“A GLIMPSE ON
Text: Acts -29 May 25, 2008
1) The definitions: According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary, among others, “mission” is primarily defined as following: 1) A body of persons sent by religious community to convert heathens; 2) Persons sent to foreign countries to conduct state business; 3) Field of operation; 4) Purpose of operation. In summary, mission is people who were sent to others with a purpose to make heathens (people who do not know God) to become Christians.
2) The commandment: According to the commandment given by the Lord Jesus Christ on Matthew 28:19, Christians were called and sent to countries, cities, towns, communities and homes with the purpose of telling the Good News of salvation to those who do not know God so they may be saved and become Christians. This definition of “mission” was given and recorded thousands of years before any dictionary was written and published.
1) The one who sends: From the Old Testament time to the New Testament time and the modern day, God is the one who originates mission. God sent Abraham to establish a base in the Promised Land for mission so all the nations on earth may be blessed. God called and sent many prophets to tell the nations in the Old Testament to heed His teaching. God in Jesus Christ had called and sent the Disciples and the early Christians to tell the world He loved them. God called Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Timothy and many others to share the Good News in the Roman Empire. In the past 2,000 years of Christian history, God has called and sent countless of His faithful to go to the end of the world to make disciples.
2) The ones were sent: Throughout the Bible and human history, God always finds His faithful to carry out His mission. While there are people who rejected God’s call, there were many more who had answered His call. From Abraham to Moses, from Isaiah to Jeremiah, from Paul to Timothy, from William Carey to Billy Graham, from Lotti Moon to Annie Armstrong, from Paul Wong to Kenny Yau, from Monica Yau and Ron Chan, from Jacob McAnally to many faithful at FCBC Memphis, the list goes on and on. There must be those who will answer the call of God to bring His message to others. Mission is an unbroken chain in 2,000 years.
3) The purpose: In the call of Abraham, God’s purpose was that “all the nations (peoples) will be blessed.” In the Great Commission given by Jesus, the purpose was “make disciples of all nations.” It is a simple yet tremendous purpose: all the nations and peoples be blessed with the message of salvation. Christians need to care about the physical needs of the people, the educational needs of children, the social and economic and political environment of the people and many other needs, but the primary purpose is “to bring them to know God and to become disciples of Jesus Christ.”
4) The method: With all the instruments and technologies, we have many options on methods to present the Gospel. Yet the primary and most effective way of communicating the gospel is still person to person: from a believer to a non-believer. That is what Jesus wants us to be: His witnesses. (Acts 1:8) A witness is a person who has the first hand experience and shares his experience with others. Either you go to a distant land or just to your next door neighbor, the method is always the same: tell others your personal story how Jesus impacts your life. You don’t need a degree from a seminar to do this. You don’t need to be very good in speech or lots of Bible knowledge to do this. All you need to do is your willingness to tell.
1) It is a command: A command is an order. It is something we have to do, need to do and must do. We take orders from parents, teachers, boss if you work in a business and commanders if you are in the military. God has set the chain of command in our environment and we are expected to obey orders so life will be productive without chaos. The same principle applies in mission. God has given us an order to bless the world with His message of salvation, we are to respect Him and follow His order without cutting corners and run away from our duties.
2) It is a dying world: Some Christians do not obey God’s command in mission to the fullest because they don’t really believe that this world and all people in it are dying without hope. While there are people, including some Christians, may believe that this world may get better by changing political system or government, improving education qualities and more advanced medical and technological discoveries, there is no improvement on the sinfulness of man. Man can and has gotten worse in their sinful nature and the results of that evil nature. There will be no utopia no matter how hard man may try. All the technology and advancement in material creation will never change the evil in man’s heart.
3) It is the only way: Some may label this as overly dogmatic but Jesus has proclaimed that “no one is going to my Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Some may raise many questions to argue the fairness of this claim, the fact is Jesus is the only God-man who has lived and died and rose from the dead to forgive the sins of men. Some religious founders had good moral teachings but all were pointing to the way of salvation which is only in the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christians neglect the duty of spreading the gospel, there is no other way man may be saved. We hold the lifeline of all the souls of men. Their eternity rests in our hands.
