The Lord's Day Morning
March 3, 2013
“Five Indisputable Facts Leading to One Indomitable Motivation for Missions”
The Reverend Dr. Harry L. Reeder III
Greetings from your sister church. We have the great privilege to do a lot of things together and not just simply through the denomination but in relationships. Your previous pastor was the chairman of my ordination council and a mentor and your present pastor is a dear friend and I cannot tell you what a great counselor he is on so many issues. And also I've had the opportunity to know many and have a lot of friends here. I want to invite you all over. I get to see some of you because some of you have students that go to school over in Birmingham and so I get to see you every once in a while. The rest of you, I invite you over. While you’re there, I’ll show you the permanent sight of the NCAA national championship trophy where we house it. Oh, that's didn't seem to go over too good here! But did you know, by the way, I have to quell a rumor, the pope did not resign because Notre Dame lost to Alabama. There are some that think that's the case but that's not the case. Listen, it's great to be with y’all.
I want to read a text of Scripture for you and then I want to have a word of prayer, but I want to go ahead and get something up front pretty quickly. I have a great desire that you, just like I'm praying it right now for my own congregation because we're in the midst of our three week long Missions Conference and I preached to start it last week, Michael Oh this week, we’ll bring it to culmination next week, and I'm praying for you, I'm praying for you what I'm praying for us — that we will be personally engaged. We’re not going to get the Great Commission done without personal engagement. People have got to go, people have got to send, people need to go on short-term mission trips, people need to be on the world missions team here, people need to be thinking about whether their children or whether they should, in the second half of their live, be a cross-cultural missionary. We need intercessory prayer. We have got to have an unstoppable, relentless commitment to intercessory prayer. So I'm praying, how can you personally engage and prayerfully engage, and of course Faith Promise — “Lord, what do we believe, me and my family, what do we believe that You are going to give to us? And we promise, faith promise, we promise what You give to us, it's going to get through us for world evangelism.”
But I want to go a little bit further than that. There are some of us who have labored, at least I did for years, so maybe you’re not there, I labored for years — “Lord, here's my lifestyle. I want to be faithful with the tithe and I know I haven't given anything just by giving the tithe; that's just being faithful. I want to give beyond the tithe, so how can we sacrifice?” So I would look at our lifestyle and then we would make those decisions. I am praying that you and I might begin, at least begin, to develop a whole different perspective, a whole different set of lenses, a whole different paradigm to this. And that is, instead of saying, “Lord, here is the way I live in this world, now, for the sake of the kingdom, here's what I want to do.” I would like for us to start thinking this way. “Lord, here's the way I'm going to live for the kingdom in this world.” It's not, “I'm going to live by the world's drumbeat and then sacrifice for the kingdom, I'm going to live in light of kingdom values, commitments, commission, calling, opportunity, and then I’ll fit into the world.” It's not, “I'm going to live in light of how the world directs and then fit something in the kingdom, I want to live for the kingdom and then I’ll live in the world but not of it; in it but not of it.”
Look with me in this text of Scripture where a man who lived that kind of life that the Lord used displays in Acts chapter 17. I am going to read this in two sections. Look with me in the first part, verse 16. He arrives in a place called Athens. We had a great opportunity to hear from the missionary that you have supported all these years, Mrs. Baldwin there.
“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked” — interesting word. It just means he just went into a somewhat of a controlled movement of anger. He was irritated when he saw something. Now what was it that he saw that irritated him?
“His spirit was provoked within him” — when? “as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler wish to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities’ — because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.’ Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”
Join me in prayer.
Father, thank You for these moments in Your Word. Paul arrives at an unbelievably important historic city. Now Father, we need to learn from him today. We need to learn how You moved him, why he moved, what he did, and how he did what he did so that we, at First Pres. Jackson, and Lord, please allow me, even though I'm in their pulpit, to pray for Briarwood, that we would embrace in life the Great Commission, not embrace the world and accommodate the Great Commission, but that we would hear the marching orders of the King to His church to extend His kingdom throughout all the world. And today, help us to understand why this is crucial. Father, the one who preaches is utterly incapable, so would You be so pleased by Your Spirit to bring Your Word through the teacher to these Your people. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.
