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Cape Town Commitment Part 1 Sections 8-10 The Gospel, God’s People and God’s Mission

The first part of the commitment closes with love for the gospel, for God’s people, and for God’s mission.

The first part of the commitment closes with love for the gospel, for God’s people, and for God’s mission.

Commitment to sharing the gospel is emphasized in a context of need because of the depth of human sin. The gospel is presented in terms of dealing with sin and the enablement for new life expressed in terms of liberation from evil and reconciliation, all rooted in grace, not works. Works are a product of salvation. That salvation brings transformation of life and a call to obey.

The love for God’s people is seen as a key commandment Jesus gave. This love calls for working toward unity, honesty and solidarity. The unity is a means of testifying to God’s work among us. Honesty means that sometimes confrontation is required in contending for truth. Solidarity means giving support to the church that is suffering and experiences persecution.

Mission stands at the center of biblical revelation about how God restores the fallen creation. So we are called to share in this mission, which means being a light among the nations. The scope of evangelism is defined as 

‘Evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God…The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world… We affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and humankind, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ…The salvation we proclaim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.’ In fulfilling this we both share the Word of the gospel and engage the world in life.

We are to reflect the character of God and work for justice and peace in the world as we share the revelation of God’s work of grace in Jesus Christ. Part 1 closes with an affirmation to renew this covenant commitment to God.

Here is Part 1, sections 8-10.

8. We love the gospel of God

As disciples of Jesus, we are gospel people. The core of our identity is our passion for the biblical good news of the saving work of God through Jesus Christ. We are united by our experience of the grace of God in the gospel and by our motivation to make that gospel of grace known to the ends of the earth by every possible means.

A)    We love the good news in a world of bad news. The gospel addresses the dire effects of human sin, failure and need. Human beings rebelled against God, rejected God’s authority and disobeyed God’s Word. In this sinful state, we are alienated from God, from one another and from the created order. Sin deserves God’s condemnation. Those who refuse to repent and ‘do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will be punished with eternal destruction and shut out from the presence of God.’ [35]The effects of sin and the power of evil have corrupted every dimension of human personhood (spiritual, physical, intellectual and relational). They have permeated cultural, economic, social, political and religious life through all cultures and all generations of history. They have caused incalculable misery to the human race and damage to God’s creation. Against this bleak background, the biblical gospel is indeed very good news.

B)   We love the story the gospel tells. The gospel announces as good news the historical events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. As the son of David, the promised Messiah King, Jesus is the one through whom alone God established his kingdom and acted for the salvation of the world, enabling all nations on earth to be blessed, as he promised Abraham. Paul defines the gospel in stating that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.’ The gospel declares that, on the cross of Christ, God took upon himself, in the person of his Son and in our place, the judgment our sin deserves. In the same great saving act, completed, vindicated and declared through the resurrection, God won the decisive victory over Satan, death and all evil powers, liberated us from their power and fear, and ensured their eventual destruction. God accomplished the reconciliation of believers with himself and with one another across all boundaries and enmities. God also accomplished his purpose of the ultimate reconciliation of all creation, and in the bodily resurrection of Jesus has given us the first fruits of the new creation. ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’ [36]How we love the gospel story!

C)   We love the assurance the gospel brings. Solely through trusting in Christ alone, we are united with Christ through the Holy Spirit and are counted righteous in Christ before God. Being justified by faith we have peace with God and no longer face condemnation. We receive the forgiveness of our sins. We are born again into a living hope by sharing Christ’s risen life. We are adopted as fellow heirs with Christ. We become citizens of God’s covenant people, members of God’s family and the place of God’s dwelling. So by trusting in Christ, we have full assurance of salvation and eternal life, for our salvation ultimately depends, not on ourselves, but on the work of Christ and the promise of God. ‘Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’[37]How we love the gospel’s promise!

