Book Brief: “God’s Love Compels Us”
Every year, College Park Church spends two weeks to specifically focus on the call to fulfill the Great Commission during an October event called REACH. Last month, I was motivated to read the book of the month. The resource, God’s Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World, is comprised of seven pre-conference talks at The Gospel Coalition’s 2013 national conference.
I found the book very helpful and, with this quick synopsis, hope to encourage you to dive deeper into this resource as well. God’s Love Compels Us isn’t merely about missions. It’s about the gospel of Christ and the glory of God. Here are seven important takeaways:
- D. A. Carson explains that the heart of biblical mission “is tied to gospel truth, is discharged with unqualified integrity, reverberates with God’s passion to display the glory of his Son Jesus Christ, and is heralded in the context of paradoxical self-death, which, nevertheless, overflows with the transforming life of Christ” (25).
- “What makes the Great Commission great?” David Platt asks this question before unpacking how the Great Commission is so great because it is “salvation for others, which leads to glory for God” (41). God’s glory is what drives passion for missions.
- We need serious courage in ministry and missions because of the real possibility of suffering. Yet, as John Piper explains, living boldly for Christ results in joy because we will receive a reward in our heavenly dwelling when we reunite with the Lord.
- Ambassadors for Christ exist to deliver a message, must get the message right, are not at liberty to change the message, cannot leave the message undelivered, and cannot consider this world our home. “Our pronouncement of the gospel message should be in everything we are and do,” J. Mack Stiles writes (72).
- One common objection to Christian missions is that it arrogantly assumes everyone needs to accept Jesus. Aren’t all paths to God equally valid? Amidst this theological war zone, Andrew Davis shares that, “The Bible makes it plain that sinners are saved only by the shed blood of Christ. This is the only plan for salvation” (87). In God’s sovereignty, I felt uniquely positioned to evaluate Davis’s argument because I recently took a class on religious pluralism at a local, non-Christian university. I’ve read the arguments against the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus alone and have found them wanting. Davis skillfully articulates why exclusivism is the only logical conclusion, and why, because of this, evangelism is a responsibility for all Christians. We must evangelize not out of a sense of superiority but because Christ’s love compels us.
- A biblical, theological overview of suffering recognizes the goodness and sovereignty of God, believes that suffering serves a purpose in God’s good plan, and distinguishes between common suffering and Christian suffering. “Suffering,” Michael Oh says, “has a missional purpose with global implications” (113). Paradoxically, suffering can lead to the spread of the gospel.
- Stephen Um reminds us that there are great injustices in the world and that justice is at the heart of God’s character. As God’s people, we must reflect his justice to the world as we seek to love our neighbors the way God loves them. Um points out three ways we are prone to deny justice to others: (1) we’re more concerned with outward appearances, (2) we seek self-justifying obedience, and (3) we’re narcissistically self-absorbed. Um writes, “We can be radically generous in doing justice because God was radically generous in the way he justly justified us!” (129). He points to our justification in Jesus as the foundation upon which we work toward “ordering the world according to the righteousness of God” (117).