Is Mission an Attribute of God?

Robert E. Speer, in his Duff Lectures of 1910, said…

“The Last command of Christ (the Great Commission) is not the deep and final ground of the Church’s missionary duty. That duty is authoritatively stated in the words of the great commission, and it is of infinite consequence to have had it so stated by our Lord Himself. But if these particular words had never been spoken by Him, or if, having been spoken, they had not been preserved, the missionary duty of the Church would not be in the least affected. The supreme arguments for missions are not found in any specific words. It is in the very being and character of God that the deepest ground of the missionary enterprise is to be found. We cannot think of God except in terms which necessitate the missionary idea.“

In the Lausanne Covenant of July, 1974, There was a recommitment to world evangelism in Switzerland by an international gathering of evangelicals “moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization.” John Stott’s talk in Loma Linda was a succinct statement of that credo which he divided into five parts:

The Old Testament God was a Missionary God

The Christ of the Gospels is a Missionary Christ

The Holy Spirit of Acts is a Missionary Spirit

The Church of the Epistles is a Missionary Church

The Vision of Revelation shows a Missionary Climax

In their book, Missional Essentials, Brad Brisco and Lance Ford say, “Mission is the central biblical theme describing God’s activity throughout history to restore and heal creation.  While often over-looked, Scripture is full of sending language that speaks to the missionary nature of God.”

John G. Flett, in The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010)

Captures it in this way:  “Mission is the abundant fellowship of active participation in the very glory that is the life of God from and to all eternity. It is life in the community of reconciliation moving out in solidarity with the world in the active knowledge that God died for it, too. It is the response of doxology as we follow the Spirit’s lead as captives in the train of the living glorious Lord, the lamb that was slain.”

I’m fond of saying that ‘God is a missionary God,’ but I was recently ‘corrected’  by someone who objected and said that “mission is not an attribute of God, but a result of His attributes.”  I found that to be an interesting counter proposition. 

Is the idea of God being a missionary God (mission as part of His nature) valid? Or might it be an overstatement?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.