(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections – see the previous 4 reflections here.)
I do feel there was an significant theme missing from the conference, and while I understand it’s a day conference and you can’t touch on everything, I think this is important. In fact, when I asked our staff team what ministry implications they think spring from the cross, they answered this one first… evangelism.
5. The cross defines the importance of gospel ministry
If God didn’t spare his only Son… if, when His eternal Son begged him for another way, He answered, “No – There is no other way”… then woe be to those who now suggest there is anything greater than declaring the work of His Son. As there is no other name compares to Jesus’ name to be saved, so there is no other work that compares to Jesus’ work of bringing all things together under himself. And we get to be part of that work!
Or put another way; The cross of Christ is the very heart of God’s message to the world! It’s not a message to the disciples, or to the Jews… its God’s message to the world. God does not put an enormous flaming message in the sky saying “I’m sorry” (as in Douglas Adam’s galaxy). Rather he puts His Son on a cross and says, “It’s done”.
6. The cross defines the extent of gospel ministry
At the cross, Jesus purchased men for God (Rev 5:9), he was the Sovereign Lord who bought people (2Pet 2:1), he reconciled all things in heaven and earth visible and invisible to God (Col 1:20), he was a ransom (Mark 10:45).
Everyone in the world, because of the cross, belongs to Jesus. He bought them. They are his. This means that evangelism is not simply inviting people to consider Jesus (though we rightly want people to do this), rather our driving motivation is the knowledge and conviction that Jesus is already their Lord. We are pleading for people to “Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2).
They are His. We are right to covet what rightly belongs to our Lord. The extent of the cross should make us want more and more and more and more people to bow the knee. The cross should cause in us a holy-discontent with the size of our churches.
7. The cross AND RESURRECTION provides the hope of gospel ministry
I know this might be a fudge, as the focus was really only meant to be on the cross, but when it comes to gospel ministry, the resurrection and the cross need to be held together don’t they?
The resurrected Christ now pours out his Spirit – and that spirit is the ONLY hope we have in gospel ministry. Without the resurrected Christ’s Spirit at work in us and those we serve there is no gospel ministry to speak of.
What’s more, Jesus promises to save people! The resurrected and ascended Christ should give us great hope and enduring confidence to keep praying for more, keep speaking to more, keep running events and courses and calling people to invite their friends… We should be courageous, risky, bold… not in our own strength, but because we believe that Jesus died to save and rose to reign.
The resurrected Christ should keep us from being disheartened, and keep us zealous in prayer and evangelism.
4 thoughts on “#Nexus2015 – Cross Shaped Ministry – What was missing…”
Love your observations, Dave. Bizarre to think a conference on the cross and gospel ministry didn’t talk much about evangelism!
“Everyone in the world, because of the cross, belongs to Jesus. He bought them. They are his.”
Don’t think that’s quite true…
He certainly didn’t buy everyone salvation… but how else is God going to bring all things together under him, by what other means will Christ put all things under his feet, if not by being declared (at the cross and resurrection) the king and judge of all (Acts 17)?
“They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” 2Pet 2:1
1. Being declared king and judge is different to ‘buying’ them.
2. I read that verse the same as I do the ‘falling away’ passages in Hebrews – speaking from a phenomenological point of view about apostates. From a human point of view they ‘used to be Christians’.
I think “buying” is a good word. Let’s look at it another way… Who owns me? Who owns every person now? Who owns every resurrected person; both the elect and the reprobate?
Jesus does, because of his cross and resurrection. He owns them by nature of being their lord. Jesus is not a “lord” like the lords of our world. He is Gods son, all creation is his inheritance. We are all his slaves. He owns us.
Didn’t he own us before his death and resurrection?
Yes, but only by virtue of being the word all things was created thru (col 1:15ff). But he in his incarnate nature is made lord of all by his death and resurrection. (Rom 14:9)
This is the basis of the great commission… The news of Jesus’ kingship needs to be announced to his subjects.
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