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JAN

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Bible Search
Whose Mission, Who´s Missing?

 

Whose Mission? Who’s Missing?
Romans 10:13-15
 
Text
 
If you know anything about me, you know I believe the Bible. With all my heart, I believe the Bible. I believe it is God’s inspired, inerrant and infallible revelation of Himself to us. I believe it so much that I believe the fundamentalists are liberal. 
 
But I will confess to you there is a verse that gives me a little trouble, and it is the 15th verse of the text I just read to you.
 
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel”. That must be figurative language!
 
Did you ever notice how ugly the foot is? Awkward, and ugly! (thick toenails and smell)
 
I was reading recently about a pastor who shared my sentiments about feet. He admitted he had always had an artificial appreciation for the verse until a visit to the bush country of West Africa. While there, one of the leaders in the new church we helped plant said, “My feet hurt.”
He asked to see them and when he showed them to the pastor, he saw these white circles on the bottoms of his feet. They traveled to a doctor, and the doctor said they were parasites.
 
This pastor had just returned from a village approximately 10 miles away where this African church leader had been walking weekly to share the Gospel. It was there this American pastor watched as on this trip he had told the Christmas story to the new believers in this village.
 
And it was there that this verse in our text took on a new clarity. “How beautiful are the feet…. “
 
This pastor said, “His feet were calloused and rough and now covered with parasites. Could they really be described as beautiful? They were not very attractive to look at, but as I cupped them in my hands to pray for him with pain in my heart, suddenly it made sense. What could be more beautiful in the Kingdom of God than this man who was walking to neighboring villages to share the Good News?”
 
I want to talk with you as a church family today about the mission of the Gospel. 
Lottie Moon always gives us an opportunity to think about missions. But whose mission is it anyway? And who’s missing in the work?
 
As we look at this familiar passage of Scripture, notice:
 
1. We Have Good News For Everyone That Can Save Anyone.
 
Romans 10:13
 
This is a remarkable promise from God. Anyone can be saved from his or her sins. Here in Romans 10 we discover the same “everyone” or “whosoever” that we see in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
 
 It is the personalization of the Great Commission that Christ gave to all of His followers. It is the individualizing of our mission. Anyone can be saved because we have a message that is genuinely Good News for everyone. There are no exceptions.
 
 
 
From Genesis to Revelation, as we search the Scriptures we discover that the heart and passion of God our Father is for every people group of the world to hear the Gospel and have the opportunity to come to Christ. We know that it is going to happen because we read of its fulfillment in Revelation. How soon it happens largely depends upon us.
 
What a remarkable promise God gives through the pen of the apostle Paul. The promise is that anyone can be saved from his or her sins. Anyone can call out to Jesus Christ and receive salvation. It does not matter whether a person is Asian or Indian, Chinese or American. And while we speak in terms that are generically racial or national, there is only one race of people. That is the human race, and within that race, God knows by name each tribe and tongue, all peoples that have been identified and even those yet to be discovered. The promise of the Word of God for each of them is “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord…”
 
Yet locked in that remarkable promise is the reality that they must call on Jesus. For we are told in the Scripture, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12. ESV).
Most of us know the frustration of getting on the wrong road. It doesn’t matter if you use a road map or a GPS, sometimes we get on the wrong road going in the wrong direction. And the direction determines the destination. It doesn’t matter what your intention was, if you are on the wrong road, you aren’t going where you thought you were. 
 
That’s the way a lot of people live their lives. Their intentions are right; they think they are OK, but they are on the wrong road. We are in a world where there are many “roads” in people’s minds to try and find God. There are roads of self help and there are roads of all kinds of world religions.
 
There are only two roads in life. Jesus said, there is a straight and narrow way, and it leads to life, and there is a broad and wide way that leads to destruction. Get the picture? The direction determines the destination. 
 
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus said, “I am the only road that leads people to God.”
 
 
So it is important that we recognize and truly appreciate that anyone can be saved. The “anyone” who will be saved must be saved through Christ alone.
 
The Scripture says, in order for anyone to be saved he or she must call on the name of the Lord. We have Good News that God intends for everyone to hear so that the many “anyones” can be saved.
 
