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Sent Out

Series: Luke

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on Apr 11, 2010

Luke 10:1-16

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The Lord's Day Morning

April 11, 2010

Communion Sunday

Luke 10:1-16

“Sent Out”

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III

O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever. Let all who fear the Lord say His loving kindness is everlasting. Let us worship Him.

If you have your Bibles I'd invite you to turn with me to Luke chapter 10 as we continue our way through the gospel. As we look at this passage in which Jesus sends His disciples out again on a mission, I want you to be on the lookout for five things as we read through the first sixteen verses of Luke 10. In Luke 10 verse 2 I want you to see what Jesus tells His disciples to pray for. In verses 3 to 9 I want you to see what He tells His disciples to do. In verse 9, especially the end of verse 9, I want you to be on the lookout for the message that He gives the disciples, what He tells His disciples to say. In verses 9 to 12 I want you to see the response that He tells His disciples to expect, and in verses 13 to 16, I want you to be on the lookout for the consequences of this mission, this message, this ministry that He has given to the disciples. So I want you to see what He tells them to pray, to do, and to say and then what He tells them to expect the response to be and the consequences of this ministry.

Now let's pray before we read God's Word.

Heavenly Father, this is Your Word. You give it to us for our edification and so we ask that by Your Spirit You would open our eyes to behold wonderful things in it. Teach us what it means to be a disciple from Your Word. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

This is God's Word. Hear it:

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go. And He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

The one who hears you hears Me and the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.’”

Amen and thus ends this reading of God's holy, inspired and inerrant Word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.

This passage defines who we are. If we have professed faith in Jesus Christ, if we have answered the questions that have been asked and answered this morning by the new members and communicants, if we're communing members of this congregation and have answered those five questions, then we are disciple-making disciples. That's who we are. And this passage is about that.

This passage, you understand, has many specific applications to the unique circumstance of Jesus’ own life and ministry and the unique ministry of His inner circle of twelve disciples and this larger circle of seventy-two disciples. And this passage has many direct applications to the work of ministers and missionaries, of pastors and church planters, of evangelists and elders.

But I want us to think about the more general application of this passage to each one of us as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ because there are things in this passage that are vital for all of us who are trusting in Jesus Christ, who count ourselves as followers of Christ, who have professed ourselves to be disciples of Christ. There are many things in this passage which speak directly to our calling as disciple-making disciples. And I'd like to look with you at this passage and especially ask five questions that are derived from Jesus’ own emphasis in this section.

I. Pray for disciples.

And the first is simply this — notice in verse 2 that Jesus tells these disciples to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” and I have a question for you. Are you praying for laborers to go out into the harvest? Is that a standard prayer of yours? Jesus is saying that His disciples ought to pray for laborers to go out into the harvest and I simply ask you — Are you praying for that? Is that something that's very important to you? What's gotten you exercised this last week? Maybe the Masters Golf Tournament has gotten you exercised or maybe the NCAA basketball championship got you exercised and fired-up this last week, or maybe politics got you fired-up last week for good or for ill. What is important to you? What excites your energy and your passions? Well one of the things that Jesus says excites the attention and the energy and the passion of His followers, of His disciples, is looking out at a field that is white for harvest and recognizing that there's not enough laborers to bring in that harvest.

So, this last week have you thought about the fact that there are over a hundred campuses across the United States that have an RUM campus ministry? But do you realize that that means that there are thousands of campuses across the United States where there's no ministry of Reformed University Fellowship? And has that burdened you? Have you prayed for the Lord to raise up campus ministers go to there? Or have you thought about the fact that west of the Mississippi, per several hundred thousand people, there is just one Bible-believing, Gospel-proclaiming congregation of any sort, per several hundred thousand people west of the Mississippi? Or have you thought about how hard the soil is up in New England and how difficult it is to plow there and have you been praying for laborers? Have you thought about the fact that even though there is an explosion of Christianity in the Global South. that there are millions and millions of people that have never heard the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and they've never heard the Gospel, and has that burdened you? And has it led you to pray for laborers to go out? Jesus says His disciples will pray for laborers to go out into the harvest. That ought to be one of the things that's burdening us, that we're passionate about, that's on our minds and that we're praying for. Have you prayed? Are you praying for laborers? There's the first question that I want to ask.

II. Go and make disciples.

Now here's the second thing. What does Jesus tell His disciples to do in this passage? Well He sends them out to do what — to make disciples. It's not unlike what He tells His disciples to do in the Great Commission. Go make disciples. He sends His disciples out into the highways and byways, in this case especially into the cities and towns of the surrounding region to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, to tell the surrounding villages that the kingdom of God is drawing near. But He's telling them that they are to be disciple-making disciples that they are to go out and proclaim His Word in order that others will follow Him.

And I want you ask you this question- is that how you view yourself? Do you view yourself? Do you view yourself as a disciple-making disciple? Is one of the things that you think about yourself, not just where you grew up, where you were born, where you went to school, what sorority or fraternity that you belonged to, what profession you are in, but as a defining self-identifying trait — your discipleship? Do you view yourself fundamentally as a disciple-making disciple?

