Our Mission Statement, March 2015

Our Mission Statement

Meditation on Numbers 20:10-13 and Matthew 28:19-20

“And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’” – Numbers 20:12

The disobedience of Moses and Aaron at Kadesh-barnea came at a great cost. The Lord had used these two men, these two brothers, to rescue his people out of slavery in Egypt, to take his people to Mount Sinai to receive the Law of the Lord, and to lead them to the Promised Land. These two men had seen God’s power on display time and time again. They had seen God’s grace in sparing the Israelites from the plagues that devastated the Egyptians. They had seen God’s judgment in the deaths of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram when they rebelled against their leadership (Num. 16). They had a track record of faithfulness despite the people of Israel’s faithlessness. They had been affirmed as God’s chosen spokesmen to the people of Israel (Num. 12). And yet this one act of disobedience disqualified them from entrance into the Promised Land.

The Lord takes the obedience of his people seriously – especially the obedience of the leaders of his people. I have been convicted of this truth many times since I was called to be your pastor. Since becoming a pastor, I’ve been more convicted to love and serve my wife and son with joy rather than begrudgingly. I’ve been more convicted about how I spend my time, more challenged to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). There is too much work to be done for the Lord for me to waste time on social media and television and wandering around the internet. I’ve been more convicted about my daily time with the Lord. If I’m not seeking the Lord daily in his word and in prayer, how can I ever hope to lead his people? I’ve been more convicted about my personal holiness, my personal purity. As Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” I couldn’t agree more. Preston Highlands needs me (and our other leaders) to be holy so that I can be effective as a shepherd of his people. The Lord takes the obedience of his leaders seriously.

But the incident in Numbers 20 has a larger application than just the leadership of the church. The Lord does not just expect obedience and holiness from leaders, but from all of his people. The basis for this expectance is his own holiness. Leviticus 11:45, “For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (cf. 1 Pet. 1:15-16). God wants his people to be holy because he is holy. He wants his people to look like him so that the nations who don’t know him can see a living picture of what he is like in the lives of his people.

God wants to be known among all the nations, and one of the ways he has chosen to do this is through the holiness of his people. The holiness of our lives is massively relevant to the happiness of the nations. In other words, if we want the nations to be eternally happy in Jesus, then, as individuals and as a church, we must reflect God’s holy character through the way we love one another and encourage one another and serve one another, through our radical generosity and our pursuit of humility and godliness and purity. God will be exalted among the nations (Ps. 46:10), and one of the ways he intends to accomplish this is through the holiness of his people (Ezek. 36:23). May we be a church, a people, who reflect the holiness of God to the nations that have gathered around us in North Dallas. May our neighbors be drawn to our God because of what they see in our lives.

But reflecting God’s holiness is not all God calls us to do. If we are going to be a holy people, a “set apart” people, we must also give ourselves to obeying the last thing that Jesus told his disciples to do. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” “Make disciples” in verse 19 is a command in the original language, and it is a perpetual command. In other words, it did not just apply to these first disciples. One reason we know this is because of Jesus’ promise at the end of verse 20, that he will be with us “to the end of the age.” Jesus does not promise his presence only to these first-century followers, but to all of his followers to the end of time. So his command to “make disciples” is just as binding on his followers as the promise of his presence. Jesus commands us to replicate ourselves – to help other people to follow Jesus, and he promises to be with us as we engage in this work.

To not engage in this work is disobedience. There is not a special class of Christian who “makes disciples” and all the rest of us who attend church and keep our noses clean. The Lord calls us to himself, calls us out of bondage to sin and death, just as he called the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. He gives us his mercy and grace, none of which we deserve. And after he saves us, he calls us to be like him – to reflect his holiness and goodness and love to the nations, and he calls us to be “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19), to go after those who don’t yet know him. God calls us to himself and then gives us a ministry of calling others to himself. This is the pattern of the New Testament. This is what has happened for two thousand years of church history. And this is what Jesus is calling Preston Highlands Baptist Church to do.

Many churches feel the need to formulate “mission statements,” which is odd given the clear mission Jesus has already given us: “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). This clear command is our mission statement, it is our rallying point. Extending the message of the grace of God in Christ to the nations is what we are called to do. So may we become a people who obey our Lord’s command to help other people to follow Jesus. This does not need to be a program but a way of life. May God give us all the grace and courage and time and energy we need to do this work, to obey him.

God takes the obedience of his people seriously. The disobedience of Moses and Aaron disqualified them from seeing the Promised Land. May we trust the Lord and the promise of his presence as we embark on the mission he has given us: to make disciples of all the nations, both in North Dallas and beyond.

Committed to this mission, no matter the cost,

Pastor John