The Mission Heart of God

I N T E R A T I O N A L C H U R C H O F P R A G U E

S T U D Y C E N T R E

ar t of t h e h e ed rom rises f mmitt sion a lf and is co s. Mis imse o our God h his hear t t from S t o tt John

The Mission Heart of God

Contents
Introduction! The Course Programme! Reading! Genesis 1-3 — The Sacred Garden! Introduction! Exercises! Assignments! Exodus 40 - The Tent of Meeting! Introduction! Exercises! Assignments! Isaiah 60 - 61 — The Glory of the Lord! Introduction! Exercises! The Servant of Yahweh! Assignments! John 1 — The Word Dwells with Us! Introduction! Exercises! Godʼs Eternal Plan! Assignments! Ephesians 2 — A Dwelling for Godʼs Spirit ! Introduction! Exercises! Assignments! Conclusion! Revelation 21-22 — The Holy City ! Introduction! Exercises! Conclusion! 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 6 6 7 7 7 7 8 9 9 9 10 10 11 11 11 11

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION and are copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, a member of the Hodder Headline Plc Group. All rights reserved.

The Mission Heart of God

Introduction
This course will take place over 6 weeks and will give an overview of “Godʼs plan for life on earth” as Desmond Alexander puts it. Through a series of studies on various biblical texts, both Old and New Testament, the course will explore what Godʼs plan for the world is and how we as his people are part of that plan. The sessions will mainly take the form of discussions on the biblical texts. The aim of the course is not simply to impart knowledge, but to encourage all of us to a deeper understanding of Godʼs Word so that we may be transformed in our everyday lives to be more like Jesus. While not essential, you will gain more from the course if you read the core book. The other books will also be helpful but are less important for the course. They can be borrowed rather than bought if you wish! To gain as much as possible from the course, some work during the week will be needed. The Bible renders to us the story of Godʼs mission through Godʼs people in their engagement with Godʼs world for the sake of the whole of Godʼs creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally, embracing past, present and future, Israel and the nations, “life, the universe and everything, “ and with its centre, focus, climax and completion in Jesus Christ. Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about… Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, “what itʼs all about.” The Mission of God 22

The Course Programme
Week 1:! Week 2: ! Week 3: ! Week 4: ! Week 5: ! Week 6: ! Genesis 1 — 3 - The Sacred Garden Exodus 40 - The Tent of Meeting Isaiah 60 & 61 - The Glory of the Lord John 1 - The Word Dwells with Us Ephesians 2 - A Dwelling for Godʼs Spirit Revelation 21 & 22 - The Holy City

Reading
As with our other courses, we donʼt have a ʻsetʼ book for the course. However, the themes we will be looking at are discussed in more detail in the book below which is well-written and easy to read. Copies can be had from me. From Eden to the New Jerusalem; T. D. Alexander. IVP 2008 Other books which will be useful and helpful if you wish to explore the topic further are: Mission as Transformation: A Theology of the Whole Gospel: V. K. Samuel, C. Sugden, Paternoster Press Missions in the Third Millennium: S. Guthrie, Paternoster Press The Mission of God; C. J. H. Wright, IVP Academic Transforming Mission; D. J.Bosch, Orbis Books Perspectives on the World Christian Movement; R. D. Winter, S. C. Hawthorne eds, William Carey Library
1

The Mission Heart of God

Genesis 1-3 — The Sacred Garden
Introduction
As with many themes and topics of the Bible, these three chapters are foundational to our understanding of the “Mission Heart of God”. As we look at them, remember to come to the texts expecting God to speak to you out of the text, not telling the text what it should say! As we go through the Bible looking at the themes which are introduced here, our aim is to begin to see the part that each one of us plays, not in being involved in mission for God, but being involved in the mission of God.

Exercises
What I would like you to concentrate on here, is not what you know about this text (or think you know) but what the text is actually saying. In familiar passages, we often think we know things only to find they arenʼt there (!) or donʼt know things that are clearly there. Please read these passages carefully, asking, “What am I reading?” “What is this saying?” 1. Read chapter 2:4 - 3:24 • What facts do you learn about the shape of Godʼs creation of the earth? • What separate ʻareasʼ does the Bible describe for us? • What do you learn about the contents and activities that are in these areas? • Draw a picture of the earth and the garden as it is described in these verses. • What seems most important? Why? • What lessons might we take from this: • About God? • About his dealings with humanity? 2. Read chapter 1:24-31; 2:7-9; :15-25 i. What do you learn about man? ii. What commands does God give man? iii. What does this tell you about Godʼs purposes for man - his reason for creating them? iv. What do we learn about Godʼs relationship with man?

