The Message of Mission
Mark Beaumont reviews Howard Peskett and Vinoth Ramachandra's book which analyses Bible passages and applies them to the realities of global mission today
The Message of Mission is one of the Bible Themes in the popular IVP series The Bible Speaks Today. Howard Peskett from England and Vinoth Ramachandra from Sri Lanka analyse key Bible passages relating to mission and apply them to the realities of mission in the twenty first century. Peskett once lived and taught in a multi-ethnic community in Singapore and Ramachandra reflects South Asian multi-ethnic life. As a result, these applications of the Bible to mission have a global character, which is very welcome for a book published in this series in the UK. Their understanding of Christian mission is based on the revelation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in scripture. Mission is primarily God’s activity of reaching out to his world through Christ and his Spirit.
Seven of the fifteen Bible passages come from the Old Testament. Psalm104 challenges a pre-millennial theology that sees the world falling more and more into ruin and that has led to a neglect of sustaining the earth. A better evangelical theology understands God as creator as well as redeemer, who calls Christians to care for what he had made as well as to save the lost. Nevertheless, there is a potential conflict between creation and redemption in God’s call to Abraham to bless the nations in Genesis 12:1-4. The killing fields of Cambodia and Rwanda make the blessing of God seem remote and are a huge challenge to missionaries of the creator and redeemer. Deuteronomy 10:12-20 oblige the people of God to model a countercultural, multinational community among the nations. The command to love the stranger needs to be obeyed by Christians to demonstrate to a sceptical world what the living God of the Bible really is like.
The eight New Testament passages reveal the full scope of God’s mission. The church must reach out to the neediest people if the manifesto of Jesus in Luke 4:16-30 is to be implemented. This first of all means turning away from complicity in unjust structures of exclusion and repression before Christians can turn towards the dispossessed and oppressed. John 12:20-26 and 13:34-35 tell us that Trinitarian faith opens us up to what God is doing in history. The Spirit of God is at work beyond the church so that Christians can work with all people who seek to use the world’s resources more responsibly. Revelation 21:1-22:5 show that Christian hope is not so much a longing for another world after death, but a desire that the present world will be transformed into all that God intended it to be. Then heaven will come to earth and God’s mission will be accomplished.