Well keep your Bibles open there to Acts chapter 17. Now I know you probably looked at the thing and said, “My goodness, look at the title! Five indisputable facts that you can know about every person you meet and it leads to one indomitable motivation for missions.” And you say, “My goodness, the title's that long, how long is the sermon going to be?” Well here's the good news — the sermon is mostly the title so it's mostly done already. Just let me kind of fill in around it a little bit with you.
But you've got to have the setting. The setting is, the apostle Paul has just arrived. Now there was a church like this church. It was the church of Antioch. When they sent out their missionaries they didn't send out the people they just couldn't find a job for; they sent their two best, Barnabas and Saul. And they went out on the first missionary journey and they planted churches. Then they go out on a second missionary journey and they plant churches and do evangelism and do discipleship and go back and revitalize the churches they had planted on the first missionary journey. And then the apostle Paul kind of gets to this place, “Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do?” And he tries to head south in Asia Minor and the Lord stops him. And then he kind of looks north and the Lord stops him and the Lord is sending him west. And then he gets this Macedonian call so he takes the Gospel from Asia Minor, less than twenty-five years after the ascension of Jesus, begins to turn the world upside down in the continent of Europe. And he goes to Neopolis and he goes to Philippi. In Thessalonica he runs into an extreme persecution that comes against him and they’re trying to kill them and they’re trying to imprison them and then kill them and the Lord intervenes for him. And he moves on from Thessalonia down to Berea and he's favorably received there and the noble-minded Bereans, “they received the word with much eagerness, examining the Scriptures to see if these things be so.” But those at Thessalonica, they were not content with the things that they had done against him to try to run him out there, but the church was continuing in Thessalonia, so the guy who got that church started, they didn't want him to have any more success, so they come after him in Berea.
And eventually, he leaves his team, Timothy and Silas, there at Berea, and he takes a ship and he goes down by the sea and he arrives as the port and he gets off of the ship and he steps into this unbelievable city. The first thing that he's going to see is probably the Acropolis that rises up over the city, the Acropolis — the hill of the city. And it is there, that Acropolis, as he looks to it, he will begin to see the Parthenon, that temple that is erected to the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom. And he would see Nike — that's Nike not Nike; that's Nike. I remember when my son came to me with the first pair of shoes, athletic shoes, and he said, “Dad, I need me some Nike's.” And I said, “How much are they?” And he said, “Dad” — he told me the price, which, my goodness, we had to come up with something else because we had to keep a kingdom lifestyle here and that wasn't going to work, so I try to get theological. I said, “Son, you’re a Nike, you don't need to buy Nike. You’re a huper-Nike. You’re more than a conqueror so you don't need that.”
He saw the conqueror god, Nike. He saw the Aries or Mars. He saw the Hill of Mars. He saw all of those things. In fact, there's one street that has been restored today that he would have walked down and it was just utterly lined with idols all up and down. In fact, there would even be one to an unknown god. And as he looks at all of this — in fact, what I just read, just kind of look. What is Paul's reaction? Here this is the place that sent Alexander out to conquer the world. Here, this is the place where Aristotle and Plato and Socrates had done their work. Now it was the burgeoning philosophy of Epicureanism and Stoicism. In other words, Jerusalem has now come to Athens. Moses and Elijah and David fulfilled in Christ through Paul, has come to Socrates and Aristotle and Plato. And there he sees the grand beauty of paganism. But he doesn't have the eyes of a tourist. He's got a different set of eyes. And when he sees all of this, he is not awed. Paul would be appreciative of beauty but he's not awed. What he sees is at the bottom of it, that underbelly of rebellion against God, that underbelly of idolatria, the worship of idols, he sees all of that underneath it, he sees what it produced, he sees where it's going, and he sees that it stands against the glory and the honor of the Lord God. So when he has that reaction he then goes into action. The missionary comes to Athens.
And so the first thing he sees is this city. He sees Jew and Gentile. “Well, where am I going to reach the Jew? I’ll go to the synagogue.” And he goes to the synagogue and he arrives at the synagogue. And he begins to reason with them concerning Christ and the resurrection and the glories of the fulfillment of all the promises of God in Jesus of Nazareth who is the risen Savior. And then he wants to read Gentiles. “Well, if I can find the Jews at the synagogue, I can find the Gentiles at the mall.” So he goes to the marketplace. He goes to the agora. He goes to the marketplace and he begins to interact with them and he begins to explain to them who they are, what they need, and who Christ is and how He alone is the answer to the issue of sin in their life. And he catches the ear of the culture shapers of the day, the philosophers of the day. So they want to ask him some questions about what he's saying. So the apostle Paul begins to reason with the Epicureans and the Stoics. Well the Athenians, there's Paul, he has a reaction and an action, and the Athenians, they have a reaction. Some are becoming believers — Jew and Gentile. And the philosophers of the day, they begin to wonder about what he's preaching and what he's teaching. This is strange. But we're going to stop here. It is. The Gospel is absolutely unique.
