Help my thoughts become more like your thoughts…help my ways to be as your ways!

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break God’s heart”
“Let my heart be broken with the things that break God’s heart”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Jacob Lee

(Sermon: Lifegate Church- Seguin Texas)

  • Introduction
    • Note of appreciation for Josh and Bob’s sermons in the last two weeks.  I want to build upon their messages this morning.
      • I appreciate Pastor Josh’s exhortation from Matt. 9 where he challenged to us to pray for labors for the harvest field which are ripe for harvest. My eyes were opened afresh to the harvest field right here-Seguin needs the gospel…it is ripe unto harvest. God wants to use each of us, this church to bring the gospel to our city.
      • Last week Pastor Bob faithfully exhorted us like he has for so many years. From Matt 10 he opened up to us that we have been given a message which cannot be contained. We are called to proclaim it just as the 12 apostles were called to do.
      • I want to continue to build on our call to missions. The theme of my message is that mission flows from the heart of God emphasizing our call to bring the gospel message to the Nations. I am thankful to be part of a church which is a mission minded and for SGM desire to plant churches throughout the world.
    • Story: Leonard Ravenhill’s life impacted me greatly  in late 70’s
      • Story of a map in his office: While pointing at a map behind his desk he said to me, “Jacob, there are many who have never heard of Jesus!” This statement had a powerful impact on me.
      • His life of prayer made the greatest impression upon me. One of his prayers has remained with me–“Help my thoughts become more like your thoughts…help my ways to be as your ways”
  • Passage-Is. 55:8-9
    • We must read the whole chapter to get it into context…Missions is an OT idea as well as a NT idea because, as John Stott has said, “Mission flows from the heart of God”. Here in this OT chapter we have world missions! One commentator stated Is. 55 was the most evangelistic chapter in the Old Testament.


  • Prayer: For God’s revelation and anointing.
  • Major point: All of missions flows from the prior mission of God…Missions originates in God’s heart!
  • Is. 55:8-9-“God’s thoughts/ways=not your thoughts/way”
    • Israel in Isaiah’s day-God’s love to non-Jews unthinkable
      • 55:1-5 esp. v.4 &5 covenant witness to the peoples and nations.
      • Gentiles will be brought into covenant with God through the son of David=Jesus; see also Ps. 2:8 “Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possessions”
      • Jews in Isaiah’s day could not comprehend this…not in their thoughts. Also true in Jesus day—“For God so loved the world…” Paul speaks much about all believers being sons of Abraham (Gal. 3).
      • Lost=completely foreign, e.g. dead in sins Rom.5, 1 Cor. 2:14 unable to understand; the lost are separated!
        • In 55:7 wicked called to forsake their WAYS and the unrighteous are to forsake their THOUGHTS
        • 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found call upon him while he is near” …our God has compassion and abundantly pardons (v.7)
  • As Believers
    • Brought back into relationship with God “new creatures in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17)
      • Purpose is “to be conformed to the image of Jesus” (Rom. 8:29)… 2 Cor.  3:18 states we are being transformed into the image of our Lord…Rom. 12:1 exhorts to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we might we might discern the will of God…sanctification
      • Ravenhill’s prayer “make my thoughts as yours and my ways as your ways”
      • John Newton put it this way: “I am not what I ought to be—- ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be ….I am not what I hope to be ….Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,— nor what I wish to be,— nor what I hope to be,—- I can truly say, I am not what I once was;—- a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am’”.
    • God desiresour thoughts to be as His and our ways to be as His…this should be our desire as well.
      • Bring us back to emphasis in this message: My major point: All of missions flows from the prior mission of God…Missions originates in God’s heart!
        • Chris Wright puts it this way, “The mission of God is what unifies the Bible from creation to new creation…all sections of scripture and great doctrines of Biblical faith unite around the Bible’s central character—a living God and His grand plan and purpose for the whole of creation”.
        • Again: All of missions’ flows from the prior mission of God…Mission originates in God’s heart!
      • My Premise: As we are conformed more to the image of our Savior our thoughts and our ways will become more mission minded and THEcentral part of our lifestyle will be exemplified in proclaiming the gospel message passionately!
        • Stated another way: A person who is passionate about God will be growing in their passion about getting the gospel to the lost—both in their own community and to ends of the earth—this person will also be growing in passion about showing compassion to the needy—sick, poor, orphaned, widowed, and uneducated.
        • Ravenhill prayer…OH YES!  Psalmist in Ps.25:4 cries out, “make me to know your WAYS”…Ps. 103:7 states, God made known His WAYS to Moses, His acts to the people of Israel”…I want to be like Moses…not Israel…How about you?
        • Appreciate SGM’s increasing emphasis to plant churches not only in the USA but the unreached world.
        • The Lausanne Covenant which was a product of the first Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism convened in 1974 by Billy Graham drafted this statement: “World evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world”
          • Let me be quick to say that, clearly, not all missions is cross cultural,  but everything a church does should exemplify gospel proclamation and living.
          • Example: Teaching on marriage=demonstrate to the world Christ’s relationship with us (the bride) and our relationship with Him (the groom).
    • Our call in missions has to start and finish with commitment to the God whose mission we are called to share…missions is the heart of God! Let me give a brief overview from all of the scriptures. I agree with Nina Gunter who has said “If you take missions out of the Bible, you won’t have anything left but the covers”
      • Gen. 3:15-first announcement of the gospel
      • Gen. 12:1-3-calling of Abraham- “Go and be a blessing-all the peoples will be blessed through you”
      • The Exodus shows God’s faithful to redeem
      • Missions throughout the rest of the OT, our example in Is. 55. Through the prophets God points forward and insists that He would keep His promises to the nations by bringing salvation to the nations through Israel.
      • NT…God fulfills His promise and sends His Son born of a woman…this salvation comes through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Jesus on the road to Emmaus states (Lk. 24:44-48) all the scriptures pointed to Him and that forgiveness of sins in His Name must be preached to all nations!
      • Jesus prays to the Father in John 17 , “As you have sent me into the world so I send them (my disciples) into the world”
      • The gift of the Holy Spirit is given on the Day of Pentecost for the expressed reason (Acts 1:8) that God’s people would have power to spread the gospel which brings people back into a relationship with God
      • In Rev. we see the culmination of God’s heart of mission in that people from every tribe, nation, language, and people are worshipping the Lord

