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Home Church Planting/Missional Summary of The God who Sends

Summary of The God who Sends

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Summary of God Who Sends – by

Francis M. Dubose - Compiled by Ed Stetzer


Being Sent and the Pentateuch

I mentioned last week that I have been reading an excellent book by Dr. Francis DuBose

titled “God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission.” The book was published in

1983 when Dr. DuBose was professor and director of World Missions Center at Golden

Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. In chapter 3 DuBose presents a survey of the

theological sending passages within 7 Scriptural categories, the first being the Pentateuch.

While DeBuse hightlights multiple sending passages in the Pentateuch there are two

specific references that seem to be most significant. The first is the climatic use of the

sending in Genesis as seen in Joseph’s words to his brothers, “God sent me before you”

(Gen. 45:5).

DuBose writes:

That Joseph should discern the hand of God in his getting to Egypt was remarkable in

light of the ungodly deeds which were the human side of the story. Three times Joseph is

explicit in his use of the sending (vv. 5,7-8). “God sent me before you to preserve life. . . .

to preserve for you a remnant on earth,” he emphasizes. This passage is profound in its

covenantal and salvific implications. There is more than providence here. Joseph’s words

reach both back to the Abrahamic covenant and forward to the Exodus deliverance. The

Hebrew people later corroborated Joseph’s conviction that God had sent him to Egypt,

and it is not surprising that Hebrew hymnody repeated the sending language in the

celebration of God’s redemptive leadership in Joseph’s life. The sending of Joseph was

seen as a prelude to the sending of Moses and Aaron (Ps. 105:17, 26) and, therefore, of

the Exodus.

The second major example of sending in the Pentateuch that speaks to me is in the book

of Exodus, where there are more than 17 references to the sending, all of them related in

some way ot the mighty salvation event of the Exodus. Once again DuBose writes:

In 3:10-15, there are five references to the sending. God said to Moses, “I will send you”

(v. 10) and “I have sent you” (v. 12). In addition, he said to Moses that he was to tell the

people “the God of your fathers has sent me to you” (v. 13); “I AM has sent me to you”

(v. 14). “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to

you” (v. 15). Thus the great salvation event of the Old Testament was to be accomplished

by God’s mission through Moses. Moreover, the fact that in this sending context God

revealed himself, not simply as the covenant God of the patriarchs, but for the first time

as Yahweh, adds a sublime dimension to it. As the story of God’s sending of Moses

unfolds, the language of the sending attends the descriptions of the succeeding events

(4:13, 28; 5:22; 7:16).

Being Sent and the Prophets

In Francis DuBose’s book “God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission” the

author highlights the sending theme found throughout scripture by surveying the

theological sending passages within 7 Scriptural categories. Last time I shared a

portion from the book concerning the theme of sending found in both the Historical and

Poetical books. This week I want to review the emphasis on sending in the prophetic

books of the Old Testament.

The prophets were first and foremost sent men whom God had sent. The dramatic call

and sending of Isaiah is recorded in 6:8: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? . . .

Here am I! Send me.” In God’s call to Jeremiah, he said: “all to whom I send you you

shall go” (1:7). Haggai 1:12 emphasizes that the people had obeyed the words of the

prophet Haggai whom the Lord had sent. Zechariah declared that the Lord had sent him

to the nations (2:8), and he repeated this declaration a number of times (2:9; 4:9; 6:15).

The prophets emphasized strongly the fact that God sent his prophets to do his will.

Jeremiah spoke a number of times of the fact that God repeatedly and persistently sent his

servants the prophets to the people (7:25; 25:4; 26:5; 29:19; 35:15; 44:4). God sent his

messengers even though they were not always what they should be (Isa. 42:19 ).

Even the false prophets are evidence that God is in the prophet-sending business. God

simply denies that he has sent these false prophets (Jer. 14:14 ; 23:21; 27:15; 28:15; 29:9;

Ezek. 13:6 ).

Furthermore, DuBose speaks of both a dominant theme of judgment and one of God’s

providential care and blessings found within the sending theme of the prophets. In

regards to judgment he writes:

Isaiah spoke of the word of God’s judgment sent to his people (9:8); of God sending

judgment on a godless nation (10:6); of God sending a wasting sickness among the stout

warriors (10:16). Jeremiah spoke of God sending serpents among his wayward people

(8:17); of God sending a sword after his disobedient children (9:16); of God sending for

fishers and hunters to fish out and track down his people and to judge them (16:16); of

God sending the judgment of rejection upon his people for their sins (23:38); of God

sending his people out of their homeland and into captivity (24:5); of God sending the

sword, famine, and pestilence to judge the people (24:10). Other references to God

sending various forms of judgment in Jeremiah are: 25:9, 15-17, 27; 26:12, 15; 29: 17, 20;

43:10; 48:12; 49:37; 51:2.

In regards to the theme of God’s care and blessings, DuBose writes:

Isaiah spoke of God sending to Babylon to rescue his people (43:14) and of God’s word

prospering wherever God sends it (55:11). Daniel spoke of God sending his angels to

deliver the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace (3:28) and of God sending his angel to

protect him from the jaws of the lion (6:22). Joel spoke of God sending his people grain,

wine, and oil (2:19). He also spoke of God’s providential blessing of renewal which will

come after the army of pestilence which God had sent among them (2:25). Zechariah

spoke of God’s providential care through the company of angels “whom the Lord has

sent to patrol the earth” (1:10).

