Each time I read a book written by Kevin DeYoung I find myself having a shift in the way I think about certain doctrines. Someone described him as being “ruthlessly biblical” and What Is The Mission of The Church? is certainly not an exception. DeYoung and Greg Gilbert faithfully look at all aspects of scripture as they try to answer this question. At the foundation, their answer to this is:
“The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father (62).”
The book is chock full of quotes that I wanted to include in this post. I highlighted so many sections in the book that portions of it look more like a coloring book than anything else. To summarize though, there were three things that I learned from reading this book.
1. The kingdom of God is not something we help in building. It is that which we testify too.
“You cannot ‘expand the kingdom’ by bringing peace and order and justice to a certain area of the world. Good deeds are good, but they don’t broaden the borders of the kingdom. The only way the kingdom of God- the redemptive rule of God- is extended is when he brings another sinner to renounce sin and self-righteousness and bow his knee to King Jesus (121).”
“The church acts as a sort of embassy for the government of the King. It is an outpost of the kingdom of God surrounded by the kingdom of darkness (127).”
“So the kingdom of God then, we may say, is God’s redemptive reign, in the person of his Son, Jesus Messiah, which has broken into the present evil age and is now visible in the church (127).”
2. The Bible does not define justice as we usually think of the word in our culture. When the Bible refers to justice, it does so in terms of fairness, decency and honesty. Biblical justice is not an act that we do but a process that treats all equally. These chapters on justice were also helpful in thinking rightly about why we good works and the principle of moral proximity.
“When it comes to doing good in our communities and in the world, let’s not turn every possibility into a responsibility and every opportunity into an ought. If we want to see our brothers and sisters do more for the poor and the afflicted, we’ll go farther and be on safer ground if we use grace as our motivating principle instead of guilt (177).”
“If we are too embarrassed, too lazy, or too cowardly to support fellow Christians at our doorstep who depend on our assistance and are suffering for the sake of the gospel we will go to hell (165).”
“To be a Christian, then, is to receive God’s good gifts and enjoy them the most, need them the least, and give them away most freely (179).”
“Justice in a fallen world is not an equality of outcome, but is equal treatment under a fair law (182).”
“Moral proximity makes obedience possible by reminding us that before Paul said ‘let us do good to everyone,’ he said, ‘So then, as we have opportunity’ (Gal. 6:10).” In the Old Testament, for example, the greatest responsibility was to one’s own family, then to the tribe, then to the fellow Israelites, and finally to other nations (184).”
3. The teachings on money and economics are helpful in seeing that the good that western culture has done. A trillion dollars has been poured into African aid over the years without equally successful results. The reason is not because of bad western society, but because of sinful violence and government oppression.
“The rule of law must be enforced, social capital (i.e., trust) must be increased, and poverty rights must be respected (188).” An economy based on competition and cooperation through voluntary exchange may not alleviate all the effects of the fall we would like, but it is much more effective at producing wealth and much more protective of personal dignity and freedom than a system that puruses its vision of cosmic justice through coercive force and the concentration of power (192).”