First Baptist Jackson | January 20, 2019

we’re excited that you are here to
worship with us today. we’re also excited to have Micah fries and his family back
with us. Micah serves as the senior pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in
Chattanooga Tennessee. He’s also been sharing with our student
ministry this weekend for DNOW. Speaking of D now, we have over 200 students and
volunteers that have had a great weekend as they have been on mission with God
and learning more about being on mission with God. And speaking of that we also
want to honor someone very special today and what she did yesterday morning. Miss
Ora Reed, I’d like to ask you to stand Ora just for a moment. Ora served as the
ambassador yesterday,she she was the Grand Marshal
of the Martin Luther King Day parade. So Ora has been a long-standing member and
she has been on mission in the community of Jackson and so we’re thankful for
that. Welcome to worship again join me in prayer as we are about to celebrate
baptism today. Gracious Heavenly Father God we thank you for the opportunity
to worship you today King Jesus God. We thank you for the opportunity to not
only just worship you but to be on mission and to worship you as we go
beyond this place later today God. We thank you for the baptisms that are
behind us. We thank you for the baptism waters being stirred God and more Lord
may we see more ripples they last eternity in being on mission with you
Jesus. We ask that you be with us this morning and blessed this time we have.
In your holy name we pray amen. Well good morning Church, I’m Clark Rumfeldt and my wife Valeri and I the directors at Buried Treasures home. This wonderful
residential facility for women coming out of prison and coming out of
addiction. It’s a great place. And this church has been involved for 20 years in
this ministry, we’re celebrating 20 years of ministry at Buried Treasures home.
Thank you for being part of it. Many churches and many volunteers you get to
make a difference in people’s lives and you see six of them here today whose
lives have changed. Some of them have received Christ in the past and coming
for the first time in obedience to baptism and others are receiving Jesus
coming for baptism in obedience. What a great day it already is. And let me tell
you something, on their journey they lost their way, every one of them will tell
you their stories, but they found the way and the way has a name and his name is
Jesus Christ and he transforms lives. And what he has done for these ladies he’ll
do for you. Maybe you’re here today, maybe you’re watching by television, maybe
you’re in prison watching this or a hospital room or at home and you’ve lost
your way. Well let me tell you about the way.
This Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, came to die, crucified for
our sins so that we could be forgiven. But he didn’t stay dead, resurrected
three days later and alive today in heaven changing lives and he’ll change
your life too. You come to him, even right now, don’t delay. You may be listening
around the world livestream. Tell him you’re sorry for your sins. Tell him that
you need this forgiveness that you want this forgiveness. Tell him you may not
understand everything but you do understand that you love Jesus, now you
believe this and you want him in your life. Don’t wait, tell him.
Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you. What a great day if you’re here as
family or friends of one of these ladies I’m gonna ask you to stand right now in
support of them, would you stand. If you’re connected with Buried Treasures
home maybe on the board, maybe as a volunteer would you stand to. Now Church
would you stand, everybody, in celebration and rejoicing at these new lives in
Christ. Rosemary is one of our staff people
there. Came to Christ on her rack, on her bed in Greenville in prison and now she
comes in obedience to be baptized. Rosemary is it your testimony that you
receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior ? On that testimony i
baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amanda is it your testimony that you’ve
received Jesus into your life as your Lord and your Savior ? On that testimony
it’s my joy to baptize you in the name of the Father,
and of the son, of the Holy Spirit. Tabitha is it your testimony that you’ve
received Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and your Savior ? yes. On that
testimony it’s my joy to baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit. Ashley is it your testimony that you’ve
received Jesus into your life as your Lord and your savior ? Upon that testimony
it’s my joy to baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit. Ashley Nicole is it your testimony that
you’ve received Jesus into your life is your Lord in your savior ? Upon that
testimony it’s my joy to baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit. Kaitlin is it your testimony that you’ve
received Jesus into your life as your Lord and your Savior ? Well it’s upon that
testimony it’s my joy to baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. It’s a beautiful picture we’ve seen
of hope. Of hope. We need hope in a world that
tells you there are many many ways to salvation, in a world that preaches you
can find it all within yourself, we need the true hope that Jesus Christ
offers. We’re going to sing a song entitled The Living Hope. It was sung all
throughout the D now weekend so youth lead the way and singing this. As we sing this
if you’re not familiar with it just pay attention to these powerful, powerful
words that tell the truth of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Let’s stand
together as we sing. Amen that is a wonderful truth to know.
