be taken not to appear judgmental.
      We have heard people who knock others hard in the name of telling the truth. We need to remember Newton's third law of motion, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction...(paraphrase)." When we begin by criticizing people, they build resistance.

    • If Paul was writing today, he would probably use the metaphor of walking in another person's shoes. Any attempt to communicate (rather than just talk at) must take into consideration how the other person thinks. I made the switch from rural farming life to academic life and am acutely aware of how the same language has a completely different meaning.

      While I don't have to deal with cannibals, do have to deal with the cynical minds of academics and understanding them has enabled me to share with them in rather surprising ways. For example, when asked for a reason for keeping the Sabbath, I knew that my questioner was expecting a biblically-based answer because he wanted to try and shoot my biblical faith down. Instead I explained why I enjoyed Sabbath so much. In the end he said that he wished he had a day like that. I knew my audience in this case and left him with the impression that the God that he rejected in his youth was very different to the God that I had faith in.

      Paul was saying, understand your audience. He recognised that we often rush in with arguments that make sense to us but are nonsense to our listeners simply because we do not understand them.

    • I believe that Paul's meaning was to exhibit the wisdom from above which "is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)

      In other words, reveal at all times, in all places and with all people, the "agape" (preference, charity) of the Godhead toward this fallen race.

  5. God did not have to give us a part in the work of saving others. He could have used angels. But the greatest joy in this life (at least for me) is the joy of seeing someone you work with say, "yes" to Jesus. It was to have that joy that God invited us to share in this work. There is no greater work and satisfaction that exists in this universe.

  6. Paul is both a Jew and Gentile for he has dual citizenship in both Israel and as a Roman citizen. He fully understands the privileges of these two citizenship rights, benefits and status. Therefore he is both an expert in these 2 citizenship cultures, religions and philosophical trends existing in both. Thus when he proposes the concept of being a Jew among Jews and a gentile when with gentiles he is merely stating the fact that one should understand how a Jew thinks and makes decision in respect to his culture/custom, religion, philosophy, societal norms and myths so that one can make decisive and calculated approach as to the best way to minister to such worldviews and is not a matter of guess nor casual approach. I would like to apply these to modern society of today;

    If one is in a a developed and 1st world he would be careful on gender equity and its language. So the church as a whole should be flexible in areas such as the role of women pastors. but if in a developing, third world country it should be careful for it is a dual polar worldviews, those that are influenced by modern culture of individualism and those who are stuck in communal rules and norms whereby women should not vote nor speak in churches.

    Saint Paul is merely saying we need radical and decisive change or overhaul not only on our vision, mission, strategy and implementation statements but on who we are as a whole and not a split personality disorder of a body of varying status.

    We can only adapt or acclimatize with our context if we are what Paul is saying also there is no Jews or gentiles, nor women and men for all are equal before Men and our qualification are through Christ and His Blood and that is our right of equal citizenship for there are no distinctive gender, role or rights in Heaven but only 1 type of citizenship all first class.

    We cannot be what we preach and claim to be Christians if we do not live and practice the norms of Heaven so it will always be a struggle in our endeavor as a church, individual attempts to be like Paul for we have a very biased distorted split disorder personality and not adaptable to any circumstances or context.

    Our system starting from GC, Division, Union and Local conferences needs overhauling its worldview concertedly, and decisively. We should rid out from among our midst bigoted gender inequality, race, culture for their is only one culture in Heaven whom we are the ambassadors of and we should be ashamed of our hypocrite attitude and worldviews. It is us as a church who is the culprit of the Lord's tarrying Parousia or Second Coming, He is waiting for us a church to be of same minded, focus and unity on who we are and on our vision, mission and strategy if not then all our efforts are a struggle, but praise God that time will come during the Latter Rain when all our human devices of biases will be of no avail and use for He will totally control the work for its ultimate surge to prepare the world for His Soon Return. Let us start as individual to radically allow the Holy Spirit write His Laws of Loving God and to others so that the work will finish and we go home.

    • When I was about to get married my father wrote me a letter (we were living in different countries at the time). In it he gave me a lot of advice for life and how to have a successful marriage. Now some 46 years later, Dad is dead and I am still married to the same woman that I was getting married to at the time he wrote the letter. Dad's advice was this: Don't try to change Carmel, if you feel something needs changing, you need to change yourself. You will find that if you are willing to change, she will probably change as well.

      It is advice that I have had to remind myself about several times, but I have found that it has worked - at least for 46 years.

      So often I hear that the church should change to to this or that. It needs to change to become more gender, race or culture equal, and so on. But if my Dad's advice about a successful marriage is applicable to churches as well, we probably need to ask ourselves how we as individuals should change. Our church will break down the gender/racial/cultural barriers if each of us who are members are committed to changing our own attitudes. How can we expect the church to change if we are not willing to change ourselves?


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