Tag Archives: Proclamation

Excuse me I believe your eschatology is showing

I think it is fair to suggest that whatever your view of the end of this age and beginning of the next age (eschatology is the fancy word for this doctrine) is will determine how you both live and engage in mission in this age.

If for instance, you believe that the goal of mission is to “save souls for heaven” – then your primary and over-riding concern will mostly likely be proclamation.  Telling people what they need to know in order to get them ready for heaven.  This life will have one primary purpose to keep yourself for heaven and to tell others about it. Your church will probably have a sharp distinction between word ministry/ proclamation and social works.  If you are really organised you might have a social work programme or two but you will spend large amounts of time making sure people know that you do not believe in the social gospel. But, at the end of the day, what really matters is getting people into heaven through hearing the gospel and making a decision for Jesus.  You might even say this is all that matters.

If, on the other hand, you hold to an in-breaking Kingdom of God paradigm, then you will see the Kingdom as not only, or even primarily, a future reality but crucially as a very real present dynamic.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus God’s end time kingdom has now broken into this world in the middle of history.  The Kingdom of God was not only announced in the gospel proclamation it was initiated in the life and mission of God’s people, the church.  One day we will see the Kingdom come in all its fullness and glory when our King Jesus returns but now the Kingdom grow largely unseen, through weakness and on the margins of society.

Life among God’s people will be a small and incomplete foretaste of what that Kingdom will be like when Jesus returns.  The people of God ought to be actively and intentionally living lives that embody that coming Kingdom.  Lives of justice, mercy, grace, peace, beauty, restoration and joy. The old discussion of social justice versus gospel proclamation goes out the window within a Kingdom “initiated and yet not complete” paradigm. We are both to proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom (with the cross at the centre of that proclamation!) and live within the in-breaking Kingdom as those who experience the foretaste of the life of the kingdom and who long for the full wedding feast of the lamb.

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What does the prescence of God look like?

In 1 Peter 2:4-6 Peter describes the people of God as a new temple built with living stones.  This new temple is a mobile temple – free to move and to go anywhere the Spirit of God leads us.  Wherever you see the people of God living as the people of God – there you will find the presence of God.  The church is the presence of God in the world – demonstrating that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus.

But what exactly does this presence of God look like?

1 Peter 2:11-12 tells us;

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Our lives lived together are to be of such a nature that those who do not believe see our good deeds and glorify God.  In 3v15 Peter says that “by doing good we should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men”.  Our lives together are a visual demonstration that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus.  This blessing then overflows in a continual fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his seed (Jesus) would be a blessing to the whole world.  Our lives together are a powerful demonstration of this truth and an experience of the presence of God in the world.

The effect of these good lives and lives of goodness lived under the reign of King Jesus has a saving effect on those who are not believers.  2v12 speaks of the pagans glorifying God – to glorify God is salvation language perhaps reminiscent of Jesus’s own words in Matthew 5:16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

As evangelicals I suspect we have become fearful of any talk of good work – because as we all know we are not saved by our good works.  To be clear – I am absolutely convinced that my salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone.  But what Peter does seem to be saying is that while my good works cannot save me (us) – they can save you! It is as they see our good works/lives that they are led to praise God.

Let me be clear though that our proclamation definitely has a place and 1 Peter has much to say about this but in these verses it is our good works/good lives that bring people to salvation not our words per se.  Those good works/lives must include words but they cannot be reduced to them.  3v15 tells us that it is our lives together which raises questions in unbelievers about our hope.