I hope you know it and believe it with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Please be seated as Christopher Thompson leads us in a wonderful song carrying on
this theme, that’s what faith can do. Well good morning First Baptist Jackson.
Man it is good to be back. We love being here. I love having my whole family with
me this morning, it’s not often that I’ve been able to be here with you and my
whole family has been here so it’s fun to have them with me. They’re quite a bit,
three kids are quite a bit bigger and older than they were the last time we
were here. And I love having our son with us, you all that were so significant in
our ability to adopt Hadden. My last Sunday here is your interim pastor, you
gave us a great gift that was incredibly helpful toward the end of being able to
bring Hadden home. And so this month celebrates two years that he’s been home
with us now and we’re thankful for that. and for what God’s doing. I doesn’t like me talking about him. Sorry,
see him scowling at me right now. I am so excited to take a few minutes this
morning and think about together from God’s Word, my favorite topic in all of
Scripture and that is the mission of God and the mission of the church. If you’ve
got your Bibles turn with me to Acts chapter 13. Acts chapter 13. As we think
about the mission of God and we think about the mission of the church. And I
want to say an incredible congratulations and thank you
to you as the family at First Baptist Jackson. I found out this weekend this
weekend that you surpassed your Lottie Moon Christmas offering goal of six
hundred and fifteen thousand dollars. You gave six hundred and twenty eight
thousand dollars. That is tremendous, thank you!
We we love the work of the International Mission Board and we’re so thankful for
what God is doing in and through them. I tell our church at Brainerd that outside
of our tithe to our local church, the the number one thing that we give to every
year is the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. It’s our life passion and our
commitment to not only give personally but to lead our church to do that and
I’m glad that you’re doing that. I’m so thankful to see Dr. Jerry and Miss Bobby
Rankin the longtime president of the IMB with us this morning. Thankful for them
being here and his leadership of the IMB. It’s good to see you all as well this
morning. I want us to look at Acts chapter 13 together and I want us to
think about this; I’ve been asking a question of myself for a couple of years
now. So I’m some of you know that I’m finishing up or trying to finish up over
the next year so a PhD in Missy ology at Southeastern Seminary and we asked nerdy
questions from time to time. And so I’ve been sort of making my way through one
of these questions. Asking myself this question is meant mission central to the
character of God in the same way that the love of God, the Justice of God and
so on are central to his character ? And this this is meaningful and it’s
significant for a number of reasons but one of the reasons why it’s significant
is because if mission is central to the character of God then it both
pre-existed the world and it will exist in eternity. There’s a long conversation
that we can have about that that that probably supersedes the amount of time
we’ve got here today. But in short I’ve come to the conclusion that mission is
central to the character of God, that it is as consistent
with the character of God as is the love of God and the Justice of
God. In other words you cannot have God apart from mission. And I’m working on it
on a working definition of mission that that I think trying to figure out and
trying to understand it. Without going into too much detail today I think what
that means though is that you and I cannot be increasingly like Jesus unless
we are engaged on mission. At our church we say that we are a sent and sending
people. That we are, every one of us who are followers of Jesus, called to be both
sent on mission and sending others to be on mission at all times and in all
places among all people. This is difficult because we are not by nature
bent in this direction. I like to say that churches and Christians are like
cars out of alignment, if you take your hand off the steering wheel when you’re
driving a car and it’s out of alignment what happens ? It turns inward. And
Christians and churches are the same. When you take the hands off the steering
wheel we constantly turn inward. I’ve been pastoring now for about twenty
years and I’ve never, not one single time in 20 years, had a church member come to
me and say Micah we’re too worried about the members of this church we
really need a member we really need to worry more about those people who are
not a part of our church. Never has that happened ever. But I can’t count the number
of times I’ve had people come to me and they used Jesus-y language to say things
like Micah we’re too worried about those folks, we need to worry about
discipleship more or we need to worry about caring for each other more, loving
each other more. Basically what they mean is we need to worry about me more.
Because every Christian and every church is like a car out of alignment and left
to themselves we will naturally pull inward. Now if you’ve got a car out of
alignment you’re driving that car and it begins pulling inward the only way to
drive a straight line is to overcorrect in the opposite direction.
