The Great Commission Sunday July 30, 2017

We as believers have two ordinances in the church. We have Baptism and the Lords supper or communion.

We believe that you are not saved by taking communion or by being baptized. However, you must be saved in order to take communion or to be baptized.

So why do we have these ordinances? Matthew 28:16-20, known as the Great Commission is where Jesus gave his disciples the marching orders for the church.

The disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions from Matthew 28:10, and go up this mountain in Galilee. Suddenly Jesus presents himself to them and in verse 17 we have a very interesting phrase, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Some doubted! The term for doubt here is not complete unbelief but rather it is a hesitation to accept something that seemed so impossible, it was hard to grasp. Some of the disciples struggled to believe that Jesus was alive and that he was exactly who he said he was. These same disciples who witnessed the feeding of the 5000, the feeding of the 4000, Jesus walking on the water, Jesus calming the storm, they witnessed the powerful natural disasters that took place when Jesus was crucified and many other miracles, these same men, who walked with God for 3 years, now doubted.

Now before we are too critical of these disciples, we too are prone to doubt and Jesus knew that. Jesus knew that the enormity of what took place when he was crucified and raised from the dead, is too much for us to fully comprehend and that is why we have these reminders, the reminder of Baptism and the Lords supper.

These ordinances are more than simply things we do. They remind us of who we are, they remind us that without the body and the blood of Jesus, we have no hope. Baptism is such a beautiful picture, when the person being baptized, goes under the water, they are showing that they have died to their old life, and have been buried with Christ. And then the beautiful picture of coming up out of the water, being raised to new life in Christ.

Jesus begins the Great Commission by saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

The authority Jesus has supersedes all earthly authority and all heavenly authority, he truly is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus didn’t assume this authority, it was given to Him by God the Father, the creator and sustainer of all things, Jesus had this universal authority given to him. The authority that Jesus had is secure because it has been given to him by the all-powerful, unchanging, uncreated God of the universe.

When Jesus says that all universal authority has been given to him, he sets the stage for what he is about to say next. Verse 19 begins with the word, “Therefore”, therefore, because he has the supreme authority, Jesus uses that authority to commission the disciples, and all who would follow him. With all the authority in the universe, Jesus says Go!

Notice that Jesus doesn’t, try to go, or if you have time go, or if it is convenient go, no he simply says; “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

This commission still applies to the church today, it still applies to all followers of Jesus today.

The phrase, “make disciples”, means win converts, win them for Christ by sharing the good news. Go out by the power of the Holy Spirit and win people for Christ.

The natural follow on from salvation is baptism, Jesus follows the winning of souls immediately with baptism.

If you have given your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but you have not been baptized, I strongly encourage you to be baptized. It doesn’t make you a Christian, but in obedience to Christ, you are making a public testimony of your new life in Christ, and I believe that God places a special blessing and seal on your life as you obey Him in baptism.

Verse 20 continues, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

This is the discipleship piece, we are not called to simply win souls for Christ, we are commissioned by Jesus to do that hard work of teaching, correcting, training and encouraging. This is sometimes where we struggle, we seem to think that once a person is baptized they automatically are transformed in every way. But that is simply not the case, they need grace to make mistakes just like we do. None of us are perfect, but we are all on the journey of growing more and more in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So, we have the Great Commission, to go, win souls, baptize them and disciples them. After Jesus gave the commission, did he just wave a goodbye, and disappear?

Have you ever been given an impossible task? A task that you know you could not do yourself, but you were told by your parent or your boss to go out and do it! Imagine these eleven disciples, Jesus just told them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Can you imagine how overwhelming that must have been?

But then Jesus gives them the promise that makes the Great commission doable, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus promised to be with us, he also gave the Holy Spirit to live inside of us as believers, we are not alone. This is not a task that we have to try and figure out on our own.

In fact, the Great Commission is only possible because of the promise and the gift of the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

What a comfort that is, God not only commissioned us to go, he also provided the power to complete that Great Commission. Let us be a church that always answers the call to go.

The Three Characteristics of and Evangelist. May 28, 2017

Three Characteristics of an Evangelist.