I remember when I was saved and converted and I went to East Carolina. And I was at East Carolina and I went to a comparative religion course and I realized that is absolute intellectual dishonesty to put Christianity in a comparative religion course because it is absolutely unique. Every religion in this world ultimately tells you what you've got to do or give to get to heaven. What you’re got to do or give to get to heaven. Christianity stands absolutely unique. It doesn't tell you what you've got to do or give to get to heaven. It tells you that heaven is given and done what needed to be done take you to heaven. God has given His Son. And they are hearing this unique message and they say, “You know, if this doesn't fit on our idol rogue. This doesn't fit in our temples. So come on up and talk to us.” So they bring them up to the place where the culture is shaped, where they’ll determine, “Are we going to allow this religion to be a part of the Athenian culture or not?” And so he goes up there to defend the faith and what happens?
Well look at the next verse with me where I quit reading. Look with me at verse 22:
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made them one man from every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for”
You know interestingly, he quotes an Epicurean philosopher and a Stoic philosopher. And you know, some people always say, “Well why would he quote a philosopher since that's profane theology? Philosophers don't have it right.” Well, you know, by God's common grace, people who are unconverted that are thinking about things can get something right every once in a while. And it's just like a clock — I want to assure you your clock is working up here this morning — a clock, a broken clock, I wouldn't trust it, I wouldn't build my life on it, but it's still going to be right twice a day. So he picks where they got something right. And he says, “Even your own philosophers say what?”:
‘In him we live and move and have our being;’ as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed to all by raising him from the dead.’
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. Some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius and Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”
Very interestingly. So you've got Paul's reaction and then his action — evangelism and discipleship, first aiming at the Jew and then to the Gentile. Then the philosophers are listening in on the marketplace so they bring him up to where the culture-shapers of the day would meet. And he arrives there and he then gives this great defense of the faith and the reaction of the Athenians is not only, “Do we want to hear?” some actually believe, some are curious, “We want to hear more,” and some reject. And that's the process. That's what takes place there. In the midst of this, there are five things that become unassailable facts that you can know. When you leave here today, when these missionaries leave here today and go to Greece or go back to Trinity Gardens or wherever you go. Or this week, when you go to your work, when you go to your neighborhood, when you go to your school, when you go to your athletic teams, this text gives you five indisputable facts that you know about every single person that you meet.
My dad got me involved in boxing a little bit when I was a kid and so I got to where I liked the heavyweight class and so I looked at the heavyweight class all the time. And I convinced the three greatest heavyweight fighters that ever lived was Mohammad Ali and Rocky Marciano and Joe Lewis. And the one that I really enjoyed reading about was Joe Lewis. And I found an old clip of Joe Lewis one time. I mean, Joe Lewis would just decimate them. I loved it when Ligon was praying and he said that the Lord canceled our debt and then He liquidated sin. Praise the Lord. He just won the victory for us. That's what Joe Lewis used to do; he’d liquidate people when he got in the ring. And they would ask him, “I mean, how do you do this?” I’ll never forget the quote that he gave. He said this and I'm going to say it the way he said it if you don't mind. He said, “I knows that they gonna do before they knows what they gonna do.” He would, long before people began to study films, he would study them intently. And he knew that when that boy dropped back, when he dropped his right foot back, “He's coming with the right cross and I know how to beat it.” He knew them inside and out.
EVERYBODY IS A BELIEVER
Well there are five things that you can know about the people we take the Gospel to, five indisputable facts, which lead to one motivation that ought to cause you and me to readily, joyfully, life-changingly, embrace a personal, prayerful, financial commitment to world evangelism. Now what would that be? Let me give you the five — I'm going to give them to you quickly. Here they are. Here's the first one. Everybody you meet is a believer. Wait, Harry…then why are we doing evangelism? Because they’re believing the wrong thing. I've never used the phrase, “Are you a believer?” I’ll say, “Are you a believer in Christ?” because I know everybody I meet is a believer. You can't live in the world made in the image of God without being a believer and because they’re sinners, they believe what or who is wrong. They believe the lie. Everybody you meet is a believer.
