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What does 'sojourning' have to do with missions?


Sarah's Japanese characters are 幸来(さら), which means "The Blessings that are to Come." Background Our three daughters are based on three Biblical covenants of God. Kate's name in Japanese characters means "City of Grace," which is based the Covenant of Works of Gen 1-3. The First Adam was commissioned to build a city for God in complete obedience in order to receive eternal life for his people. He failed, but God promised the Final Adam, Jesus Christ, who will fulfill the Covenant of Works on our behalf to create a new nation that will inherit eternal life, and build a new city, the New Jerusalem, for us. A city that we don't have to build, but a City of Grace. Nina's name in Japanese characters means "Love of the Rainbow," which is based on the the Noahic Covenant of Gen 9. This covenant was not salvific and specific, but preservatory and universal. The rainbow represents a protective dome to prevent God's wrath from drowning humanity in order to execute justice on a rebellious and violent people. This dome is a testimony of God's long-suffering patience to those who rebel against him, but also the very thing that buys people time for repentance. This rainbow is the shelter that allows for the Church to proclaim the Gospel of the coming "Final Adam" in order to invite more people to the new Ark, the Church, before the Last Judgment arrives. This was God's love proclaimed through the rainbow. The Covenant of Grace Sarah is based on the Abrahamic Covenant. When the Final Adam was promised after the failure of the Covenant of Works and the Noahic Covenant provided a temporary protection from God's wrath, the people of God were asking-- "Where is the promised Final Adam? Where is the promised city that he will build? Where is the people who will inherit eternal life?" This is when God chose Abraham unilaterally to reveal his promise of salvation. Hebrews 11:8-16 is a wonderful summary of that promise:

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Summarizing Gen 12, 15, 17, the author of Hebrews says that God promises salvation through an inheritance. It is not covenant based on works, but a covenant of complete grace. This inheritance includes three blessings: 1) a promised land of abundance (v9), 2) a city built by God (v10), 3) a nation of many people (v12). Furthermore, in Galatians 3:15-18, God promises "the Son" who will be the coming Savior who will come to fulfill the above promises. This Son is none other than the coming Final Adam, Jesus Christ. The only condition of receiving this inheritance is faith alone. Faith is wonderfully described in v12: considering God faithful to the promises he is making. Faith is about looking outside of ourselves, our weaknesses, and our dire circumstances and looking to God's faithfulness to his promises. If faith is based on anything inside of us, considering the doubt and disobedience of Abraham and Sarah, then they they would be immediately disqualified. "Despite our faithlessness, God will be faithful" is the essence of Sarah's faith--even when she laughed at God when he promised a child as a elderly woman. Faith is not about how assured, confident, or obedient we are to the promises of God. Faith is the mustard-seed-like recognition that God will be faithful despite my doubt. Faith is the recognizing of God's promised blessings from afar, but, at the same time, considering blessings already in possession. Abraham and Sarah never saw the fulfillment of this covenant--they died empty-handed. But they knew that their blessings were not of this world, but were of heaven. Not the physical promised land of Canaan, but the heavenly promised land of the Kingdom of God. Not the physical city of Jerusalem on Earth, but the heavenly City of the New Jerusalem that will descend from high. Not a family nation of physical blood descendants, but a family nation descended through faith. Abraham and Sarah were nomads, sojourners, and exiles with no permanent home, status, wealth or inheritance on this Earth. They were nobodies. But God changed Abram's name to Abraham, Sarai's name to Sarah, to remind them of their royal inheritance. Abraham will be a father, a king, of a multitude of nations. Sarah will be a "princess" in this new heavenly City. God called them to consider the future blessings as present realities. Why? Because God is faithful to his promise. He will surely send the ultimate Isaac, the ultimate Adam, King Jesus to build this city-nation of a multitude of nations who will inherit eternal life in the heavenly Promised Land. We, Christians, are the fulfillment of this promise. We are the sons and daughters of this beautiful heavenly City. Because King Jesus died and rose again, we have been given the same faith as Abraham and Sarah--making us their children and also their co-heirs. If we consider Jesus to be faithful to his promises, we also will enter into the heavenly City and receive eternal life (Rev 22:17). But like Abraham and Sarah, we, Christians, are sojourners and exiles of this world. Nobodies who will not receive their full inheritance in this life. Pitiful and poor considered by the rich, powerful, comfortable, and happy of this world. But like Abraham and Sarah, God gives us new names. He baptizes us in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, reminding us that we are co-heirs with Christ and have been bestowed the royal name of the Trinitarian God. Although we will sit at the right hand of God as his firstborn Son and his beloved Bride at the Last Day, this future blessing is present now in the midst of our affliction. As Ephesians 2:6 says, Christ seated us with him--right now--in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. We pray that Sarah and those who know her name would consider "The Blessings that are to Come" as their present reality, believe that God is faithful to his promises, joyously welcome the promised inheritance from afar, and know that they are sojourners and aliens of this world. This is essentially why we can do missions in the face of affliction, persecution, lack of fruit, and death.

#Abraham #Missions #Sojourning

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About the Family

Mark is a Filipino-American who grew up in Manila and Tokyo. Graduating from Stanford and Westminster Seminary California, he is an ordained PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) pastor serving in Kaihin Makuhari Grace Church. Megumi is a Japanese Christian who...

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