If we are to understand this word from God we must hear them in three contexts: The context of the whole biblical story The context of the whole book of Revelation The context of our mission today
Structure of Talk ‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of the Biblical Story ‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of the book of Revelation ‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of our Mission Today
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of the Biblical Story It is important to see the Bible as one unfolding story 'The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is a part?’ (Lesslie Newbigin).
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of the Biblical Story It is important to see the Bible as one unfolding story It is important to see the Bible as the true story of universal history
I can't understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us in India as a book of religion. It is not a book of religion—and anyway we have plenty of books of religion in India. We don't need any more! I find in your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history, the history of the whole of creation and the history of the human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. That is unique. There is nothing else in the whole religious literature of the world to put alongside it. - Badrinath
If the church is to be faithful to its missionary calling, it must recover the Bible as one true story: ‘I do not believe that we can speak effectively of the Gospel as a word addressed to our culture unless we recover a sense of the Scriptures as a canonical whole, as the story which provides the true context for our understanding of the meaning of our lives—both personal and public.’ If the story of the Bible is fragmented into bits (historical-critical, devotional, systematic- theological, moral), it can easily be absorbed into the reigning story of culture. - Bartholomew and Goheen, Story and Biblical Theology, p.152
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of the Biblical Story It is important to see the Bible as one unfolding story It is important to see the Bible as the true story of universal history It is important to see mission as central to the Biblical story
... the whole Bible itself is a ‘missional’ phenomenon. The writings that now comprise our Bible are themselves the product of, and witness to, the ultimate mission of God. The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally, embracing past, present and future, Israel and the nations, ‘life, the universe and everything.’ Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about, only a bit more urgently than some. Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, ‘what it’s all about.’ - Chris Wright, Mission as a Matrix, p.103-104
Drama of Scripture ACT ONE: God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation ACT TWO: Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall ACT THREE: The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated – Gen. 12:1-3: Blessed to be a blessing – Ex. 19:3-6: Showcase for the nations – Israel fails in their mission – Prophets
Drama of Scripture ACT ONE: God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation ACT TWO: Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall ACT THREE: The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated ACT FOUR: The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished – Takes up mission of Israel – Accomplishes redemption – Gathers renewed Israel: Commissions them to continue his mission
Drama of Scripture ACT ONE: God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation ACT TWO: Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall ACT THREE: The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated ACT FOUR: The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished ACT FIVE: Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church
Following the apostles, the church is sent– Sent with the gospel of the kingdom to make disciples of all nations, to feed the hungry, to proclaim the assurance that in the name of Christ there is forgiveness of sin and new life for all who repent an believe– To tell the news that our world belongs to God. In a world estranged from God, where millions face confusing choices, this mission is central to our being, for we announce the one name that saves. The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world. To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere, without fitting in, as lights in the darkness, as salt in a spoiling world. (CT, 44, 45)
Act Five: Spreading the News of the King Central to this period of redemptive history Tasting and making known the kingdom Being a light to the world: Continuing Israel’s mission Bearing witness to the kingdom: Continuing Jesus’ mission Bearing witness to Jesus: Continuing the early church’s mission To the ends of the earth
Drama of Scripture ACT ONE: God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation ACT TWO: Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall ACT THREE: The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated ACT FOUR: The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished ACT FIVE: Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church ACT SIX: The Return of the King: Redemption Completed
Mission as Central to Biblical Story God’s Mission: To renew the whole creation (‘I am making all things new’) Israel’s Mission: Attractive showcase of God’s renewal Jesus’ Mission: Reveal and accomplish God’s renewing work Church’s Mission: Make known God’s renewing work in life, word, and deed
God’s Mission and Ours... I do want to argue for the theological priority of God’s mission. Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) is our committed participation, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission in the world through history. - Wright, Mission as Matrix, p.104
Climax of Biblical Story ‘I am making all things new.’ Church’s mission: Embody and announce that coming renewal until God completes his work ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is part of a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Cor.5:17) Differing circumstances, different models of mission
