Sanctification is missional in the sense that the while the individual believer is being set apart for God, they are also set apart to be involved in God’s mission in the world; that is, in the missio Dei.
The missio Dei is God’s ongoing process of redeeming the world back to Himself. And God uses His people in that process (Mt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). When writing to the Corinthian believers, the apostle Paul directly links the process of sanctification with God’s missional activity in the world. He writes of the believer’s “new creation” responsibility to be an ambassador for Him.
The interpretive outline below highlights Paul’s point (emphasis added):
[Sanctification, vv. 16-17] . . . we regard no one according to the flesh. . . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. [Missional, vv. 18-19] All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; . . . and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. [Missional-Sanctification, vv. 20-21] Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God is making his appeal through us. . . . For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:16-21)
In these verses, Paul indicates that in the sanctification process of the believer, God has entrusted to them the ministry of reconciliation. Missional living (i.e., evangelistic activity in all forms it can take) is a theological reality in the process of sanctification. The personal and corporate implications of this truth are wonderfully articulated in this insightful observation from Pastor Jason Zahariades:
A missional church is about becoming by grace what Christ is by nature. As the church does this, wherever the church members live their daily lives, they are learning how to easily, naturally, routinely, and boldly embody, demonstrate and announce the message of the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of the world around them.
Tomorrow, I will conclude my writing on sanctification, and I will follow that with things from several different directions that will add to our understanding of this doctrine, as well things that deepen our commitment to the personal implications of this wonderful truth of scripture.
3 John 8