It has been such a blessing to have people at Grace Point from many different states and denominations. All the evangelism efforts this week will be driven by one central theme, the Good news of Jesus Christ, the Gospel message. The central theme that Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, fully God and fully man, lived a perfect sinless life, suffered and died on a Roman cross. But God, raised him from the dead. Jesus now lives at the right hand of the father interceding for us, and all who call on the name of Jesus as Lord will be saved.

Focusing on evangelism and the evangelist, we find in John 4:31-38 three characteristics of an evangelist. While our focus may be on those gifted in evangelism, this passage has something to teach all of us.

 In the beginning of John 4, we read that Jesus left Judea and journeyed to Galilee, in order to get to Galilee, he had to go through Samaria and a town called Sychar, the location of Jacobs well. It was at this well that Jesus met the Samaritan woman, and he proceeds to tell her everything about her life. She encounters the living God and Jesus reveals to her that he is the promised Messiah. She immediately believes and runs back to town and becomes a fiery evangelist, convincing the people to come out and meet Jesus, and they do.

The disciples were trying to figure out why Jesus was talking to a Samaritan, and a woman no less. They being good Jews did not associate with the Samaritans, and in their minds, if Jesus was the promised Messiah, then he had come for the Jews only and to establish the nation of Israel once again. But here was Jesus preaching to a Samaritan Women. As they were trying to figure this out, the people from the town were coming in a large crowd towards them (v 30). The disciples tried to save the situation by suggesting to Jesus that it was time to eat and they needed to leave. But Jesus responds in his usual metaphorical way, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (v 32).

And then Jesus clarifies by saying; “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work”. This is the first Characteristic of an evangelist

Doing the work of the Father gives life. What is God calling you to do? What are your specific gifts given by the Holy Spirit that when you operate in them, you receive life?

Serving the Lord is never a chore, the only time it becomes a chore is when we work in our own strength, either because of guilt or seeking the recognition of others. When you serve the Lord, when you are seeking to please an audience of one, you will find life and strength for the day.

The Samaritan woman was now doing the Father’s will and finding excitement and enrichment in it. In verse 39 we read that she was going around the town telling people about Jesus, and many believed because of her testimony.

So, the first Characteristic of an evangelist that we see in this passage is devotion.

Jesus was devoted to the task he had been given, and he finished the work the Father sent him to do. We too are to be devoted to the calling God has on our lives.

The second characteristic of an evangelist we see in verse 35, where Jesus says; “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

I may be reading into the situation a little bit, but I don’t find it hard to believe that as Jesus was saying this, he wasn’t pointing to the fields of corn or some other crop, but rather he was pointing to the crowd of people coming down to them from the town. Jesus was pointing to them and saying, “open your eyes, here is the harvest”.

Jesus could boldly declare that the Samaritans would accept his message because he had faith.

Evangelism takes faith, faith that God will lead us to those that He has prepared in advance to receive the message. The Samaritans had been prepared, they were expecting Jesus to be the messiah and they were not disappointed.

And then finally we find the third characteristic in verse 36; “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”

Every person who has given their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ has one defining characteristic, it is the hope of eternal life. The evangelist goes out, with the hope of a reward for their efforts, but the greatest reward of all is to be able to spend eternity with our Lord and savior (see Colossians 1:25 to 27).

If you are have made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, then he has a calling on your life, he has a perfect purpose and plan for your life, the Holy Spirit has gifted you uniquely for this purpose.

These three Characteristics; Devotion, Faith and Hope apply to you and me today.

  1. Are we devoted to what God has called us to do?
  2. Do we have faith that God is about to use us for His glory?
  3. Do we have hope in the fact that whatever God has called us to do, it will have eternal results.

Sermon on July 3 2016 – The Mission is not Complete

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Matthew 24: 3-14

This past week, our small mission team returned from the town of Buea Cameroon. For most of our team, this was not the first mission trip to Africa, although it was our first mission trip to the country of Cameroon.

As the mission team comes back and shares stories it is both inspiring and challenging. But how does it affect your life? How does our church sending a mission team to Cameroon affect you in your day to day life?

Jesus speaking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24, makes it clear that we are all in this together. The mission that we are called to does not apply to a select few, rather we are challenged by Jesus to be involved and not to grow cold in our efforts to share the Gospel.