Assignments
Of necessity, our run through the Bible has to be somewhat superficial. Our times together will be more useful if you do the assignments in preparation for the following week. 1. Read Exodus 40 i. Make a list of the furniture made for the tabernacle. ii. Write down anything that strikes you as important or difficult to understand. iii. Can you see any links with what we have read in Genesis?

2

The Mission Heart of God

Exodus 40 - The Tent of Meeting
Introduction
This week we continue looking at the ways in The tabernacle has features that which God has been putting into action his plan associate it closely with the for life on earth. Garden of Eden… These parallels Our study on the Garden of Eden showed us suggest that the construction of a number of aspects of this plan including the t h e t a b e r n a c l e m a r k s t h e three-fold pattern of creation and the truth of continuation of Godʼs plans for the Godʼs presence, his dwelling, being in the Garden of Eden. garden with the man and the woman. We saw From Eden to the New Jerusalem also how God had given the man and woman 34 commands as to what their role was in the Garden and how this involved the moving out from the garden as his ʻviceroysʼ to rule the earth. We also noted the fact that rivers flowed from the garden into the rest of the world, bringing life-giving water. And we saw how in the centre of the garden was not just the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but also the Tree of Life. Our study this week focusses on the tabernacle - and, by extension, the temple in Jerusalem. By looking at a number of passages, we will try to discover if Desmond Alexanderʼs statement in the box above is true or not. And try to answer the question, “What does the tabernacle tell us about Godʼs mission heart?”

Exercises
1. Draw a plan of the tabernacle showing the positions of the various items of furniture. 2. Against each item in your list of furniture, write down any aspects of Eden which you think my be parallels or linked in some way. • Discuss other links you discovered in your assignment. 3. Using the table over the page, read the passages in the two columns and then in the third column, explain the parallels. This may be in terms of ideas, or imagery or words used. 4. In what ways can you begin to see connections between the Old Testament presentation of the tabernacle and the role of the church? This is something that we develop over the next few weeks, so we are simply raising the issue now without really developing it all that much.

3

The Mission Heart of God

Genesis 2:15

Numbers 3:7-8

Genesis 3:8

Leviticus 26:12; 2 Samuel 7:3-7 Exodus 25:7, 11 Ezekiel 47:1-12

Genesis 2:11

Genesis 2:10-14 Genesis 2:10-14 Genesis 3:24

Ezekiel 28:13-16 Exodus 25:17-22 Exodus 38:13-14!

Genesis 3:24

Assignments
To make the most of our time together next week, please do the assignment below. 1. Read Isaiah 60 and 61 i. Consider the promises that God gives his people in these chapters. How would you describe them in general? ii. What specific links with the imagery we have already met in the Garden and in the tabernacle can you see here? iii. What do we learn from these chapters about Godʼs plan for the world?

4

The Mission Heart of God

Isaiah 60 - 61 — The Glory of the LORD
Introduction
So far, we have considered the Garden in Eden and the Tabernacle and seen how they show something of Godʼs plan for the whole earth. Both are seen as representing Godʼs dwelling on earth and both show that Godʼs purpose is that the whole world should become his dwelling place. This theme now continues in Isaiah and the two chapters we read in preparation for this week form a bridge between the historical Temple in Jerusalem and the future Temple. As we will see, the link between the two is to be found in the person who speaks at the beginning of chapter 61. From the Lord to his people flows everything they could need; from them to him flows back an endless paean of praise. The old, physical forms of light are replaced by new, spiritual light and changes and fluctuations are past, due to the perpetual divine presence bringing with it unbroken joy. The Prophecy of Isaiah, 498 J. A. Motyer

Exercises
1. Discuss the questions on Isaiah 60 and 61 you prepared for this week 2. Read Isaiah 2:2-5. a. What images and ideas in this passage do you recognise from our previous studies? b. What is the general message of the prophecy? 3. Read Genesis 11:1-9. a. What is the reason for Godʼs confusing the language of these people? b. How do our previous studies help us to understand this event? c. What link is there between this event and the exile? 4. Read Ezekiel 10:1-22 a. What images and themes can you find here that are linked to what we already know about the Temple? 5. Read Ezekiel 43:1-7a. a. Once again, find the links in imagery between this and our other studies. b. What is Godʼs promise? c. How does this relate to what we read in Isaiah 60?

