Summary: The only solution to the CRIPPLED nature of the human condition is to experience the supernatural WHOLENESS that is found in Christ.
The Supernatural Nature Of The Mission
We're continuing our series through the book of Acts this morning, a series I've entitled "The Church on Mission." I chose to preach through this book this year because it coincides with our theme and emphasis for the year - namely that we would, with increasing degrees of attention and focus, become a church on mission. That we would not just be a church that gives a casual nod to missions, but that we would together as a congregation be thrust into God's global activity of taking the good news of Jesus to those who have never heard it. My prayer is and continues to be that as we see the Holy Spirit moving in power upon the very first congregation that God through his Word and Spirit would fill us up, blow his wind in our sails and thrust us forward with Pentecostal power to reach the lost.
Some of you may not have been with us from the beginning so let me give you a quick recap of where we've been thus far. The book of Acts begins with the resurrected Jesus still being on the earth and for 40 days he's been meeting with the disciples; he's been instructing them and teaching them about the kingdom of God. He reminded them in Acts 1:4-5 of the promise he had made earlier that he would send the Holy Spirit who would not just be with them - but would be IN them. Then in Acts 1:8 he gave the reason WHY he was sending the Holy Spirit to them. This is our theme verse for the year, it's the theme verse for our missions conference, and its the theme verse for the book of Acts: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Now if you're sitting in Chattanooga, TN this morning and you're a believer in Jesus, your sins have been forgiven, you're a child of God - you should be tremendously thankful for this verse right here. You should be grateful that this missions mandate for the early church extended beyond the city of Jerusalem, the region of Judea and Samaria and went to the ends of the earth. Show of hands - how many Christians are in the room today? Hold your hand up high. Keep your hand up if you were saved in the city of Jerusalem, borders of Judea, Samaria? How many of you were saved somewhere else on the earth besides those three locations. I think it's unanimous. All of us are included in the "end of the earth" circle of this mandate. We would not be hear, this church would not exist, our culture, our lives and for that matter the history of the world would be tragically different if this mandate did not include "the end of the earth." Aren't you thankful for that? Well listen - the gospel came to you because it was heading to someone else.
We came around this idea when we studied that verse on week 1 of our series: The purpose of Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to empower us was not just to give us warm fuzzies; it was not primarily for an emotional or ecstatic experience; it was not so you could feel good about yourself. Now those may all be secondary blessings and joys that are associated with being filled with the Spirit of God, but they're not the primary purpose. The primary purpose of the sending of the Holy Spirit to the church is quite clear from this text - that we might be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. That's why you have received the Spirit in power - to be a faithful witness for Christ in the world. This is the missions mandate. It is a complete and total outward focus - not inward.
Surely it's heartbreaking to our Savior when you consider how many churches exist in his name that - ours included - that can sink into the mindset of thinking that church is all about us; that our life together as a congregation is all about getting my needs met, my spiritual itch scratched.
I read a blog this week by Thom Rainer. Dr. Rainer is the president of Lifeway Christian Resources. Lifeway is the publisher and bookstore that supplies much of the resources, Bible studies, curriculum - even our youth camp that our teenagers attend is under the umbrella of Lifeway. The title of the blog was this:
The Main Reason People Leave A Church
Now as a pastor and church leader, that's a compelling title for an article. So I read the article and here's an excerpt from it that kind of summarizes what that Main Reason is: