In the last post, we left off with this comment: The rest of God’s story all points towards God’s gracious nature which is all about redeeming rebellious and deeply sinful mankind, so that they would not be separated from Him for eternity. If we don’t get this, then we don’t get God’s mission (consider a 20,000 ft. fly over view of the OT to see how this is played out over and over again!)
If you indeed take that flyover, you will eventually get to the New Testament and realize that God’s mission is finally fully realized in the person of Jesus:
John 3:16-17: 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
God sent: God loves mankind, so He sent Jesus, Himself, to save!! God’s mission!! Then Jesus, after He came to do what He was called to do, He says this to His disciples:
John 20:21: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
God sent, so we could be sent: Jesus essentially said: “God sent me, so that, if you are in Me, you could be sent!” So this means that you and I have 2 callings in life:
1) Our primary calling is “to God”, through Jesus. Be His. Belong to Him. Be His child. Be His slave. Know Him” (Phil. 3:7-10: 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,)
2) Our secondary calling is “for God”, to fulfill His mission, by the power of the Holy Spirit: (Matt. 28:18-20: 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.”) Luke 24:45-49: 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 and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed (announced publicly) in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
Application: Now that we’ve got the big picture of what God’s mission is “…to redeem those who are far from Him…”, and we have clearly read and learned of God’s provision for His mission (the Holy Spirit), let me give you a summary of what the Apostles success was in the book of Acts (assuming the Holy Spirit is the source behind all of this). If you comb the book over and over, you will find the Apostles and the believers in the church doing three things over and over again which should be the bedrock of your calling as a believer:
1) They prayed like crazy: (1:14; 1:24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 6:6; 7:60; 8:15; 9:11; 9:40; 10:2-4; 10:9; 11:5; 12:5; 12:12; 13:1-3; 14:23; 16:13; 16:16; 16:25; 20:7; 20:36; 21:5; and we know from Acts 2:42 that they devoted themselves daily to prayer).
2) They shared the gospel with everyone; they talked about Jesus and how He alone is the savior: (2:14; 3:4-6; 3:11-26; 4:1-22; 5:29-31; 6:4; 6:8-7:53; 8:4-5; 8:12; 8:25; 8:35; 9:17; 9:20; 9:22; 9:28; 9:34-35; 10:34-36; 11:19; 12:24; 13:5; 13:10; 13:17-52; 14:1; 14:3; 14:7; 14:11-18; 14:21; 14:25; 15:35; 16:11-40; 17:2-3; 17:11-12; 17:17; 17:22-33; 18:4; 18:11; 18:19; 18:24-28; 19:1-10; 21:28; Acts 22-26; 27:21-26).
3) They sacrificially loved their neighbors in and out of the church: (2:42-46; 4:23-37; 6:1-3; 10:23-33; 11:19-30; 12:12-17; 14:22-23; 14:27; 15:1-21; 15:26; 15:30-33; 15:41; 16:5; 16:15; 16:40; 17:7-9; 18:1-3; 18:7-8; 18:11; 18:22-28; 19:21-22; 20:1-3; 20:7-16; 20:17-38; 21:4-16; 21:17-26; 28:7-10; 28:15; 28:17-31).
So here’s the deal, the book of Acts was written to us to teach us how God’s gospel spread and to teach us and encourage and to clarify our calling as believers and to understand and actually be a part of God’s mission. Now, here’s the problem:
In 2009, George Barna (survey guy) says that more people left the church in America, than were converted to Christ (this is the first time in American history that we know of that this has happened). This is happening in our generation, on our watch. What are we going to do about this? We gladly embrace our calling “TO GOD”, but we are not embracing our calling “FOR GOD”!
What I don’t want to do is create guilt and shame that makes you feel bad about not embracing your calling. What I want to do is paint a picture of God’s mission and present to you the good news we have through Jesus and let that gospel sink in so deeply to the point where we all radically get our calling and we can’t not live for God’s mission!
God, through Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit has sent you in to the world to let everyone know about God’s mission. Let’s not freak ourselves out now, the majority of the work of revealing God’s mission is long-term, low-key and intentional. Let me briefly unpack what I mean when I say, long-term, low-key, and intentional:
1) long-term: As long as you live and for as long as God has in you in each season of your life now, you are to display the beauty and worth of Jesus in word and deed and be a part of the community of God’s redeemed people. Commit yourself to God and people
2) low-key: You don’t have to be a pastor of a church, head up a ministry, go to evangelistic events, etc. to be effective. Actually, the bulk of gospel growth throughout the world during the first 300 years of Christianity (before it was Romanized), was spread not by missionaries, pastors, or theologians, but through traveling traders, slaves, fishermen, and men and women in living in intentional community together.
3) intentional: this means that you are not ashamed or afraid to talk about Jesus to family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. Seek to be intentional with your lifestyle and your conversation so that they both compliment one another. The power of the gospel is much more powerful than you could ever imagine… intentionally live it and speak it!
Here’s some homework for all of you guys. List all the activities in your life including the mundane ones, that make up your normal daily, weekly and monthly routine:
1) Daily routine (for example: traveling to work, eating meals, chores, walking the dog, playing with the kids).
2) Weekly routine (for example: grocery shopping, running errands, park with the kids, watching favorite television shows, sporting events, getting exercise, yard work).
3) Monthly routine (for example: getting a haircut, going to a movie, washing your car, gardening).
Now, for each activity, ask whether you could add one of these components to your routine:
1. community component — involving a member of your Church community
2. missional component — involving an unbelieving friend/acquaintance
gospel component — talking about Jesus
This my prayer as we close: that we would proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Acts 28:30-31: 30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.