Thursday, October 2, 2008

God's Plan and Purpose to reach the Nations

Dr. Virgil Olson spoke last night at the Wednesday Night connection for adults. His topic was "God's Plan and Purpose For the Nations." Dr. Olson is 92 years old! It was a real blessing to listen to this seasoned saint. This was the fourth of seventeen lectures in a series entitled, "Growing a heart for the Nations."

Dr. Olson took us through a brief snapshot of church history and missions. Here is a summary of his Lecture:

  • Introduction- To have a heart for the nations we must understand God's plan and purpose for the nations. It is interesting to see how God appeared to Abraham and spoke to him regarding His plan, "Through you all the nations (gr. ethne) will be blessed." As we move on we see Isaiah's words to Israel, they were to be, "A light to the nations ("ethne"). In the New Testament, as we read of Jesus' lineage, we see that Jesus had Canaanite, Hittite, and Moabite blood. As doctor Olson pointed out, "Jesus not only shed His blood for the nations, He shared His blood for the nations." After making atonement for sins, He commissioned the Apostles to make disciples of the nations (ethne). The plan and purpose of God is to reach the nations for His glory.

  • Stage 1- The Roman empire is penetrated with the gospel. Paul spoke of the gospel, "that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven," and "All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing." The gospel spread from England to India during the first 500 years of the church. Many were saved and many took the gospel to the heathen. During this period, it also became important to define much of the scriptural teaching in the form of creeds and confessions in order to guard the church from heresy and false doctrines.

  • Stage 2- God used the Roman Catholic Church in order to Christianize Europe- A.D. 500-1500. When the Roman Empire began to fall, the church and the authority within the church was there to fill the void. By the grace of God, Europe was spared from invasions from Muslims and Vikings. Dr. Olson pointed out, "The church at the close of this period was the dominate force in Europe. God appears to use earthly vessels to expand his plan and purposes. Except for dedicated missionaries, the church was pretty much led by politically driven leaders. God uses imperfect vessels, to fulfill his plan and purpose. As Fredrick Faber 140 years ago wrote: 'There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea; There's a kindness in His justice which is more than liberty. For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.'"

  • Stage 3- Revival through Reformation and Pietism- 1500-1800. The period of the reformation is an interesting study of providence! When the protestant reformation took place it was at the perfect time. As Dr. Olson so wisely pointed out, "God in His plan and purpose puts all the major actors on the world stage to converge, the political, economic, research, science and religious." All these aspects were prime for a theological reformation and a breaking loose of the gospel into the hearts of the "common" people. The doctrines of Sola Fide, faith alone; Sola Scriptura, scripture alone; and the priesthood of believers were all main doctrines which were recovered during the reformation. Though the reformation wasn't missions minded per-se, it gave the theology for future missionaries to go in the truth and power of the gospel. Moravian missions was one strong movement during this time (at some point in the future I will post an in depth article on the Moravian missions movement and its effect on the world and certain individuals).

  • Stage 4- 1800-1850- Many missionaries took the gospel during this period of history. Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, Adoniram Judson, Baptist Society, William Carey went to India, Cameron Townsend, and many others. There was also a rise of Third World Missions during this stage of history.

  • Stage 5- God's plan- Revival of Frontier Movement-1850-2008. Ralph Winter and USCWM and WCIU in 1977. Also the identification of people groups has contributed vastly to the global spreading of the gospel.

  • Stage 6- God's plan and promise for the future- 2008 on. Haggai 2:6, "I will shake the nations, so that the treasures of the nations will come in." We have a hope that we rest on- Our mission will be successful because God has promised so! As it is written in the gospel of Matthew, "The Gospel of the Kingdom with be preached to all nations (ethne) and then the end will come."

Father in heaven,

I pray Lord that you would birth in me a desire to see the nations come to you. Open my eyes to see as you see. To love the nations as you love them. They are yours Lord. Your gospel is so beautiful and the work of your Son is perfect. Forgive me for hording this treasured possession. May it be that from this moment on you bring forth from my heart, from my soul, from the depth of me Lord, a passion to take this treasure to the nations. I am a clay pot Lord and your gospel is treasure! Thank you that you have chosen me and that I bear your truth. Let me find boldness Lord, Let me find hope in your Spirit and calling. For everyone who reads this with their eyes Lord, I ask that you would bless them with this same passion and zeal. Fill them with your fire and send them out Lord. In the Name above all names I pray- Amen.

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