For instance, you say, “Well Harry, what about atheists? They’re not believers, are they?” Listen, that's the biggest leap of faith I've ever seen in my life. I mean that's just like walking through a field and you see a turtle on a fencepost and you don't know — it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out, “I'm not the first one through this field.” It's amazing how an atheist can walk through this creation and not realize, “There's got to be a Creator.” You've really got to work at that. Professing to be wise, they become fools. It is, with all due respect — and I've been in the debates and the discussions — with all due respect, it is a sophisticated journey into imbecility that is not an intellectual issue; it is a moral issue. They have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. It is the fact that we were made in the image of God, we were made to glorify God, and because we're sinners we fall short of the glory of God, we assassinate God's glory to exalt our glory. And the way you assassinate God's glory is you believe in the lie and the lie that you believe in is that you are the God of this age and that it's all about you so that we exalt it. By the way, when you get converted, the opposite begins to happen. The journey of grace sets you on the movement where you now begin to assassinate your glory and exalt God's glory. That's what I'm asking you to do this morning. I'm asking you right now, with your finances, with your children, with your life, say, “No,” to exalting myself and fitting God in, falling short of the glory of God. I'm asking you to assassinate your own glory and exalt the glory of the Lord because that's exactly what Paul saw. He saw fictitious, false faith. These people were believers; they just believed what was wrong and what they believed was going to kill them.
I remember reading about the Darwinian atheist evolutionist — this was kind of a fictional story, obviously fictional story. He said the atheist Darwinian talked to the Lord and he said, “There's nothing. Listen, make men from dirt? We can do that.” And supposedly the Lord says, “Well let's have a contest.” And he said, “Okay.” And then the Lord said, “You've got to bring your own dirt.” Just think about that for a few moments. “You've got to bring your own dirt!” Listen, it's unbelievable. Christianity is walking in the light. Faith is, saving faith, true faith, is not a leap in the dark; it's walking in the light. It is the denial of the glory of the Triune God that's a leap in the darkness. It is an incomprehensible, unsatisfying thing and it leads to the second thing.
EVERYBODY HAS A RELIGION
That means everybody you meet's got a religion. It may be the religion of sports, it may be the religion of technology, it may be the religion of power, it may be the religion of oppression, it may be the religion of being the consumer, it may be but everybody — here's the problem. It was easy to spot, with the eyes of Paul, it was easy to spot the idols of that day but they are even more plentiful today and they’re more subtlety brought to you to get control of your calendar — by the way, that's how you kind of tell what is people's religion, it's just take a look at their calendar and their checkbook because that's what — see, here's what I'm trying to tell you. Whatever you believe is going to show up in your behavior, so if you want to know what your real faith is, look at the calendar; look at the checkbook. Look at how you use the resources God gives you. There's nothing more religious than irreligion. It is a religion.
I have a friend Larry Taunton who debated Christopher Hitchens and another friend John Lennox who debated Richard Dawkins, the two famous atheists. After it's over, not only did these guys do wonderfully but my comment to them after we talked was, “These guys are evangelists. They’re not arguing for, ‘Could you be an atheist?’ they believe everybody ought to be an atheist.” They’re evangelists. They’re religious. Everybody has a religion that you meet, everybody believes something — everybody has a religion.
Thirdly, that means everybody worships. The question is not, “Are you a worshipper?” You are a worshipper. Everybody here is a worshipper. The question is, “Do we worship the one, true, and living God in a manner that He says is acceptable?” That's really the question. Why did God make you? To worship. Why did God save you? To worship. When God saves you, He takes what He made you to do, worship, and He puts it on redemptive steroids because now you really want to praise Him. He saved you! Why did God sustain you? Because He made you, saved you, and gives you your breath so that everything that has breath will praise the Lord. You were made to worship. They have never discovered any primitive tribe that didn't have a faith, religion, and worship because we were made to. So everybody you meet — your schoolmates, your workmates, your friends, your neighbors, they've believers. It has been translated into a religion of their life that is extremely predictable in light of what they believe. That is translated into worship. My goodness, is this sports? The same people who worship the god of sports, if they show up to a church and the temperature isn't right — “Can't you get the temperature right?” When they go to the football game and sit in ten degrees, “Oh isn't this wonderful?” It's absolutely amazing. That's religion, that's faith, that's worship! “Let me see that replay! I've got to see — play it again!” We get absolutely caught up in what we worship, and what we worship, our adoration, our affection, and our allegiance comes from our religion which comes from our faith. And everybody you meet is a believer, they've got a religion, and it shows up in what they worship.