In Cameroon we experienced a nation that seems chaotic and one filled with corruption at all levels. Poverty is everywhere to be seen and making a living in Cameroon is exceptionally hard, requiring most people to work much harder than the average American just to bring home enough money for some rice and beans.

This past week we were once again reminded of the rise of evil in the world as we saw the news about terror attacks in Istanbul, Serbia, Bangladesh and Baghdad. The truth is that as Jesus warned us in verse 12, there will be an increase in wickedness. The world seems to be spiraling downwards as all around us we see the wickedness and the depravity of man. Verse 12 goes on to give a dire warning that the love of most will grow cold as a result of the increase of wickedness. What a sobering thought to meditate on.

As we see evil on the rise in the world, it does affect all of us, whether directly or indirectly. If we don’t know where we stand before God and we don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you attend church simply because it is a social gathering or a place to go to because of tradition – you are in real danger. In order to avoid growing cold and falling away we need to completely give every aspect of our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

But Jesus gives a word of encouragement in verse 13; “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. “ I want to be one of those who stands firm, and is not given to discouragement.  God commissioned Joshua in Joshua 1:9 with those well-known words; “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Why would God warn Joshua not to be discouraged? Because God knew that he would face discouragement and we too are prone to discouragement. As we look at the world around us, we will easily be discouraged. But the truth of the promise given to Joshua is that Jesus gave us the same promise in the Great Commission in Matthew 28, where he promised to be with us to the very end of the age.

Looking to the next verse Jesus goes on to say; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

This Gospel, this good news of Jesus coming to the earth to provide way of reconciliation with God. Must be preached in the whole world. In Cameroon there are 278 people groups, not all of them have heard the Gospel, our mission is not complete, there is still work to be done. Here in Kansas City, there are people who have never heard the Gospel message, there is still work to be done.

Our job is not done until Jesus comes back again. That should be our primary focus in life.

Over the next three weeks we have a mission teams coming to serve and share the gospel in our community. On Monday we served our community as we welcomed our neighbors to watch the fireworks from our hilltop location. Our friends from Team Xtreme and other ministries to helped to provide opportunities for people to respond to the Good News. And we had three young men who responded to the Gospel presentation.

In two weeks time, we will be holding our annual VBS, again we will intentionally be sharing the Good News with the children who come and their parents.

All these events and teams are good and energizing, but for us to be a church on mission, doing what God has called us to do, we must not simply hold events, programs, or even send international mission teams, we need to be a people who are daily on mission. Daily, individually asking God to use us. Daily pray that God will bring people to us that He wants to touch.

What a privilege we have to be part of the mission of God. Developing a lifestyle of Gospel ministry in our homes, in our workplaces, in our communities. This is how we can ensure that we will stand firm to the end. And to hear those words of Jesus that he said as he told the parable of the 3 servants in Matthew 25; “well done good and faithful servant.

Playing our Part; “When are we ready to share the Gospel?” June 12, 2016

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Luke 10:1-17

Over the last three weeks we have been looking at the subject of evangelism. With all this talk about evangelism and knowing the Gospel, when is one ready to go and share the truth of the Gospel message?

As we know Jesus had his twelve disciples that he chose, but Jesus had many other followers or disciples with him, He had his inner circle, and then another group of followers, and then a much larger group of followers.

We read in the Gospels that he exposed them to ministry seemingly before they were ready. He threw them in the deep end as it were. Jesus didn’t spend hours in a classroom with his disciples, it seems that he gave them some brief instructions and then sent them out.

You may remember that just before Easter we looked at the journey that Jesus took to Jerusalem, and how he resolutely set out for Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified there. In Luke 10 Jesus selected seventy two disciples and sent them into all the towns on the way that he was planning to go. They were to prepare the way for him, to herald the coming of Jesus.

Before they went Jesus gave them some instructions, the instructions we have recorded in the Gospel of Luke are simple and brief. This was not a coach team talk or a pep talk to get them fired up. Jesus warns them that it is going to be tough, he says in verse 3; “ Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  Not very encouraging!

After some practical details, Jesus gives them some ministry instructions about what to do when they are welcomed in the town. (See verse 9).  I can imagine the disciples feeling a little nervous at this point. They had seen Jesus heal many sick people, but now he was giving them the power to do what he did.

