Mission Possible
Monday, February 15, 2010

 

“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you sine the day your heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Col. 16)

                Paul may have been prone to exaggeration when he wrote, “all over the world the gospel is bearing fruit,” but I doubt the exaggerations were ill founded.  It was his way of telling the church at Colossi that in all of his travels around Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, he was astounded by how infectious the gospel truly was.  Think about it.  Christ had died some thirty years earlier and by many estimates, already 20% of the known world had become believers.  This was a world in which communications were not internet (Al Gore was not yet born), telephones, cell phones, or even sophisticated mail services.  Communication came by word of mouth.  And people, generally could not read and write as we do today and even if they could, there were no books – just huge cumbersome scrolls.  And there was no common transportation.  Foot travel was the norm for the vast majority of people in those days.  Yet, something propelled this gospel of Jesus Christ with unprecedented speed.  My question today, is what caused the gospel to spread so rapidly in conditions of the first century?

                First of all there was a need.  Religion abounded, but it had no impact on life.  There were many gods, rituals, and philosophies – but not hope.  Amidst the cancerous Roman Empire, failed Greek philosophy, fertility gods for the wealthy, economic depravity, slavery, and death and destruction, what good was religion?  Human plight was to be born, suffer for whatever years you were given, die and be forgotten.  And if you were fortunate enough to be born a Roman, life was still short and as the exuberance of youth faded, ills of life seemed intolerable.  Then along came a Man, who claimed to be God, who said, “If you believe in Me you will never die.”  He gave a message which was a life rope.  And behind this message was no self aggrandizement.  He came as a pauper, He lived as a common Man, He died in humiliation, and He rose showing Himself to only a handful of followers.  Yet, the message was one of love – how God loves us (while we were still sinners Christ died for us); and how that translates out into loving one another (if you love Me you will obey My commands.  And this is my command, love one another as I have loved you.)  Jesus filled the human need.

                Secondly, they heard and understood the gospel.  This is the importance of mission.  Paul tells the Church at Rome, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  But how can they call upon one they have not heard about.  And how can they hear if the word is not preached.  And how can it be preached if someone is not sent.”  Missions in so many churches has been relegated to the back burners of worrying about physical ailments of church members.  Churches have become self focused in a world which needs hope today as much as it needed it in the first century.  And when churches do get involved in missions, so many of them believe that should be giving food and medicine (and condoms) to poverty stricken people.  And while those things may provide a temporary fix – they do not supply hope.  Only the gospel offers enduring and eternal hope.  People still need to hear and understand God’s glorious gospel.

                Third, the gospel is based upon truth.  In those days, people would take a chunk of wood, carve it into a shape, and then bow down and worship it.  Everyone knew it was based on a lie, but desperation drove them to grasp at straws.  But here came the gospel, filled with truth.  The Hebrew Scriptures testified about the coming of Christ and He came just as Scripture said He would.  And the Scriptures said He would die for our sins – and He did, just as the Word said He would.  And then Scripture said He would rise again – and He did.  But God was not content to tell people what He was going to do, and then do it.  No!  God proved that He did it by appearing to 500 people – verifying the truth claims that were now irrefutable.  Only the gospel is backed up by truth.

                Finally, the gospel is backed by the grace of God.  Then, as now, no one deserves the love of God.  No one deserves the acceptance of a God who is perfect and holy in every way.  Even the slightest sin is so ugly in God’s sight.  But here came Jesus preaching and teaching and dying, all to demonstrate that because we cannot be perfect and holy, the only One who is, would be willing to die for our sins.  And so, the death that we deserve was given to Christ; and the life that was His, is given to us.  That is grace – the unmerited favor of God.  No religion had ever even hinted that you could find acceptance to God unless you strived for perfection and lived a sacrificial life giving to this god.  Grace abounded in Christ and a sinful world needed that grace.

                Overarching all of this is the power of the Holy Spirit.  In thirty years, the phenomenal growth of the lowly gospel can be explained no other way than it was clearly an act of God.  The Holy Spirit dwelt in the people, energized them to life, and they could not wait to spread that word to the world.  That same Spirit of God is available to the church today – not to be experiential on Sunday morning (which can happen), but to spread the word of Christ around the world.  In the end, God entrusted His Gospel to the Church, and when the Church is ashamed of the gospel, then people die without hope.

                I urge each of you today, do a temperature check in your congregations.  Is your missions program reflective of the early Church?  Is the gospel you are taught so infectious that your people are dragging others to hear it – are you reaching the unchurched?  If you answer "no" to those questions, then it is doubtful that the gospel Paul was referring to is being preached and lived in your church.


Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
CONTACT US



    
  To learn more about Bud...

Hosted by Group M7