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20 Nuggets from Missiology | C17

The content below is taken from Dr. Paul Akin’s “Introduction to Missiology” lectures at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Winter 2020-2021). The aim of this course was to better understand the missionary impulse of God as revealed in the Bible, the history of Christian mission since Christ, and the role that we as Christians have in global missions today.


Missions Begins with a High View of God


1. A high view of God fuels a high view of global mission. The God of the Bible is a Missionary God. The Bible is a missionary book. “God’s mission is what fills the gap between the scattering of the nations in Genesis 11 and the healing of the nations in Revelation 22. It is God’s mission in relation to the nations arguably more than any other theme that unlocks the key that unlocks the grand biblical narrative.” Christopher Wright


2. Missions is the mother of theology. The first theologizing of the early church came as it was trying to explain the Scriptures. Ripping theology out of its great commission setting pulls it out of focus. An intellectual exercise that fails to bring glory to God and confuses its listeners. Our theology and our missiology are informing each other . . . bound together. Theology is only healthy in the context of mission. Theology ceases to be theology if it loses its missionary character.



3. Christians who believe that God is sovereign over all things will give their lives to missions. Every Christian should have the nations in their sights. What drives passion for unreached people is not guilt—it’s glory. We are blessed so that we can be a blessing . . . that is why we’ve been saved.


The Great Commission is for Every Born Again Christian


4. Having a desire to lead people to Christ and see disciples made in all nations does not make someone a missionary. Having a desire to lead people to Christ and see disciples made in all nations . . . that makes someone a Christian. A call to salvation always involves a call to mission in some form or fashion.


5. There is no such thing as a Christian who is not sharing the gospel. A call to salvation includes a call to mission (Matthew 4:19; Matthew 28; Luke 24; Acts 1). Every person who responds to God’s call as a disciple of Jesus receives Christ command to make disciples of Jesus. The Great Commission is not optional . . . it is a command given to every follower of Jesus . . . Disciple-making is thus the God-given Christ-centered Spirit-empowered duty of every disciple of Jesus regardless of stage or vocation in life.


6. Everyone is called to engage in the Great Commission in some capacity. While I do not believe that God calls everybody to be a missionary, I believe God is calling more people to engage in cross-culturally ministry than are responding to go. The question should not be ‘why should I go?’ but ‘why should I stay . . . If you give me a good and compelling reason to stay here, I will.’ More people aren’t going to the mission field for five reasons: (1) Fear, (2) Comfort, (3) Pressure, (4) Inconvenience, (5) Pride, (6) not ready or not healthy.


7. While every genuine Christian is missional, every Christian is not a missionary. There is a missional dimension to all of life. All of life has a missional component. All of life is an act of worship to God.


a. Missionary Intension: Intentionally missionary . . . proclaiming the gospel, planting churches, sending out cross-cultural missionaries. Specific activities have a missional intention.


b. Missionary Dimension: All of life has a missionary dimension . . . but these are not intentionally missionary . . . serving my spouse . . . the poor . . . speaking in ways that are encouraging. These have a missionary dimension but are not specifically missionary.


8. “How are we to know when the mission is completed. God alone knows the definition of terms . . . Christ has not yet returned therefore the task is not yet done . . . when it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task . . . our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ is not yet returned, our task is incomplete.” George Elden Ladd


9. The Kingdom is coming not by destroying our enemies but by loving them . . . not by force but by suffering . . . not by revenge but forgiveness . . . Jesus does not meet the expectations of His contemporaries for what the coming Kingdom would look like.


The Consequences of Sin


10. The casual way that we talk about hell today shows that we really have no idea what we are talking about. three billion people stand condemned before God . . . a sobering/ haunting reality. If there are three billion people who have not heard the gospel, then we have missed the point of our salvation. We cannot take Jesus seriously without also taking seriously what He said about eternal punishment, that “They will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).


11. God has revealed Himself to men and women throughout the world, but they don’t yet have the special revelation piece. This is where you and I come in. Paul says that they spend eternity separated from Him in Hell. This puts the urgency on us.


