Tuesday 15 January 2013

Of Holy Scripture and Missions

I think a neglected subject has been that of the doctrine of Holy Scripture that a church, missions group or an individual holds. At the reformation one of the first matters to be discussed was that "Of Holy Scripture". This is the fountainhead of all doctrine. This is the fountainhead of where things go wrong and often unknowingly. There are a range of inter-connected doctrines such as the authority, sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture. The extent of special revelation and the necessity for a church to hold to these things.

In the Christian world of missions today, as is often the case of the church also, there is huge confusion concerning 'what is missions?'. It seems as if anything goes. If you have a vision then "go for it" is often the unspoken motto. People raise finance to go and do puppet ministry, offering free haircuts for the homeless, doing street art, dramas or music. But does the Bible teach these as valid forms of mission?

It seems to me that many sections of the church and most especially missions organisations need to be prepared to freshly evaluate themselves in the light of Holy Scripture and not in terms of what works or what is exciting.

Romans 4:3 asks: "For what does the Scripture say?". Now the principle of reformed teaching is that there are not manifold biblical interpretations but one. Listen to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1:9: "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly".

Did you notice that there are not manifold interpretations but one? Therefore, there are not manifold mission methods but one. These are the ordinary means of planting churches and strengthening the church and not operating independently of ordained elders. Sorry, but Paul never instructed Timothy to do a quick crowd-drawing gimmick in Corinth so that he could then jump up and give a 3 minute gospel explanation. Let us peer into Paul's life in Rome as he ministered for the Lord.

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved (Acts 28:23-24).

May we all return to the Holy Scripture to evaluate our understanding of missions and our practice in missions!

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