Notice also in this passage:
 
2. It’s Not Really Good News For Anyone Until They Hear It.
 
Romans 10:14
 
The nature of “news” by its very definition is that it has to be shared in order for it to be news. If it is not shared with others, it may be facts that are true, but it is not news until it is shared. And it may in fact be good facts, but to a world buried in all the bad news it is not Good News until it is shared in a way that people can understand it.
 
 
 
 
God asks a very practical question through the apostle Paul in this Scripture. While anyone can call on the name of the Lord according to the promise, how are they going to do that if they have never heard that God loves them and has made a provision for them to be forgiven of their sins?
 
God is saying, “Let’s just be real practical. How in the world can anyone know this Good News unless someone tells them?”
 
Those of us who have already enjoyed the privileges of the Good News must tell the many “anyones” who have never heard, or they will continue to die without ever hearing that there is Good News that can save them.
 
It really seems so simple, and yet there remain so many parts of our world that the Gospel has never penetrated.
 
It is almost inconceivable to me that after 2,000 years there are still people who have never heard the story.
 
And yet conservative estimates tell us that 6 billion people in our world are lost without Christ and one-third of those have little or no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some estimates suggest that there are more than 1.5 billion who do not even have access to someone to tell them. So many people in our world have not rejected the Gospel, they just never have heard it.
 
Who will tell them if we don’t? What if you had never heard? How can they believe if they do not know? How can they know if someone does not tell them?
 
So here is where everything comes to a very sharp focus:
 
3. Someone Needs To Share The Good News With Everyone.
 
Go to most Bible-believing conservative churches, and almost without exception members will agree that the world needs to hear about Jesus, and that people without Christ go to hell.
 
And yet the majority of those same churches will excuse themselves from involvement in evangelism. 
 
We’ll say God has not called me to be a missionary as a vocation. We may be able to excuse ourselves as not being gifted as an evangelist.
But we cannot excuse ourselves from the responsibility of being a witness to Him. 
 
In Acts 1:8 we are reminded that we WILL be His witnesses in the world. 
 
Now our text asks, “How can they hear without a preacher?”
 
I do not believe that the context suggests a full-time vocational preacher. It comes from the Greek word which simply means to announce of proclaim. There are many ways to do that, and all of us, as followers of Christ, are to be witnesses of the Good News to all those we encounter.
 
Think about what that means even here at the local level:
 
We have 3 ministerial staff members. We certainly should expect our staff to be involved right? In fact, I think it right to include our spouses. So we have six people.
 
We also have 13 active deacons. We certainly ought to expect our deacons to be involved right? That gets us up to 19, and just so we avoid any double standard, we ought to include their wives also. 
There are 12 of them, so now we have 31 people involved.
 
We also have a teaching faculty of anther 30 or so people. We certainly should expect our teaching faculty would be involved, right? So now we are up to 61 people.
 
Now we also have a great love for missions in this church, and every year, many people go on mission trips, funded in part by their church. In fact, last year, in addition to those already mentioned in deacons and teachers and staff, we had another 15 or 20 people who went on those trips.
 
It would certainly be reasonable to expect that if anyone loves missions enough to travel around the world, they would be involved here right? So now we have as many as 75 people that it would be reasonable to expect them to get involved in telling people about Jesus.
 
We also have a wonderful church family filled with faithful members. On any given Sunday, about 200 are involved in Sunday School. Let’s take off the 75 already committed, and let’s take off all the children and preschoolers. 
That leaves us with about 17 youth and adult classes. 
 
Isn’t it reasonable that anyone who has been saved and is growing in their relationship with the Lord would want to be obedient in keeping the great Commission? But I know that’s not going to happen. You would think every one of those Christians would be involved, but just for figuring sake, let’s just take one from each class.
 
That’s another 17 people. Now we have at least 98 people of whom it would be reasonable to expect they would be diligent in keeping the Great Commission.
 
So why is it that currently on any given Tuesday of the month, we have about 10 – 15 who show up? In fact on many scheduled outreach nights there are as few as 4 or 5.
 
Oh, I know, we’re busy. Believe me, I know about busy. But I will tell you this: if you don’t have 1-2 hours a month to be involved in the single most important thing on earth, you need to get rid of some of the clutter in your life. 
 