The Work of the Holy Spirit and the Church


12. Mission is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit supernaturally convicts unbelievers and draws them to faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers and emboldens the church for ministry in the world. The Holy Spirit calls believers into specific missionary service and guides those he has called.


13. Why and how did the church first grow? It was attractive. “The most characteristic element of mission in the early church of the first three centuries was the attractive power of the local congregation” (Goheen). The early Christians saw themselves as alien residents, strangers, and sojourners in the world. When the church moved from its nominal position to a dominant one, the alien resident notion drastically changed quickly. As Christianity was thrust to the center of the Roman Empire, the church lost its purpose in this new culture as its shift in focus moved away from the margins to the center.


“Through the loving service rendered to strangers and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is scandal that there is not a single [one] who is a beggar and that [they] care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for help that we should render to them.” Julian


“The word that early Christians repeatedly adopted for themselves was a socio- legal term: paroikoi—‘resident aliens.’ At home everywhere; fully at home nowhere: the Christians believed that, because of their life in Christ, they were living a distinctive way that had global and salvation-historical import. There was something universal about the life that they shared with others throughout the empire and beyond.” Kreider


14. The church is central to the Mission of God. The church is the sender of missionaries. Involvement in a local church is vital and essential for every Christian (even missionaries!). Biblical mission always involves church planting. World evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. Parachurch organizations must seek to serve the church rather than replace the church.


15. The point of contextualization is not comfort but clarity . . . we do our best to make the gospel clear not comfortable.


Scripture, Definitions, History, Task, and Statistics


16. Ten Key Biblical Texts on the Mission of God

1. Genesis 3:15 “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

2. Genesis 12:2 I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

3. Exodus 19:6 . . . and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

4. Isaiah 49:5-6 I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

5. Psalm 67:1-4 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.

6. Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

7. Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

8. John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

9. Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 serves as a table of contents for the book of Acts. 1-7 Jerusalem | 8 Judea and Samaria | 9 Conversion of Saul (Paul) | 10 forward to the Gentile nations

10. Revelation 5:9 By your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.


17. Key Definitions

1. Missiology - Missiology is the study of God’s mission.

2. Mission - The overarching mission of God (Missio Dei) to redeem and reconcile those created in His image.

3. Missions - The specific activity of the church to carry out the task of mission in the world, specifically the spread of the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches.

4. Missionary - A disciple of Jesus set apart by the Holy Spirit, affirmed and sent out from the church to cross geographic, cultural, and/or linguistic barriers as part of a missionary team focused on making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached people and places.

5. Missional - To see the world with the eyes of a missionary, to interpret everyday activities through the lens of the Missio Dei, and to understand that under the Lordship of Christ, everything in life can be a witness and testimony to God’s mission in the world.


18. Missions History

1. Apostolic Missions (Years 0-100)

2. Early Church (Years 100-500)

3. Middle Ages and Reformation (500-1800)

4. Modern Missions Movement (1800-1974)

5. History of SBC Missions (1845-2019)

6. 20-21st Century Mission Developments (1974-2019)


19. The Missionary Task: (1) Entry, (2) Evangelism, (3) Discipleship, (4) Healthy Church Formation, (5) Leadership Development, (6) Exit. The goal of missionaries working among the unreached should be to eventually exit and entrust the work to local leadership and churches… Stay too long and you develop an unhealthy dependence 2) Stay too short, and you leave new believers and churches as prey for the wolves.


20. Statistics:

1. Joshua Project Map of Unreached Peoples: progress-scale-map-plain.pdf (joshuaproject.net)

2. There are more people living inside of this circle than there are outside of it: CK6aONG.jpg (2048×1252) (imgur.com)

3. There is approximately 1 missionary for every 150,000 unreached people.

4. For every 1 new follower of Christ in the US & Europe…There are 16 in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

5. Evangelicals makeup about 4% of the population around the world.

6. The first American missionary was George Liele, an African-American slave who was set free by his master so that he could go and preach the gospel. He would take the gospel to Jamaica in 1782. Missionaries You Should Know: George Liele - IMB

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