I can’t sleep. I’m usually in bed around 11:30, and midnight is even pushing it. But I can’t sleep. Ever had those times when your mind is racing at light speed, and your heart is trying to keep up with the pace, so it starts pounding so hard you feel like it’s going to fly out of your chest?
I just read 200 pages in the last 5 hours, from Kostenberger’s and O’Brien’s book, “Salvation to the Ends of the Earth,” edited by D.A. Carson. I couldn’t put it down. I knew all the stories in it already. I knew where they were headed in their arguments and theology. But I just couldn’t put it down. Reading about the Gospel being driven from Jerusalem, to the hated territory of the Samaritans, and finally into the surrounding Gentile world, got my mind racing so fast and my heart pounding so hard, I couldn’t do anything but just marvel at the power of the Gospel – the Gospel for salvation to those who believe in Christ Jesus. Peter O’Brien added that Paul’s ministry of spreading the Gospel had to include a solid church planting ministry, because the preaching of the “complete Gospel” meant providing the complete resources needed for complete maturity – namely through solid, healthy, established church plants.
And then I watched a round table discussion with Kevin DeYoung on the Mission of the Church – the mission of the church being making disciples, and primarily done through churches. I just can’t get this out of my mind – Jesus came to preach the good news of the Gospel, of Him crucified and risen for forgiveness of sins, and he came to do it by establishing churches, churches to further the ministry of disciple making, churches to bring these converts into complete maturity into Christ.
In DeYoung’s seminar at last year’s Desiring God “Think” Conference, he expounded on Jesus’ proclamation of his mission in Luke 4, quoting Isaiah 61. He said that 3 of the 4 verbs of action had to do with “preaching” or “proclaiming” some news. At the forefront of Jesus’ ministry, his mission, was to preach and proclaim the Good News. The only verb not of one of preaching or proclaiming, is to “release,” and used in reference to releasing the poor. Then he said a statement that I’ll never forget – “Jesus’ mission was not one of structural change or social transformation, but a mission to announce the good news of his saving power to all those broken hearted enough to believe.”
Then Kostenberger, in his book, left me thinking with this conclusion to his biblical theological survey of Luke-Acts, commenting on the conclusion of Acts, in 28:17-31:
“…the open-ended conclusion of the [Luke-Acts] book seeks to draw the readers in to identify with the powerful advance of the gospel of salvation, and to include them in the continuing task of spreading this word. The apostolic testimony did not reach the ends of the earth with Paul’s arrival in Rome. This open-endedness is a reminder of an unfinished task and encouragement to all of us as readers to be committed to the ongoing missio Dei.” (Kostenberger & O’Brien, 157)
Even just last week, I attended the Desiring God regional conference at Saddleback church in Lake Forrest, and Piper never stops mentioning the evangelization of the unreached, that God may be most glorified as more and more sinners come to faith by repentance of sins through forgiveness in the completed work of Christ on the Cross and the empty tomb.
And even in a blog post from a few days ago by Piper stirred my heart to loving action. He explained how after 65, he couldn’t help but get even more excited to live for Christ, with the end so near in view. “…don’t try to sell me heaven before I get there. There’s too much hell left to fight.”
My mind is exploding with information – information that needs to get out. My mind is exploding with the Good News of Jesus Christ, who came to save sinners like me, and this Good News must be preached. The proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not yet been fulfilled to the ends of the earth, and until there are people from every tribe, tongue, and “ethne” (lit., “people group”), I will not stop pursuing missions – the mission of proclaiming this Gospel to the ends of the earth; the mission of planting churches that disciples may be made by baptizing them and teaching them all of Jesus’ commands; the mission of bringing the Gospel where it has not yet been preached, so that
“Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” (Rom 15:21)
Christ must receive all the glory in my life. Christ’s glory must be manifested in as great a way as possible in my life – and this is the greatest way I know how.