Sunday, June 25, 2017

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God’s Mission (Mission Possible)

Good morning Mr. Phelps. The man you are looking for is Mr. Johnson. He is married with 2 children, and resides in Orange County, CA. He is lost in his sin and is in need of the transforming power of the Gospel. Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to demonstrate to him that Yeshua is the promised one to atone for his sins and reconcile him to God. This MP3 will self-destruct in 5 seconds. Godspeed, Jim.

My little parody above refers to the introduction for the famous TV series, “Mission Impossible.” To many believers today, spreading the Gospel (especially to Jewish people) seems just that: Impossible.

Here is an interesting train of thought that will be the starting point for a “blog series” on the topic of spreading the Gospel. On what grounds do we spread the good news? If it is so hard to do, then why bother at all? If religion is all about good behavior, can’t we just accept everyone’s faith choice and leave it at that? After all, don’t we live in a postmodern multicultural world?

The question of on what grounds do we spread the Gospel is relevant because there is not a single command in the entire “classic Torah” (a term I use for the books of Genesis to Deuteronomy) that mandates Israel to spread the message of God to the nations. Not one I can find, anyway. No outreach, no mission, nothing. (Note: Israel was indeed a light to the nations, but this is not the same thing as purposefully and actively spreading the message of God.)

But something funny happened on the way to heaven, as revealed by a closer look at Yeshua’s final words recorded in the Gospel of Luke:

Then he (i.e., Yeshua) said to them (i.e., the disciples), “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:44-47, ESV)

Note that this message from Yeshua encompasses a few key things: (a) Yeshua’s death and resurrection, and (b) repentance/forgiveness to be proclaimed to all nations. Folks, this is a mandate to spread the Gospel, yes? And apparently it is rooted in the Scriptures (unless you want to argue with Yeshua). And the Scriptures in reference here are the Tanakh because the “New Testament” didn’t exist at that point as we know it today. Thus, Yeshua saw the Tanakh (Genesis to Malachi) as a mandate to spread the Gospel. But what did he see?

In the coming weeks we will take a closer look at what Yeshua saw. In particular we need to look at three phases of development as to how God spread the Gospel through (a) the nation of Israel, (b) the Messiah Himself, and (c) the Apostles (i.e., Peter, Paul, John etc). Only then can we answer this question for today. So stay tuned …

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