January 26, 2020

Mission: What We Are Called To Do!

Speaker:
Passage: Matt 28:16-20, Luke 24:44-49, Acts 1:6-8

Bible Text: Matt 28:16-20, Luke 24:44-49, Acts 1:6-8 | Speaker: Bobby Gaither | Series: The Church At Hope Fellowship | We exist to behold, delight in, and display the glory of God. That is the purpose statement I proposed last week, and I remind you of it today as we seek to understand our mission as a church body. That purpose statement is rooted in creation, for God created man and women in His image, and they had face to face relationship with God. He commanded them to multiply and fill the earth, literally cover the earth, with his image bearers— those who display His glory!

However, Adam and Eve failed in their mission. Sin entered man through their disobedience in the garden, and as we have seen in Genesis, the nature of sin is to corrupt to the core. Thus, the face to face relationship, by which Adam and Eve beheld God, was broken. Furthermore, they were unable to delight in God the same way, and even more, unable to display His infinite glory as the perfect God of the universe, for they were marred by sin. Thus, they were unable to fulfill the very purpose for which they were created.

Herein lies the problem: that for which we were created we are now inherently unable to do! Pastors Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert call this the overarching question of the Bible: How can a hopelessly rebellious, sinful people live in the presence of a perfectly just and righteous God?

The answer to this, we know, is Jesus! He was sent by the Father on mission to redeem, to cleanse and save a people for Himself from every tribe, tongue, and nation. His mission was to come to earth, live a perfect and righteous life, die the death you and I deserve, conquer sin and death on the cross, be raised from the dead on the 3rd day, and in so doing, reveal the Father’s character and his plan to save us from the wrath of God, which was due us because of our sin. He accomplished His mission! In Him, we have been made righteous and God sees us as His children, clothed with the righteousness of His Eternal Son. Now, we are able to be in the presence of God, justified in Christ, beholding him, delighting in Him, and displaying His glory.

But the storyline doesn’t end there. We, too, have been given a mission.

What is mission? If the purpose of the church is the why, the mission of the church is the what. It is what we are called to do, directed to do, by our King. It is how our purpose displays itself in action. I want to prepare you now, carrying out your mission is not separate from your purpose. It is not an optional obedience you tack on to your salvation— if you have time, or energy to do so. Mission is walking in your purpose, and it is a natural outflow of beholding, delighting, and displaying the glory of God.

I want to offer this sentence, adapted from “What is the Mission of the Church?” By DeYoung and Gilbert, as our working mission statement. 

Mission: We are sent into the world to give witness to the glory of King Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations.

It’s simple, direct, and places the kingdom and glory of Jesus at the center of our actions. I want to show you this morning how our mission is a natural outflow of our purpose, and how it flows from knowing and loving the Christ whom saved us. We are going to look at the commission passages in John, Matthew, and Acts. We will look at what it means to witness, to make disciples, to the advancement of His Kingdom, by the power of His Spirit.

To Witness

To Make Disciples

By the Power of His Spirit

To the Advancement of His Kingdom

Would you stand with me in honor of God’s word as we read from Matthew, Luke, and Acts.

Matthew 28:16–20

[16] Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. [17] And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

Luke 24:44–49

[44] Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things. [49] And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (ESV)

Acts 1:6–8

[6] So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [7] He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. [8] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (ESV)

[pray]

To Witness

I want to draw the parallel between the action of being a witness, and to proclaim. To witness means we observed something. To be a witness is to recount that observation. It is to proclaim. Both words are used in these gospel passages, and they inform one another. We are called to be witnesses to the saving acts of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The greek word witness is the root word for martyr. It’s one who bears witness, with or at the cost of their life, that what they’ve observed was and is true! Thus, to be a gospel witness is not merely to state something as true, but to stake one’s life upon it. It means it is a truth you love, and love so deeply, that you’d die for that truth. Friends, to love something more than life is to value it above your own. In Psalm 63, David recognized his soul was thirsty for God. He wrote this:

[1] O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

[2] So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

[3] Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.

[4] So I will bless you as long as I live;

in your name I will lift up my hands. (ESV)

Because your love is better than life… I will praise you! I will bless you! I will lift up my hands! I will give witness to and proclaim your glory! For it is better than life! This kind of devotion is only possible if you’ve seen, if you behold, and delight in the glorious gospel of Jesus. And it is a natural response to beholding, and delighting in the glory of God! To give witness to the glory of God, to proclaim the gospel, is to tell others of the soul-filling glory of God!

I’ve found that many christians chide at the command to proclaim, to bear witness, to evangelize or proselytize. First, I want to prove a point. We are evangelists for everything that we love. If I visit a great restaurant, and I know this person enjoys fine dining, I’m going to give witness to that restaurant as one where the craving of their palate for good food can be satiated. I do so by telling them about it. Let me ask you, if I were to keep that information to myself, what would I be doing? I’d be keeping them from experiencing the enjoyment of this particular restaurant. Instead, I’d be keeping that joy for myself. Is that loving?

What are we doing when we proclaim, when we give witness to the glory of King Jesus by proclaiming the gospel…? We are inviting them into our joy. We are inviting them into the purpose for which they were created: to behold, to delight in, and to display the glory of God. There is no greater joy, no greater fulfillment, no greater purpose than this.

I want to comment on what that looks like, and what biblical motivations ought to be, before we move on. I know many have sought to bear witness, to proclaim, to evangelize, with great zeal, and with good intent— but either with a poor understanding or simply wrong motivations. They work as if the Kingdom of God is dependent on them, and it is their mission to save the world. Thus, when someone comes to confess Jesus under their proclamation, it is a victory God could not have won without them, and it serves to glorify the evangelist, not the One whom the gospel message is about! I’ve heard the saying: “I’m a soul-winner!” Really?