I believe that churches and Christians are like this if we don’t intentionally
direct our lives toward mission, mission will not occur. We have to be strategic,
we have to be intentional, we have to be purposeful and we have to be dogmatic
when it comes to mission. Mission is the easiest thing for us to lose in the
Christian life and in the life of the church. And so today I want us to look at
the God who sends from this story in Acts chapter 13. And I want us to see our
collective responsibilities as a church to the end
of sending and being sent. JD Greer who is the current president of
the Southern Baptist Convention speaks about this sort of topic often and he
said recently said the Christian life is a call to risk. You will either live with
risk or you will waste your life. He goes on to say speaking about the idea of
being a church who is living with risk, sending others, he says this he says
a sending ministry always starts with a heart exam. Sending our people and giving
away our resources will most often compete with the church’s bottom line
not benefit it. And so we have to determine as followers of Jesus that the
mission of God is significant enough that we will risk ourselves, our
livelihood for it and we will allow even the bottom line to be challenged because
we believe that to be like Jesus is to be a sent and sending people. And so when
we look today at Acts chapter 13 we see this in the first 12 verses of the
chapter. If you don’t mind let’s honor the reading of God’s Word by standing as
we read beginning in verse 1. Dr. Luke writing this under the inspiration of
the Holy Spirit said this, “now in the church at Antioch there were prophets
and teachers. Barnabas ,Simeon who was called Niger,
Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a close friend of Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they
were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said set apart for me
Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. And then after they
had fasted prayed and laid hands on them they sent them off. So being sent out by
the Holy Spirit they were they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed
to Cyprus and arriving in solemnus they proclaimed the Word of God in the Jewish
synagogues and they also had John as their assistant. And when they had
traveled the whole island as far as pathos they came across a sorcerer. A
Jewish false prophet named Bar Jesus and he was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus,
an intelligent man. And this man summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the
word of God. But Elemis the sorcerer, that is the
meaning of his name, opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from
the faith. But Saul also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, stared
straight at Elemis and said you are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. You
are a son of the devil and an enemy of all that is right. Won’t you ever stop
perverting the straight paths of the Lord ? Now look the Lord’s hand is against
you, you are going to be blind and you will not see the Sun for a time. And
immediately a mist and darkness fell on him and he went around seeking someone
to lead him by the hand and then when he saw what had happened at the proconsul
believed because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” Pray with me if
you will. Jesus we come and we ask you in your power and the power of the Holy
Spirit. We pray that you would work in and through us today. Draw us to Jesus
Lord. We believe that Jesus, that God you him yourself,
Lord carry within you a passion and commitment to the mission of making
known the glory of God. Of helping those who are far from God
become committed followers of Jesus Christ.
I pray today that you would compel us to that end. I pray today that every person
who is a follower of Jesus in the room would leave believing what Charles
Spurgeon once said when he said every Christian is either a missionary or an
impostor. And I pray that even among the room that there would be a few people
who would feel called beyond just a lifestyle of living on mission, that they
would feel called to go beyond that to give up what they have and to go
somewhere globally to take the gospel to those who are not only far from God but
they are far from access to God. But we pray that when we leave this morning we
would be more like Jesus than when we came. Lord we love you and we pray this
in Jesus name Amen. Have a seat. I want to walk you through this text. I
want to show you four characteristics of this text in the time that we have left
this morning that illustrate to us the missionary nature of the church and our
collective responsibility to that end. first I want you to notice in the text
that the church is, and this is important, the church is by nature a sending
organization. The church is by nature a sending organization. This is who we
are. We are by nature a sending organization. Unfortunately in the
American church we have lost this ethos. We have lost this idea, we’ve lost this
characteristic. We measure success in the church in a number of ways, right ? We
measure it by baptisms, by the number of people in the seats, by the dollars that
come in in the budget and trust me I think all of those are good indices in
sort of indications of what’s happening in the church. They’re helpful. We measure
those at our church. They matter. But as multiple people before me have said
maybe the greatest way to measure success in the church it’s not is not
its seating capacity but rather it’s sending capacity. We are as members of
the Church of Jesus Christ by nature a sending organization and we have,I
believe, as our collective responsibility the charge to identify first of all our
responsibility to be on mission but second of all those among us who God is
particularly calling out to go on mission to difficult places and take the
gospel. That’s exactly what we see at the beginning of chapter 13. The church in
Antioch is gathered together and they’re praying and they’re worshiping, the Bible
says that they are fasting in verse 2. And the Holy Spirit of God speaks to
them and says set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have
called them. This is intriguing to me because this runs counter to sort of the
way in which we experience calling and God often in the American church. See I’m
afraid that in the American church, a church that runs rampant with
materialism and individualism, I would argue that the two twin pillars of the
American sort of ethos are individualism or autonomy and materialism or
