Examining how we think… about salvation and missions…
This week, Ed Stetzer began a new theme on “Mondays are for Missiology” and his topic was how missions relates to the role of salvation in the missional conversation. We want to focus on how salvation “plays out” in the missional discussion.
A few of the prominent views of salvation include:
- salvation by works or good deeds – the idea of the scale tipping more to those good things that one has done rather than the sinful things… This idea is even seen is Islam. The misdirected focus on good deeds also contributes to the popular idea of Jesus just being a role model to follow rather than Savior. In addition, the focus on good works drives people to misplace the priority on the “cause” rather than Christ. The social justice movement can lean this way if Christ is not the foundation and ultimate purpose for which the ministry is done. I am a strong proponent for ministering to the needs of the poor and hurting just as Jesus did. There should be a balanced approach of sharing the good news of Christ in the midst of social justice ministries.
- salvation by “character” – he or she is a “good person” therefore, of course, they will be saved.
- salvation by chance – I will do the best I can, but in the end it is up to God.
- salvation by grace – accomplished only by Christ, and received by faith alone.
How one views salvation directly correlates with how missions is manifested in one’s life. Many may not have even stopped to think about how their beliefs affect their missional actions – or even whether those actions are intentional or not. As an evangelical Christian, I am convinced that there is no other way to receive salvation than by grace through Christ. In our current culture (including those in my family), salvation only through Christ is not a popular sentiment. I am often viewed as narrow-minded, uneducated, and/or intolerant. My view of salvation drives my purpose and priority of sharing truth with those in my life. I view my life through a missionary lens and feel that wherever my beautiful feet wander, I am to share the good news of Jesus.
Ed has proposed some challenging questions: So what is your understanding of salvation and how it is mediated? Do you agree that missiology is closely connected soteriology– that one’s take on the “reach” of salvation determines the range of one’s missionary enterprise? Do you have any concerns that within the missional conversation some emphasize the example of Jesus over the salvific work of Jesus? Or that the vertical dimension of the God incarnate, Jesus Christ, saving men and women unto Himself is under-emphasized by some and rather a horizontal “conversion” towards one another is the primary focus? Please respond in the comments. Let’s get this discussion going!
Here are some others to check out as we process the discussion: