Date: March 31, 2019 Transcript:
This afternoon is our annual Missions Conference. I hope you are able to be here. However, according to our sign-up sheet, less than half of you are planning to attend. Now, I realize some of you have schedule conflicts or other commitments. That is perfectly understandable. Unless your commitment involves watching television. Then I would suggest you utilize your DVR. Or, if you don’t have one, get a friend to record that must-see TV show for you so you can come to the Missions Conference.
However, even if your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend the conference this afternoon, I do hope you still have a desire to be here. I think that is the bottom line. We should all want to learn more about how the Great News of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed among all the peoples of the earth and how men and women from every tribe, tongue and nation are becoming believers in and followers of Jesus.
Why do we want to learn those things? So we can celebrate how God is at work in our world and so we can become better aware of how the Lord wants us to be involved in fulfilling His Great Commission of making disciples of all nations.
That is why all of us should have a desire to be at the conference this afternoon. Are you convinced? If so, this sermon is not really directed toward you, but I have a feeling you will want to listen. I think you will find it encouraging and helpful.
If you are not convinced, please, please, please pay attention to what I am going to say because I believe the Lord has important things for you to consider this morning. Let’s pause and pray this would happen.
Psalm 96:3 – “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
Friends, that is our theme verse for today’s conference. And it is a call for those who know the Lord to share the message of who He is and what He has done with people everywhere.
We are not going to take time to do so this morning, but we could trace the Bible’s call to missions throughout the whole Bible – from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament, which includes the book of Psalms, the nation of Israel is God’s chosen people. Yet, from that position, they are to bring God’s message to the rest of the world.
Isaiah 49:6 – “I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
In the New Testament, this role for God’s people becomes even more clear. Jesus tells his disciples…..
Matthew 28:19 – “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.”
Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
And this all culminates at the end of history when the Apostle John says:
Revelation 7:9 – “I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language (people from all over the world) which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
Folks, I am not going to read more verses, but I hope the point is clear. The Bible teaches that God is calling people from all over the world, from every nation and from every people group to trust, follow and worship Him.
And the Bible says He desires to use us, His people, to be lights shining in the darkness, bringing the Great News of Jesus Christ to people all over the world.
So, friend, if you believe the Bible is God’s Word, then you should believe God wants you to somehow be a part of “Missions.” And, folks, if you want to be obedient to what God has said, it only makes sense that you would have a desire to be at the Missions Conference to learn more about what that involves.
But…..Pastor Dan…..but…..but. Friends, let me respond to some of the thoughts you might be having, thoughts that make you think the Missions Conference is not really for you:
#1 “Pastor Dan, I am sorry! I’m not moving to Africa to be a missionary. I am too old. I have too many responsibilities. I cannot handle hot weather, and I hate snakes. I am happy living here, and I have no intention of moving anywhere else.”
Now, I want to be careful because it is possible – not likely, but possible – that the Lord will call you to be a missionary to Africa or some other faraway place. We have a number of individuals from our congregation serving the Lord in other parts of the world.
Right now, Chris and Steph Klay are in Colorado preparing to go to North Africa to share the gospel with people who have never even heard of Jesus. My guess is the Lord will call someone in this room to go and be a missionary in another part of the world.
And keep in mind, there are many opportunities for people in their retirement years to serve in other countries. However, the reality is that most of you in this room will not go to Africa or anywhere else to be a missionary.
That’s OK, but this doesn’t mean the Missions Conference is not for you. There are a variety of ways people can be involved in missions without ever leaving St. Louis County. When a missionary goes to Africa, there are a number of team members that make that possible.
Besides the missionaries, some people are “mobilizers” – encouraging others to consider if God is calling them to be a missionary; and if so, helping that become a reality.
Others provide prayer support or maybe have a ministry of praying for some of the many millions of people who have never heard of Jesus.
Some people are involved with missions work right here – welcoming and befriending international students and people from other cultures who live in our communities.
Some function as senders – providing financial support for missionaries.
Others support missionaries by encouraging them through emails or Skype.
Some support missionaries by helping them do ministry. For example, when Chris and Steph Klay are in Africa, you might get a message like this: “Our friend, Amir, wants to work on his English. Would you be willing to spend an hour every week on Skype with him and read the Bible with him so he can improve his English; and yes, learn about Jesus?”
Folks, the fact that we are connected to billions of people around the world through the internet opens up doors for doing all sorts of different missions work without ever leaving St. Louis County. That is a big reason why, even if you are not going to be a missionary, you should still want to come to the Missions Conference.
#2 “Pastor Dan, I think this Missions Conference thing is great, but it is just not for me. The Lord has called me to be a Sunday School teacher and to sing in the choir. That is what I am supposed to do. I am glad He calls other people to focus on missions, but that is not where my gifts are.”
Well, friend, that may very well be true, but that doesn’t mean the Missions Conference is not for you. Most of you in this room can walk and chew gum at the same time, right? Life involves multi-tasking, focusing on a variety of things at the same time.
Maybe you are the mother of a 3-year old daughter. It takes plenty of time and energy to take care of that little girl. But, you also have two other kids to care for, a husband that needs your help once in a while, parents, in-laws, other family members who require your time, plus responsibilities at church and other organizations, some time for hobbies and things you like to do. And I am assuming you don’t have a job outside the home.
Friend, being a Christian and following Jesus almost always involves some multi-tasking. If you are to be faithful to the Lord, you need to seek to honor Him in your family and work situations. You need to be sharing the Great News of Jesus with friends and family members. You need to meet with other believers for corporate worship. You need to use your gifts to serve other people in the church. And you need to be concerned about bringing the gospel to people in other parts of the world. No matter who you are, as a Christian, missions (fulfilling the Great Commission) is to be part of your life.
As I said a moment ago, you may not be going anywhere as a missionary, but…..you should be part of a missionary team here at home. If you are, then the Missions Conference is certainly for you. If you are not, then the Missions Conference is certainly for you because it may help you figure out how to be part of a missionary team.
#3 “Pastor Dan, I know the Bible talks about missions, but shouldn’t our top priority be missions here at home? I have so many friends and family members who are not Christians. I think I need to focus on them and not people who live in some jungle on the other side of the globe.”
Well, you certainly should be concerned about friends and family members who are not believers in Jesus, and you should be seeking to be a faithful and effective ambassador of Jesus Christ to these people. And frankly, most of us should be doing more than we are to share the Great News of Jesus with those friends and family members.
But again, you can walk and chew gum at the same time, right? You can be concerned about people close to you and be concerned about people in other parts of the world who don’t know Jesus.
A great example is the Apostle Paul. He was certainly concerned about his family and other Jewish people who he knew were not trusting in Jesus. In fact, in Romans 9:3 he says he longs so much for their salvation that he’d be willing to forfeit his own soul if that would save them. Yet, his deep concern for Jewish people did not prevent Paul from becoming the missionary to the Gentiles. And his love for his friends and family did not keep him from saying:
Romans 15:20 – “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.”
Folks, that is “Frontier Missions” – to boldly go where no one has ever gone before. Folks, I believe we still should want the Good News to be preached where the name of Christ has never been heard.
Remember, there are over seven billion people on this planet. About 29% (over two billion of them) have never, as far as we know, heard of Jesus. And they have no contact with any church or any Christians. There are about 400,000 cross-cultural missionaries – people seeking to share the Good News of Jesus with others. Unfortunately only 7,000 of them are working to bring the gospel to unreached people, to those who have never heard. That means there is about ONE missionary for every 290,000 people who have never heard about Jesus; and, as far as we know, have no way of hearing about Jesus…..unless someone goes and tells them.
Again, for most of you in this room, that is not what the Lord is calling you to do. He is calling you to share the Great News of Jesus with your friends and family. And in some way, be part of a missionary team so there can be far more than 7,000 people proclaiming the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard. If you are doing that, the Missions Conference is for you. If you are not doing that, then the Missions Conference is a great place for the Lord to help you figure out how you can be doing that!
#4 “Pastor Dan, I am sorry. I’m just not sure about this missions stuff. Why do we as Americans always think we know what is best for everyone else? We need to remember how destructive colonialism has been to other peoples and cultures. Many times missionaries were part of the problem A lot of those two billion people who have not heard of Jesus are very happy. I don’t think missionaries are something they need.”
Folks, I don’t know how many of you here have that objection, but it is common in what are called “liberal mainline churches.” Some people even think the reason to send missionaries to a Buddhist country would be so we could “learn more about Buddhism and learn from Buddhists.”