consumerism and so we see the church as sort of the place that we go
individually to worship Jesus, we get fed, we leave arguing about whether or not
the church is successful and we say things like this, “well church was
good today because I learned or Church was good today because I was fed.” And
that seems logical but the problem is what that does for us is it makes us the
center of the worship experience. It causes us to believe that church and
worship exists for our benefit. Understand that the value of worship is
not seen in what we get but rather what we give up. Worship is an opportunity for
us to gather and give honor and glory to the only one who is worthy of those
things and so a successful worship experience is not one where we leave
filled up but rather one where we leave emptied out. And so we’ve got to sort of
push back against this consumeristic, individualistic concept of worship. And
the problem is what it does is it then creates this very individualistic
expression of a relationship with God. It’s just really me and Jesus. And many
of you probably, most of you, maybe not any of you will remember when I was here
as interim pastor we preached through Romans chapter 12 about that corporate
nature of worship and the responsibility that we have for all of us sort of
corporately to worship before God. And in Romans chapter 12 verses 1 & 2 the Bible
says, “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God to present your
bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.” Now there are multiple
translations that get this wrong but in the original language the passage says,
“I’d beseech you therefore brethren, plural, by the mercies of God to present
your bodies, plural, as a living sacrifice, singular. In other words it’s speaking to
the corporate nature of worship that you and I come as individuals from diverse
backgrounds, environments, ethnicities and cultures and we gather together as a
body and we offer a singular act of worship before the Lord. God expects sort
of this communal corporate nature in the church. And that’s exactly what we see
with respect to calling in Acts chapter 13. Far too often we view calling as
something that occurs just between me and Jesus. I sort of have this mystical
experience with God and I know that I’m called and I just tell everybody else
this is the deal, you just have to deal with it, God’s called me and the problem
is there’s really no way to argue against it. Maybe you were called or
maybe you just ate roast beef way too late last night and you had a funny sort
of feeling in your stomach but there’s no way for us to sort of figure out the
difference between the two. Acts chapter 13 has a rather remarkable and distinct
sort of different experience than that. In Acts chapter 13, interestingly enough,
the Holy Spirit of God does not speak to Barnabas and does not speak to Saul. Who
does he speak to ? He speaks to the church. And says to the church I want you to
identify Paul, I’m sorry Saul and Barnabas and I want you as the church to
Commission and send them out on mission. This is significant. One of my favorite
characters in church history, one of my favorite characters in Southern Baptist
history is a man named George Truitt. George Truitt was the longtime pastor at
the First Baptist Church of Dallas Texas. He preceded W A Kriswell. Their pastorates
were both close to 50 years. Actually both of them were just over 50
years, I think it was a hundred and three years with two pastors. A remarkable
tenure of these two pastors back-to-back. But George Truett’s story in particular
is an intriguing one. He he initially, when he was a young man he was a lawyer
and he was attending a church in white Wright Texas. And in 1889, when he was
attending church there, at the church recognized that he had some sense of
gifting and they began to ask him to teach on occasion, to begin to ask him to
preach on occasion on Sunday mornings, and one of the unique things that Truett would do is when he would preach at this church as a layman in the church is
he would only preach from the front of the pulpit, he refused to stand behind
the pulpit. He believed that he was not called as a pastor and so he refused to
step behind what was often referred to as the sacred desk. He did this for quite
some time and people in the church would come to him from time to time and say
don’t you think that you’re that you’re called to be a pastor ? And his response
to them was I will speak for Christ but I am not worthy to be his minister. The
church persisted and sort of seeing this in Truett until finally they called a
special business meeting on a Saturday night. Truett was of course there
because he was a faithful member of the church. And in that meeting they voted,
this is fascinating to me, in that VT in an in that meeting one of the Deacons
said this, “I moved that this church ordained brother George Truitt to the
full work of the gospel ministry.” He had no idea the ordination was coming. Truitt protested. He said, this is not, I’m a lawyer not a
pastor. And they were ordained him that evening or they voted to ordain him that
evening anyway the next day they held an ordination council and they were ordained
him the following Sunday and then he preached the next Sunday for the first
time standing behind the pulpit and became one of the most iconic pastors in
Southern Baptist history. I love Truitt’s story because I think
it’s a deeply biblical recognition of how calling ought to be affirmed by the
local church. Church at First Baptist Jackson Mississippi, God has called you
not to serve the needs of the member. In fact it’s been said many times before
that the church is the only organization in the world that exists for the benefit
of those who are not yet members. You are uniquely placed right here in Jackson
Mississippi because you have an opportunity to engage your community
with the gospel, to help those who are far from God become committed followers
of Jesus Christ. I’m convinced that God has called every single one of you to
join him on mission but I’m also convinced that from time to time God
will specifically choose some among you to step up in ministry and mission and
it is your responsibility to see, identify and affirm that calling in
their lives and then to do with the church at Antioch did in Acts chapter 13,
to send them out on mission. Truitt, in response to the calling from the church
that night, he said there I was against a whole church, against the church
profoundly moved, there was not a dry eye in the house. One of the supremely solemn
hours in a church’s life. I was thrown into the stream and I just had to swim.