They were to go into the town and demonstrate the power of God – heal the sick – take care of the physical needs of the people. Jesus demonstrated his power and then taught, it was not just a way to get attention, and it was to prove that he had the power to back up what he was teaching. As we go and share the Gospel, we must care for the physical needs of people, praying for healing, showing compassion. Compassion without sharing the Gospel is temporary pain relief, but sharing the Gospel without compassion often is fruitless.

After healing the sick their message was very simple as we read in verse 9; “tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” They were to herald that God himself was going to visit their town. Everyone had a choice to make, either accept Jesus or reject him. Unfortunately many chose to reject him, and they crucified the Prince of Peace. Jesus lists three towns that rejected him. Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. These three towns on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee where the places where Jesus had spent most of his time in ministry. They had seen his miracles and power, they heard his words of teaching, and yet many of them rejected him.

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Because of their knowledge, Jesus said they would be punished more severely on that final Day of Judgment.

We need to hear this warning, we have overwhelming access to the Word of God and teaching, we must be very careful that we do not reject the Word of God.

The 72 returned with great rejoicing. I am sure they left with fear and anxiety, but then they saw the hand of GOD and they witnessed His power to change lives. They must have run back to Jesus with excitement and joy that was probably heightened by relief.

Just like these disciples, when we go out as His ambassadors, weak, fearful perhaps expectant, and then God shows up and we see lives changed.

The disciples weren’t the most equipped, they were not the Bible scholars of their day, but they were followers of Jesus and that made them qualified.

If you are a follower of Jesus you are qualified.

Never disqualify what God has qualified! Remember you and I are ready to do what God has called us to do today!

This is the foundation of a missional church. Every member on mission. That is my heart and desire for us as a church, how we can all be a part of the mission of God. Yes we are all weak and broken, we all have good days and bad. We are all weak sinners saved by the Grace of God and totally reliant on the Gospel for every single day.

In order to be a witness for Jesus Christ, there is only one pre-requisite, one qualifier that you must have – you need to be a follower of Jesus. You need to know Jesus as your Lord and savior. When Jesus becomes your Lord and you receive the Holy Spirit, you are equipped.

In the church today we have so many courses and training programs on evangelism, and these are all good, I don’t want to minimize them, but sometimes we attend course after course, but never actually do the work of going out and sharing the Good News.

Just remember, God will never ask you to do something that he hasn’t prepared you to do. You may feel completely incompetent, but with the Holy Spirit leading you, you will find that He equips you along the way.

Let us be a church on mission, seeing revival and transformation in our community to the glory of God.

Playing our Part “How we share the Gospel” June 5, 2016

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Mark 1:16-20

We all know that we live in a world that is motivated by fear, but there is a deep seated fear that drives the current generation. It is the fear that motivates social media, the reason why so many people post selfies on facebook and Instagram. It is the fear that drives people to climb high mountains, or write books.

What I am referring to is the fear of insignificance, the fear of living a life that doesn’t make an impact. Everyone wants to live a life that makes a difference in the world. This generation is driven by the fear of insignificance.

But the truth is that everyone has the potential to live a life of immeasurable significance, everyone can leave an eternal legacy.

We have a privilege, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the greatest story ever told. This Gospel message is powerful and life changing. It is the only message that we have that can have an eternal impact on the people around us. By keeping this message to ourselves, we are withholding the news of eternal salvation.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark we read how Jesus began his ministry. Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, but he was not simply strolling on the beach.

Jesus was about to set in motion a ministry that would ultimately lead to his crucifixion, and change the entire world. He was selecting his disciples. God the Father led Jesus in this process, Jesus was not randomly calling people, he was not looking for a crowd, he was looking for the select few. Those who would follow him, ultimately paying with their lives for the Gospel message.

Jesus is still calling people today to follow him, to leave all behind and follow him to make a difference in the world.

Mark records that Jesus says three simple words; “Come, follow me” Jesus took the initiative as he called his disciples. This is the truth of the Gospel message. In our own fallen sinful nature, we do not seek God out, he seeks and calls us. Jesus was demonstrating the way of the Kingdom even as he called his disciples.

Jesus goes on to declare a promise over their lives. A promise that still stands for all the people that God calls. “I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus had “caught” them, now he was beginning the process of equipping them to carry the message of salvation. They did not know what they were being called to, but they followed in faith.

