Summary: God created us to not only serve within the church but out in the world


Text: 2 Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4; John 3:16

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Welcome back to 40 Days of Purpose; it has gone by fast. There has been a lot of content, a lot of material, but it has gone by extremely fast. You will want to take out your outlines at this time if you want to follow along. It might be helpful. This week we are on day 36. Today is day 36. There are five more days and we are done. The five purposes really sum up what Christianity is all about; what God desires to do in our lives is summed up in those five purposes

What have we learned about those purposes? One thing we have learned is that the key to life is God. The starting point for making meaning out of our life is realizing we are created by God. It is all about God. It is the first phrase in the Bible in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God . . .”. We learned also that the image for life is not an hourglass, the sands of time simply running down, but actually life is more like a gym, a health gym. This is preparation for eternity. How we do in this life determines what happens in our next life. God is using this life to make that determination and also to instill practices which we will use in eternity for all time.

For those practices we have covered so far the first one is worship, simply loving God back. We love God back through corporate worship, through personal worship, and through acts of obedience. We learned about fellowship. Fellowship means simply that we need each other. We were created for each other, not to be alone. We learned that the third purpose is discipleship, meaning God desires to restore us in his image. God is more interested in our character than he is in our comfort. Last week we learned that the fourth purpose is ministry. We were not created to consume, but we were created to make a contribution. All four of these purposes can be used for all eternity. We will practice them in heaven as we are doing on Earth. This fifth purpose, however, is one that is limited in time. It is not one that is practiced in heaven. It is simply a purpose which will be expressed here and now. It is captured in John 17:18 and here is what it says. Jesus said: “In the same way that you gave Me a mission in the world” [this is Jesus praying to his Father in the final prayer in Gethsemane], “I give them a mission in the world.” Note the phrase “in the world,” this is something that takes place in the world. Last week we talked about ministry to believers, today we are talking about mission to unbelievers, mission to those who have not yet come to a saving knowledge of Christ. We all have a specific mission and we also have a common mission.

Today we will be talking about our common mission. What is that common mission? That common mission is captured in Acts 20:24. Paul says it very well and it is listed there. The most important thing is that I complete my mission: the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to tell people the good news about God’s grace. You’ve probably heard it differently -Matthew 28:20 is the common one. The great commission was to go into all the world and make disciples or, better said, it really is a participle. It begins with a participle: as you go, as you go out in your daily life, make disciples, tell others about me.

So the fifth purpose in our lives that God has is simply to share the gospel or share the good news with others. It is fitting that we are talking about this on Memorial Day weekend and on Pentecost Sunday because Memorial Day is captured in two words – remembrance and responsibility – and on the Memorial Day weekend we remember those who have sacrificed all for us and we reap the benefits of their sacrifice. As Christians, we remember the sacrifice of Christ and we reap the benefits of his sacrifice. We also are called to responsibility, as we have experienced freedom ourselves, we have the responsibility to help others experience freedom, and it’s the same thing as Christians. We have experienced freedom in Christ and it is our responsibility to share that freedom with others so other people experience the same freedom that we have.

The word for it is and it is a dirty word, it is an awful word, people just cringe when they hear this word. It begins with the letter ‘e’ and it is evangelism. I think Rick Warren is probably right, both believers and unbelievers hate this word. It is because of our conception and our image of it. We have a lot of reasons why is gives us problems. Some of the reasons I have heard: we are unable to do it, we feel like religious hucksters, it just seems cheap, kind of selling something like vacuum cleaners. There is the fear of the response, the fear of getting a ‘no’ actually, and then the guilt of what did I do wrong, what did I say wrong. There is the fear of not having the answers to tough questions and then there is the sense in our culture that it is just impolite or arrogant to say I know the way to God or have the truth. There is the sense that good people really don’t need it. Well, good people do need it because all of us have fallen short of God’s glory. All of us have a sin problem. Just as we have a sin problem, everyone has a sin problem and is in need of God’s forgiveness and the need of God’s grace in their lives, so we still need God.

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