Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Missions on Point. This is episode 148. It's the centrality of the local church in missions in God's view. If you haven't listened to the series, I'd encourage you, please go back to episode 142 and listen to each one of them. In turn, as it builds a case for the biblical centrality of the local church in missions. I want to encourage you to also refer other people to listen to this podcast, specifically this series on the centrality of the local church in missions. It's also helpful to us if you would subscribe or follow this podcast. You can leave comments in whatever podcast app you use. You can also leave comments, suggestions, questions, or feedback directly through an email address, email@example.com.
Now, let's get in today's topic, the centrality of the local church in missions in God's view. This topic seems so large and grand that it's hard to wrap your mind around it. We've already looked at the centrality of the local church in missions from many viewpoints. Now, we come to the originator of the entire concept. At the beginning of our consideration, we should take into account that the Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three persons of the Trinity were and are involved in every aspect of creation, redemption, inspiration of the scriptures, the fulfillment of all that is contained in inspired scripture, the final judgment, and ultimate comprehensive worship of the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity future understanding that all three persons of the Trinity are behind God's timeless plan for His glory, and of the giving of the Bible into our hands is to acknowledge that everything written there has been spoken, secured, and safeguarded by all three persons of the Trinity. God has spoken, Christ has spoken, the Holy Spirit has spoken the Bible to us.
All that it teaches, God teaches. It is forever, it is certain, and it will accomplish his purposes. As it says in Isaiah 55:11, the Bible is self-authenticating and testifies that it expresses God's will and ways forever. Look at Psalm 119:89, "Forever, oh Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens." Psalm 119:152, "Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever." 119:160, "The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever." Jesus says in Matthew 25:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."
So we are reminded in this episode that everything we have already studied from the Bible thus far has indeed been God's view of the centrality of the local church in missions. The seeds of local church ecclesiology can be found in many Old Testament references to the called-out assembly of God's people, including people from every tongue, tribe, and nation, in the brotherhood of priests, the inclusion of non-Jews in the worship of God, an extension of His mercy and grace 1,000 times apart from specific condemnation and judgment passages, the terms like nations, all peoples and all the Earth are mentioned in context of including them in God's blessings.
Then as the new covenant dawns with the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, we begin to receive clearer direction about the local church. When Jesus says in Matthew 16, "I will build my church," God says it. God gives instructions through Jesus' teaching to the church in Matthew 18 related to purity in the church, membership, and authority in the church. God creates the church and appoints Christ as head in Ephesians 1:22-23, and he put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Again, God is the designer of both the church and Christ's position in Colossians 1:18, and He is head of the body, the church. Paul, under divine inspiration, references the church of God in the salutation of his letters like this, Romans, he writes, "To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints, grace to you and peace from God, our father." 1 Corinthians, "To the church of God that is in Corinth," note, it is not inconsequential that he references the church of God and leads his greetings to the churches with God the Father. In 2 Corinthians, he has the same salutation to the church of God that is in Corinth. To the Galatians, he writes, "To the churches of Galatia grace to you and peace from God our Father." In Ephesians, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father."
It's the same phrase he uses in Philippians and the same in Colossians. In 1 Thessalonians, he writes, "To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father." His second letter to the Thessalonians begins the same way. In 1 Timothy. He says, "Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father." The same for 2 Timothy. In Titus, it's very similar, "Grace and peace from God the Father. To Philemon, he writes, "Grace to you, and peace from God our Father." The Apostle Paul as do the other human authors of the New Testament, include God the Father in every aspect of Christian salvation, life, worship, and assembly together, the local church was and is His plan. The scriptures repeatedly include God the Father as part of and founder of, if you will, the church placing Christ at its head. Now, all of these passages are clear enough both by explicit and implicit reference to God's part in the church and God's care for the church.
But the clincher passage in my view is Ephesians chapter three, listen to these verses. Paul is writing his own personal testimony and reflection at the end of his life about his calling and his work. He says, starting in verse 7 to 11, and then I'll skip to verse 20 and 21 at the end of the chapter. "This gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of His power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things so that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. And skipping the verse 20 and 21, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." It is not insignificant that in this selected passage, God the Father is referred to seven times. In verse seven, God's grace and His power. In verse nine, God who created all things. Verse 10, manifold wisdom of God might now be made known. Verse 11, this was according to the eternal purpose that He, that is God, has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. Verse 20, now to Him, who is able to do, it's God. Verse 21, to Him, be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
God is intricately and deeply involved in this matter of the church. The bigger context of Ephesians 2 and 3 is the missional aspect of Gentiles being included in the people of God, in the family of God, through Christ. We've reflected on this when we talked about Paul's idea of the centrality of the local church, but here it is again. It was God's idea who charged and commissioned Paul for his ministry to do two things, preached to the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and secondly, to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. That plan Word is a word that means administration. It has to do with the regulation and the structure of the church, the dynamic of how the church operates as a body.
And notice what it says there in verse 10. It's that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was the divinely chosen instrument for God to show His wisdom to the watching world. And verse 11, this was according to the eternal purpose that, He, God has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. So if our macro contextual observation about how to read this idea of the church is right, and I think it is, local church should be the default way to understand church in the New Testament. Local church is the expression of church. It's not just the body of anonymous believers for all time everywhere. It's not just the universal church or the invisible church. It is the expression of the local church through which God delights to show His manifold wisdom and fulfill His eternal purpose, and ultimately, as it says in the closing benediction, to receive great glory.
Just for completeness, let's explicitly say here that the gospel, this preaching to the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, includes Christ's life, death on the cross and resurrection received in payment by God for our personal sin by repentance and faith. So, briefly, let me summarize some key thoughts here. There are five ways that God's glory in the church surprise us and exceed our expectations. First, the church is the central agent in God's plan. Secondly, the church is the primary means of displaying God's wisdom. Thirdly, the church is God's plan A forever. There is no plan B. Fourth, particularly in the benediction, God's plans for the church far exceed our expectations of results. And lastly, fifth, God's glory in the church far exceeds our expectations of time.
In fact, we could say that that benediction exceeds every measure in every dimension that we could imagine. Too often when I've read this in the past, I see that Paul is commissioned to preach to the Gentiles, the gospel, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and we fail to see the second part of his commission, which he faithfully executed through his whole ministry, and that is that he explain the plan of the church how it is to operate the dynamic of the body of Christ in local churches everywhere.
Also, we fail to read that God gets glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations. We skip over that so easily and we read that he gets glory in Christ Jesus, which we expect, and we amen and thank the Lord for that, but we fail to see that it is in the humble nitty-gritty dynamic of local churches that he gets glory far above, more abundantly than all that we could ask or think. So what is God's view of the local church in missions? God created and implemented the local church as His plan for bringing Himself glory from eternity past and into eternity future. God has invested in the local church as the means His agent on earth for fulfilling His mission. That's the local church's mission. I think it's not too much to say, it's not just the centrality, the local church in missions, it's the centrality of the local church exclamation point.
Stay tuned for the next episode, which is going to round out our biblical study of the centrality of the local church in missions. It's going to talk about the Propempo view. Propempo is the Greek New Testament word to send forward, and it has some significant perspective on three dimensions that will help us understand it and how it's used better. Then we're going to go into a second mini-series that is related to the big book project that takes all of this biblical content and looks at practical implications and application for the local church.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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