Newbigin on the Mission of the Church

The mission of the Church is to be understood, can only be rightly understood, in terms of the trinitarian model. It is the Father who holds all things in his hand, whose providence upholds all things, whose tender mercies are over all his works, where he is acknowledged and where he is denied, and who has never left himself without witness to the heart and conscience and reason of any human being. In the incarnation of the Son he made known his nature and purpose fully and completely, for in Jesus “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). But this presence was a veiled presence in order that there might be the possibility of repentance and freely given faith. In the Church the mission of Jesus is continued in the same veiled form. It is continued through the presence and active working of the Holy Spirit, who is the presence of the reign of God in foretaste. The mission of the Church to all nations, to all human communities in all their diversity and in all their particularity, is itself the mighty work of God, the sign of the inbreaking of the kingdom. The Church is not so much the agent of the mission as the locus of the mission. It is God who acts in the power of his Spirit, doing might works, creating signs of a new age, working secretly in the hearts of men and women to draw them to Christ. When they are so drawn, they become part of a community which claims no masterful control of history, but continues to bear witness to the real meaning and goal of history by a life which – in Paul’s words – by always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus becomes the place where the risen life of Jesus is made available for others (2 Cor. 4:10).

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, p. 118.


One response to “Newbigin on the Mission of the Church

  1. I see that you also have a personal blog. I post my thoughts on this excerpt on this page too, I hope you don’t mind.

    Ok, this is relevant…I like this very much!

    Newbigin speaks of the present church community as an actual living, breathing “model” of what it’s going to be like when God returns to FINALLY dwell with man as God originally envisioned. Whereby through the present community of Christ, the presence of God is manifested…veiled, but VERY real to those in the community…even to those outside the community who are seeking. Salt and LIGHT..YES INDEED!

    This is pretty much what the sampling spoke to me. This excerpt also seems to identify the church as the axis of outreach into the community…drawing humankind to Christ! While there is no “masterful” control of history by the church, the church gets to participate in history with God leading the way! SO VERY COOL…Christ followers get to participate! God involves his adopted children in what his final sovereign result will be!

    This is one of the most beautiful passages to me. I love the hope spoken here!

    What the The Bible says about the day FINALLY coming:

    Revelation 21

    1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

    2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

    4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

    ((No more “sea” jumps of the pages to me!)))

    You know…if the church would more often work toward this living, breathing model community of Christ followers…(the seas) that separate Christ followers AND seekers would evaporate!

    Thanks for this wonderful teaching and thought provoking post. I’ve been sampling some of the sermons, particularly on community! The teaching and preaching looks to be solid and relevant. I may take a visit soon.


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