42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
How do people come to faith in Jesus? What should people do after coming to faith in Jesus? These are the million-dollar questions of Christian ministry, both figuratively and literally.
Yet for all their complexity, Acts 2:41-42a brings a stark clarity to these questions:
So those who received [Peter’s] word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
The preaching of God’s Word led to faith in Jesus, and faith in Jesus led to devotion to God’s Word. In this grand moment of redemptive history, this great advance in Jesus’ Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), it was God’s Word that was central. And God’s Word remained central in the apostles’ ministry throughout the book of Acts: they spoke it with boldness (4:31); they made it their exclusive focus (6:2); it was not silenced by persecution (8:4; 11:19); and it increased and multiplied in Jerusalem (4:4; 6:7), Judea and Samaria (12:24) and to the ends of the earth (13:47-49; 19:20). For the apostles, God’s Word and God’s mission were interdependent; they could not embrace one without the other.
Still for us today, God’s Word and God’s mission go hand-in-hand in our lives. The stories of rescue we tell, and continue to experience, are all intertwined with God’s Word at work within us. Whether in a worship service or Bible study, from a personal conversation or a book, or through television or a tweet, God has used His Word to draw each of us to faith in Jesus (Rom. 10:17). And our faith in Jesus has caused us to long for what Peter calls the “pure spiritual milk” of the living and abiding Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23-2:2). And still for us today, God’s Word and God’s mission go hand-in-hand in our participation in fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission. As those called to witness to Jesus’ death and resurrection and to make disciples of all who believe, it is God’s Word that forms all of our going, sending, and proclaiming.
Why is this connection between God’s Word and God’s mission so tight and timeless? Why, for all of our sophisticated learning and technology, are we still so dependent on something so ancient and simple as a book to form our lives and to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission? The answer is that God’s Word is nothing less than the story of God’s Mission. In his magnum opus entitled The Mission of God, missionary and theologian Christopher Wright helps answer this by saying,
Mission is what the Bible is all about; we could as meaningfully talk of the missional basis of the Bible as of the biblical basis of mission...[The Bible] finds its focus and fulfillment both in the life and death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, and in the mission to all nations, which flows out from that event.1
While it may sound strange at first, the connection between God’s Word and God’s mission is something Jesus Himself expressed in Luke 24:46-48,
Thus it is written [in the Scriptures], that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Not only does Jesus claim that the entire Bible is about His death and resurrection, but He claims that the entire Bible calls us to proclaim this to all nations. When we read God’s Word, we see Jesus; and when we see Jesus, we tell the world!
Beginning this evening, our church will host the Global Missions Conference of our denomination’s missions agency, Mission to the World (MTW), at the Hilton Anatole. Dozens of people from our congregation will give their time volunteering; hundreds of people from our congregation will invest their time participating; and thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world will join us. We will learn together, pray together, sing together, eat together, and grow to understand more of what God is doing through us together. But more than anything else, we will look to God’s Word together. For there, in God’s Word, we see and come to know Jesus Christ by faith. And there, in God’s Word, God calls us to go, send, and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in our city and to our world.
If you would like to attend the Global Missions Conference and have not registered, you can still register at the event beginning at noon on Friday at the Hilton Anatole. Go to mtw.org/gmc for more details.
1Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (IVP Academic, 2006), pp. 29-30.