Summary: A sermon of reasons for evangelism/missions.
PENTECOST AND MISSIONS
INTRO: After unusual events occurred on the day of Pentecost, the people asked one another “What does this mean?” (v. 12 TEV). The question is relevant today. What does it mean for us here and now?
On the day of Pentecost God gave an inspiring symbolic demonstration of his world plan for evangelism. Let us examine some of its major aspects.
I. GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS.
The focus of the testimony given at Pentecost was on “‘the great things that God has done’” (v. 11 TEV). God who had revealed himself and brought salvation in his Son Jesus Christ, now had risen in power and glory.
This is the good news of what God has done and still does in Jesus Christ, his Son. At Pentecost, the gospel was central, with the regeneration experience and the wonderful fellowship of the church.
II. GOD’S UNIVERSAL PURPOSE AND PLAN.
At Pentecost God also showed the universality of his purpose and plan. People who had come from “every country in the world” (v. 5 TEV) are mentioned. The risen Lord Jesus gave a worldwide commission. Just as the gospel was for persons from “every country in the world” then, it is equally so now. Yet the sad truth is that over twenty centuries have passed, and this commission of the Lord is far from fulfilled.
It has been said that no one has a right to hear the gospel twice until everyone has heard it once. Obviously, from the practical standpoint, that’s impossible; but it is tragic that many hear the gospel one hundred or even one thousand times while more than half the people of the world have yet to hear it for the first time.
The events of Pentecost remind us that the whole world is God’s concern. He cares for all people alike. Do we? Or have we mainly provided for our own kind, for our families and our neighbors, and neglected the rest of the world?
Nearly 60% of all ordained ministers in evangelical denominations are serving in the U.S. In addition to most of the personnel serving in the U.S., the most of our money is used here too.
The per member gift of Southern Baptists for foreign missions is only about 9 cents a week. We must distribute persons and money more evenly if we take the gospel to the whole world.
III. GOD’S IDENTIFICATION WITH ALL NATIONS.
Another vital element symbolized at Pentecost was God’s identification with all people. The Galileans began to speak in the tongues of the hearers. Three times — in verses 6, 8, and 11 — the hearers, amazed, are saying, “They’re speaking my language.”
Our native language has a meaning to us that other languages can never accomplish. This is the meaning of missionary involvement. The missionary learns the language, becomes part of the culture, appreciates the people, and feels himself a part of the people God has called him to serve.
There is an self-giving element in missions. It takes time, sweat, tears, and sometimes even blood to adapt to people of a different culture. Jesus wore the clothes and spoke the language of the people among whom he lived.
Across the centuries effective mission work has been self-giving, which means it has been costly. No superficial mission approach can match this. Quick and easy mission projects may have supplemental value but can in no way take the place of a life planted in the native soil and soul of the people.
IV. GOD’S ENABLING POWER THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
To be incarnated within another culture and reveal Christ there isn’t easy, but it is possible because of another aspect of Pentecost — the Holy Spirit as the enabler. The Spirit enables the mission task in many other ways. The Holy Spirit gives directions, provides witness opportunities, imparts boldness for the witnessing, develops the quality of life that reveals God, and gives power and fruit-fulness to life. He is the enabler.
The Pentecost experience includes the emptying of self so the Holy Spirit can enable us to do God’s will.
V. GOD’S COMMISSION TO ALL BELIEVERS.
Another aspect of Pentecost is the full involvement of every believer in the mission of the church. They all were filled with the Holy Spirit. And they all began to speak in other tongues (v. 4).
In our television age we can sit in our homes and be a spectator on the other side. But missions is not a spectator event which we observe from a distance. Pentecost is a reminder that every Christian should be involved in winning the world for Christ.
CONC: Pentecost says to us that we cannot sit on the sidelines. We have to let the Holy Spirit control and guide us to places where God is at work, to win a lost world to faith in Jesus.