The underlying assumption of this view is that Christianity is just one of many different paths that lead to God, and people certainly don’t need to convert to Christianity in order to get to heaven.
There is also a belief that God will certainly not condemn people to hell who have never heard of Jesus. In fact, some think it is better if people are not told about Jesus because if they do hear, then God may hold them accountable for rejecting the gospel. However, if they have never heard, then they will be considered innocent.
In responding to people with this objection, I am tempted to remind them that the history of colonialism is a bit more complicated than they pretend. Almost all of these nations were harmed in some ways and benefited in other ways by being under colonial rule. However, I am not interested in debating that issue. I would simply note that Jesus said:
John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”
And then I would remind the person of what the Apostle Paul says:
Romans 10:13-15a – “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?”
Friends, it is pretty clear – people cannot believe in Jesus unless they hear about Him. Now, if God wants to save some people, even though they don’t believe in Jesus, that is up to Him. For example, I think those mentally incapable of understanding the gospel will likely be saved through Christ, even though they may not believe in Him.
However, the only people the Bible tells us will be saved, the only ones we know will be saved are those who are trusting in Jesus Christ and believing in Him. That is why missions – bringing the Great News of Jesus to people who are not believers in Christ, especially those who have never heard of Jesus – is so important. It is a matter of life and death, eternal life and eternal death. Because it is so important, we should all want to be at the Missions Conference this afternoon!
#5 “Pastor Dan, I think the Missions Conference is a good thing. I am not coming to this one, however, because it is about Muslims, and I think Muslims are bad people.”
OK, you are right. Muslims are bad people. The Bible says:
Romans 3:10, 23 – “There is no one who is righteous, not even one. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
That includes every Muslim and every other human being on this planet. That is why Muslims, like everyone else, need to know about Jesus.
“OK, Pastor Dan, but Muslims are terrorists!”
Yes, unfortunately, some of them are. But, most are not. And the terrorists, the really bad people, they really need to know about Jesus so they won’t be so bad. I have never heard of any Muslim who converts to Christianity committing an act of terror against anyone.
Friends, I want to be clear – No matter what political views you have, you should still be concerned about bringing the gospel to Muslim people. If you think we ought to cut off all immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, you still should want missionaries to go to those predominantly Muslim countries. And you should want Christians to be reaching out to Muslim immigrants already in the United States, sharing the Great News of Jesus with them.
And even if you want all Muslim immigrants to be deported, you should still want there to be Christians sharing the gospel and the love of Jesus with those people until that happens. And you should be willing to be part of a missionary team doing that – reaching out to Muslims in the United States.
Friends, let me be very clear – Here at CBC, we don’t believe Islam is a good religion. We have no interest in promoting “Chrislam” or anything that seeks to mix Christianity and Islam. It is our goal, however, to love Muslim people. Why? Because we know God loves them.
Our desire is that missionaries will go to Muslim people, that they will hear the gospel, that God will open their eyes and hearts, and that by His grace they will turn to Jesus Christ and embrace Him as Savior and Lord.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent. If you are a Christian, that should be your desire. If it is, I think you will want to come to this Missions Conference!
#6 “Pastor Dan, I suppose what you are saying is true, but I’ve got a lot of things going on in my life right now. I am just not interested in this missions stuff.”
Well, I would just say, “You should be.” The primary reason we should be interested in missions is because of our love for God and concern for His glory.
As John Piper says, “Missions exists because worship does not.” When people are not worshiping the Lord, when they are following other religions (even the secular ones), it should bother people who truly love God. For the sake of the glory of God, we want to see these folks become worshipers of the living God.
Of course, it will also be a very good thing for these people to become worshipers of the true God. And yes, we should be concerned about the welfare of those folks – including their eternal welfare. But that is really secondary. People who truly love God want to see Him glorified throughout the earth, among all the peoples. That is what missions is about!
And friend, if this is something you just don’t care about, then I am afraid your love for God may be pretty thin. I am not saying you are not a Christian – that is between you and the Lord. But I am saying there is a problem in your soul. And friend, if that is the case, this is a problem you should not ignore. Solving that problem involves turning to the Lord. And well, I can’t promise you that attending the Missions Conference will solve everything, but it certainly won’t hurt!