When we say yes to Jesus, we don’t know what that will lead to. For all of us, who know Jesus as our Lord and savior, we say yes, because we are called. Called to be people who leave an eternal legacy.

esus went on, and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee, calling them they left everything without delay. They left everything, turned 180’ and followed him. Today Jesus calls us, and asks us to do the same, change the direction of your life. This is the essence of being born again, it is not a mere addition to your life. Being born again is a complete shift; a change of perspective, priorities and life goals.

Below are five practical applications that we all need to bear in mind as we seek to lead lives of eternal significance and be fishers of men.

1: You cannot share what you do not have; In order to lead others into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, we need to know Jesus as Lord for our own life. This is not simply attending church or attending a life group, rather asking Jesus Christ to become Lord of your life, and growing in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

2: Know your story; Every one of us has a story, but the most important story we can share is how Jesus saved us and our lives were transformed by the Gospel. We need to be able to share our story in three minutes or less in a way that clearly demonstrates the saving power of Jesus Christ.

3: Know the gospel; The central point of who we are as a church is the Gospel message, and we need to be able to clearly articulate this Gospel message. (See 1 Corinthians 15:2-5)

4: Jesus calls us to an exchange not an addition; Unfortunately modern television evangelists and many others are preaching a message that teaches how you will have a better life if you “accept” Jesus, how you will be blessed if you “add” Jesus to your life. A little addition of some Jesus to your life and you will experience blessings, you will have the husband or wife you dreamed of, you will be able to claim wealth and health. That is not the truth. In fact Jesus clearly explained that when you become a follower of his there is a cost involved (see Luke 9:23-25).

5: let the Holy Spirit lead; This is the crucial part of evangelism that we must understand. We don’t convert anyone, we don’t have the ability to bring conviction of sins. We can make people aware of their need of a savior, but we cannot do the work of changing the very soul of a person, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. As D.L. Moody once wrote; “There is not a better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit”.

So where do you start?

You start at home. Sometimes the most difficult mission field. Very few of us can say that everyone in our extended family has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And in this challenging mission field is where we are called to start.

You can live a life of significance, you can make an eternal difference, but the only way to make an eternal difference is by telling others about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon once wrote; “Only by coming after Jesus can we obtain our heart’s desire and be really useful to our fellow men.”

Playing our Part “Why we share the Gospel” May 29, 2016

Evangelism 2 Title.2 Luke 24:36-53

Why do we share the Gospel message?

In society there are two kinds of people, those who cannot stay in the same place for any length of time and those who dread uprooting and moving to another house, or city. Most people cannot imagine what it would be like to move to another country. This is the way God has wired us, neither is good or bad. Which of the two describes you? And what is your part to play in the mission of the church?

Last week one of our church members left for Cameroon and in a few weeks a team will be following her. Why do we go to foreign lands? For most people this is illogical, crazy even wasteful. Some would say that if you are going to travel to a foreign land, at least go to an exotic location, but not an African village with no running water? There must be a compelling reason for us to go?

In Luke 24 we read Luke’s account of Jesus revealing his resurrection to his disciples. He is alive! As the disciples are talking, Jesus appears in the room. It must have been frightening, Jesus simply appears out of thin air! Jesus begins to calm their fears and shows them his hands and feet, the scars, the real skin and bones. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead changed everything for them, and it means everything to us.  If he didn’t rise from the dead, the early church would never had started, and there would be no church and no hope.

Jesus proved that he was alive, by showing the disciples his hands and his feet, and allowing them to touch him.  But what proof does the world around us have that Jesus is alive? The reality is that according to the word of God, the world needs to look no further than you and me to see evidence of the risen Lord. Our testimony should be one of a changed life, a different way of living. Let your story be known, so that people will believe in the risen Lord (see Colossians 1:27).

Jesus begins to teach them, he explains the scriptures to them, in that day the Old Testament was established and recognized. This is what Jesus had just done for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as we read in verse 27.

As Jesus teaches them, he opens their minds so they could understand the scriptures, they were able to fully grasp Jesus in the Old Testament, what an amazing revelation that must have been.

Jesus goes on to tells them the wonderful Gospel message, verse 46; “He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” Jesus shows them that the Gospel is prophesied in the Old Testament, this is it!