***Theme: All of missions flows from the prior mission of God…Missions originates in God’s heart!!! Lord help my thoughts to be as your thoughts and my ways to be as your ways!!!

  • Closing Exhortations and Applications
    • General observations with particular examples.
      • The particulars of how we live a life of missions will be according to our specific callings but our motivation should be the same—our ways and thoughts are to conform to God’s ways and thoughts.
      • What is true of God should be true of us…What God loves…desires…hates…Who He has compassion on…!!
    • Prayers
      • Cry out like the Psalmist “make your ways known to me” “help me to think as you think…I want my thoughts to be one with your thoughts…I want  my ways—the way I live—to conform to your ways!
      • “Let my heart be broken with the things that break God’s heart” — Bob Pierce, World Vision founder
      • Because we are created in God’s image and have been made new creatures in Christ it is possible by the work of Holy Spirit to manifest a growing likeness of Christ—because missions flow from the heart of God, it ought to increasingly flow from our hearts as well.
      • Prayer for boldness to proclaim the Word. It is God’s call to each of us…”Some plant, some water but God gives the increase” notice 55: 10& 11, God’s Word will not return empty……this should give us great boldness!
    • Desire to grow in our awareness of the need around us. Here are some astoundingstats and figures. The purpose of these are to inform you. Ralph Winter, the missiologist has said, “God cannot lead you on the basis of facts you do not have”…ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to walking in God’s WAYS and to thinking His thoughts! For example…as we get older we are encouraged to take certain medical test…why? Spur us on to needful action!
      • We should never get use to sound of the footsteps of the lost on their way to hell. Example: Just as a pebble in our shoe is a constant reminder to us as we walk so too should we never forget the plight of the lost. Before we can hear their footsteps and not forget their plight we must know about them! The vast, vast majority of the lost live outside the USA…I would estimate at least 90% or more!
      • Gordon Olson “If we have a choice and unless there is compelling reasons to the contrary, the Christian worker should choose the place of greatest need! Failure to give adequate consideration to this factor has caused the incredible inequity in the distribution of workers”
      • “William Borden, 19th Century missionary to Persia (modern day Iran) asked this question as he reflected on the numbers of Christian workers in the U.S. as compared to those among unreached peoples. “If ten men are carrying a log — nine of them on the little end and one at the heavy end — and you want to help, which end will you lift on?”
      • “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” — John Stott…missions flows from the heart of God!
      • Some world figures from Joshua Project…listen carefully: 1) 6.7 Billion people in the world today. 2) Of that 6.7, 4.5 billion are lost…1/3 world Christian & 2/3 lost. Vast majority of the lost are outside the USA. 3) Of the 4.5 Billion which are lost 2 Billion have never heard the gospel and out of these 2 Billion 50,000 die each day apart from Christ.
        • 66% of the world is lost …33% have never heard the gospel
        • Figures are not meant to bring paralyzing guilt. They are meant to open our eyes to see what God sees everyday!
        • This is painful but needed heart surgery for us all. Carl F. Henry has said, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there on time.” Up to 33% of the world has never heard the gospel! Missions flows from the heart of God!
      • Share a story which has brought much conviction to me…the history of Coke Cola
        • Invented in Atlanta GA in 1876. It took $70 to develop and market it the first year and $50 was made first, a $20 loss. A lot of money back then. Nevertheless they continued to sell the product, a few years later they bottled it so it could be enjoyed at home and at picnics and it greatly grew in popularity. 114 years later 94% of the people of the world recognize the Coke-cola logo and product…6% have not heard of it.
        • In 114 years of work 6% have not heard of Coke while in over 2,000 years 33% have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ! This is not right!