If you've joined this congregation, if you've made an answer “yes” or “I do” to those five questions, then you have said, “I am a disciple-making disciple. I am called to make other disciples. That's not just the job of ministers and missionaries. That's not just the job of campus ministers and church planters. It's not just the job of evangelists and street-preachers. It's not just the job of the ministers of this congregation or the elders but it is my job personally, as a member of this congregation, to be a disciple-making disciple.” In fact, what the ministers and elders of this church exist for is to equip you to do that job. That's not just our job. That's your job. We’re here to equip you for that job. Is that how you view yourself? Do you view yourself as a disciple-making disciple?

III. Disciples tell a message.

Third, notice verse 9. What's the message that they are to give? The message is, “the kingdom of God has come near to you.” Now Luke is just giving you the nub, the stub, the nearest one sentence outline of the message that they are to proclaim that he possibly can give. In Luke's teaching the kingdom of God is something that God does. It's not something that we do. And the kingdom of God is something that fulfills what God promised in the Old Testament. And the kingdom of God is not what the people of Israel were expecting, but it is good news that is being proclaimed that through the Messiah, God's kingdom and the promises that He made to His Old Testament people are being realized in their very presence and they are to respond to that good news in faith and trust in God through His Messiah. The kingdom of God is not an earthly or military or political or national kingdom. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God through Jesus Christ in people's hearts and lives and it's manifested by following Jesus and His teaching. And that's the message that they’re given to go out and proclaim in the highways and byways.

Application:

And I want to ask you two questions — and this only counts for one of my five questions — but two questions in relation to that.

1. Do you understand the good news of the kingdom well enough to articulate it? Do you understand it well enough to articulate it? The New Testament gives you all sorts of short synopses of that message. Sometimes we hear Romans 5:8 as a summation of the Gospel, or John 3:16 as a summation of the Gospel, or 2 Corinthians 5:21 as a summation of the Gospel. There are so many passages in which little Gospel nuggets are found, where the Gospel is summarized. Can you articulate the good news? If you’re a disciple-making disciple, you ought to be able to articulate the good news, not just the professionals, not just the elders, not just the deacons, not just the ministers, not just the missionaries, not just the church planters, not just the campus ministers, but you. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to be able to articulate the good news of the kingdom. Do you? Can you?

Now here's the follow-up question I want to ask in connection with that —

2. Are you? Are you articulating it? Are you thinking, when you go to that restaurant and you go there fourteen times a year, are you thinking, “You know, I want to develop a relationship with the wait staff so I think I'm going to try and sit at the same table every week and talk to that waiter, or talk to that waitress, build up a relationship, share the Gospel. Or are you thinking about that in relation to your venders or where you go to the grocery store or your neighbors. You’re constantly thinking, “Where can I articulate the Gospel?” and you’re articulating it. Is that woven into the fabric of your lives? If you’re a disciple-making disciple you’ll be thinking about that.

Next, look at verses 9 to 12. Jesus tells His disciples at the very outset that the response their message will be mixed. The response to their message will be mixed. In other words, even if you’re faithful in sharing my message, don't think that everybody's going to accept it. Some people are going to reject it. That's not our responsibility to affect the response. That's up to God. Our job is to be faithful in telling the good news, sharing the good news, seeking to make disciples. But in the end, God the Holy Spirit has to make the disciple. God the Holy Spirit has to draw a person savingly to Jesus Christ. Our job is to tell the good news. Our job is to be faithful in declaring the Gospel and sharing that good news.

But let me ask you this question —

3. Do your lives show the evidence of the Gospel that you’re called to proclaim to others? Is the kingdom of God evident in your life? It's very interesting, here in verse 9 where Jesus tells the disciples to proclaim, “the kingdom of God has come near to you,” He tells them to do this right in the context of their having done what - having healed the sick. In other words, there was a manifestation of the kingdom's power and then they proclaimed the kingdom in this village. Now what is one of the crucial manifestations of the kingdom's power that must be present if we're going to proclaim the Gospel effectively in our community? Our own lives having been changed by the Gospel. So I'm asking you again — Is the kingdom of God evident in your life? Can somebody say, “You know, I can see that the Gospel is at work in that woman's life, in that man's life. I can see a change of life. I can see different priorities. That person loves God not stuff. That person believes what the Bible says, not what the prevailing culture around them says. That person's ethics bear the marks of believing in Jesus and embracing the teaching of God in the Scripture as opposed to the relativistic culture that pervades.” There's going to be an evidence in your life if you’re truly a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, if you’re a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. There's going to be an evidence in your life of the rule and reign of God that will confirm the Gospel that you’re articulating and sharing. So I ask you fourthly — Is the kingdom of God evident in your lives?

And then finally,

4. do you realize the consequence of this? In verses 13 to 16, Jesus makes it clear that the consequences of either accepting or rejecting His teaching are eternal. The consequences are eternal. Look especially at the stunning words of verse 16. “The one who listens to you listens to Me, the one who hears you hears Me, the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Do you realize what that's saying? That when you share the Gospel of the kingdom and people reject it, they’re not just rejecting you they’re rejecting Jesus. And if they’re rejecting Jesus, they’re rejecting the only God there is. And the consequences of it Jesus makes crystal clear in verse 13 to 16 are eternal. Do you live life with that sense of the weightiness of your Gospel conversations with other people that lives hang in the balance?

