An Introduction to the “Support” Ministry at Dundonald Church (Part 2/2)
Support is one of our seven W.I.T.N.E.S.S. ministries, but what does it mean? And why is it important? The second of two articles explains the importance of this ministry:
Matthew 28:18-19, well known as the Great Commission, is a great start point: “Jesus came to them and said ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28 is where we get the name Co-Mission for our church planting network – so it is already a fundamental part of our life as a church family, and it’s a very clear command from Jesus, so it should be an integral part of every Christian’s life and worship.
But one of the dangers of such a familiar passage is that it becomes the first and maybe only place we go to when we think about global mission. Perhaps that can create a false impression, that if global mission is just two verses out of the whole bible, it’s a good thing, but it’s not one of the main things.
Instead, let’s take a whistle-stop tour to see that from Genesis to Revelation, the start to the end of the Bible, reaching all nations and all people groups with the gospel is a constant theme in God’s Word, and therefore has always been an integral part of God’s plan.
Genesis 12:1-3 is the momentous point in history when God makes a covenant with Abram: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you'”
While a lot of the Old Testament focuses on Abraham’s descendants, the people of Israel, as they grow in number and gradually possess, lose and then return to the land that God gives them, right from the very beginning of the promise you can clearly see God’s intent to bless all nations – not every single person, but all peoples, or every people group.
As the story develops, the nation of Israel is led and let down by a long series of priests, prophets and kings, and it becomes clear that they all need a rescue plan to save them from their sin and the severe consequences of it. And God has a plan, to send a saviour, a perfect priest, prophet and king, who will rescue them.
When Isaiah describes this rescuer he calls him the ‘servant of the Lord’, Isaiah 42:1: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations”
It turns out that his role is to serve the Lord, not just as a rescuer of the people of Israel, but he will bring justice to all peoples, verse 6 says: “I the Lord have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles“.
The shock here is that while God has been promising his people, Israel, a saviour, that saviour is also being sent for all peoples, for the Gentiles. In fact Isaiah makes the point in chapter 49 that: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept, I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
In Luke 4 we see Jesus infuriate his Jewish listeners by reminding them that the prophet Elijah was sent to the widow of Zaraphath, and Elisha was sent to Naaman the Syrian, even though there were plenty of poor widows and suffering lepers within Israel who needed help. But God has always shown his concern for people of other nations as well.
Let’s move on to the New Testament and the weighty book of Romans. Our last sermon series on Romans was entitled “God’s Gospel for all Nations”. Why choose that title? Well this amazing letter, full of deep theological truths about God and the Gospel, starts like this:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son … Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”
Paul was set apart by God to call people from all nations to faith in Christ. And he wrote this most significant letter knowing that a full and proper understanding of “God’s Gospel for all Nations” would motivate the Roman church to support his missionary goal of taking the gospel to Spain – which for them represented the very ends of the earth!
Now finally – skipping references in Acts, Galatians, and 1 Timothy – let’s head to Revelation 5:9-10 to see what the Apostle John tells us in his incredible vision of heaven with the Elders and living creatures around the throne of God worshipping the Lamb:
”And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
So the vision of heaven, of the completion of all things, includes a huge crowd of people from every nation. That will happen and it’s always been God’s plan.
And in case these scriptures seem too selective, read almost the last words that Jesus speaks to his disciples, as recorded in Luke 24:45-49:
“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
So it’s both God’s plan and Jesus’ command to do it, and why we have Support as one of our seven key ministries here at Dundonald Church. Why not become a part of it?