        • May our hearts be stirred and convicted to reach our neighbor and city! But may we never be satisfied to do only that…  “For God so loved the world”!
        • People ask: “How can we be concerned about other countries when there is so much evangelism yet to be done here at home?” Here’s a graphic that helps answer that question. Listen to this from a mission group called Mission Frontiers: In North Africa, there is only one Christian pastor or missionary for every two million people. What if?…the ratio of Christian workers to total population that exists in North Africa were applied to the U.S. and Canada, those two countries would have about 120 full-time Christian workers living in them. Also, there would be only 7 small churches in the entirety of those two countries.”
        • To think thoughts like God and for our ways to be as His we must be aware…educated…to the need around us and the needs of the world. While we like to talk about (and we should) —Christ’s second coming and other doctrines , we must be aware, like the pebble in our shoe, that 1/3 of the world has never heard of His first coming. Lord may my thoughts be as yours and my ways as your ways!
        • Let us ask each day, “What can I do today to spread the aroma of Christ in my city and throughout the world?”
    • Last point of application- Missions flows from the heart of God because He is a giving God—John 3:16
      • Wonderful example in Jesus- 2 Cor. 8:9 “Though rich He became poor for our sakes”
        • Did you know: If you make $10, 000 a year you make more than 84% of the world, if you make $50,000 a year you make more than 99% of the world? Listen to this: each year in USA 10 Billion is spent on building new churches.
        • When it comes to “things”, God is concerned where our hearts are at…not how much we own or how much is in our bank accounts. If He has our hearts He has all that we have…Jesus said, “Where your heart is there also is your treasure”.
        • Please understand that I am not preaching against wealth and church buildings—I am saying where ones heart is and where a churches heart is, there also is ones treasure is…it is a heart issue. Where is your treasure?
        • Talk is cheap! What one believes is fleshed out by what one does! Being married to a MK I have heard many stories from Carol and her parents…e.g. missionaries getting used tea bags and the end pieces of soap.
        • David Livingston missionary to Africa has well stated, “Sympathy is no substitute for action.”
        • John Calvin commenting on 2 Cor. 8&9 said, “The abundance we have is not intended for us to live in excess but to getting the gospel out”. I can tell you from spending extended time in India, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan, and the Congo that I live in excess and so do you! I don’t think there will be anyone in heaven who says, “Awe, shucks I gave far too much to get the gospel out!”
      • Great example found in John Wesley. His example of setting a cap on our lifestyles for the sake of getting the gospel out to the lost is outstanding… (The two John’s agree far more than disagree). Indebted to Davis Platt who put the figures in dollars and modern day equivalents so that we can better understand the example.
        • Beginning of his ministry he was making about $20,000. He believed that was all he needed to live on and purposed to give anything above that to getting the gospel out.
        • At the end of his ministry he was making about $160,000 and he gave $140,000 of it away for the gospel.
        • Modern day example found in John Piper—money from books/conferences goes to getting the gospel out.
        • Amy Carmichael, missionary to India has said “You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.”
        • I really don’t like the statement “Give until it hurts”…I think it is backwards, it should be that it hurts when we stop giving!
        • Missions flows from the heart of God and God’s heart is a giving heart. When it comes to giving and missions may our THOUGHTS be as God and our WAYS as His WAYS!
        • We will be taking a special offering for SGM, of whom we are a part, in order to be part of getting the gospel out to the lost. Let us be generous and may we always live as ones who are captured and captivated by God’s great love to us.