5

The Mission Heart of God

The Servant of Yahweh
The Servant of Yahweh is introduced in Isaiah Isaiahʼs use mountain imagery [in 42, as the one who will bring about Godʼs Isaiah 2] underlines that God purposes. The introductory verses (1-4) of this himself will be exalted in majesty chapter are central to our understanding of his as he exercises supreme authority role. over the whole earth. This 1. Read the first four verses of Isaiah 42. What expectation brings to fulfilment are we told the Servant of Yahweh will do? Godʼs creation blueprint, for it 2. Now turn to Isaiah 61:1-3. anticipates the Lord dwelling in a a. What links do you see here? temple-city that will fill the whole b. How would you describe what Godʼs earth. plan entails? From Eden to the New Jerusalem c. Read Luke 4:17-21 52 i. Why is it significant that Jesus reads this passage? ii. What are we to understand from this about how Jesus viewed his mission?

Assignments
1. As further study from this week. • Read Psalm 84. • How would you characterise the psalmistʼs emotions as he contemplates the Temple? • What images are used here that we have met elsewhere in our study? • Read Isaiah 49:1-6. • How would you summarise the Servantʼs mission as expressed in these verses? • In what ways does this passage fit with our overall understanding of the Mission of God? • Who is the Servant of Yahweh? 2. For next week. • Read John 1:1-18 • List any links in terms of imagery with what we have read in the Old Testament? • How would you summarise the mission of the Word in these verses?

6

The Mission Heart of God

John 1 — The Word Dwells with Us
Introduction
This week, we move into the New Testament This double mission [of the and see how Godʼs purposes for his creation are Servant of the Lord] is made … developed through the person of Jesus. explicit in Isaiah 49:1-6, where, in response to the Servantʼs Exercises complaint that his mission to Israel 1. Discuss the questions on Isaiah 49 you is getting nowhere, the Servant prepared for this week. receives from God the explicit 2. Read John 1:1-18. commission to be a light to the a. Discuss what you looked at during the Gentiles to bring Godʼs salvation week. to the ends of the earth. So his 3. Read Matthew 1:22-23. mission to the nations does not a. How are we to understand this short replace his mission to Israel but is passage in the context of Godʼs an extension of it. mission? The Mission of God, 520. 4. Read Matthew 3:13-17 C. J. Wright a. What is happening here? b. 5. How does it link with what we have learned in the Old Testament? Read Matthew 12:1-14. a. What is the importance of this passage in understanding how Jesus viewed his mission? b. Why does he heal on the Sabbath? c. What does he mean by, “one greater than the temple is here”? Read John 2:2-22 a. Why does Jesus clear the temple? b. What is significant about his words in verse 19? Read Luke 23:44-46. a. What is the meaning of the curtain being torn in two? How does what we have read this morning link with our earlier studies?
Model of Herodʼs Temple

6.

7.

8.

Godʼs Eternal Plan

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul writes, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” In the context of our studies, this is an important verse, reminding us, as it does, that Godʼs plan - from before creation - was to have a people who were in communion with him. It takes us all the way back to the Garden in Eden and through the choosing of Abraham to the person of Jesus. This verse reminds us that the creation of this people was
7

The Mission Heart of God

always “in him”, that is, “in Jesus”. The ministry and mission of Jesus was not “Plan B” when all else had failed; it was Plan A from before the world began. You might put it like this, that history and Godʼs plans did not flow towards the culmination found in Jesus, but rather all flowed from Jesus, rather like the river flowing through Eden to water the earth.

Assignments

1. As further study from this week. • Read John 3:1-21. • How does our study so far help us to understand Jesusʼ conversation with Nicodemus? • Read John 4:1-26. • What images do you find here which we have encountered before? • How does our study so far help us to understand Jesusʼ conversation with the Samaritan woman? • What do you learn about who Jesus is and how he viewed his mission from looking at these passages? 2. For next week. • Read Ephesians 2:11-22 • If you have the time, you will understand better what Paul says here if you read all of chapter 1 and 2. • List the various things that Paul writes which link this passage with what we have studied so far. • What are the consequences, do you think, for how we see ourselves and our mission, as the Church, of what Paul writes in verses 19-22?