D)    We love the transformation the gospel produces. The gospel is God’s life-transforming power at work in the world. ‘It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.’[38]Faith alone is the means by which the blessings and assurance of the gospel are received. Saving faith however never remains alone, but necessarily shows itself in obedience. Christian obedience is ‘faith expressing itself through love.’ [39]We are not saved by good works, but having been saved by grace alone we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works.’[40]‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’[41]Paul saw the ethical transformation that the gospel produces as the work of God’s grace – grace which achieved our salvation at Christ’s first coming, and grace that teaches us to live ethically in the light of his second coming.[42]For Paul, ‘obeying the gospel’ meant both trusting in grace, and then being taught by grace.[43]Paul’s missional goal was to bring about ‘the obedience of faith’ among all nations.[44]This strongly covenantal language recalls Abraham. Abraham believed God’s promise, which was credited to him as righteousness, and then obeyed God’s command in demonstration of his faith. ‘By faith Abraham…obeyed.’[45]Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ are the first acts of obedience the gospel calls for; ongoing obedience to God’s commands is the way of life that gospel faith enables, through the sanctifying Holy Spirit.[46]Obedience is thus the living proof of saving faith and the living fruit of it. Obedience is also the test of our love for Jesus. ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.’[47]‘We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.’[48]How we love the gospel’s power!

9. We love the people of God

The people of God are those from all ages and all nations whom God in Christ has loved, chosen, called, saved and sanctified as a people for his own possession, to share in the glory of Christ as citizens of the new creation. As those, then, whom God has loved from eternity to eternity and throughout all our turbulent and rebellious history, we are commanded to love one another. For ‘since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,’ and thereby ‘be imitators of God…and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.’ Love for one another in the family of God is not merely a desirable option but an inescapable command. Such love is the first evidence of obedience to the gospel, the necessary expression of our submission to Christ’s Lordship, and a potent engine of world mission. [49]

A)    Love calls for unity. Jesus’ command that his disciples should love one another is linked to his prayer that they should be one. Both the command and the prayer are missional  –  ‘that the world may know you are my disciples’, and that ‘the world may know that you [the Father] sent me’.[50]A most powerfully convincing mark of the truth of the gospel is when Christian believers are united in love across the barriers of the world’s inveterate divisions – barriers of race, colour, gender, social class, economic privilege or political alignment. However, few things so destroy our testimony as when Christians mirror and amplify the very same divisions among themselves. We urgently seek a new global partnership within the body of Christ across all continents, rooted in profound mutual love, mutual submission, and dramatic economic sharing without paternalism or unhealthy dependency. And we seek this not only as a demonstration of our unity in the gospel, but also for the sake of the name of Christ and the mission of God in all the world.

B)    Love calls for honesty. Love speaks truth with grace. No one loved God’s people more than the prophets of Israel and Jesus himself. Yet no one confronted them more honestly with the truth of their failure, idolatry and rebellion against their covenant Lord. And in doing so, they called God’s people to repent, so that they could be forgiven and restored to the service of God’s mission. The same voice of prophetic love must be heard today, for the same reason. Our love for the Church of God aches with grief over the ugliness among us that so disfigures the face of our dear Lord Jesus Christ and hides his beauty from the world – the world that so desperately needs to be drawn to him.

C)    Love calls for solidarity. Loving one another includes especially caring for those who are persecuted and in prison for their faith and witness. If one part of the body suffers, all parts suffer with it. We are all, like John, ‘companions in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus’.[51]We commit ourselves to share in the suffering of members of the body of Christ throughout the world, through information, prayer, advocacy, and other means of support. We see such sharing, however, not merely as an exercise of pity, but longing also to learn what the suffering Church can teach and give to those parts of Christ’s body that are not suffering in the same way. We are warned that the Church that feels itself at ease in its wealth and self-sufficiency may, like Laodicea, be the Church that Jesus sees as the most blind to its own poverty, and from which he himself feels a stranger outside the door.[52]

Jesus calls all his disciples together to be one family among the nations, a reconciled fellowship in which all sinful barriers are broken down through his reconciling grace. This Church is a community of grace, obedience and love in the communion of the Holy Spirit, in which the glorious attributes of God and gracious characteristics of Christ are reflected and God's multi-coloured wisdom is displayed. As the most vivid present expression of the kingdom of God, the Church is the community of the reconciled who no longer live for themselves, but for the Saviour who loved them and gave himself for them.