Let us pray fervently for ourselves, our church, and whole Body of Christ that our thoughts would be as God’s thoughts and our ways as God’s ways. May lives increasingly reflect God’s heart of missions!

A Prayer About a Full Harvest and Few Workers

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:1-3)

“Dear Lord Jesus, it’s really not all that complicated. All of history—every millennium, century, year and nano-second is determined by your outrageously generous commitment to redeem—to “harvest” your beloved Bride from every nation, tribe, people and language. You’ve done everything necessary to guarantee this magnificent nuptial story will end perfectly.

You bought us with your life and death. You love us with more passion and delight than we can possibly imagine. You’ve secured our safe arrival in the new heaven and new earth. There’s no chance the wedding feast of the Lamb will not take place. Yet, even as you’ve determined the glorious end of all things, so you’ve appointed the means to that end. We’re not just to be the Bride in waiting, but workers in the harvest—the plentiful, ripe harvest.

As the church—as your greatly loved Bride, we’re not supposed to be hanging out in the spa reading glamour magazines getting our nails done. We’re supposed to be getting dirt under our nails, as we do the hard and heart work of evangelism and missions. You send us out like lambs among wolves. It’s a costly, messy, much-resisted work you’ve given us to do. But it’s worth all the sacrifice, tears and conflict… for you came us as the Lamb among sinners and the Lamb for sinners. The price you paid “to have and to hold” your Bride makes our most agonizing work a kingdom joy.

Jesus, gracious Lord of the harvest, send us… send me into the harvest you’ve secured for yourself. What more could we possibly want for our church family? What other story would we choose for the rest of our days in this world, than to be the means by which you gather your Bride from the nations and prepare her for a future beyond our wildest dreams? Forgive us… focus us… free us… so very Amen, we pray, in your loving and triumphant name.”

Scotty Smith

Ryan Kelly: Missional One More Time

(From: Kevin DeYoung )

I hope these posts on mission and missional are producing more light than heat. My aim is not to beat the proverbial equine representative, but to keep the ole conversation going. This is a critical, volatile, confusing issue.

You may know Ryan Kelly as the third person in the TGC round table discussion (Greg Gilbert and I being the other two). Ryan is the pastor at Desert Springs Church and an all around cool guy (and smart too!). He’s been thinking a lot of mission and missional, so I asked if I could post his thoughts on my blog. It’s long, but worth the read.


Kevin kindly invited me to write some follow-up thoughts to a recent TGC video we did with Greg Gilbert on the mission of the church. Since my contribution to the video consisted of little more than anecdotes of Puritan cultural-engagement, and because I don’t really have a blog of my own, I was glad to have the opportunity to say a few more things here.

Some Background

I don’t exactly remember how long ago it was, but at some point I began filing away in my head, and later on paper, what I could gather that people meant by the term missional. Whether from a book, an article, a blog post, or a personal conversation, the variations seemed to me to be many and fairly significant. Missional could mean or seem to imply:

* Cultural engagement, preferably of the hipster-flavor
* Social justice, cultural transformation, and love of neighbor
* Entrepreneurial and aggressive church expansion
* Anything but the church-growth, attractional, programtic model of evangelism
* A serious and constant awareness of our “sent-ness”
* Simple gospel proclamation—what our dads used to call witnessing or evangelism, but perhaps a slightly more thoughtful and/or natural version of it
* Thoughtful gospel proclamation + any of the above

You might think that this is already headed in the direction of a critique of anything missional, but it’s not. I think I can put a check-mark next to just about each one of the above bullet points. I think I’d vote for them (at least if I can qualify a couple of them—but I won’t chase that rabbit trail now). I pastor a young church, of which many are self-consciously and thoughtfully “culturally-engaging.” We care about practical, human needs. Alongside our gospel-efforts, we give a good bit of time and money to micro-finance, medical-care, and improved water in South America. We do both word and deed ministries on Native American reservations. The word missional is used occasionally in our church, and I’m friends with many pastors that happily use the term far more than I do.

