A Book to Reveal Your Purpose
My son, Ricky, is autistic, which means that life is more difficult for him. Although he attends a wonderful school, he lives for each “break off.” A “break off” is any glorious day when he does not have to go to school. As far as he is concerned, the longer the break, the better. Christmas Vacation, as you can imagine, is one of the best times of the year for him, rivaled only by Summer Vacation.
“I like break off,” he’s been exclaiming at least ten times per day. And a week ago that was true. He contentedly played in his room for hours, which for him means dropping a yellow plastic boat over and over. He enjoyed leisurely and large meals. (My small, skinny boy eats more than his two sisters combined!) It’s the “good life” for Ricky.
However, a couple of days ago, things began to deteriorate. He grew bored of his room and his boat. The food lost some of its allure. “I like break off,” he keeps saying, but now it is with a whine, as if he’s trying to grasp onto what it was like before. He wanders around the house not knowing what to do with himself. It’s obvious that Ricky needs a purpose for living, something a “break off” can never give him. He will never understand it, but he needs school. In a temporal way, school gives him a purpose.
What is Your Purpose?
There is a direct correlation between this small story from Ricky’s life and your life as a Christian: You need a purpose for living. This need is not limited to you as an individual, but extends corporately to the church as a whole, including your local body. The good news is that you have been given this purpose by God himself. You, along with your brothers and sisters in Christ, have been called to be participants in the mission of Jesus Christ to bring salvation to the world through the proclamation of the gospel. You have been given the role of “witness” and you have been given the resource you need to accomplish this, the Holy Spirit.
I imagine that none of this surprises you. Yet, if you are like me, your heart can grow dull to the grandeur of your purpose. You may find yourself entering this New Year with your heart more invested in whatever constitutes your “break off” than the interests of Jesus. Moreover, maybe you’ve never fully understood what God’s purpose for you or your church is. Or perhaps the deficit lies in connecting the teaching about the mission in the New Testament to what God revealed in the Old. We need to have a greater understanding of our role in the mission and we need to have our hearts exhilarated to it continually.
In acknowledgement of these universal needs, then, we highly recommend Spirit Empowered Mission by Arturo G. Azurdia III to you. (He’s one of our favorite professors at Western Seminary, which is why we talk about him a lot.) It’s a book about the first two chapters of Acts. In reality, however, it ties the whole Bible together. Here’s a taste of what you’ll get:
1. Clear Articulation of the Mission of Jesus from Scripture
It’s one thing for someone to tell you that something is true. It’s another thing to be shown that it is true because it’s been revealed by God in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. However, sometimes these truths don’t leap off the page at first blush. One of Dr. Azurdia’s great gifts is his ability to take what has been revealed in the Bible and explain it in such a way that it makes sense and cannot be ignored. He is an expert in exegesis, and this book is a prime example of what it should look like.
In one of the first chapters, he writes about waiting for God and says, “Waiting, for a Christian, is not synonymous with passive inactivity or fatalistic surrender. It is an act that is made effectual by holy busyness: praying constantly and responding obediently.” How do you know that he is right? Because he didn’t make it up; it’s right there in the text. The same is true later, when he explains what it means to be devoted or what constitutes true repentance or how God’s promises are for you. It’s all drawn out from God’s words in Scripture. Therefore, the mission he articulates is truly God’s mission.
2. Amazing Ways in Which the New Testament Fulfills the Old Testament
Another of Dr. Azurdia’s great gifts is his understanding of the Christocentricity of Scripture. In this book, he shows how Luke ties his narrative to what was promised in the Old Testament. He brings to light the ways in which Peter’s sermon utilizes specific Old Testament passages of prophecy and poetry to point to Christ. And with each instance, you will be astonished to see how precisely and pervasively the Bible really is one story.
It’s difficult to decide which example to give! The one that impacted me the most was seeing the connection between God meeting the Israelites at Mt. Sinai and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. But then again, perhaps it was the ways in which King David relates to Jesus. The book ties the Bible together. Even if you’ve been doing this for a long time, I think you will learn something new.
3. Application that Will Motivate You to Invest Your Life in the Mission of Jesus
Of course, as wonderful as careful, Christocentric exegesis is, it is not complete until it is applied in real life. Once again, Dr. Azurdia shines. With a warm, pastoral tone, each chapter encourages, convicts, and spurs you on to be invested in God’s mission. When I finished, I was filled with expectation that God really has given his Spirit, really has called us to witness, and really will save the lost as his church proclaims the gospel. I wanted to pray, to talk to my friends about Jesus, and to invest myself completely in my local church. Most importantly, I had been in the presence of Jesus and he was more desirable to me than any “break off.” I was reminded that he is worthy of my life and that nothing is better or greater than being invested in his mission. This book will do that for you, too. And nothing is more worth your time and money than that.
One of Many
As I mentioned earlier, having our hearts revived and our knowledge of the Scripture deepened is the reason Verity Fellowship exists. In less than two weeks, when we gather for Forum, this will happen through our workshops. You should come! In addition, you can take these elements with you by purchasing books. We will be offering Spirit Empowered Mission for a great price. (And you can probably get the author to sign it on campus sometime!) In addition, you’ll have a chance to acquire other great titles that will also prepare you for this mission. Don’t miss it!
Due to unexpected weather conditions, Verity Forum on Saturday, January 14 will be postponed until a later date. Stay tuned for more information.