10. We love the mission of God

We are committed to world mission, because it is central to our understanding of God, the Bible, the Church, human history and the ultimate future. The whole Bible reveals the mission of God to bring all things in heaven and earth into unity under Christ, reconciling them through the blood of his cross. In fulfilling his mission, God will transform the creation broken by sin and evil into the new creation in which there is no more sin or curse. God will fulfil his promise to Abraham to bless all nations on the earth, through the gospel of Jesus, the Messiah, the seed of Abraham. God will transform the fractured world of nations that are scattered under the judgment of God into the new humanity that will be redeemed by the blood of Christ from every tribe, nation, people and language, and will be gathered to worship our God and Saviour. God will destroy the reign of death, corruption and violence when Christ returns to establish his eternal reign of life, justice and peace. Then God, Immanuel, will dwell with us, and the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign for ever and ever.[53]

A)    Our participation in God’s mission. God calls his people to share his mission. The Church from all nations stands in continuity through the Messiah Jesus with God’s people in the Old Testament. With them we have been called throughAbraham and commissioned to be a blessing and a light to the nations. With them, we are to be shaped and taught through the law and the prophets to be a community of holiness, compassion and justice in a world of sin and suffering. We have been redeemed through the crossand resurrection of Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to what God has done in Christ. The Church exists to worship and glorify God for alleternity and to participate inthe transforming mission of God within history. Our mission is wholly derived from God’s mission, addresses the whole of God’s creation, and is grounded at its centre in the redeeming victory of the cross. This is the people to whom we belong, whose faith we confess and whose mission we share.

B)    The integrity of our mission. The source of all our mission is what God has done in Christ for the redemption of the whole world, as revealed in the Bible. Our evangelistic task is to make that good news known to all nations. The context of all our mission is the world in which we live, the world of sin, suffering, injustice, and creational disorder, into which God sends us to love and serve for Christ’s sake. All our mission must therefore reflect the integration of evangelism and committed engagement in the world, both being ordered and driven by the whole biblical revelation of the gospel of God. 

‘Evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God…The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world… We affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and humankind, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ…The salvation we proclaim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.’[54]

‘Integral mission is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. If we ignore the world, we betray the Word of God which sends us out to serve the world. If we ignore the Word of God, we have nothing to bring to the world.’[55]

 

We commit ourselves to the integral and dynamic exercise of all dimensions of mission to which God calls his Church.

  • God commands us to make known to all nations the truth of God’s revelation and the gospel of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, calling all people to repentance, faith, baptism and obedient discipleship.
  • God commands us to reflect his own character through compassionate care for the needy, and to demonstrate the values and the power of the kingdom of God in striving for justice and peace and in caring for God’s creation.

In response to God’s boundless love for us in Christ, and out of our overflowing love for him, we rededicate ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, fully to obey all that God commands, with self-denying humility, joy and courage. We renew this covenant with the Lord – the Lord we love because he first loved us.

 

[35]Genesis 3; 2 Thessalonians 1:9

[36]Mark 1:1, 14-15; Romans 1:1-4; Romans 4;1 Corinthians 15:3-5; 1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:14-18; Colossians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:19

[37]Romans 4; Philippians 3:1-11; Romans 5:1-2; 8:1-4; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3; Galatians 3:26 – 4:7; Ephesians 2:19-22; John 20:30-31; 1 John 5:12-13; Romans 8:31-39

[38]Romans 1:16

[39]Galatians 5:6

[40]Ephesians 2:10

[41]James 2:17

[42]Titus 2:11-14

[43]Romans 15:18-19; 16:19; 2 Corinthians 9:13

[44]Romans 1:5; 16:26

[45]Genesis 15:6; Galatians 6:6-9; Hebrews 11:8; Genesis 22:15-18; James 2:20-24

[46]Romans 8:4

[47]John 14:21

[48]1 John 2:3

[49]2 Thessalonians 2:13-14;1 John 4:11; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 4:9-10; John 13:35

[50]John 13:34-35; 17:21

[51]Hebrews 13:1-3; 1 Corinthians 12:26; Revelation 1:9

[52]Revelation 3:17-20

[53]Ephesians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:20; Genesis 1 – 12; Revelation 21 – 22

[54]The Lausanne Covenant, Paragraphs 4 and 5

[55]The Micah Declaration on Integral Mission

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2 Comments

  • Avatar

    Karl Hand

    love and proof-texts

    I have to say I am so excited that finally a confessional statement mentions love…  how the apostle's nicene and chalcedonian formulas, and the great reformed statements missed this has always mystified me.

    But proof-texts?  Really?  Surely someone has told these people that a text without a context is a pretext for a proof-text!

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  • Avatar

    Darrell L. Bock

    Proof texts?

    Not sure what you mean by proof texts. I think the choices of texts inthe statement are pretty judicious.

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