That said, I want to be unashamedly clear that I believe in the centrality of gospel proclamation. This is what I see as the capital-M “Mission” of the church in Scripture. I don’t see mercy ministries being one wing of the plane and the mercy message being the other. I’m not sure what picture I’d draw on the whiteboard as an alternative, but that one doesn’t cut it for me. I also think there are good reasons to ask what this friend or that author means when they say that they are missional and that we should be missional. And I think there are some good reasons to painstakingly and collectively think through the theory and wording of how our deeds relate to our proclamation.

Let’s be honest, many of us come to the discussion of the mission of the church with some partisanship. There are unofficial camps within Reformed evangelicalism on some of these issues. On the one hand, there are those known for being missional who think that others aren’t totally engaging the world with the gospel and the full range of its implications. On the other hand, there are those who prioritize gospel proclamation, and have concerns that some of what flies under the banner of missional has or could drift from the priority of proclamation, or even the gospel itself. Many have some sympathies with each of these perspectives, and I’m one of them. I think there’s a lot to learn here, and simultaneously some things to be cautious about. And I think the discussion is important and healthy, and it should continue.

So with that preface out of the way, I’d like to make three suggestions for the ongoing discussion of the vocabulary and content of the church’s mission.

Three Suggestions

1) Insisting on a definition of missional or asking for specifics of one’s view of the mission is not curmudgeon fundamentalism—it’s still needed. There are plenty of books that have the words mission or missional in the title which describe that mission primarily in terms of deeds, justice, culture, community, etc. (e.g., McNeal). Some missional authors are so post-modernly squishy that when they try to define the word missional they get lost debating the definition of “definition” (Roxburgh and Boren). And there are many ministries and seminaries that still use the term missional to describe what most of us TGC-type think of as emergent.

On the other hand, Driscoll, Keller, Stetzer, et al, use the term missional in a way that prioritizes or centralizes gospel proclamation among the many other good things Christians are called to do. I’m enormously thankful for such men—for their minds, their labors, and for God’s blessing through them. Nevertheless, what this demonstrates is that we have good reason to ask what this or that person means by being missional, even if we are willing to use the term for ourselves and our churches. It’s not necessarily a critique of everything missional to ask for a definition. In fact, it’s rather bubble-ish to think that no one uses the term poorly any more.

There are a few take-aways here. 1) Those skeptical of the term missional should give the benefit of doubt about another’s definition until there’s reason to be concerned. The term itself has no necessary bearing on gospel fidelity. 2) Conversely, those who identify themselves with the term missional should be gracious and eager to clarify when another asks him what that word means. I’ve seen too many young pastors get bent out of shape simply for being asked what missional means to them. That’s silly. 3) We should all strive to avoid repetitive empty vocabulary, and instead make pains to be clear about what we think the church should be doing. Again, this is a good discussion if we navigate it openly and graciously.

2) Especially we younger evangelicals have to give a more sober and careful hearing to our fathers in ministry when they warn us with historical examples of when the church’s deeds eclipsed, or became, her gospel. I’ll go out on a limb here: missional thinking could lead to a confused gospel,…but no more than any good and right idea can have an ugly, backwards step-child. We all know that there have been many historical gospel-perversions, and none of them were born overnight. Theological liberalism, for instance, didn’t start out as an overt plan to turn to “another gospel.” There was a slow and sometimes sneaky trajectory. But, in short, the story is as simple as this: good things eventually became gospel things.

Now, I think that an older generation should also be prepared to admit that some pockets of evangelicalism and much of fundamentalism in previous generations wrongly reacted to the social gospel and liberation theology by being rather neglectful of Matthew 5 (“salt and light”), Luke 10 (the good Samaritan), James 1:27 (care for the helpless), and others. Especially with fundamentalism, no doubt there was a wrong-headed retreat from culture, politics, and the arts.

