Summary: To many, Christianity is such a personal thing; they don’t want to share it. They have a ticket to heaven and don’t really care whether anybody else goes to heaven or not. We’re using first aid on ourselves, when there are hurting people all around us.
For almost two years, I have been preaching through the book of Romans. We are coming to the last words of the Apostle Paul, and we get a glimpse of the missionary heart of this great Apostle.
The problem with many American Christians, and perhaps some of you in this room, is that to you Christianity is just such a personal thing; you don’t ever want to share it. You have your ticket to heaven, you have your eternal fire insurance, and frankly, you don’t really care whether anybody else goes to heaven or not.
Sometimes Christians remind me of the lady who was taking a first aid course. In the process of the class, the students were asked to give examples of how they had already been able to use their first aid training. One week this lady said, “I got to use my first aid training this week. I heard a terrible crash in front of my house. A car had run into my yard, hit a tree, and the car doors had flown open, and there were some injured people on my front lawn. Because I had taken this first aid class, I immediately knew what to do. I sat down and put my head between my knees, so I wouldn’t pass out.”
That’s the problem. We’re like a bunch of people using first aid on ourselves, when there are hurting people all around us. If you’re content to hang on to the gospel and not share it with anybody else, you don’t share the missionary heart of the Apostle Paul.
Romans 15:17-24. “Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Notice the widespread missionary travels: “So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not known, so I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: [a quotation from Isaiah 52] ‘Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.’ This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.” Look at verse 23. “Now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, [meaning Corinth, we call this Greece] and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for awhile.”
Did you notice the three locations there? Jerusalem was the beginning point of the Christian church. Then he said, “I preached the gospel all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum.” Now we would call that modern day Yugoslavia, all the way over to that part of Eastern Europe. Then Paul says, “I’m probably going to come see you guys in Rome, but it’s only on my way to Spain.”
Had you looked at a map of the civilized world when Paul, in Corinth, wrote these words in about 56 or 57 A.D., you wouldn’t have found Spain on the map, because it was such an utter end-of-the-earth at that time. In those days, they thought the earth was flat. If you sailed much past Spain, you were going to drop off the end of the earth. Paul says, “My heart’s desire is to go where Christ has never been preached, even if I have to go to the very ends of the earth.”
We know Spain is not the end of the earth. We know the earth is a globe, and we can go all the way around the world, taking the gospel. Today, I issue to Green Acres Baptist Church and I issue to each one of you individually, a missionary challenge. Now, you don’t have to say much about missions to get my heart excited. I am a missionary. I really am. What I do instead of serving on the foreign field full time is I pastor a missionary church that sends missionaries, prays for missionaries and sends money for missionaries. Today I want to inform you and I want to inspire you.
I. SHARE A GLOBAL VISION
1. The world: 6 billion people in 12, 800 ethnolinguistic groups 180,000 new people every day
First of all, I’m going to ask you to share a global vision. Let’s stop looking just around our own neighborhood. Let’s look around the world. First of all, I want you to consider the world itself.