It is only those who have come under the reign of King Jesus who can commend him to the world and explain the message of the cross. So the proclamation of the gospel word must be at the heart of mission. Otherwise we lose our distinctive voice and the world misses the distinctive word of Christ crucified. At the heart of world mission is the gospel word. Total Church, 100 T. Chester and S. Timmis

8

The Mission Heart of God

Ephesians 2 — A Dwelling for Godʼs Spirit
Introduction
Until now, we have been looking at Godʼs mission, his plan for the ages, in terms of how that was expressed in the past, whether through the Garden in Eden, the Tabernacle and Temple or in the person of Jesus. This week, we come right up to the present because we are looking at the church — at you and me as those who are part of Godʼs Kingdom now. The New Testament gives a number of different metaphors to describe the church: body and bride, for example. The one which is most relevant for us in this study is Temple. It is in this image where the story we have been following so far continues to encompass present-day Christians. At one stroke Peter connects his Christian readers with the whole heritage of Old Testament Israel. Indeed, he identifies them as the same people, continuous with those who heard the words he quotes at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:4-6), heirs of the same purpose of God through the Messiah Jesus. In doing so, Peter is consistent with the rest of the New Testament witness and claim: Those who are in Christ are in Abraham, called for the same purpose, redeemed by the same God, committed to the same response of ethical obedience. The Mission of God, 387. C. J. Wright (Commenting on 1 Peter 2:9)

Exercises

1. What do you understand by the word, ʻtempleʼ? a. How has this study, so far, helped develop or change your idea of what a temple is? b. From our study last week, why does Jesus use temple imagery to describe himself and his ministry? 2. Discuss what you learned from reading Ephesians 2:11-22. 3. Read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. a. What point is Paul making about the church in Corinth? 4. Read 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. a. Who does Paul describe as the Temple, here? b. What does this truth lead to? 5. Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. a. What does Paul say about the Temple, here? b. What are the consequences for us? 6. Read 1 Peter 2:4-12 a. What images, familiar from our earlier studies, does Peter use here? b. What does it mean to be the ʻpeople of Godʼ? 7. Do you see any recurring themes in what being the Temple of God means in our everyday lives? a. How do these themes, and what we read in Isaiah, help us to understand what the ʻKingdom of Godʼ looks like?

9

The Mission Heart of God

8. What do you think are the consequences of viewing the Church in this way for our evangelism as individuals and as the church? 9. Lesslie Newbigin writes, “We must say bluntly that when the Church ceases to be a mission, then she ceases to have any right to the titles by which she is adorned in the New Testament”. a. What do you think he means by this statement? b. Do you agree with him?

The Triune God is a missionary God. The church, then, has a mission because God has a mission. The role of the church is to participate in the mission of God. Total Church, 103 T. Chester and S. Timmis

Assignments
1. As further study from this week. a. Read the passages we looked at again and spent some time simply contemplating what God is saying to you through them. b. Think of some concrete, practical ways in which the understanding you now have of the churchʼs mission can be put into practice by you, your small group, ICP. 2. For next week. a. Read Revelation 7:9-17 i. Pick out the images and metaphors we have met elsewhere. What do they tell us about the end of Godʼs plan? b. Read Revelation 21:1-22:21. i. How does this passage bring Godʼs plan to a conclusion? ii. How does what we have studied help us to understand these chapters.

Conclusion
In our study together next week, we will look at these passages from Revelation and then try to bring the whole series of studies to a conclusion.

10

The Mission Heart of God

Revelation 21-22 — The Holy City
Introduction
We come to the end of our studies concentrating on Godʼs plan for his creation by looking at the vision God gives John of the culmination of those plans; the time when the world is truly “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord1 ” when - in the new creation the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, comes down out of heaven to earth. The divine speaker identifies himself as “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end”… these titles express Godʼs s o v e r e i g n t y o v e r h i s t o r y, especially by bringing it to an end in salvation and judgment… The point of the title is that the God who transcends time guides the entire course of history… On this basis, the readers are assured that just as God brought the first creation into being, so he will certainly bring it to conclusion. The Book of Revelation, 1055. G. K. Beale (Commenting on Revelation 21:6)

Exercises

1. Revelation 7:9-17 a. Discuss this passage, paying special attention to the themes and images we have looked at during this course. b. What comfort is there her? 2. Revelation 21:1-22:21 a. How would you summarise this passage? b. Discuss your answers to the questions set as your assignment from last week. 3. How do these passages a. challenge you about your Christian life? b. encourage you in your Christian life? 4. How would you sum up what we have learned during this course?

Conclusion
This has been a rapid run through one of the major themes of the Bible, how God is creating a people for himself to enjoy his presence throughout eternity. As you think about these things over the coming weeks and months, consider other images and aspects that you encounter in Godʼs Word. Most importantly, prayerfully consider how knowing what you know should change how you live as one of Godʼs people with the charge to be part of bringing Godʼs kingdom on earth. “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.”2

1 2

Habakkuk 2:14 Matthew 6:9-10

11

Further Notes

Study Centre International Church of Prague
Box 91, ℅ IBTS, Nad Habrovkou 3 Jenerálka, 164 00 Praha 6 studycentreicp@googlemail.com (420) 296 392 338 www.icpstudycentre.cz