Later DuBose highlights one of the most significant sending passages in the prophets

when he discusses Isaiah 61 :

In the climactic Isaiah 61 , the servant of the Lord declares: “The Spirit of the Lord God is

upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted” (61:1).

In the following list of the redemptive deeds of God’s servant, everything proceeds from

the verb sent.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion -

to give them a garland instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit (vv. 1-3).

How ought the sending emphasis in the Old Testament affect our understanding of God?

Of the church? Of the Christian life? Should this play a significant part in a missional

theology of the church? How does the overall sending emphasis influence your thinking?

Being Sent and the Gospels

As the Old Testament closes with the promise of the special messenger whom God will

send as a forerunner of the Messiah (Mal. 3:1 ; 4:5), the New Testament begins with the

announcement of the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah, John the Baptist, a man sent from

God (Matt. 11:10-15 ; Mark 1:2-8 ; Luke 7:18-28 ; John 1:6-8 ).

DuBose writes:

Of the some sixty references in John, almost all are theological, and some forty-four refer

to the title of God as “one who sends” and of Christ as “one who is sent.” It cannot be

overemphasized how deeply the sending concept relates to Jesus’ identity. Almost every

page of the Fourth Gospel breathes with a passage in which Jesus expressed who he is in

terms of his sense of being sent, his sense of mission. He came not to do his will but the

will of the Father who sent him (4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40). He came not to speak his words but

the words of the Father who sent him (7:16-18; 8:26-29; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8). He came

not to do his own work but the work of the Father who sent him (4:34; 5:36; 9:4). Jesus

acknowledged that his very life rested with the Father who had sent him (4:34; 6:57). The

sending in John speaks to the very heart of the gospel. “For God sent the Son into the

world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (3:17).

Finally in John are the significant references concerning the sending of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus spoke of the Father sending the Holy Spirit in his name (14:26) and of his sending

the Spirit from the Father (15:26).

Although to a much lesser degree than the Gospel of John, the Synoptics record Jesus’

sense of being sent as well (Matt. 15:24 ; Mark 9:37 ; Luke 4:18 ; 4:43; 9:48; 10:16). The

Synoptic Gospels also speak of the special missions on which Jesus sent the 12 and the

70 (Matt. 10:5 ; Mark 6:7 ; Luke 10:1 ).

How important is it for the church to recognize the sending theme in the Gospels? How

might our mode of ministry be affected by recapturing the sense of being sent?

I find it extremely helpful in recognizing that we are not merely the called people of God,

but we are the called and sent people of God. The Father and the Son have sent us

(individually and collectively) into the world, empowered by the Spirit, to participate in

the Kingdom. However, will we allow the profound sense of being sent be at the center of

our Christian lives?

Being Sent in Acts & Epistles

In Francis DuBose’s book “God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission” the

author highlights the theological sending passages within 7 Scriptural categories. In past

weeks I have shared a short except from each of these categories, including: the

Pentateuch, the Historical & Poetical books, the Prophets, the Gospels and finally today

the book of Acts and the Epistles.

Peter’s sermon employs the sending motif as he affirmed God’s salvation in his Son:

“that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus. God, having raised up his servant,

sent him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness”

(3:20, 26).

Moreover, DuBose writes:

Acts emphasizes the sending as a part of the unfolding work of God through his people,

both individually and collectively. The individual aspect is well illustrated through Paul.

When Paul was blinded by the Damascan vision, God sent his servant Ananias to him

that through his prayers Paul might receive his sight (9:17). Paul’s special mission to the

Gentiles is described by Luke specifically in the language of the sending (22:21; 26:17).

Paul also spoke in a special way of the salvation of God being “sent to the Gentiles”

(28:28). Paul adopted the title apostle, “sent one,” and defended it in some way as

comparable to the apostleship of the original twelve. In Acts 14:14 , however, he and

Barnabas are called apostoloi, “sent ones,” in a different sense, in a way perhaps

foreshadowing and corresponding to the missionary in a later historic sense.

In the Epistles of Paul there are several very clear uses of the sending theme. Speaking to

the heart of the Gospel, Paul wrote: “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born

under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive

adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5 ).

In Romans 8:3 , Paul emphasized the necessity of God sending his Son in the likeness of

sinful flesh because of the ineffectiveness of the law. “For what the law was powerless to

do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son. . .” Paul

also made a strong point that it takes more than preaching for hearing and believing. The

proclamation must have a special authority: “How can men preach except they be sent?”

(Rom. 10:15 ).

In the General Epistles, Peter speaks of the “Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12 ).

1 John speaks of sending being at the very heart of the Gospel: “God sent his only Son

into the world, so that we might live through him . . . he loved us and sent his Son as an

atoning sacrifice for our sins . . . . And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent

his Son as the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:9-10 , 14).

Compiled by Ed Stetzer

 

 

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