And swim he did and God used him in powerful ways at the First Baptist
Church of Dallas, I said over fifty years I think he was there for forty seven
years as pastor. Nonetheless he was there for a long time. One thing is abundantly
clear in the text. God calls individuals to go on mission and God uses the church
to send them to do so. So let me ask you this question ? How are
you engaging in the process of not just thinking about your own call to be on
mission but how are you as a church engaging in the process of calling,
equipping, developing and deploying those among this congregation to take the
gospel to hard places, where people are far ,not just far from God, but far
from access to God. I told the students at DNOW, one of my favorite countries
in the world is Turkey. Istanbul is my favorite global city. I’ve been there two
or three times just in the last year. I love Turkey. Turkey is a country of 79
million people. And if you take the current number of people right here
gathered in this room right now and add it together with the number of people at
the church I pastor in Chattanooga Tennessee, you will have more evangelical
Christians than in the entire nation of Turkey, 79 million people. I’ll tell you
this, when I struggle with lostness around the world, I do I’m concerned it
weighs me down when I think about people who are gonna die and go to hell apart
from Jesus but I’ll tell you what I struggle with.
I struggle more than anything not with just those who die and go to hell apart
from Jesus but those who die and go to hell
apart from ever having the opportunity to know Jesus. And church that’s on our
shoulders. It is a tragedy that some 2,000 years since Jesus died, rose again
and was ascended into heaven that a third of the world’s population today
has no knowledge of Jesus Christ when the coca-cola corporation it took them
literally 90 years for more than 90% of the globe to be familiar with their
brand. Why is it that the motivation of the gospel is a less significant
motivator than the bottom line for the coca-cola corporation ? We must wear this
responsibility. The second thing I want you to see in the text is this. The
sending of the gospel is going to be confronted by opposition. The church
sends them out and they are confronted with opposition, they go. The Bible says
Solucius, Cyprus, Solomus and then so on they go to these Jewish synagogues. John
is traveling with them as their assistant., verse 6, They get as far as the
whole as Payfos and they come across a sorcerer. Interestingly enough the
sorcere’s name was Bar Jesus, that literally translated means son of Jesus.
So they come to this sorcerer named Bar Jesus and his title is le Maas all right.
So they come to this sorcerer and he is sort of an assistant to Sergius Paulus.
Sergius Paulus is the Roman official responsible for presiding over the
island of Cyprus. He would have been the highest ranking
government official on the island. Satan is clearly working overtime to prevent
him from hearing the gospel. It is important for you and I to note that Bar
Jesus or Elemis is not the enemy in the story. Those who oppose the gospel they
are not the enemy. And I worry about this in our culture today. We see people who
believe differently than we do. They believe differently politically than we
do or they believe different religiously than we do. And we view them as the enemy
to be defeated. I want to be very clear, the Bible is clear on this point, Paul
said in Ephesians chapter 6, that the enemy is not flesh and blood. They are
not the enemy, they are controlled by the enemy. We don’t, the problem is when we
view those who disagree with us as the enemy, it sort of endorses and allows in
our lives hatred toward them which then prevents us from taking the gospel to
them. I released a book November 1 called “Islam in North America how to love our
Muslim neighbors” and one of the things I came across when I was doing research
that bothered me more than anything else. If you break down all the religious
demographics in the U.S., so non-believers, Jewish people, Catholics,
mainline Protestants, evangelical Protestants. The group that has the
lowest percentage of relationships with Muslims are Protestant evangelicals. And
yet there is a significant amount of hatred toward the Muslim community among
Protestant evangelicals, there’s fear in the evangelical community toward them.