But as we Reformed evangelicals today try to seek the proper place and language for all these potentially good, cultural, humane things, we should perhaps more humbly consider, even study, the stories of how these deed, mercy, justice, culture issues overtook and became gospel proclamation in an earlier day. To quote Stetzer, “It would be, in my opinion, the height of historical naïveté to have the same conversations about the same issues and not consider the results of the last two times such conversations were had (the missio dei movement and Social Gospel both having struggled with similar issues as we do today).”

Read Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism every five years. Read the work of George Marsden, especially Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism, which chronicles the missteps of both fundamentalism and left-wing evangelicalism in the last century. Surely we don’t think our generation or our camp is so sharp, so vigilant that we are above repeating such mistakes. So perhaps we young, mission-impassioned, ambitious types need to do a little less eye-rolling and a little more prayerful listening when others—especially those more historically astute and/or experienced—seem more cautious and suggest more careful nuance about the relationship between deeds and gospel.

3) Partly influenced by the need to protect the gospel (see #2 above), but mostly based on the Bible itself, it seems to me that there is warrant for prioritizing gospel proclamation over other important commands Jesus gives his followers. I know this is difficult for some who see any prioritizing of one thing to inevitably make the others optional, to inevitably treat important things with mere lip service. Well, I can’t remember which logical fallacy that falls into, but I know it’s one of them. Yes, perhaps some of us are too quick to say “of course Christians should care for the poor, love their neighbor, be good citizens, but…,” and then we go on for several minutes about witnessing and never mention the other things again. I can appreciate that that may sound imbalanced. But, speaking only for myself, I truly don’t want any one of Jesus’ commands to be treated lightly; I will not choose between the gospel message and the gospel’s implications. Kevin, in my opinion, did an excellent job of making that clear in a post last week. Of course, the real dilemma for most of us is not whether gospel or deeds are optional, but what the relationship is and how we communicate it.

Jonathan Leeman recently made a good case for the gospel having “central” rather than “first” or “primary” place amidst other good Christian tasks. That might seem like needless wrangling to some, but I think that’s the kind of thinking and formulating we need to keep attempting. We also need more discussion about the relevant Bible texts themselves. I have already stated upfront that my understanding of the capitol-M “Mission” of the church has gospel proclamation at its core. Other things are expected (commanded!) to come alongside that proclamation, but it seems to me that there are several biblical indications that some form of gospel-centrality is needed. Quick examples:

* While Jesus healed and fed, the gospel accounts culminate with the disciples’ commission to proclaim and make disciples. This doesn’t mean that this is all they are to do, but “famous last words” do seem particularly noteworthy, especially when they are quadruply given.
* The book of Acts not only begins with another such commission (1:8), but continues with dozens of preaching/conversion stories to makeup a rather overwhelmingly consistent theme.
* Paul insists that the facts of the gospel weekend—Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—are of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). Those who want to have social and cultural issues right alongside the gospel have to provide a satisfying explanation of what Paul meant here if he didn’t see any priority. I, personally, haven’t heard one yet.
* The word “gospel” implies that there’s a message—a message which must be proclaimed. As Carson recently wrote: “…the very nature of announcing or proclaiming (good) news—whether ευαγγελιζω or kηρύσσω—is that words are the primary medium. What we might call the logocentrism of Scripture is massively reinforced by the nature of the gospel itself: it is news, good news, to be proclaimed.”
* There are some very good NT scholars who have written on the mission of the church and have rather consistently put the emphasis of the church’s mission on its proclamation (e.g., Kostenberger, O’Brien, Plummer). As I’ve already noted, this seems to be a growing consensus among some of the most prominent missional leaders as well.
* Most agree that good deeds are, in part, validation of the gospel message to unbelievers. But by nature this sets up some kind of priority: the validation of a thing cannot be greater than or completely on par with the thing itself.

I’ll close with an illustration. I can’t help but think of the relationship between word and deeds and their place in the world as something like marriage. My unmarried and romantically inexperienced neighbor might watch my wife and I sharing affection, laughter, touch, food, children—really just life—over several evenings. And he might conclude from that that marriage is beautiful and desirable. But he may not necessarily know anything about the process of courtship culminating in thoughtful, theological wedding vows. Watching my marriage over several evenings has validated or even beautified marriage in his eyes, but that does not necessarily help him understand how we got there and what undergirds it all. The gospel undergirds everything we do as Christians. We can and should demonstrate that to unbelievers in hundreds of ways. But they have to be told how we got there. We have to tell them the gospel or they will not be saved.