Richard Pratt Preaches at EPC General Assembly – The mission of the church; centerpiece of a Biblical faith

“Many people think of the mission of the church like a room added to the house; something that is not a part of the original floor plan; something that the architect didn’t anticipate.”

Thus said Richard Pratt, during his sermon at the 30th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. “In reality, the mission is the centerpiece of a Biblical faith.”

“The Great Commission didn’t begin with Matthew 28 or even Genesis 12. The mission doesn’t begin with Jesus or Abraham or even Abel. The mission of the Church is a part of the original floor plan of the human race. It is so essential to who we are to be on the mission of God that it is essential to being human. It goes all the way back to the beginning,” he said.

Pratt, a minister in the Presbyterian Churchin America and an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, prolific author, editor of the Reformation Bible and president of Third Millennium Ministries, spoke at Thursday morning’s worship service, held at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, Englewood, Colo. The EPC assembly continues through June 26.

He read from Genesis 1:26-28 and asked those attending worship “What does it mean to be a human being?”

“People today are confused about who God is; but people are equally confused about what it means to be truly human,” he said.

His Scripture reading was from Genesis 1:26-28:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (NIV)

“The first time God thought of us He did not say, ‘Let’s make some sinners.’ He said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’”

Pratt warned the worshipers, “Don’t doubt for a moment that we are all sinners. … We are the image and the likeness of God and that’s what makes sin so significant.”

His next question was “What does it mean to be the image of God?”

According to Pratt, the expression “image of God” appears in Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Canaanite literature, but it was only used in reference to one person, the king, the emperor, the pharaoh.

“Everyone else was beneath that person,” he said, “This is why they were able to enslave people, propagandizing people into believing that their lives did not matter like the life of the king.”

That belief, said Pratt, made “Moses’ claim that all humanity is made in the image of God so very radical. It was unthinkable in the ancient world that men and women – former slaves – would learn the truth that they were the likeness of God made on purpose by God. You are as valuable as the king!”

Pratt then brought the focus back to modern times, when he asked “Do you believe that? Really?”

“Satan wants you to believe that you are worthless, hopeless and that life is futile. God wants you to believe that you are immeasurably valuable, with a future filled with hope set before you, and that life is radically abundant. You have the value of every king and every queen that has ever lived upon this planet,” he said.

Pratt told the story of the grandmother who raised her orphaned grandson to be a Christian. He sold shoes for a living, and one day he shared Christ with one of his customers. That man returned home and shared the shoe salesman’s story with his next door neighbor. That neighbor was Billy Graham.

“Who in that chain of events was insignificant?,” Pratt asked.

“There are no little people in the Kingdom of God. Where God has put you is of utter importance because God has intentionally positioned you to advance His Kingdom purposes in the world today,” he said.

He said that the “chief end and goal of humanity is not to be good, but to make this place worthy of God’s glory. That’s the story of the Bible and it’s the story that most of your people do not know.”

“The mission is not the added room. The mission is given by God from the beginning. Show forth the glory of God to the world that the world might be readied to receive Him.”