Understand first of all, fear is always misplaced in the life of a believer, the
Bible is clear on this point, God is sovereign if we believe that the Bible
seems to indicate very clearly that that belief in the sovereignty of God ought
to conjure up, ought to build up in the life of a believer deep-seated optimism.
Our God wins in the end. There’s literally nothing you can do to
me that would prevent me from experiencing eternity with him and his victory in the
end. So what do I have to fear ? So fear is misplaced. Secondly though hatred has
become a barrier to the one thing we believe that has the capacity to redeem
lives and literally to transform cultures. And that is the gospel and
something like 80 plus percent of those who believe in Christ do so
through an existing relationship and evangelical Protestants have the lowest
percentage of relationships with Muslims in the United States of America. What
does that tell you ? It tells you that we don’t believe very seriously that God is
calling us to engage those who are far from God who are very different than us
with the gospel. Where are our relationships ? They are not our enemy.
Ephesians 6 is clear the power of the spirits of the air,
that’s our enemy and that’s what we see in this text. Satan is working to derail
Sergi Sergius Paulus from hearing the gospel. But he’s intrigued and he wants
to hear the gospel but Alimas or Bar Jesus, the son of Jesus, tries to prevent
it. There are some scholars who believe that the reason Bar Jesus tries to
prevent it is because he is getting paid by Sergius Paulus to consult the spirits
and therefore the gospel is a threat not only to his identity but to his
livelihood. Nonetheless we know that he is opposed to it. And he tries to prevent
the gospel from going out. This is always going to be true. When you and I go with
the gospel, you say Micah it’s hard to share the gospel, of course it is.
This is a cosmic battle we’re engaged in. Satan and the forces of evil want
nothing to do with you taking seriously you’re call to be on mission, the
church’s call to be on mission. You say Mihca, it’s costly, it cost us people,
it cost us dollars, of course it does. But hear me when I say this, you and I we’re
fine with spending dollars and time for the things that we think matter. I took
my kids to Disney World over Thanksgiving holiday. Took me almost a
year to pay that doggone week off. I’m not kidding. that’s ridiculous. it’s
obscene but I wanted my kids to see Mickey. We did we had breakfast with him
and all. We will spend our money and our time on things that we think matter. Why
is it that when Mission is brought up in the life of the church that the cost of
our money or the cost of our time is something we’re not willing to risk ? Does
it possibly indicate that we don’t think that this really ultimately matters ? Of
course there’s risk, of course there’s cost involved and yet we’re willing,
we’re glad, we understand that there will be opposition but we’re glad because we
believe that our God is good and that he is authoritative and
that he’s gonna be triumphant over all things and that he is a God on mission
and when we join him in this task we resonate with the character of God. The
third thing I want you to see in the text is this. Ultimately nothing can
prevent the advance of the gospel, nothing. Look at verses 9, 10 and 11. Paul,
Saul also called Paul, filled with the holy spirit, I love this, he just stares
the guy down and calls him out ,right? He doesn’t fear opposition to the gospel.
