Bret James Stewart's Reviews > The Mission of God's People: A Biblical Theology of the Church's Mission

The Mission of God's People by Christopher J.H. Wright
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it was amazing

This is potentially a life-changing book. Wright is a great author and speaker. He is a careful and diligent scholar, and I appreciate his opinions and views about Jesus and, in this book, the expanded view (the correct view--expanded in the sense that many make it too narrow) of God's mission for the church is a wake-up call many of us need. As a Christian Druid, I am particularly fond of his chapter about caring for the earth as part of God's mandate and its appropriate focus for mission.

The book itself is attractive, includes sidebar quotes that add interest as well as evidence for his views, and indices for both subjects and Bible verses. The book has a pleasant type font and is laid out in an aesthetically pleasing manner. A summary of the book follows. I heartily recommend this book to all Christians.

Summary

Wright’s goal for the book is to demonstrate that biblical theology and mission are interconnected. As he puts it, “there should be no theology that does not relate to the mission of the church…” and that all correct theology will have missional impact and serve as the foundation for that mission (20). Chapter 1 lays the foundation of the book, defining “mission” as the purpose of God for all of creation. The church has been created to help fulfill this mission via global outreach (24) to glorify the Lord.

Chapter 2 (35-47) emphasizes the need to read the entire Bible and recognize the entire story as the mission of God, stretching from the Creation to New Creation, and that the purpose of the church is to play a role in helping Him achieve it. Because the church has such an important role, it is important to understand the significance of the entirety of the mission. Chapter 3 (48-62) details the breadth of the mission from Creation to New Creation, expanding on this feature of God’s plan. The entire universe will be redeemed, including humans, of course, but not limited to humankind. The mandate to keep the earth was not revoked by the Fall, and creation will be redeemed along with us. Chapter 4 (63-81) explains how humankind, though not the exclusive agent of God’s mission, is nonetheless the chief instrument He uses to achieve His plan. The covenant with Abraham is enacted so that this people group can serve as a blessing to all nations. Christians, via their place in Christ, are a part of the seed of Abraham (see Matt. 3:9; Luke 13:16; Rom. 11:1), thereby continuing and expanding the mission of God’s people.

Chapter 5 (82-95) focuses upon how God’s people can maintain a proper relationship with the Almighty and ensure that His promise of blessing to all nations is fulfilled. The way of the Lord should be kept via the performance of righteousness and justice (see Gen. 18:19). This ethical dimension of lifestyle serves as the catalyst for our positive participation in God’s mission.

Chapter 6 (96-113) uses the exodus story of the Old Testament as an example of God’s view of redemption. Broadly speaking, this redemption covers all dimensions of God’s plan. More narrowly, the concept of redemption involves the complete liberation of the creation through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The redeemed are called to reflect both God’s actions and the impetus of His actions by living in a redemptive manner in our relationships with other people. This concept is expanded in Chapter 7 (114-127) wherein Wright goes on to point out, using Exodus 19 and Leviticus 19, that the identity of the people of God constitutes a mission to bless the nations by acting as evidence of God via lifestyle. The ethical lifestyle demonstrates God and His traits to the world and draws the world to the God of the people who are so radically different, in a good way, from the rest of (fallen) society.

Chapter 8 (128-147) continues the idea of drawing people to the Lord via lifestyle and redeemed status. Wright says, “the mission of God’s people in the Bible is to be the people whom God created us to be and to do the things that God calls us to do” (149). The task appointed requires an in-depth understanding of God and His attributes. Chapter 9 (151-162) describes how the biblical gospel should be known and shared by Christians. Jesus Christ is the focus of the biblical narrative, with His life, death, and resurrection being the culmination of the story. Fulfilling this mission involves witnessing, which is the focus of Chapter 10 (163-178). Bearing witness effectively is a sharing of the message in the context of a righteous lifestyle. Chapter 11 (179-200) deals with the proclamation of the gospel. Wright pushes beyond the narrow view of the gospel as a strictly New Testament theme, and argues for the expanded view of Paul that recognizes the gospel as originating in the Old Testament.
People were sent to both witness and proclaim. Thus, in Chapter 12 (201-221), Wright explores the theme of “sending.” Taking God’s revelation into the world and cooperating in His mission is the charge given to Christians. This is most often thought of as the work of professional missionaries, those with the gift of evangelism, and this is accurate. However, it is by no means limited to that, as Chapter 13 (222-243) demonstrates. Most Christians will serve as a witness to the world in the course of ordinary life and work; “ordinary” referring to the work of the majority of us who are not professional missionaries.

The goal of all missions is to bring glory to God. Part of this mission is for Christians to offer prayer and praise to God. This is the topic of Chapter 14 (244-261). These two activities are fundamental and serve as the identifying and engaging characteristics of the redeemed.

Wright closes in Chapter 15 (262-287) with a review of material covered in the book along with application for the contemporary Christian. He also has appended scriptural and subject indices for easy reference and completeness.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 6, 2014 – Shelved

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