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Relevant Biblical Passages: Matt. 8:5-13; 9:1-8; Mark 5:1-19; John 5:1-17; Acts 4

Hope: Motivation for Mission: All of the primary passages on which this week’s study is based have to do with miracles of physical healing, though Jesus almost always attaches spiritual lessons as well. This week’s lesson focuses on the varied reasons as to why believers might want to share and why non-believers might want to listen.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Motives for those who share. When thinking of possible motives for mission and outreach, is it possible to rank the following motivations for effectiveness and purity?
    1. The call to be a bearer of good news, hope, and healing. John 5:1-18, the healing of the man paralyzed for 38 years, is just one example of Jesus’ efforts to bring good news and hope to suffering people. Wouldn’t most of us revel in the opportunity to go around healing people of their aches and pains?
    2. The call to warn the people: Tell them the bad news or else. Ezekiel 3:18-21 declares that if a messenger does not pass on a message of warning, God will hold the messenger responsible. The language is vivid: “Their blood I will require at your hand.”
    3. The irresistible impulse simply to share one’s joy. In 1 John 1:1-4, the apostle is eager to share the good news: “We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is the with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
  2. Motives for those who hear. At the spiritual level, Scripture suggests that God is willing to work with each of the following motivations as means for bringing people to him. Is it possible to rank them for effectiveness and purity?
    1. Fear of not being in heaven, not being saved.
    2. Fear of God’s judgment.
    3. Anticipation of living in God’s presence.
  3. Goals for the church:To generalize, the outreach or “mission” of Christians (i.e. the mission of the church) can be subsumed under three major headings:
    1. Spiritual (teaching the truths of the Gospel)
    2. Health and physical welfare of the individual (feeding the hungry; healing the sick)
    3. Societal ills (oppressive and ineffective aspects of government, business, culture)

Typically, more conservative Christians are interested in A (the spiritual), then B (welfare of the individual), but least of all in C (societal ills). Just as typically, more liberal Christians are interested in B (health of the individual) and C (societal ills), but less so in A (the spiritual). Shouldn’t Christians be interested in all three?

Illustration: In January 1997, The Atlantic Monthly published an article entitled “Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity.” It describes how Norman Borlaug, an agronomist, went about revolutionizing the world’s approach to agriculture, saving millions of lives as a result. The article states: “The form of agriculture that Borland preaches may have prevented a billion deaths” (p. 73). He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 but is scarcely known in his own country, the US. The article concludes with the sentence: “Norman Borlaug has already saved more lives than any other person who ever lived” (p. 82). Agronomy: Is this the kind of “good news” work that the church should be doing – through ADRA, for example? Is this the Gospel?

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