This doesn’t buckle Paul’s knees. Paul is strengthened not because Paul’s
a strong man but because the Holy Spirit of God is in Paul enabling Paul to stare
down the enemy and to call it for what it is. In Psalm chapter 27,
my favorite Psalm as a child, “the Lord is my light and my salvation whom should I
fear ? The Lord is the stronghold of my life whom should I dread ? When evildoers
come against me to devour my flesh my foes and my enemy stumbled and fell;
though an army deploys against me my heart will not be afraid; though a war
breaks out against me I will still be confident.” I told our church this this
Christmas. I’ve been studying the concept of Emmanuel for a couple of years and
I’m convinced that Emanuel is misunderstood in the church. We think of
Emanuel, and you know Emanuel is a title for Jesus. It’s two words combined that
means God with us and I’m I think in the church, we think of it as sort of a title
for Jesus at Christmas. But I’m convinced that the concept of Emanuel is almost
present across the entirety of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The idea that
God is with us is God’s great and good promise to us. Think about Psalm chapter
23 verse 4. I memorized it in the King James when I was a kid growing up, “yea
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” Why
do we not fear evil ? For you are with me. The thing that removes our fear of evil
or our fear of opposition or our fear of the gospel not going out; it’s not the
power of God, it’s not the wisdom of God, it’s not the wealth of God, it’s the
presence of God. God is with me. You and I have this confidence God has given us
the Holy Spirit of God and I know we’re Baptist and we’re scared of the Holy
Spirit. But the Holy Spirit of God is a real person who is active and engaging
in lives and yes doing at times miraculous
things to see the gospel of Jesus advance and the Bible says he is with us both to
comfort us and to enable us; we should not fear because God is with us. And
that’s what Paul understood in this text. The final thing I want you to see is;
this ultimately it’s true that the church is by nature a sending
organization. It’s also true that when we commit ourselves to mission and when we
can commit ourselves to sending, we will be confronted by opposition but we need
to understand that nothing will stop the gospel and ultimately the final thing;
God will grow his church. Look at verse 12, “when he saw what happened the
proconsul believed because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” I
love this. You understand what it was that saw Sergius Paulus become a
follower of Jesus ? The gospel. The Bible says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is
the power of God unto salvation. And we live in a time, we live in an era when
the church feels bowed down, beaten up. So many people believe that the church is
declining in America. Can I tell you that if you break the numbers down, if you
break the numbers to if you look at the numbers of just those who claim
Christianity, yes Christianity is on decline, but if you look more
specifically at the numbers, you drill down on the numbers and you look at
those who are practicing evangelicals, that number is increasing in the US and
has not stopped increasing. We’re growing, the the the Church of Jesus Christ is
continuing to grow, so don’t buy the hype that the church is in decline.
It is not. The church is growing and it will continue to grow. The power of God
is continuing to be displayed in the gospel of Jesus Christ right now just
like it was a hundred years ago and two hundred years ago in our country. And
make no mistake the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just growing incrementally
around the globe there are places where it is growing in ways that would astound
you. Researchers tell us that more Iranians have come to faith in Iran in
the last twenty years than in the last thirteen hundred years combined. The
gospel of Jesus Christ is exploding in places like Cuba and China. God is on the move, the church is alive,
the Holy Spirit is active and Jesus said to his disciples in in the Gospels; pray
that the Lord would send workers into the harvest. You know what that text
reminds us ? That the only thing preventing the fulfillment of the Great
Commission is the Church of Jesus Christ stepping up and saying here am I, send me.
The power of God is able, the people around the world are ready to respond,
God has the resources, the only thing lacking would be obedient Christians
ready to say I will go, I will risk, I will send and be sent. So that the
world might know that Jesus Christ is king. And when we look at the end of the
Bible when we look at Revelation chapter 7 we see this unbelievable picture, that
every time I read it it sends chills up and down my spine.
John is writing having seen this vision of the throne room of God and he says
after this I looked and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people
and language which no one could number standing before the throne and before
the lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands
and they cried out in a loud voice salvation belongs to our God who is
seated on the throne and to the lamb. All the Angels stood around the throne and
along on with the elders and the four living creatures they fell face down before the
throne and they worshiped God and they said amen blessing and glory and wisdom
and Thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever
amen. You understand. This picture is of
eternity and the throne room of God and the picture of the throne room of God in
eternity are those from every nation, tribe, tongue and people.
the Ethne of the world who have been redeemed through the missionary activity
of God and his church, gathered around the throne and singing the merits of a
missionary God who loved us enough to redeem us through his missionary
activity. Why in the world would we not want to join him in that enterprise, what
a privilege that we have, what an opportunity we have. Let’s not miss this
chance. Pray with me if you will. Jesus I thank you for the men and the women who
are in this room right now. I thank you for the lives represented. I
pray God right now on the confidence of your word and through the power of the
Holy Spirit that you would be grabbing hearts and that you would be grabbing
lives. Lord it’s possible. in fact it’s almost certain that there would be some
one or maybe a few people in the room who don’t who don’t know you. who have
never begun to walk in faith with Jesus. Lord we heard a beautiful depiction of
the gospel in the baptism earlier in the service. Lord you have the Bible says you
have come, lived a perfect life that we could not live, died on the cross in our
place and were was resurrected from the grave so that we might be resurrected. So
that if we can acknowledge our brokenness, our rebellion, our sin. If we
can acknowledge that before you, if we can ask you to forgive us and to save us
to be our king, Lord the Bible says that you will do exactly that.