Jesus continues by declaring that repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name (Jesus’ name) to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. Matthew records this in what we call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). This Gospel message, this message of salvation, is for all nations, every ethnic group and tribe.

Great Commission

The Great commission is not just for the disciples who were in the room that day, it is for all believers throughout all of history. It is not just for those who are trained as pastors and evangelists, or missionaries, it is for all who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In verse 49, Jesus tells his disciples to wait, they were not yet ready, they needed one more thing. They needed to power of the Holy Spirit in order to go.  Jesus knew that if they had gone out in their own strength they would have failed, they needed the Holy Spirit to lead in the mission.

We also cannot expect any fruit from the Gospel message without the Holy Spirit. We rely on his leadership and equipping as we share the Gospel message to the world around us. Note Jesus says, “be clothed”, be covered up with the Holy Spirit. Not just take a drink of the Holy Spirit, but be completely covered by the Holy Spirit, so that when you go, you will go in power. Just like being unclothed leaves one naked and vulnerable, without being clothed in the Holy Spirit, we are naked and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.

So we have the message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ – we have the empowering Holy Spirit – and we have the commission, the Great Commission. We have to go!

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Where is God calling you to go? Your home? Your neighbor? Your workplace? The streets of the city? Maybe God is calling you to the ends of the earth. We highlight and celebrate the international missionaries, and that is good, but we need to remember that the missionary who is led by the Holy Spirit to reach his neighbor or co-worker is just as important and valuable in the Kingdom of God.

You may say, I don’t have the ability? Have you clothed yourself with power from heaven? Of course you don’t have the ability, but be clothed with the Holy Spirit, it is a promise of God that we need to pray for.

You may say, I don’t have the means? Who is it who is inviting you to go? The maker of heaven and earth, the creator and sustainer of all things? Where He leads you to go, He will provide.

If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, you are called to go.

Playing Our Part – The “What” of Evangelism. May 22, 2016

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Romans 1:14-17

It is so important to step back and refocus, to remind ourselves why we exist as a church and why do we do missions and evangelism. Why do we do what we do as a church?

As we look at evangelism over the next 4 weeks, we will look at the “what” of evangelism, the “Why” of evangelism, the “How” of evangelism and the “When” of evangelism.

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Starting with the “what”

What is the story, what is the message?

The Apostle Paul was also on a mission to Rome, he was obsessed and passionate to let the people of Rome hear the Gospel message. In verse 14 we read that Paul was obligated. Actually a better translation of what Paul says, is that he is a debtor to all men. Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), and now he was appointed by God to be a mouthpiece, a herald, an evangelist, someone who was compelled to tell the good news.

Not only does he feel obligated, Paul goes on in verse 15 and 16 to say that he was eager to preach the Gospel, he was not ashamed of the Gospel.

But why would Paul be ashamed?

He had confidence in his message, and he gave us several reasons that explain why he was not ashamed.

Firstly, the Gospel was a message directly from God about the Son of God, it was not a message from any political figure or even from Cesar himself. Paul believed in the authority of the message he was declaring.

Secondly Paul refers to the Gospel message as the Power of God. God is all-powerful and here was Paul going to Rome, the seat of power of the Roman Empire, an empire that ruled by fear and terrible cruelty. But Rome was weak because of its immoral and wicked behavior. The 2nd century writer Juvenal called it a “filthy sewer into which the dregs of the empire flood.”

No wonder Paul was not ashamed: he was taking to sinful Rome the one message that had the power to change men’s lives! He had seen the Gospel work in other wicked cities such as Corinth and Ephesus; and he was confident that it would work in Rome. It had transformed his own life, and he knew it could transform the lives of others.

Do we believe in the power of the Gospel message? The Gospel message is stronger than our greatest fears, because the all-powerful God stands in the middle of the Gospel message.

Thirdly Paul was not ashamed because the Gospel message carried the power of salvation.  That word “salvation” carried tremendous meaning in Paul’s day. Its basic meaning is “deliverance,” and it was applied to personal and national deliverance. The Gospel delivers sinners from the penalty and power of sin. “Salvation” is a major theme in this letter to the Romans and salvation is the great need of the human race today.

This is something that is lost in our modern day preaching and Bible teaching, so much emphasis is placed on living well, getting the most out of life, making an impact or changing society that we forget that every human being is destined for en eternity in hell, without the saving power of this Gospel message.