4) It is our purpose: Christians are in this world not to make money, enjoy life, get educated and get rich even though all these are not bad. We are here for one purpose: be witnesses of God so others may see Him and be saved. This is our main goal of life. All other things are just like icing on the cake. None of the things we may achieve or possess on earth is going to be in heaven except the souls we reached and saved. These are the fruits we may bring to heaven when we see God. If we mix up our priority and not focus on soul winning, we may go to heaven empty-handed with shame.
STEPS TO BE A MISSIONARY: (Acts -29) Do something to prepare yourself to be an effective missionary where God may use you.
1) Devoted and caring: When Dr. Luke introduced Cornelius he described him as a man devout to God and cared for the needs of men. Before Cornelius became a missionary, he lived his life as good example to his family and people around him. He led his family to God and fear God. He cared for others in material needs as well as spiritual needs. He built a strong foundation of a missionary by everyday life.
2) Devoted to his family: Some may say the most difficult mission field is one’s own home and many times it is true. Our family knows us too much and tool close. They see all the good and bad sides of us. But Cornelius had a successful family ministry in his own home. This is not a small thing. Our first love and devotion in reaching people for Christ should begin with our own family: those we love and care the most. Our success in our own family provides a strong foundation and good testimony when we reach others for Christ.
3) Devoted in prayers: Dr. Luke also mentioned that Cornelius was a man of prayer: “prayed to God regularly.” (10:2) Cornelius did more than just care for his family and the needs of people, he was a man of prayer---his lifeline of spiritual quality. It is in one of his prayer times, the angel of God came to him and reviewed to him a plan of missionary adventure. Our prayer life is the foundation of missionary life.
4) Given a vision: When a man is well prepared, God is ready to use him. When Cornelius was ready for mission work, God sent him a plan in a vision. Vision is the most important thing in mission work, be it at home or else where. A vision is a “picture of things” in the future God sent to our hearts that we can see. A vision is usually something very new and unusual we have never seen or dream of. But a vision is a door to a much bigger and higher level of life. Cornelius did not dream his own vision. God came and gave him the vision. It was not a vision of personal gain but for the benefits of others. This is the difference between a human vision and a God given vision.
5) Complete obedience: Receiving a vision is one thing, obeying the vision is quite another. Cornelius was so devoted to God that he won’t reject or decline to follow the vision God had given him. After receiving the vision, he immediately dispatched messengers to follow through God’s plan. When God gave us an assignment, we need to obey and follow through without excuses or delay.
6) Prepare the field: While his messengers were on the way to invite Peter to be the preacher, Cornelius was busy inviting his friends, colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances to be at the gospel meeting in his home. You don’t need to have a mansion to sit 5 or 10 people in your home. Any home can be a gospel meeting place where the gospel may be preached. If you don’t know how to present the gospel message, ask someone who can. But you need to prepare the field: your home and your friends and neighbors.
7) God brings results: In -48, God sent His spirit to the gospel meeting at the home of Cornelius and many souls were saved and were baptized. If we are faithful doing our part, God is faithful in doing His part and we will see wonderful results.
1) Hold fast the chain: For 2,000 years of Christian history, the chain of mission has not been broken. We are to keep it that way by preparing our lives well that God may use to lead others to Christ: be devoted to God and care for the needs of people, most importantly their spiritual destiny.
2) Hold fast the vision: When God sends you a vision through His word, a burden in your heart, an urge in the spirit to reach someone or do something on mission, do not delay or decline. Accept the call and prepare your best and see what God can do to save souls.
3) Hold fast your soul: If you are not a Christian, the first mission for you is your own salvation through the Lord Jesus. You are the purpose God brings to this service this morning. Be humble to receive the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. You will be saved and be given a new life in this world and in eternity.