September 14, 2010
Sitting in a favella –- a slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil –- Dr. Alan Bandy said he could barely keep from gagging at the stench emanating from the closet-sized shack and the woman who lived there. Bandy was on a mission trip to share the Gospel, but he confessed this was one visit he was hoping to cut short.
In the midst of the external chaos, Bandy said he heard a quiet whisper of God’s spirit that nearly crushed him inside. He felt God gently telling him, “You did not know this lady existed, but in a city of 12 million people, I knew she was here. I love her. That is why I sent you to her.”
“It was the first time I understood that love of God for people,” Bandy told OBU students during a chapel message Monday, Sept. 13.
Bandy, who serves as Rowena R. Strickland assistant professor of New Testament at OBU, gave the first of three chapel messages presented as part of GO Week at OBU Sept. 13-17. GO Week is a concerted effort to mobilize OBU students to engage in missions endeavors.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about religion or being religious, Bandy said. It is not about moral platitudes or admonitions to be nice to others. It is not a political platform or a social agenda. It is not about what people do to get to God.
“The Gospel message is all about what God has done to reach down into the tangled mess of humanity and bring us free from the shackles of slavery to sin and redeem us from death,” Bandy said. “The Gospel message is about how much the Creator God loves the people he created, and how he is actively working through history to accomplish his plan for salvation to all peoples. The Gospel message is about how God sent his own Son to pay the penalty for our sins and doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”
Bandy said missions work did not begin with people; it is something God has been doing for centuries, and He allows people to join him in his work.
“I want you to see the missional nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is rooted in the mission of God,” Bandy said. “Our response to this message of the Gospel and this mission of God is that we will live missional lives to be missional lives as Great Commission Christians.”
Bandy said “missional” is an adjective denoting something that is related to or characterized by mission. The Bible is essentially a testimony to the mission of God, he said. Bandy said the mission of God –- to break through to human beings, determined not to leave people un-illuminated in darkness –- spans both testaments of the Bible.
The Old Testament, Bandy said, reveals God’s redemptive mission for the world through his old covenant people, Israel. Isaiah 42:1-12 lays claim against the idols people worshipped, proclaiming that God alone is the Creator and worthy of praise.
“God’s praise, His glory and His honor is for all nations throughout the whole earth,” Bandy said. “It wasn’t narrowly focused on Israel alone. The mission of God is grounded in the creation account of Genesis.
“That God is creator is not an accident of theology, or the inclusion of ancient Israelite mythology. Instead, it is central to the biblical message that God alone is the One True God who created all the people that He loves.”
Bandy told students that Israel repeatedly failed in their role to carry out the mission of God. They employed a “come and see” mentality, rather than taking the message of God’s glory to all people, tribes, nations and languages.
While Israel failed in its calling to be a servant – a light to all nations about the glory of God – the role of the servant ultimately is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, who applied the prophecies of Isaiah to himself, Bandy said.
In the New Testament, as conveyed in Acts 13, the church takes a mission approach to the message, rather than Israel’s “come and see” approach. Throughout the remainder of the New Testament, the church works toward the goal of sharing God’s love with all people.
“The entire message from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 pictures the mission of God beginning with the creation – his call of Abraham, his redemption of Israel, his sending of the Messiah, and then the spread of the Gospel message to all the ends of the earth – so that when we get to the end of the book we see that God has not failed to redeem this humanity,” Bandy said.
He challenged OBU students to act on the missional message of the Bible. He encouraged them to be “Great Commission Christians,” to take the Gospel message out to every nation of people. He encouraged the students to realize that the body of Christ is a global body – and that they are connected to every other believer.
“As a missional Christian, make the proclamation of the Gospel the central mission of your life regardless of the cost,” Bandy said.
Rather than focusing on a willingness to die for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bandy asked students to consider if they are willing to live for Christ each day.