 
And I know others who say, but I don’t have to come on Tuesday, I do my evangelism as a lifestyle. I know people who offer that same excuse about their worship. I don’t have to come on Sunday; I just do my own thing.
 
I certainly support lifestyle evangelism and worship. But it is not a replacement for the church-side expressions of both. Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in everything your church plans and does?
 
And if you have no desire to be involved in the organized outreach program of the church, why in the world did you accept a leadership responsibility?   
 
Do you not realize what an encouragement that is to others? Do you not get that God designed for it to work that way? Do you not understand that God commands us to go? Do you not understand that people are waiting to hear?
 
A pastor told of serving in Africa during the rainy season and the roads were bad. He was a part of a group that traveled out to the village. After they unloaded, they sent the land cruiser back to the city for the second group. 
About two to three hours before they should have arrived, the sky let loose five or six more inches of rain, and sure enough group number two got stuck in the mud. They were about an hour off the paved road and about an hour and a half away from the village. They were unable to get the truck moving again, and a nearby village offered them shelter for the night.
 
The next morning the village chief, raised in another world religion, said to the team members, “We watched your vehicles drive by our village all year long. We knew that you had Good News, but you did not stop and tell us. We prayed and asked God to stop you, and He has answered our prayers. Please share the Good News with us.”
 
I wonder how many people are waiting for God to get someone to them. It is not because He has not commanded us. It is not because He has not instructed us to pray for laborers or to give generously to support the work. It is certainly not because He does not love every person of every people group.
 
Could it be because we have not listened? Could it be because we have missed our mission assignment?
All of us can pray for the people groups of the world. All of us should pray daily for the thousands of people groups and the billions who have not yet heard the Gospel. We can all give something financially to help share the Gospel. One of the marvelous ways God has provided for us to do that is through our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Many of us can be a part of going to the ends of the earth.
 
But the truth is, we can all start right here.
 
Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for fifty-five years without furlough and authored many books about the missionary work there.
 
She was the inspiration for missionaries Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. In some of her writings she tells of a vision she had about people dying and going to hell:
 
“The tom-toms thumped straight on all night and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing.
I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:
 
That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.
 
Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step . . . it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!
 
Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks, as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.
 
Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge.
I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could only call; though I strained and tried, only whisper would come.
 
Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.
 
Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned toward the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise.
 
And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”
 
There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.
 
Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
 
Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called-but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass.
 
And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.
 
Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob.
And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was-the Cry of the Blood.
 
Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord. “And He said, ‘What hast thou done, The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.’”
 
The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shriek of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.
 
What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it?
 
God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!”
 
Now let me bring this to a sharp focus: everyone in this building, in fact everyone in the world are in one of those three groups in her dream. 
 
 
 
1.       Some are in that crowd that is heading over the edge. In fact, you may be closer than you realize. The solution for your safety is the Gospel. It is for every one. Bible: Whoever calls, shall be saved.
 
2.       Some are that little girl and the sentries along the edge. Faithfully warning and sharing and burdened for the lost. Whose mission is it? You know full well whose mission it is and have taken it seriously. And I know you get tired and discouraged, but be diligent. There awaits you a day of rest and a soul-winner’s crown.
 
3.       Others are making daisies. And no matter how important you feel what you are doing is, and now matter how busy you are, in the end, the grass withers and the flower fades. But the Word of God stands forever. And when the question is asked, “Who’s missing from the work?”, you know full well who’s missing. It’s you. You’re too busy to rescue people from plunging into the abyss because you are too busy making daisy chains.  
 
As we approach a season of the year when we remember that God loved each one of us so much that He gave His only Son, what will we give back?
 
We can give out of our resources in a generous way to Lottie Moon so that people around the world can hear the Gospel.
 
We can spend time in prayer for the peoples of the world and for our missionaries to who serve. 
 
We go on a mission trip sponsored by our church or give and pray so others can go. 
 
But let me remind you: there is work to be down right here. 
 
Whose missing from the family of God?
 
And whose mission is it anyway? Whose responsibility are those people?
 
And who’s missing in telling them?