Summary: Missions Sermon
Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20
I’ll Shout It From the Mountaintop
Introduction: A British writer named Derek Ratcliffe recently analyzed our television viewing habits. He spoke of "the mindless, shallow hedonism that seems to be the way our society is heading: a restless search for instant gratifications, trivial and short-lived pleasures that leaves no lasting satisfaction, let alone fulfillment." He described today’s entertainment as "a decadent media culture of soap operas, quiz games, police action, cooking shows, home makeovers ... football, pornography, and other expressions of the current intellectual and aesthetic development of modern western society." Most of us want something more in life than what we see on television. We want to make a difference. We want to make a mark on our empty, mindless age. We want a cause bigger, purer, and nobler than we are. We want to change the world and to impact eternity. In the words of a popular book, we want to live a purpose-driven life. There’s only one way to do this. We’ve got to rediscover the Great Commission. Everyone who is committed to Jesus Christ is by logical ex- tension connected to His great purpose. In fact, perhaps the only reason He is leaving us on this planet is because we have a part in fulfilling His worldwide plan (Phil. 1:2124). So let’s look again at this familiar passage at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, our Lord’s final instructions to His church.
There are three aspects to Christ’s words:
1. The Authority behind Us. Jesus began the Great Commission by telling us that all authority had been given to Him. The implication is that we will be going, working, preaching, sharing, and ministering in the power of His name. Later, Jesus explained that this power is communicated to us by means of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). It’s highly motivational to read through the Book of Acts and the Epistles, looking for the 95 occurrences of the word "power." Here’s some of what you’ll find:
By what power or by what name have you done this? By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance. Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, according to the power that works in us. (Acts 4:7; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:33; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Cor. 12:9; 1 Cor.1:24: 1 Cor. 1:18; Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:10; 1 Tim. 1:7; Eph. 3:2).
What does this mean to us? It means that as we work for Christ, as we lead prayer meetings and teach Bible classes, as we go as missionaries and send out others, as we sing and win souls and serve Him, we must do so prayerfully. We can’t accomplish the task by the force of our own passion or personalities. We must do it in the name of the One to whom all power was given--Jesus Christ. Sometimes this power comes like a bolt from the sky as it did for Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Other times, it’s like the power of a seed. It slowly germinates and sends up a shoot that, though fragile, it breaks concrete. But whenever we labor for our Master, we are doing so under His authority and with His power.
2. The Task before Us. Armed with that power, then, we go into all the world preaching, baptizing, teaching, and discipling. It’s particularly encouraging to see how the gospel is spreading in our own day. Fifty percent of today’s Christians and 70% of today’s evangelicals now live in the Southern Hemisphere, and the church is exploding in growth in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. South America is the largest continent of Christians, and Africa has the fastest growing church. In parts of Asia, there is tremendous growth in evangelism and missions. Meanwhile, Christianity in Europe and America is declining. These shifts have been taking place with accelerating speed since World War II, and by the mid-1980s the number of Christians in the non-Western world had outstripped those in the West. Two billion people in the world now identify themselves as Christians, but nearly a billion (918 million) people worldwide profess to have no faith at all--to be nonreligious or atheistic. There are over a billion (1.2 billion) Muslims. The missionary task has never been more important, and I believe that one of the ways to revitalize our church here and churches throughout the Western World is missions--we’ve got to be revived in our evangelistic burden for the world. The keystone of church revival is missions. We must especially be burdened for the countries with the largest populations of non-Christians. Those countries are, in order: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, and Nigeria. We have our work cut out for us. We’ve got to love as Christ loves, preach as He preached, and go where He is going. He is going to the ends of the earth.