The task is not a New Testament afterthought, peripheral to the work of the Church, but is basic to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the world.

A persistent pursuit in the Church during the past two decades has been the search for an adequate theology of missions. This search is relatively new, though the solid foundation of the foreign-missions enterprise in Christ’s missionary mandate (Matt. 28:18–20) has long been acknowledged. What people are now coming to realize, however, is that such a momentous task as that of making disciples in all the world, backed by a proclamation as authoritative as the Great Commission, must be deeply rooted in the whole creative purpose as well as the redemptive plan of God Almighty. And if this is so, then his Church needs to study and understand that involvement. In a word, the foreign-missions cause needs to be seen not only as resting on the command of Christ but also as commanded, because of its fundamental relation to the purpose of God in creation.

The reason for the Church’s mission to the nations, therefore, ought to be formulated in terms of the whole theological structure of the Church—integrated into its theological framework and given a biblically satisfying statement that is properly related to Christian doctrine. This is necessary both for the proper understanding of the relation of the missionary mandate to the Church’s theological structure and for a theology of mission worthy of the name. The basis for such a formulation and integration is found, I believe, in the covenant concept of Scripture.

Recent archaeological discoveries have illuminated the meaning and use of covenants in early biblical times. G. E. Mendenhall has shown the widespread use of the covenant treaty ...

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