1. I perceive mission to be wider than evangelism.
Evangelism, in its New Testament use, refers to the announcing of the gospel.
After John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God. –Mark 1:14
In its most basic sense, the gospel is the good news of salvation that God has for man. It is to be proclaimed as an official, public announcement and decree “in the whole world” (Matt. 26:13), to “all men everywhere” (Acts 17:30), and even to “all the creation” (Mark 16:15).
In a broader sense (not in the domain of the proclamation but in the content of the proclamation), the gospel is the totality of the divine truths. The gospel is not one truth among many truths, rather it encompasses all the divine truths as a comprehensive revelation of the good news of God’s good pleasure. Ephesians 1:13 connects in apposition the truth and the gospel. Certainly, in the context of Ephesians, the gospel is not simply that Jesus died for me.
In whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation… –Eph. 1:13
In this light, reconciliation is good news, regeneration is good news, sanctification is good news, glorification is good news. If we consider Paul’s word in Romans 1:15 as an introduction to the entire Epistle, then even the local churches are a part of this good news.
The writers of the New Testament applied many different designations to the gospel to highlight its all-inclusive content.
- The gospel of the kingdom –Matt. 4:23
- The gospel of the grace of God –Acts 20:24
- The gospel of peace –Eph. 2:17
- The gospel of the glory of Christ –2 Cor. 4:4
- The unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel –Eph. 3:8
- The mystery of the gospel –Eph. 6:19
- The gospel of God –Rom. 1:1
- The gospel of His Son –Rom. 1:9
- The faith as the gospel –Gal. 1:23
- The gospel of the promise made to the fathers –Acts 13:32
If this is the gospel, how can the mission of the church be wider?
The mission of the church should refer to the specific calling and purpose the church has in this age.
Certainly the proclamation of the gospel is primary in this commission. However, the goal of the gospel is not merely to produce individual, saved sinners. The gospel has a corporate dimension in view- the producing of local churches.
And if our missionary work only focuses on evangelism and discipleship, without a vision for the centrality of the local church, we are not being faithful to the pattern we see in Acts where conversion always entails incorporation [into a local church].
A local church is the natural product of the gospel being received by a group of people in any given place. What makes them the church is that all of them have repented and believed the gospel, all have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and all have been incorporated into the Body of Christ as living members.
Once the church has been established, it needs to be built up. Ephesians 4:11-12 indicates that all the gifts in the church have the building up of the Body of Christ as their goal. The building up of the church for the expression of God and ruling presence of God fulfills the purpose of God expressed in Genesis 1:26. Thus, the mission of the church (the work of the ministry) is actually its own building up. When the church is built up, the Lord will come back and bring in the kingdom. In other words, the mission of the church is to bring in the kingdom to the earth. The Lord told us to pray for this (Matt. 6:10). If our prayer for the kingdom to come has no real effect on the kingdom actually coming, the Jesus is issuing capricious commands that don’t really matter.
There is a real relationship between the church and the kingdom. Most people recognize that the kingdom is “already, not yet.” The kingdom is already in the sense that Jesus established the kingdom in His first coming and presently reigns within the church in what some call the reality of the kingdom. The kingdom is not yet in the sense that Jesus will bring in a fuller realization of the kingdom at His return and establish His worldwide, never-ending reign on the earth.
The gospel of the kingdom produces local churches in which is the reality of the kingdom today. The ministry and prayer of the church is for the building up of the Body of Christ, which will fulfill God’s eternal purpose and bring in the kingdom to earth at the Lord’s return.
- Evangelism and Mission (lifeandbuilding.com)
- The Gospel of the Kingdom (lifeandbuilding.com)
- 9 Aspects of the Gospel that Go Beyond Justification or Heaven (lifeandbuilding.com)
- Romans- the Fifth Gospel (lifeandbuilding.com)