Motivation for the Mission—9

Glory to God.
“… may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15)

We have been exploring motivations for the mission of telling others about Christ in hopes that we can find motivation to actually do so (series begins here). Another great motivation for telling about him is knowing that when we do, it gives glory to God.

We might surmise that telling others about Christ would glorify God, but we don’t have to guess. Scripture makes clear that God wants his mighty deeds to be made known. The things God has done are one of the primary ways he has revealed himself. Scripture often lists God’s mighty deeds as a basis for worship and devotion to him (Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Josh 24:2-15; Psalms 105-106). We also regularly see people praising him or inviting others to praise him based on the mighty deeds he has done (1 Chronicles 16:8; Psalm 71:15; 105:1; Isaiah 12:4).

Since God’s works reveal his nature, to tell his works is to declare his glory (1 Chronicles 16:24; Psalm 96:3; 104:31). Sometimes the biblical writers also focus on the fact that God’s wonderful deeds show his uniqueness—there is no one else like him (Exodus 15:11; 1 Kings 8:23-25; Psalm 35:10; 71:19; Micah 7:18-20).

Of special interest to us in this series of posts is God’s work in establishing his kingdom. Carefully read Psalm 145:10-12, noting the parallel phrases:

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Psalm 145:10-13

The parallel words in vv. 11 and 13 show that the kingdom of God has to do with the power and dominion of God. Verse 12 adds that his kingdom includes his doing mighty deeds. The very works of God themselves give thanks to him (v. 10a), and his saints bless him for what he has done (v. 10b). Thus, telling God’s works by which he established his kingdom is a way of giving him glory.

When God later worked powerfully through Christ to bring his kingdom more fully into the world, he continued to want his work to be made known. For example, the man who said he’d follow Jesus after his father died was told that instead he should “go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke (9:59-60). The same dynamic is at work when the man called Legion was set free from the spirits who had possessed him. He wanted to accompany Jesus, but Jesus did not allow him to. Instead, he told him to, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19). God wants his deeds to be made known.

In Colossians 1, Paul emphasizes how hard he labored to make known the mystery of Christ. In the New Testament, a mystery is something that was previously unknown but then later revealed. In this case the mystery is that Christ in us is our hope for glory (v. 27). Paul is eager to make known “the riches of the glory of this mystery” in Christ, so he proclaims him far and wide (v. 28). What God did in Christ is the mightiest of all God’s deeds, and he wants it to be told.

All these passages indicate that God works mightily and wants his deeds to be made known. This is all the more true of the mightiest of all God’s works, his work of establishing his kingdom among us through Christ the Lord. When we tell any of God’s works, and especially this one, we give glory to him, and of course, God is worthy of such glory (Revelation 4:11). Talking about God’s kingdom properly includes telling that it is the work of God—not our work. Telling about it in this way prevents us from thinking we ourselves have done something spectacular (cf. Acts 14:27).

This leads us at last to an important line from Paul’s description of his ministry of telling others about Christ. I’m not sure I would have thought to mention all of the above if not for this line. We noticed part of it in a previous post, but I’ll quote more of the passage this time:

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:13-15

When Paul told the message about what God did in Christ, the very telling of it glorified God, as noted above. When people also received the message and embraced Christ, they inevitably gave thanks to God for saving them (Romans 7:25; 2 Corinthians 9:12-15; Colossians 1:12). That enormous amount of thanksgiving also greatly glorified God. Thus, telling about God’s deeds gives him glory directly through the very telling of those deeds, and it also glorifies him indirectly through people accepting the message and giving him thanks. Thus, telling others the good news about Christ glorifies God doubly. This gives us another powerful motivation for evangelism.

This perspective sheds some light on another helpful passage. Paul told the Christians at Thessalonica that he yearned to be with them, and then told the reason why:

19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

It is obvious that this is a compliment to the Thessalonian Christians. Paul considered them to be his hope, joy, crown, and glory. What might not be immediately obvious, though, is that these words also say something about glorifying God. The picture painted by these words is that of Paul offering God a gift, namely, the gift of the Thessalonian believers! What do you get the God who has everything? Since God loves all people and wants them to come to him (2 Peter 3:9), there’s nothing better to get him than people. Though God himself is the one who established the kingdom and called us to be his coworkers, when we faithfully work with him it will often result in people coming to him. By telling others the good news about Christ, we can offer God a gift that he will truly love and that we can feel really good about.

If your goal is to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9), there’s no better way to do it than to offer him a gift of people. It’s another great motivator for reaching out to tell others about Christ.

For more on how Empowering Subjects is equipping workers for the mission of God in the world, check out our website here.

Published by Marvin Bryant

After serving as a minister for churches for forty years, Marvin founded the Empowering Subjects to equip subjects of the King to change the world like Jesus did.

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