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What We Believe
2 Timothy 4:1-5
One Sunday morning, a pastor began his sermon saying, “I’d like to make three points today. First, there are millions of people around the world who are going to hell. Second, most of us sitting here today do not give a damn about it.”
After a lengthy pause he continued: “My third point is that you are more concerned that I, your pastor, said the word “damn” than you are about the millions of people going to hell.”
This unfortunately is the viewpoint of many within the church. We’re so concerned about church etiquette than we are about people who are lost and going to hell. We’re more concerned about what a person looks like, what they wear and how they speak, than we are about their eternal destiny.
Further, when it comes to evangelism, most believe that this is a job or task best left to the “professionals.” People kind of have the old west mentality that the pastor is not only the hired hand, but is also the hired gun. That it is the pastor’s job to evangelize, and it is the people’s job to sit and listen.
But this is not the biblical view. The biblical view teaches that every believer is to be missionary. Now notice I did not say to be “a” missionary, but to be missionary. Being missionary is to tell people about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the wonderful amazing grace of God as a result of it.
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NKJV)
Now some may question this section of Scripture thinking that this advise was only to Timothy, however, that would be a mistake. Now, from our text it would seem that Timothy’s ministry was that of an evangelist, but it really was that of a pastor.
Look at what Paul tells him to begin with. It was to “preach” the word, to always be ready in season and out of season to do whatever it takes so that the people would understand the gospel message.
And the reason is because people are such humans, that is, sinners who want what they want the way they want it. So instead of going to where the word of God is preached, they’ll go and listen with itching ears to these positive feel good messages and how God wants them to be healthy and wealthy. Unfortunately, I have seen too many horror stories of people’s faith that have been, or almost have been smashed due to this sort of teaching.
Paul also encouraged Timothy to be watchful as well. That is to be sober minded, to be calm, cool and collected in his spirit and always on the alert. He also told him to endure afflictions, and that’s because when you preach the truth, Satan isn’t going to like it and will throw all sorts of trials and tribulations your way.
Then Paul tells Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, that is, be a person who will bring the good news to anyone who is willing to listen. What he’s telling Timothy is that being evangelistic should entail everything he does.
And finally, Paul tells Timothy to fulfill his ministry, that is, to fully perform what God has called him to do.
What does all this mean? Paul is making evangelism an integral part of Timothy’s life. Like all of these areas, to watch, endure, and fulfill, Paul is telling Timothy to evangelize, that is, to be missionary, and he’s telling us the same thing.
And so, the first thing we see about being missionary is that we are…
Sent By God To The World
This was actually Jesus’ command when He first revealed Himself after the resurrection.
“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21 NKJV)
Just as the Father sent Jesus to bare witness of Him in His words and actions, so is Jesus now sending us to bear witness of His wonderful, amazing, and saving grace in both our words and actions.
We see this same thing in what is known as the Great Commission.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a NKJV)
Jesus is telling them what they already know and have received, and to do what they had already been trained to do and have done.
Therefore, just as Jesus trained His disciples and commissioned them to go, so He commissions us, because Jesus’ desire is for us to be missionary as well.
In his book “The Key to the Missionary Problem,” Andrew Murray said, “Every believer has been saved with the expressed purpose that they should make the saving of souls the main and the supreme end of their existence in the world.”
Actually, being missionary is a part of our new nature as children of God, because being missionary is in the nature of a child. Whenever we go into a home that has a little one, one of the first things the child does, after they get to know us, is to share with us the happiness and joy they’ve found in their new discoveries and/or toys.
Therefore, as children of God we should be just as excited about sharing the happiness and joy we’ve found in the gospel message. And here’s the point. Sharing such joy should never be strange or something that is frightening.
Maybe think of it this way; have you ever notice how people respond to the suffering of others, the compassion that is shown when they view people who are starving and ravaged by disease. The outpouring of generosity is overwhelming.
As believers, we are likewise to show the same compassion and concern for those who are spiritually perishing and who are ravished by sin. We should be doing all we can do to see them enter heaven. We should look upon them no differently than we look upon those starving children on TV.
So the question comes down to this – Do we believe it? Do we believe that the gospel message of Jesus Christ is the greatest message out there that people need to hear above everything else? Do we believe that it is truly the good news? Do we believe that those who reject Jesus and the gospel message are going to hell in the end? If we believe this, then nothing should stop us from sharing it.
And so, to be missionary we need to be sent by God, and to do so we need to look to God’s provision and strength to be those witnesses, knowing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
Next, being missionary means that we are sent by God …
To Be Light To The World
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NIV)
Notice how Jesus begins. He says, “in the same way,” In the same way as what? Jesus explains in the preceding verses.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15 NIV)
When Jesus called His disciples to be the light of the world, He was revealing that it meant to be missionary, and that we are to reach out with the love of Jesus to those who are in darkness. No one hides a lamp under a cover. That makes no sense. It doesn’t fulfill the lamp’s purpose. Rather, a person puts the lamp in a place where it can help give as much light as possible.
Now, in those days, they didn’t have 100-watt bulbs or fluorescent lighting, instead they had a lamp that produced a small flame. So, a lamp in those days didn’t shine throughout the room. Instead it illuminated the place where it was set. Further, wherever it was set, the people’s attention was drawn to the light and what it was revealing.
This is what the Lord requires from us. He wants us to shine whereever we are at in this sin-darkened world, and through our light, people will be drawn, not to us, but to Jesus, because it is His light they see shining in us and through us.