It's a good thing for us to think about as we come to this Lord 's Table. We come to this Lord's Table by grace because God has saved us through Jesus Christ. As we've trusted on Jesus Christ He has accepted us as righteous, He has forgiven our sins, He has welcomed us into His family, but He's done this in order to make us disciple-making disciples. And are we doing that? Are we praying for laborers? Are we seeking to make disciples? Are we able to articulate the message of the Gospel? Do we understand that the response is in His hand? Are our lives changed and do they bear witness to the words we say? And do we understand that the consequences are eternal? It's a good thing for us to think about as we come to the Lord's Table today.

Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, make us disciple-making disciples. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper

Now as we prepare to come to the Lord's Table let's take our hymnals in hand and turn to number 378, “Hear O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face.”

Be seated please. As we come to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, here are the words of institution found in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 beginning in verse 23. Hear the Word of God:

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink of it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is indeed a sacrament, a sign, a covenant sign of the relationship between God and His people, the sign that God has indeed saved His people and bought them. It's a sign that confirms to us God's promises. It's one of those things that reminds us that when the world around us is yelling that Christ didn't really live, He didn't do anything for His people, it's that thing that gives us ground in reality. It reminds us again of the truthfulness and the death and the blood shed and the body broken for us. It's also for us as believers a means of knowing and falling in love again over and over with our God. It's a means of grace, a way whereby we understand again, where we taste again, where we even smell the food again, the reality that our Savior, His body was broken and His blood was shed for us. It is a means whereby we grow.

But because it is a table for Christians we want to remind you that it is for those who trust in Christ so we invite to this table, the Lord's Table, all who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation as He is offered in the Gospel and who have joined themselves to the body of Christ, His church.

If you’re not a believer we're glad that you’re here, but we ask you to refrain from taking. But we do ask you to think about what's going on around you, to think, to wait, to pray, to repent, and to trust in Jesus Christ. Ask us questions afterwards. That's one of the great things about this supper for unbelievers as they come — “Why do y’all do that? What are you doing?” And so if you’re an unbeliever and you’re here, ask us questions.

And then let me remind parents that if your children have not yet taken the vows of membership, if they have not yet been examined by the Session, that they refrain from coming to the table until that time when they too can confess that they know and love the Lord Jesus.

Let's pray as we come to the table.

O Father, we come to Your table, the table of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus, and we come because Your Spirit has brought us here. Indeed we come because Jesus Christ became flesh and He dwelt among us and we have beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Father we would come this day to acknowledge that we need You, we need Your help. As we come to this table today we need to come because You have worked in us and You have drawn us here. Lord God, we would come and ask that You would take the common elements here and that You would use them as a means of grace for Your children, that You would cause us to be reminded that when the bread breaks in our mouth that Your body really was broken for us and that when we taste this grape juice, the wine Father, that Your blood was really shed for us. May this be for us who come to this table, for those of us who trust in the Lord Jesus, may it be a reminder of what He did for us and how He suffered in our place and may it be also a reminder of how great You are and how glorious is Your grace to us who are sinners. And may we be filled with Your Spirit that we might go forth and proclaim Your name. Thank You for blessing this time and we ask Father these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Because this table is a table for believers, let us who believe profess what we believe. Christian what do you believe?

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Let me remind you from Exodus chapter 20, the preface to the Ten Commandments, so that you won't get the impression that we read the Ten Commandments because we think that if you keep them you will be good. You can't keep them. We keep them for a different reason. Hear this preface: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of slavery. Therefore, because I have saved you, here is the way that you live that pleases me.” And so believer, how do you please God now that He has saved you?

You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself in idol. You shall not worship them or serve them.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

The Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and He gave it to His disciples saying, “This is My body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

After the same manner, our Savior took the cup, and having given thanks for it as we have already done in His name, He gave it to His disciples saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood which has been poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Drink of it, all of you.”

“By grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.
Not as a result of works so that no man may boast.”

“For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not communion with the blood of Christ? And the
bread that we break, is it not communion with the body of Christ?”

“He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

“Herein is love, not that we loved Him but that He first loved us.”

Let us pray.

We give You thank, O God, that we have been privileged to sit again, or for the first time, at Your table and we thank You too for those who once sat here and now sit at Your table in the home of many mansions. Help us we pray by the Holy Spirit. Preserve us from the wiles of Satan. Keep us faithful to the vows which we made when we first became communicants in Your church. Grant of Your mercy that when for us the busy fever of this life is forever hushed and our joys here are ended and our toils are done, we may have perfect communion with You in that kingdom where Your saints, Your redeemed, are forevermore. Through Jesus Christ our Lord we ask it. Amen.

Before they went out they sang a hymn. Let's take our hymnals in hand and turn to number 252, “When I Survey.”

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