Conviction #3—Worship Is the Fuel and the Goal of Missions.
Back in the mid-80s, God drove home to many of us that a God-centered theology must be a missionary theology. If you say that you love the glory of God, the test of your authenticity is whether you love the spread of that glory among all the peoples of the world.
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. God’s passion is to be known and honored and worshipped among all the peoples. To worship him is to share that passion for his supremacy among the nations.
In heaven, there will be no missions; only worship. Gathered around the throne will be worshipers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 7:7). Thus, the goal of missions will have been accomplished. But until that is the case, true worshipers who have tasted the goodness of the Lord will not be content until they have invited the nations to join them in the feast.
Worship is an expansive and a contagious joy, and thus it becomes the fuel for missions. A shared joy is a doubled joy. Gladness in God will produce in us the same yearnings felt by the psalmist, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” (Psalm 67:3-4).
Conviction #4—God’s Passion to Be Known and Praised by All the Peoples of the Earth Is Not Selfish, but Loving.
God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the ultimately loving act. And the reason is easy to see. The one and only Reality in the universe that can fully and eternally satisfy the human heart is the glory of God—the beauty of all that God is for us in Jesus. Therefore, God would not be loving unless he upholds and displays and magnifies that glory for our everlasting enjoyment.
If God were to forsake or dishonor or disregard the infinite worth of his own glory, he would be unloving in the same way that a husband who commits suicide is unloving.
Perhaps the best way to see that God’s passion for his fame is an expression of his love is to notice that God’s mercy is the pinnacle of his glory. This is what he wants to be honored for above all else. You can see this in Romans 15:9 where Paul says that the reason Christ came into the world was so “that the nations might glorify God for his mercy.”
Do you see how the convictions already mentioned come together in that little phrase: “glorify God for his mercy?” God gets the glory; we get the mercy. God is praised; we are saved. God gets the honor; we get the joy. God is glorified for his fullness; we are satisfied with his mercy.
So to sum up our convictions so far, there are two basic problems in the universe: God is profaned and people are perishing. God will not suffer his name to be dishonored indefinitely, but will act mightily to vindicate his name and glorify himself among the nations. God has planned a way to do this by saving the perishing through the death of his Son, Jesus, and making them a worshipping people who enjoy his glory.
In the sacrifice of his own Son for the sake of the nations, God reveals the pinnacle of his glory—his mercy. So the salvation of the nations and the glorification of God happen together in missions. They are not at odds. It is a loving thing for God to pursue his glory like this.