Paul continues in verse 17 to say; “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The righteousness of God is the ability to be in a right standing before an all Holy God, not to be ashamed of our past, the blood of Jesus takes away all our sins and we are able to stand in the presence of God.

Paul states that this righteousness is by faith from first to last.

Salvation first, is when we repent and first asked God to forgive us of our sins, when we first applied to Gospel message to our lives,

Salvation present, is how we need the Gospel daily in our lives. We need the blood of Jesus on a daily basis, we need the Holy Spirit to enable us to live a godly life on a daily basis.

Salvation future, is the eternity that we look forward to in the presence of God.

Salvation from first to last.

You see the Gospel is not simply a message that we need to tell people when we go out on a mission trip or an evangelism event. No the Gospel is our sustenance and our hope on a daily basis. From first to last.

Do we have a passion for people? Are you painfully aware that most of the people you see in the streets every day are lost, and are heading to an eternity in hell?

We need to pray that God would give us a passion for the lost, the ability to feel a glimpse of the heart of God for the lost. If God gives us a glimpse into his heart for the lost, we like Paul will be compelled, we will be obligated, we will be eager, and we will not be ashamed of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Let’s return to our primary objective – the purpose of the church. To declare the Gospel message to a hurting and dying world.

We do this by sharing the Gospel with our friends and neighbors, we will cover this more in the weeks to come.

The purpose of the church is to equip and send. To send people to the nations, to the places where the name of Jesus has not been heard.

The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of missions. The nearer we get to him, the more intensely missionary we become.” Henry Martyn

Run the Race Part 2 February 21, 2016

Run The Race 2 Title.2

Romans 8: 1-17

Using the analogy of a race, a marathon, there is so much that we can look at that applies to the Christian life.

We are called to a new life, a life that is led by the spirit, Paul says is that we need to be led by the Spirit of God, as we run the race that God has for us.

Now human nature is that we make rules, and when we disciple new believers, we inadvertently make rules for them to follow, because of the mistakes we made when we were in their position. Sometimes these guidelines can be made to look like laws. Romans 8:2 says; “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death”. When we run the race that is the Christian life, we do things differently, we are not under the law that leads to condemnation and death, but we are led by the Spirit which leads to life and peace.

Our disciplines and our training for the race are not governed by law, but they are governed by the Spirit and this brings life. Verse 11 tells us that the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and me! Our old way of viewing time, money, family, possessions all changes, and we see things from the perspective of heaven.

And then there is the unbelievable promise in God’s word in verse 14, we are called the children of God! I know our minds cannot grasp that, we have no idea what it means to be adopted into the family of God. We are called children of the creator of the universe. And verse 17 says that as a result of our adoption as God’s children, we receive an inheritance. We have an inheritance simply because we believed that Jesus died for our sins. He did it all, we die to our old way of life and begin to live by the Spirit, and we get to receive an inheritance from God.

But as we read verse 17 a little further we read these words: “if indeed we suffer with Him…” Suffering? That is not the wonderful Christian life the Walmart book aisle speaks about? Going back to the analogy of running a marathon, if any of you have run a long race, you will know that there are periods of suffering that you go through, occasionally you will “hit the wall”, using running terminology, when your tank is empty. But you push through, others encourage you, and you reach the finish line. Immediately the suffering becomes something you joke about because it is so small in comparison to the joy of the finish line. Verse 18 sums it up; “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us..”

Suffering and discipline are a part of the Christian race, but we must not shy away from them, they are building us and growing us to be more like Christ.

Let’s look at four Christian Disciplines that will help us run the race that is set before us:

  1. Reading and meditating on God’s word

This Bible is contains your heavenly Father’s love letter to you– it is your daily bread – it is your sword of the spirit – it is the truth that gives light to your path.

It is no ordinary collection of pages and ink. It is supernatural in its authoring, it is supernatural in its reading and it is supernatural in its application (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

If you are led by the Spirit, you will need the sword of the spirit.

Do we daily discipline ourselves to read, study, meditate on the word of God?

  1. Prayer

Prayer is a discipline, it is hard work, when we don’t discipline ourselves to spend time alone with God we limp along in the Christian race, missing out on so much that God has for us. Discipline yourself to pray, it will transform your life and the race God has called you to.