If there’s anyone right now in the room Lord who does not know you I pray that
right now in the quiet of the moment where they are that they would say
exactly that. That they would acknowledge their brokenness, they would acknowledge
their rebellion, that they would ask you God to forgive them and to save them and
Lord I pray that you would save them right now. For the rest of us who are
believers in Jesus I pray that we would embrace Charles Spurgeon’s great quote
that every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter and we would
ask ourselves this question. Are we a missionary or are we an imposter ? Lord I
pray for every one of us in the room, I the goal of this time Lord is not for us
to feel guilty. The goal of this time is for us to see that in Christ is the
heart of a missionary God who is engaging the nations on mission. And we
have the opportunity to join him in this activity and so God if we have not been
joining him in this activity, I pray that right now we would confess that. God
forgive us but God I pray that we wouldn’t wallow in guilt but rather we
would rest in the freedom in the grace, in the mercy that Jesus gives us. Jesus
doesn’t beat us up when we failed him, Jesus points us to what it’s like to be
like Jesus. And so right now God I pray that you would point us to the God who
is on mission and you would call our hearts to join him in that activity. And
I pray that this church would not just give well though thank you
that they’ve done that that they would go that they would go and be going that
they would be sent and sending and the Lord because of it you would lead many
of those who are far from God to become committed followers of Jesus Christ Lord
we love you and we pray this in Jesus name Amen
we’re gonna stand in just a minute and we’re gonna sing and as we do this is
gonna be an opportunity for us to respond to what Christ has done in our
lives the opportunity is there for you to come and pray at the altar or pray
with a pastor but don’t leave today without responding to what Jesus has
done in your life this morning let’s pray that we would all leave this
morning more like Jesus than when we came let’s stand and sing together
church cornerstone oh my god may we be in a church on
mission may we be a church that supports those who go out that we equip them that
we would give sacrificially to the budget that we would be supportive to
reach a city a state a nation in the world with the love of Jesus Christ
father we know that you have a plan for each of us and our plan is to live our
lives and reflect the love of Jesus Christ to those around us we pray this
in Jesus name Amen would you sing with us blessed assurance as the top please be seated for a moment
I like to ask for stone hair way to please come up and join me and ask for
his mom and dad Angie and Neil and also brothers graves and McNeil – come on up
– you guys can’t get out of it come on sona’s coming to share with you guys
that he has made Jesus Christ orders of his life we’re excited about that
so we’re excited and we look forward to seeing what all God’s gonna do in your
life and so we’re pumped we’re gonna keep on praying for you and so like to
ask for you guys to go with Miss Amanda and she’s gonna give some more
information to you Michael we thank you for your partnership in the gospel it’s
so great to have you and your family with us and we’ll continue to be praying
for you all Thank You Church there’s a lot of different ways that we have
coming up to be on mission together this past weekend we’ve had our D now we also
have a hundred and fifty fifth and sixth graders that are gonna be at an
all-night opportunity that’s come in Friday night so I know that y’all will
be lining up to help with moonlight madness with our fifth and sixth graders
it’s gonna be praying for them another thing to mention to you is our sportsmen
night it’s a great way for you to invite maybe it’s an office some of the works
of the office with you maybe it’s someone that who lives across the street
but it’s a great way to invite them that’s coming up on February the 1st
you’ll be seeing some more information about that as well
I’d like to ask as we close out our service our student ministry if they
will please stand for a moment and anyone that’s been involved in our
student ministry to please stand we’re going to close out our service praying
for them today amen if the rest of y’all will please
stand let’s go to the Lord in prayer and close out this great day
gracious Heavenly Father Guyler thank you for the opportunity to worship You
God but lord we thank you for the opportunity to be on mission lord I
thank you for these students God but I pray that you’re worried that your Holy
Spirit penetrates their hearts God that this group that looks like an army of
today could be an army for this world God be an army for me for Jackson
Mississippi to take your love to know to take your grace to take your message out
into it father well we thank you for a church that
invests in the next generation God well we thank you for volunteers they give up
their time to make an eternal impact God maybe what we do this week point others
towards your cross god your Holy Name we pray amen do dismiss

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