“IT AIN’T WORKIN”
Let me give you the four thing. If you don't mind, I'm just going to give it to you in the language of north Charlotte where I was raised. I really have it written down, which is much more faithful to the king's perverted English in Americanese, but I've got it, but I'm going to say it the way we would have said it in north Charlotte. They’re believers, they've got a religion, they worship — I saw the objects of your worship, you’re religious in every way; let me give you the fourth thing: It ain't workin’. It wasn't working in Athens. We've got Athena, we've got Hero, we've got Mars, we've got Diana, we've got Aphrodite, we've got — listen, this ain't workin’! Alright, I’ll tell you what, let's make another god, the unknown god, because this just doesn't - something's missing. He said, “Listen, what you worship in ignorance, now I tell you in truth. This isn't working because it's all a lie. It's a fictitious faith, it's a fictitious religion, it is a fictitious worship. That's why you’re empty! Oh, you can have a momentary exhilaration in an Epicurean philosophy as you satiate your appetite of sex or drink or food, you can have — but ultimately, then it's empty. It's not working and it leads to death and it leads to despair and it leads to destruction! It's not working!” And therefore he stepped into it and he made it clear.
I remember reading, Chariots of Fire, and then going to see the movie, which was relatively faithful to the issues of the day in Eric Liddell's life and kind of his collegiate antagonist in the movie, Harold Abrahams. And I've talked to young people today and I’ll say, “Have you seen, in the movie, Chariots of Fire,” — and they say, “What?” I can't believe they have not seen the movie, Chariots of Fire. Everybody ought to see that. Even if you've got to get one of those things that turns the film like this, you need to go see that movie. But in it, because it's a marvelous display of this, and thankfully Hollywood just got it right to some degree on this one, there's Harold Abrahams who turns to his coach and he says to him, he says, “When the gun sounds,” — now you know that Harold Abrahams was the great sprinter, Eric Liddell was the great sprinter. It was pretty well assured that Eric Liddell would probably beat him in the hundred yard dash. But when they got to the Olympics, Harold Abrahams was a believer and he had a true religion from a true thing and in the worship of the true and living God, so when they found out that the hundred yard event was on the Lord's Day, he said, “I can't.” What about king? What about country? What about your fame? And he said, “No, I've got something greater and something greater is to honor the Lord and I can't honor him if I break His command.” And so Eric Liddell set aside king, country, and fame. Now they found another race for him that he won and he won the quarter-mile.
That gave Harold Abrahams a clear shot for what he had always lived for because he said to his coach, he said to his coach, he said, “Sam, when the gun sounds I've got ten seconds to authenticate my entire existence.” And that day he won, and he got his wreath, and he got his medal, and in ten seconds he authenticated his existence. And then the movie moves to the next scene where he's in a drunken stupor underneath a bar in a pub. “Is that all there is?” On the other hand, Eric Liddell had said to his sister, Jenny, “Jenny, God has made me fast and when I run for Him, I feel His pleasure.” “Whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Life is worship to the Trine glory of God. So he's able to win and then go to China to plant the seeds that we're seeing millions benefit from today as he gave his life for it.
