Thrust statement: Christ’s body is to be missionary in purpose and missionary in design.
Scripture reading: Matthew 28:18-20; Genesis 12:1-3
As one reflects upon Jesus’ final words to His disciples, one observes that the church of our Lord Jesus exists for the sake of the world, not for itself as an institution. The congregation is intended to be missionary in purpose and missionary in design. The church is to have a missionary approach in its outreach. In other words, the church should be structured so that its members are mobile and active in building up each other and moving out into the world to convert people to Jesus. The church today, as a whole, advances a “come” theology rather than a “go” theology. The “come” attitude generally means that the church just waits for people to drop in. But if the people of God expect to win souls to Christ, then it must reevaluate the current philosophy of “four-walls” mentality. It must return to what Jesus taught—go and tell. The title for this message is “Jesus’ Methodology for Evangelism: GO!” Christ’s strategy for evangelism is found in Matthew 28:18-20.
One might almost say that the present-day church is better equipped for every other task than it is for its primary mission of proclaiming the gospel of Christ. When the church is silent, it is not true to its calling. Do not Christians incur guilt when they do not pass on the Gospel they have been entrusted with? The church of Jesus cannot be a true church when it is silent about the good news of God’s way of salvation in and through Jesus Christ. Today, there is a great deal of shyness in speaking about the things of God to a lost and dying world. God’s people must work toward breaking down the traditional aloofness that produces a church of silent saints.
I would like to present a vigorous challenge to the congregation of Christ at Oakwood Hills to recover the biblical concept of the evangelistic mission. Paul in writing to the Corinthians reminds them of the their own calling to the ministry:
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
What is this Scripture saying to you? Are you in Christ? Are you committed to the message of reconciliation? Are you an ambassador of Christ? Are you conscious that God makes His appeal to sinners through His new creation? The church is God’s creation. Paul expresses it this way to the Ephesians: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God is continually working in those who belong to Him. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, cuts away all underbrush when he writes: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
All Christians are subject to God’s Word and are to be committed to His will and to His service. The words of the Chronicler should echo constantly in the minds of God’s children: “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Are you committed to Him? Have you consecrated your life to Him? Are you just playing church? Christians are tempted to negligence, selfishness, pride, self-centeredness, and contentiousness. However, individuals and congregations should never be complacent with their present spiritual level and never satisfied with less than what the Lord desires of His people.
SHOULD PRAY FOR THE
ADVANCEMENT OF GOD’S KINGDOM
Are you praying for the advancement of God’s kingdom? Are you one of the ones seeking to work the harvest? Are you praying that God will send forth laborers into His vineyard? Matthew mentions an occasion in which Jesus was reaching out to men and women who were harassed and helpless. As he looked upon these individuals, Matthew informs us that His heart was filled with compassion. Listen to Matthew as he captures the tender compassion of Jesus:
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:35-38).
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter) [John 1:40-47].
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:43-51).
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things (1 Peter 1:8-12).
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. 11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town (10:5-14).
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law (3:21-28).
How can one be righteous? God’s answer: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (3:23). This is what Jesus preached. Justification and redemption is through Him. This is what Jesus wants His people to proclaim. Peter, at the instigation of the Holy Spirit, went to the house of Cornelius to tell him what to do to be saved. Upon Peter’s arrival, he declares the message of salvation:
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:34-43).
As stated above, in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he reminds them in a nutshell as to the simplicity of the Gospel and of their responsibilities in proclaiming reconciliation to God through Jesus. This sermon—Jesus’ Methodology for Evangelism: GO!—began with a citation from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and ends with this same citation. The following verses address the very heart of the Gospel of God revealed to Abraham almost two thousand years before the Logos became flesh:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
 All Scripture citations are from The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984, unless noted otherwise.