The Gospel is what defines the Church. In a world that is constantly pushing us to do more, try harder, the Gospel runs counter to everything the world preaches. In our own sinfulness, we naturally trust in our own performance, but it is the performance of Jesus alone that sets us free.
Justification is the doctrine that defines what is means to be a Christian. Martin Luther said that justification is “the article upon which the church stands or falls.” The fact that Jesus declares us righteousness, not by our own works, but by his is what defines the Christian Church.
And because justification is the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins and the scriptures teach that God “wants all people to be saved,” justification has a missiological emphasis that we must consider.
“Although that connection might not seem that difficult to make, in fact most discussions on justification do not go this far. Justification is missiological in its very essence, since it describes what mission is at its core: imparting salvation through the forgiveness of sins.” - Klaus Detlev Schulz
It’s God mission.
It’s God mission, we are just his tools. God always works through a means. He offers his forgiveness in bread and wine and in water. He offers his Word in a book. He serves the world hidden in us as we fulfill our vocations. God’s mission is exactly the same way; God is on a mission and he works hidden in us as we share the Gospel with those around us.
God is the one doing the work, not us. It’s not our job to convert and it’s not our job to save, God is the one doing the heavy lifting. When God grows his church by bringing a new person into the family, we don’t celebrate our own accomplishments and commitment to the mission, we celebrate the work of God through the Holy Spirit.
The mission is both deep and wide.
The Gospel isn’t just for nonbelievers, it’s for everybody. This means that the message that shapes our mission outside the church is actually the same message that is needed inside the church. Those who are sinners and don’t know Jesus need the exact same Gospel as those who are in the church. Christians, despite how much they learn to hide it, are broken, sinful people and need to be continually reminded that their sins are forgiven.
And if both Christians and nonbelievers need to hear the Good News of the death and resurrection, the missiological message of justification is both deep and wide. It seeks to go deep as it reminds Christians over and over again that, “It is finished.” And it seeks to go wide as we make disciples “of all nations.”