THERE’S ONLY ONE MESSAGE TO SET MEN AND WOMEN FREE FROM FICTITIOUS FAITH, FICTITIOUS RELIGION, AND FICTITIOUS WORSHIP
It's not working, but you have — and here let me give you the fifth thing and this brings me to the conclusion. Here's the fifth thing. You've got, you've got the one message to set men and women free from fictitious faith, fictitious religion, fictitious worship. You've got the one message. There's only one message — it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You've got that message that is gloriously unique. It is a message that God has loved sinners. And if you don't mind, let me go after a sacred cow here. I do my best to kind of hold my seat when you hear a preacher, “Listen, you need to know God's unconditional love.” God does not love you unconditionally. God saves you. God's love is unmerited. God's love is unwanted by us. God's love is undeserved by us, but it was not unconditional. If God could have loved you unconditionally, then why did His Son have to go to the cross? His Son went to the cross so that He would be just and justifier of sinners. God gave His only Son that we could have life. His Son went to the cross and drank to the bottom the unspeakable cup of God's wrath to give to you and me an unfathomable cup of God's love. And by the way, this Savior who saved us, God loved us. We did not want — we needed Him but we did not want Him. He wanted us but He didn't need us. and God gave His only Son. God has done much to save us but He didn't do much to save us to make much of us; He did much to save us so that we could be set free from fictitious faith, fictitious religion, fictitious worship. He did much to save us, not to make much of us but to set us free so that we could make much of Him.
Life is worship. That's why Paul was motivated. That's the indomitable motivation of missions. When we get to moments where we step — and folks, you’re either a missionary or a mission field. It's one of the two. You may be here today as a mission field. I plead with you, come to Christ! Fictitious faith is empty, it's dead, it's headed to a Christless eternity. It will destroy you, it will destroy your family, unless the Lord intervenes. But this day is the day of salvation! If you come to Christ, He's got a cup to give you because He took the cup you deserve and now He gives you one you don't deserve. And you can have life and life can become worship instead of, “What's the next transaction? What's the next sale?” Now, work becomes heartily unto the Lord, not my lord. Now sports becomes something to enjoy as a clinic for life, not life. Now the things He's given me no longer — I don't know how much you've got. I don't honestly, I don't really care how much you've got. What I care is what's got you. That's what I care. And that's why I love weeks like this that ought to be a time to focus on what grabs us for fifty-two weeks of every year.
“Lord, you've got me because I want Your praise to cover the earth as the waters” — I love that phrase. I love the song we sang. I love that phrase. “Oh Lord, may the praise of our God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” Brothers and sisters, you and I will not live the life of Paul until we get the eyes of Paul. And instead of envying the idols of this world we've provoked, for they are taking what is due to our God — worship and praise. The idols lead to idolatria — false worship.
God, would You use us? you have given us the one message — and I didn't finish that, You have given us the one message and You have given us the divine mission to take that message to men and women so they’ll be set free in Jackson, Mississippi, North America, and the world. That's what You have given us the privilege to do. And it's a glorious privilege to do it. I love that phrase, “May the praise of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” I won't have the life of Paul until I get the eyes of Paul. I won't have the eyes of Paul until I have the heart of Paul. And the heart of Paul was, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Listen, do you love it? Don't you love to see it — the way he goes to the Jew to talk to the Jew and the Gentile to talk to the Gentile? And yes, his audience would determine his vocabulary, his audience determined where he went to get them — “I’ll go get the Jew at the synagogue. I’ll go get the Gentile at the marketplace.” His audience determined his starting point. His audience determined his vocabulary. It did not determine his message. He said, “I've got one message, and that's Christ and Him crucified. Here's the bad news: you’re all wrong with God. Here's the good news: you can be alright with God, and those who are right with God praise the glory of His grace.”
I love that word picture — “May the praise of the Lord cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” Can I draw the picture further? All the oceans, go to them, dive in, you’re going to get wet. The waters cover the sea. Here's why we've got missions. One day, oh Lord, no matter what nation we go to, when we dive in they’ll be praising the Lord. May His praise cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Father, thank You for the great privilege to be with this congregation and the great things You have done. But Father, we have no desire at Briarwood, at First Pres., at any other church maybe represented by visitors here — we want to thank You and praise You for what You have done, but we have no interest in being museums. We want to be a movement of the kingdom and we want what You've done for You to receive praise. What You’re doing we want to enjoy for Your glory. And what we want to be done is that the praise of our God would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea because the Gospel has been sent, undergirded with prayer, embraced personally, and properly resourced so that Father, we can send to the world the one message that will set them free and set them free for the praise and glory of our God. Praise Your name forever. Amen.
Please stand. Thank you for the privilege to be with you and look forward to being with you tonight — “The DNA of a Missions Church” and I look forward to being with you. It's been wonderful to be with you and it's a great privilege to serve the Lord alongside of you. And now the joy of giving the good word from God, the benediction.
Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think, to Him be the glory, in Christ Jesus and in the church, now and forevermore. And God's people said, amen.
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