The Book of Revelation The final chapter of the Biblical drama One particular kind of missional faithfulness
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of Revelation Setting: Conflict with the Roman empire – Written to church in Asia Minor – Threat of imperial cult: Edict of Domitian – Administered by Asian city councils – Pressure on Christians to accommodate – Some did (Nicolaitans, Balaamites, Jezebel) – Persecution for those who didn’t Refusal to be a private cult Refusal to participate in idolatry
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of Revelation Setting: Conflict with the Roman empire Message: An Alternative Vision ‘These visions construct a counter-narrative disputing the imperial one, opening up a different way of seeing the world.’ - Richard Bauckham, Bible and Mission, p.104 Revelation provides ‘the vision of an “alternative world” in order to encourage the Christians and to enhance their staying power in the face of persecution and possible execution.’ - Johannes Nissen, New Testament and Mission, p.147
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of Revelation Setting: Conflict with the Roman empire Message: An Alternative Vision – Like 2 Kings 6:8-23 – Apocalyptic literature – The story of Revelation – Kingdom of God centred in cosmic Christ – Kingdom of God involved in a cosmic battle – Kingdom of God assured of cosmic victory
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of Revelation Setting: Conflict with the Roman empire Message: An Alternative Vision Mission: Resist Accommodation ‘The demand laid on the Christians addressed in the book is an unconditional loyalty to the one side in the vast, unseen struggle between the cosmic powers that is occurring or is imminent. There is no room for compromise—no benign acceptance of meat in an unbeliever’s home, no undefiling commerce—or a “lukewarm” response. It is a time for “witnessing”, which can lead to death (as for Antipas, 2:13).’ - Johannes Nissen, New Testament and Mission, p.149
Resisting Accommodation to Roman Idolatry ‘The Christians are to proclaim the good news of universal salvation to the world, and their pulpit is a heroic refusal to compromise with a system they see as aligned with the forces of sin and death.’ - The Biblical Foundations for Mission, Senior and Stuhlmueller, p. 305
‘... it behooves the Church to suffer with hope and patience whether the attempt be to destroy it or to domesticate it. Persecution was, and always is, pressure applied to make the Church serve subordinate ends (in the time of John--the unity of the Roman empire and its peoples) or adjust its witness to Christ to the beliefs of those who will not name Him Lord.... ‘The Church was engaged in a life-and- death struggle with the world, the flesh, and the Devil; and there could be no compromise with any of the three. The Church’s public witness to Christ would have no significance if its inner life were already occupied by other gods.’ - D.T. Niles, As Seeing the Invisible, p.16, 21
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of Mission Today Different settings: What are the idolatrous cultural forces that we need to resist?
Differing Circumstances, Different Models of Mission Jesus has not left us with a rigid model for action; rather he inspired his disciples to prolong the logic of his own action in a creative way amid the new and different historical circumstances in which the community would have to proclaim the gospel. - Bosch
‘I Am Making All Things New’: The Climax of Mission Today Different settings: What are the idolatrous cultural forces that we need to resist? Global, consumer capitalism – Economic globalization is the ‘greatest challenge that the Christian mission faces’ (Rene Padilla). – R. Bauckham, Bible and Mission, 83-112.
‘The reality of our world is not the end of grand narratives, but the increasing dominance of the narrative of economic globalization.... This is the new imperialism... [p.94] ‘What do we really need in order to recognize and to resist this new metanarrative of globalization? Surely a story that counters the global dominance of the profit-motive and the culture of consumption with a powerful affirmation of universal values? But the Christian metanarrative can adopt this role only if it resists becoming a tool of the forces of domination.’ [p.97]
‘It may well be that, only if Christianity in the west becomes a movement of resistance to such evils as consumerism, excessive individualism and the exploitation of the global periphery, can Christianity in many other parts of the world be credibly distinguished from the west’s economic and cultural oppression of other cultures and peoples.’ [p.97-98]
The Witness of Resistance ‘Can the biblical narrative resist, in a way that is true to the biblical God’s rule, the narratives of global power that dominate our world today?’ [p.102] – Only if we hold to the Bible as a metanarrative that is not co-opted into another more ultimate story – If we see that some of the Bible itself was formed in opposition to global powers in opposition to God’s kingdom: ‘One element in an answer to this is the fact that the biblical metanarrative itself took shape partly in opposition to the globalizing powers of its day.’ [p. 102] – If opposition and resistance takes the form of non- coersive and suffering witness
How can such a witness be sustained? With a fresh understanding of the cosmic Christ With a fresh understanding of history as the cosmic struggle between the kingdom of God and kingdom of darkness With a fresh understanding of the cosmic victory of the gospel
With the whole creation we wait for the purifying fire of judgment. For then we will see the Lord face to face. He will heal our hurts, end our wars, and make the crooked straight. Then we will join in the new song to the Lamb without blemish who made us a kingdom and priests. God will be all in all, righteousness and peace will flourish, everything will be made new, and every eye will see at last that our world belongs to God! Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus. [CT, 58]
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