Who’s mission is it to save the world? Jesus. What is our mission? To bear witness. Do you and I save anyone? Are we the soul-winners? No. Jesus is. Is it my or your glory that draws people to salvation? Nope. Am I more or less acceptable to Christ because of my good deeds? No. Don’t misunderstand, the Lord will reward according to our deeds, but my salvation is wholly anchored to the person, and work of Christ Jesus my Lord. And in proclaiming— by beholding, delighting in, and displaying His glory, we thus evangelize those whom we love. We invite them into the wedding feast of the Lamb, to enjoy the great gift of salvation and relationship with God that we have. 

The mission of bearing witness and proclaiming is simply sharing with the world, whom we are called to love, the beauty, the majesty, the life changing gospel of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It looks more like sharing a meal than it does having an argument. 

We are walking through the book Gospel Fluency in a few of our table groups. In the Spring I plan to host a few sessions where we learn together as a church how to bear witness by listening, asking questions, and then offering the hope we have in the gospel. 

Our mission is not without the didactic content of Christ. When one tastes, and sees that the Lord is good based on our witness and the witness of Scripture, we are instructed to make disciples.To Make Disciples

Gram Goldsworthy defined the Kingdom of God as God’s People, God’s Place, under God’s Rule. As God’s Kingdom people, we covenant to belong to Him. We  know the earth is the Lord’s and yet He goes to prepare a place for us. And our covenant is to live under His rule, His way. Jesus declared in Matt 28:19-20:

[19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A disciple is a learner. It is one who humbles themselves under the teaching of another, who seeks to understand the way of their master, and who submits their learning and knowledge to them. We are disciples of Christ! We seek to learn of Him, his ways, and we submit our understanding to Him, and His word. 

Why? Remember that our purpose is to behold, delight in, and display the glory of God. In becoming a disciple, we look to His word to behold Him. We see His character in His law, and we delight in the beauty of His glory and grace. That beauty, that glory is so compelling that it draw us to him, and we submit ourselves to His reign! We proclaim that we have died to our own ways, of following our sinful flesh, which is represented in baptism. And, thus, we are taught and observe His commandments and they aren’t burdensome, but life-giving!

Church— let me line this out according to our purpose: To behold, delight in, and display the glory of God. When we share with others the glory of God that we’ve tasted, we bring them into a saving knowledge of Christ. In baptism, they declare their heart to be changed and allegiance to Christ. We open up the word of God and show them the beauty of His law, His love. This is beholding, delighting in and displaying His glory! This is what we do in teaching. And when we do so, our heart sings for we receive joy in sharing the greatest joy of the universe! 

Thus, our mission, to give witness to the glory of King Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations, is merely the outworking of our purpose: beholding, delighting, and displaying the glory of God. 

This is only possible…

By the Power of His Spirit 

We must understand that our mission is not about displaying our ability, our righteous, our work ethic, but His power and might! In our passages, we read Jesus promise to be present, and to clothe us with power from on high.

Matt 28:20b “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

Luke 24:49b “But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Our purpose is to behold, delight in, and display His glory. He is with us, and will clothe us with His power, so His glory may be seen. Fulfilling the mission is not a work of the flesh, but happens when we walk in the Spirit of God! If you’re saying to yourself— “I can’t witness! I can’t proclaim! I can’t….” No, you can’t. But under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, you will. 

Friends, walking in your purpose, and carrying out the mission of the church is done by the power and presence of the Spirit of God. In order to see, one must be born of the Spirit. In order to delight, the Spirit must change the heart. In order to display, we must be transformed by the Spirit into His image. It is a work of God, not of man. To carry out the mission of the church without the Spirit of God is impossible.

And God has not called you to the possible, but the impossible, with the only promise that He’ll be there! He has called us out of the darkness and into the light. And then, he calls us to follow Him back into the darkness of the world to bear His light! To bear His cross! To display His glory! Tell me — what of that are you able to do of your own accord? Nothing! This is wholly an act of God, and when we walk according to our purpose, living out the mission of God, we display his power and might, and in our weakness we display is power.

2 Corinthians 12:9–10

[9] But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

We clarified early on that it is Jesus’ mission to save the world. It is our mission to bear witness to His saving acts, his glory! And as we do this, God works all things…To the Advancement of His Kingdom

All of history is moving towards the ultimate reign of Jesus, the Son of God. We believe he will return to judge the living and the dead, and give eternal life to those who trust him for salvation. We are defining our mission as this: We are sent into the world to give witness to the glory of King Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations.

That mission was given to us with Kingdom authority. Jesus stated that “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me…” He has thus called us to witness and proclaim His reign, as he has broke into the world and made war upon the principalities and powers that have held captive man and women, whom were made in the image of God, for the glory of God. God’s mission is to save the lost and restore to Himself His image bearers! Our war is with principalities and powers, not people whom are image bearers! The people are the captives, and thus whom we are seeking to free! 

Ephesians 6:10–20

[10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, [18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, [19] and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (ESV)

A Kingdom citizen is a soldier! And our battle is not against our neighbor, it is FOR our neighbor! It is not AGAINST those of differing beliefs than us, it is FOR them! It is not AGAINST our enemies, it is that they would taste the love of God, displayed as Christ died for them— while they were His enemies! Our weapon of war is the glorious gospel of Jesus! And our mission is to share that glory.

This is why Mission is important; because it expresses God’s love for the world and His victory over evil, sin, and death. It is the impending result of His mission when He came and died on the cross to free us. 

May we declare the gospel of the glory of God— boldly, and may we joyfully be a witness, martyreo, to the glory we’ve found. May we be a church to gives witness, who proclaims, the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

[Pray]

Communion.

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