A young woman went to her pastor one day to tell him how bad it was at her place of work and her desire to quit.
• The pastor asked her, “If you had a candle, where would you put it?”
• Thinking that he really didn’t hear what she was saying, she repeated just how bad it was working there, how the people around her cussed, cheated, and took God’s name in vain. But again the pastor asked, “If you had a candle, where would you put it?”
• Thinking her pastor was dismissing her concern and situation, she went even further to tell the pastor about how evil and ungodly her place of work was, and how she was the only Christian.
• But before she could finish, the pastor interrupted her and said, “Please answer my question. If you had a candle, where would you put it?”
• And then she said, “I guess I’d put it someplace where it is dark and light it.” The light then came on for this woman (excuse the pun). She went back to her place of work and let the light of Jesus shine, and in a couple of months, many of her co-workers came to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
To be those lights, therefore, we have no greater motivation than Jesus Himself.
“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5 NKJV)
Since Jesus is the light of the world, He did the work the Father sent Him to accomplish, and that was to be the light. Not only did Jesus live His life for all to see, but also He was willing to sacrifice His life to give eternal life to all who will believe.
Love should likewise influence of our witness, a love that is willing to sacrifice for others. And if we truly love with this kind of love, what it means is that we are to tell others about it, and how they can experience God’s love for themselves.
Now, most feel unqualified, that is, they don’t know all the theological terms and all the stuff that is taught in seminaries. But both God and those we are witnessing to are not interested in that sort of stuff. They could care less about correct theology. What they care about is whether or not we have a loving heart. You see, all the theology in the world will not help without having the love of God in our lives.
It reminds me of a story of Harry Winston, who was considered the world’s greatest merchant of fine jewelry. One day he was watching one of his salespeople show a diamond to a very rich client. He noticed how the salesman expertly described the stone and all of its fine features. But the gentleman ended up not wanting to buy.
But before he could leave the shop, Winston asked if he could show him the diamond one more time. But instead of talking about the quality of the diamond, he turned it over in his hand and talked about its beauty. So moved was the gentleman that he bought the diamond.
Afterwards he asked Winston, “Why did I buy the diamond so willingly from you, but didn’t hesitate saying no to your salesman?” Winston replied, “That salesman is one of the best men in the business. He knows diamonds – but I love them.”
It’s not how much we know about God; rather it’s how much we love Jesus that is going to make the difference.
And so, if we are then sent by God to be the light of Jesus to this lost and sin darkened world, what’s going to give us the power shine? Well, to be missionary means that we are connected directly into the power source.
To be missionary then means we are…
To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit
It was being connected to God and His source of power that changed scared and frightened disciples into bold witnesses. Look at the promise given by Jesus.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)
The word for “power” in the Greek is where we get our English word “dynamite.”
Jesus referred to this power earlier when He told them to wait in Jerusalem for this dynamic power to indwell them, which He described as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NKJV)
When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit we are then filled with the very dynamic, explosive power of God. And this is what should be happening in the church today. We should be seeing people filled with the Holy Spirit and operating in God’s power to affect the community and beyond with His amazing grace.
Unfortunately, this isn’t happening within much of the church, and that’s because the church is imploding upon itself, rather than exploding upon the world as God intended. What has happened is that we have become too self-absorbed looking inward, that is, our thoughts now center on what’s in it for me.
We say, “I just want to be discipled,” which is just another way of saying, “I just want to sit in the pews and learn.” But consider the job of a sponge. It is used to absorb water in order to wash something, all the while expending the water it absorbed in the process. But if the sponge just absorbs water without expending it, then it will mold, mildew, and rot.
A Chinese pastor asked a young man in his church, “How long have you been saved?” The young man answered, “About three months.”
• Then the pastor asked, “How many have you won to the Savior?” and the young man answered, “Oh, I’m only a learner.”
• The pastor responded, “Young man, the Lord doesn’t expect you to be a full-fledged preacher, but he does expect you to be a faithful witness. Tell me, when does a candle begin to shine, when it’s already half burned up?” The young man replied, “No, as soon as it is lit.”
• “That’s right,” said the pastor. “So let your light shine right away.”
To be missionary is then the normal function of a healthy church body, just as a regular heartbeat is to a human body. It is a sign of a healthy church.
Evangelist Vance Havner said, “Evangelism is to Christianity what veins are to our bodies. You can cut Christianity anywhere and it’ll bleed evangelism. Evangelism is vascular, it’s our business.”
D.L. Moody, evangelist and whom “The Moody Bible Institute,” was named after, was standing on the street corner in Chicago when he asked a stranger, “Are you a Christian?” The stranger replied, “Mind your own business.” Moody responded, “This is my business.”
Being missionary is the business of everyone who calls themselves a Christian.
So, what does it mean to be missionary, it means being sent by God to be the light of Jesus to this sin darkened world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, let’s be that church that God has called for us to be and start making a difference in our community for Christ, telling everyone we meet the gospel message of Jesus Christ and of His wonderful amazing grace.
Listen to the refrain of Amazing Grace, written by John Newton, a former captain of a slave ship who became a Christian.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
How many of us today can attest to this these words for our life, that we have been saved by God’s amazing grace?
If so then let’s go and be that light of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, tell everyone about this wonderful amazing grace we’ve found, which they can then find for their lives.
So, God’s call for all of us is to be missionary.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study