  1. Tithing

Tithing is something we seldom view as a discipline, but the way we handle our finances is either worship or it is idolatry. Either God is more important than your money, or your money is more important than God in your life.

We don’t tithe because God needs our money, he already has all things. No, we tithe because it is worship. Tithing is an act of worship, because many times we look at our income and our expenses and wonder how we can afford to give 1/10 of our income to the Lords work. Well if the Bible is correct, and we know it is, how can we afford not to give to the Lord, knowing that he is our provider and that he will take care of all of our needs (see 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8). You will have all you need to do the will of God for your life.

  1. Evangelism

Evangelism is a spiritual discipline that we are all called to participate in. Evangelism that is led by the Spirit is a joy and a blessing, but we make it out to be a fearful chore.

Evangelism that is fruitful and effective is evangelism that is led by the Holy Spirit. Daily discipline ourselves to pray: “Lord bring someone into my path today who needs a touch from heaven, let me be used by you, almighty God, to bring a miracle to someone’s life” That is the discipline, being available, daily being led by the Spirit to look for the person that God wants to touch through your life story (see 2 Peter 3:15).

Notice two aspects in this verse: firstly – it starts with “revere Christ as Lord”. If Jesus Christ is truly Lord of your life, it will be evident to those around you and your life will be a testimony for Jesus.

Secondly: “always be prepared to explain the reason for your hope” – because, if you are living by the Spirit, people are going to want to know why you are different.

Remember not everyone is gifted as an evangelist, but we are all called the spiritual discipline of sharing the story that God has given us and the reason for our hope.

Remember that the Christian life is a race, it is not a stroll or a wandering along the pathway, there is a very definite end goal. And to keep us running diligently we need to develop Spiritual disciplines, Prayer, Reading God’s Word, Tithing and Evangelism are just a few of them.

But why do we do them?

Because they are good for us? Or because we become more fruitful and lead others to Christ? Yes, but there is a greater reason.

We develop Christian disciplines, because our lives will bring Glory to God.

A discussion on Revival – Part 1

What is Revival?

This is a short study on the topic of revival. This is based on the book written by Selwyn Hughes called; “Why Revival Waits”

Praying for revival is what we do every Tuesday morning here at Grace Point. It is a powerful time with the Lord and we will faithfully continue to pray each week as the Lord directs us.

We do this because we believe that this is the greatest need of the church today and it is also the greatest need of the Christian church at large.

When we think about revival and prayer, the one verse that we always turn to is 2 Chronicles 7:14; “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Most of us can recite this verse, and it was the theme verse for the great Welsh revivals and the theme verse for the Global day of prayer movement, that grew to encompass every nation in the world between 2000 and 2010.

It is God’s formula for revival.

Defining revival is difficult because it is a word so frequently used and thrown around. Some call a revival a weekend where more people than usual come to know the Lord as their savior.

But a true revival is an unusual and extraordinary movement of the spirit of God. Very different from anything previously experienced. Not just a trickle but a flood.

What revival is not.

Revival is not an evangelistic campaign – Billy graham was used by God as a tremendous evangelist, but evangelism and revival are very different.

Evangelism is the expression of the church – it is what we do – or should do.

Revival is an experience in the church.

In an evangelistic appeal, the preacher calls for people to repent and be saved.

In a true revival, the people come to the preacher and ask how they can be saved.

Throughout history there have been many revivals in the Body of Christ; in America there was the First and Second Great Awakening in the 18th century. In South Africa in 1860 there was a revival that started in a small town in the church of Andrew Murray. There was the great Welsh revival in 1904, and there have been others throughout history. All of these revivals have one thing in common; people interrupted the preacher to beg him to tell them how to be saved.

During evangelistic preaching, people come under the conviction of sin and this conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit.

In a true revival the power and presence of the Holy Spirit it so strong that people are crying out in the streets for salvation, as they are made aware of their own personal sin.

Revival is not a large number of backslidden believers coming to repentance.

Revival is not a wonderful meeting, where we felt the presence of God and enjoyed the music.

Rather revivals are often accompanied by great sorrow, crying, and grief.

So as we continue to look at this subject over the next few weeks, let’s be very sure that we know what we are praying for.