Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and Missions. Hello, and welcome to episode 46 of Missions on Point. Thanks so much for joining us. This week we're starting on a five part series on discovering missions through the Bible. I want you to get the big macro picture of missions throughout the Bible as the background of everything we read in the Bible, so that as you read your Bible and as you teach others, you can distinguish and observe all the missions, statements, all the aspects of missions in the Bible, to better appreciate God and what he is doing through all of human history, and what it is all leading to, and how he does it.
I want you to be able to see missions as part of the weave of the storyline of the whole Bible. I want you to rejoice and savor how God expresses His mission's heart and mission's purposes, through the whole narrative from Genesis to Revelation. Too often it seems that we are groomed to understand missions as a side issue, or a marginal topic of the Bible. So often people think that missions is pretty much exclusively in four, or five, or maybe six passages in the Bible, mostly in the New Testament, mostly through the gospels, and never really understand the depth and the amazing discovery of missions, and missions' themes throughout the whole Bible. One of the most fun stories about this discovering new awareness of missions in the Bible actually comes from the life of John Piper. It's written up on the propempo.com website, I think you can find it there if you just search for John Piper.
After he had been a pastor at Bethany Baptist in Minneapolis, Minnesota for some years, his missions pastor came to him and said, "John, we need you to be the speaker for our eight day missions conference, because our keynote speaker had to bail out." John objected, partly because the missions conference time was normally when he took family vacation, but Tom Stellar, the missions pastor, prevailed, and John basically instructed his assistants to lock the door and cancel his appointments so that he could study for the messages that he would have to bring to the missions conference. Those messages we now know are the great foundational book, Let the Nations Be Glad. That book became the statement of John Piper's new awareness of missions woven throughout the whole Bible, in a way that he had never seen before. Part of the little known results after that were that John and Tom Stellar then went off to completely rewrite the whole purpose statement of the church, and the ministries of the church, to fall in line with this grand theme of the joy of all the nations in God, woven through the whole Bible.
So I'm praying that maybe a light bulb will go on in your heart and mind as we talk about these things over the next couple of weeks. As we begin this path of discovery over the next couple episodes, I want you to get this one thing in this episode, and that is the glory of God. The glory of God is the big overarching theme of all that God does through all of history, and all of scripture. God is the hero of the Bible. God is ultimately the hero of every story in the Bible, of every chapter in the Bible, of all of the themes of the Bible woven together into the tapestry of what God is doing with the universe, and with men on earth in particular. It shouldn't surprise us that God is all about getting glory for himself, because he is totally worthy of it.
This isn't some selfish bent. This is God doing what is not only natural, but needed. God is in the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, and he is in control of everything to the end, through the last book of the Bible, and every chapter, including everything in between. This is about God. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about pleasing man. It's about pleasing himself and getting glory for himself in his great sovereignty, his omnipotence, his omnipresence, his omniscience, his love, and goodness, and grace, and judgment, and mercy, and holiness, all of his glorious perfections, all of his attributes are showing his glory and displaying his glory to the universe. God's desire is that all creation, and in particular all men, would understand his glory. What is his glory? It is biblically his weightiness, his authority, his honor, his dignity, all of the virtues and attributes of God wrapped up together.
God is the only person or thing in all of the universe that is truly awesome, that when you understand it, builds into your heart and emotions joyful praise, and fear, and complete inability to express how magnificent our great God is. God wants men from all nations to understand him that way. That is part of the expression of what we call the Lord's Prayer, when we say, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name." We see it portrayed in 1 Chronicles 16:23 and following, when it says, "Sing to the Lord, all the Earth. Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods, for all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
"Splendor and majesty are before him. Strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the Lord, oh families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness, tremble before him all the Earth. Yes, the world is established. It shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." Let the sea roar and all that fills it. Let the Earth exalt, and everything in it. Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the Earth. Oh, give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
We read it again in verses like these in Isaiah 66:18 and 19. "For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, and to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away. They have not heard my fame or seen my glory, and they shall declare my glory among the nations." We see this expression of God desiring his glory through the inspired scriptures. Many times in Psalms, throughout the prophets, even in the prayers of the Old Testament and in the New Testament.
Jesus Christ's incarnation was heralded by angels singing glory to God in the highest and in John's report at the beginning of his gospel, that we have seen his glory in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself in his high priestly prayer of John 17 says these words, "Now Father glorify me in your own presence, with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. Again, the glory that you have given me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. And Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." The writings of the New Testament say over and over again that we ought to honor God and His glory, that we need to glorify him in the way we live, and make his glory known to all those around us.
One of the great joys of heaven is to participate in, and witness, the whole of creation giving glory to God, for he alone is worthy. There are great blessings in discovering and understanding the glory of God throughout all the scriptures. For one thing, it makes our circumstances and our trials on Earth seem so puny and small in comparison. When we put God into the equation, there's hope, and there's potential for joy because he is going to be glorified in all things. He is loving and kind for those that trust him, and he is going to work all things well for their good. Understanding the glory of God also gives us this sense that it's all going to end well. God wins. So this overarching theme throughout the whole Bible gives us hope even when we're reading and slogging through some of the tough things to read, the narratives of the Old Testament, the rules and the laws, and all of those things that are difficult for us to grasp, because we don't live in that time anymore.
To understand that God has, in great detail, woven into history and recorded in the inspired word of God, the little elements that he's placed throughout that point people to his glory, and point people ultimately to salvation in Jesus Christ through the gospel. When you take a step back and look at the scripture with this understanding of the overarching glory of God as the central theme and purpose of God, then we see how all the elements begin to fit together, to show a pattern of God calling people and using them to declare his glory among all the nations. Let me give you a couple of examples really quickly that will help you see this in play. So we think of the great story of David and Goliath, and there are just 1000 sermons and Sunday school lessons that tell the story of David and Goliath, but often people miss verses 46 and 47 that come just before the final end of the story.
And this is David replying to Goliath, and he says, "This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the Earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand." This is 1 Samuel 17:46 and 47. What it's saying is all the other gods are worthless. Philistines, your gods are worthless. Only our God, the Lord God, Yahweh, is the one true God, and he is the one that is awesome. He can do this. Here's another very familiar story.
It's the story of Jonah, and we even look at Jonah as being a missionary story. If so, he was a very reluctant and bad attitude missionary. My point is that the story is not really about Jonah. It is about God in his saving mercy for the people of Nineveh, even though Jonah didn't want to see them saved. Jonah finally preaches what God wants him to preach in a very shortened form. But the people of Nineveh repent, and Jonah goes outside the city to see if God is just going to kill them all. But God doesn't do that, and Jonah is dissatisfied. In the end, God says this, "And the Lord said, you pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?"
God puts a capstone on the end of the story of Jonah to say, "I am a great and glorious and merciful God and don't want to kill people, if in my mercy and plan they hear and have the chance to repent." Again, the point is the hero of the story is God. God is glorious. His ways are perfect. He is awesome, and when we discover the glory of God throughout the Bible, it will begin to leap off the page to us and we will also see missions. There's more to come in the next couple of episodes. Please stay with us. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, propempo.com. Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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