March 25, 2018
Pastor Jeff Struecker
Calvary Baptist Church has a great commitment to the Great Commission. In fact, the Great Commission (this passage of the Bible that’s found at the end of Matthew chapter 28, some of Jesus’s last words to his church), I think it’s accurate to say Calvary Baptist Church has a radical commitment to the Great Commission.
I want to explain to you where we’re going today, because today summarizes 3 weeks-worth of teaching on the Great Commission. -What does it look like to make disciples? And we’ve used 3 words to basically show 3 easy steps, a 3-step process to making disciples. Here are the 3 words:
REACH 3 people in your world, your neighborhood, your workplace, or your classroom at school, who don’t know Jesus. Then, 1 of those 3 people starts to become a follower of Jesus because of you personally. You lead them through baptism. You start to BUILD them up in the faith, and you start to teach them how they can do this with somebody else. You reach 3, build 1 of them up, and then you and that 1 other person go out and do it with 3 more people, until Jesus comes back again. REACH. BUILD. SEND. That’s the Great Commission right there. -reach, build, send, reach, build, send, reach build send… until Jesus comes back again.
If you want to know about our church, everything that is important for you to know about our church can be summarized in this next statement. In fact, everything for these 3 weeks that we’re teaching, here it is for you in 1 statement, very easy for you to understand. Our goal (the goal is very simple) is to finish the mission of God, the Great Commission, God’s last instructions to his church before Jesus left Earth and went to Heaven, our goal is to finish the mission of God, and we believe it can be done in our lifetime. And if it can be done in our lifetime, it must be done in our lifetime.
Would you notice the word simple? I didn’t say easy, but it’s very plain, very simple to understand what we’re attempting to do. Frankly, it’s going to cost all of us absolutely everything if we’re going to take this radical commitment to the Great Commission, but I believe it’s worth it.
So, our goal as a church is quite simple: Finish the mission of God in our lifetime. Reach. Build. Send. We believe our community is desperate for this. We believe our country needs this, because until this happens, there won’t really be lasting change in the Chattahoochee Valley. There won’t be lasting change in our community.
In just a second, we’re going to talk about: What does it look like to be sent? What does it look like to go and to do what the Great Commission is asking us to do? But, before we even do that, can I just ask us to pause for a moment? Can I ask us to pray? -because I believe this will help us put our hearts in the right perspective to hear from the Holy Spirit today.
Here’s what I want you to hear from me today. I want you to hear this: The church that wants to reach to most people will be the church that’s willing to send the most people. If you’re not willing to send, you can’t expect to reach a whole lot of people.
Today, we’re going to look at the word GO. -one very short, very simple word, and we’re going to look at 3 reasons why we go as followers of Jesus to finish the mission. And one way that we’re going to do this is, there are 3 “why’s” and 1 “how” that we’re going to look at.
I. Go for the glory of God
Here’s the first thing that I’d like for you to notice; here’s the first reason why we go: We go for the glory of God, specifically speaking today these words- the global glory of God. Our goal is all people, all over the planet, worshipping Jesus and giving him the glory that he deserves, and until that happens, we’re just not going to be satisfied. We desire what God desires. -the global praise, the global glory, the global blessing of his people all over the world. And we believe it’s our responsibility to take what Jesus has done for us and share it with everyone on the planet, until they have a chance to hear what Jesus can do for them.
Here’s what the Bible says about God being worshipped all over the planet by people from all different races, all different ethnicities, all different colors of skin. In Psalm 96, starting in verse 1, the Bible declares this:
Sing a new song to the Lord; let the whole earth sing to the Lord. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; proclaim his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all peoples.
Way back in the Old Testament, the idea was 3 commands in 3 verses: sing, bless and declare (or sing, bless and proclaim). -All peoples all over the Earth, everyone. God deserves worship from all people, all nations, all tribes, all tongues.
In the Chattahoochee Valley, when you got up this morning, you had lots of options on where to go to church, but in many places around the world, you don’t have those options for 1 of 2 reasons. For some countries around the world, it’s illegal to go to church. You can’t speak the name of Jesus, because it’s against the law. In some very hard-core Muslim countries, you will lose your life for telling somebody about Jesus. In some countries, you can’t go to church because even though it’s not illegal, there’s no church to go to, because no one’s ever really introduced the people of those communities to Jesus. So, if you wanted to go to church, you couldn’t, and we believe everyone deserves to hear what Jesus has done for them.
We believe the church that wants to reach the most people will be the church that will send the most people, and Calvary Baptist Church (you heard me say it already) has this radical, this great commitment to the Great Commission. So, I want you to know, we are challenging you, if you make this your church, to take personal ownership in the Great Commission. We’re challenging you to take what you know about Jesus, introduce it to 3 people (reach 3 people), build them up in the faith, and then you and that 1 person go out and do it all over again. Reach. Build. Send. That’s what making disciples is all about.
And by the way, just so you know, I am prepared to leverage every resource this church has on this thing. Let me make sure that you understand what I mean by that statement. Any program in our church that doesn’t reach, build, or send (or doesn’t do all 3 of those), it’s time for us to stop doing those things.
But I’m not just talking about the programs that we do around here. I would give every penny that comes into this church to reach, build, and send. -but not just programs, not just pennies. The greatest single asset that this church has is the people here, and I challenge everyone: Give the greatest resource to the greatest responsibility. Let every person here take personal ownership, “I’m going to reach. I’m going to build. I’m going to send, and I’m going to keep doing it until Jesus comes back again.” -because it can be done in our lifetime, I’m completely convinced. And if it can, it must be done in our lifetime.
This can’t be something that Calvary Baptist Church does on the side. This has to be who we are. This has to be our passion. This has to be in our DNA. This is our 1 thing. This is our priority. Everything else takes a far second place to this, and we do it for the global glory of God.
II. Go build God’s family
Here’s the second reason why we do this: We do this to see more and more people come into the family of God. Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is to build up God’s family until God’s family is full, until God’s family is complete.
Let me ask you a quick question. When God originally struck the first covenant with man, when he entered into the first covenant agreement with man, it was for the purposes of creating a family. -but what was the extent of that family? If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, God chose a man by the name of Abram. He changed his name to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham, and Abraham became what is known in the Bible as the “father of the faith”. God originally created a family, and he used this guy by the name of Abram (or Abraham) to be the original person through which he was going to create this family. But, what were the limits? How far was that family supposed to extend?
You see, I think some of us, when we read this story back in the Bible in the book of Genesis, we think it was just about the Jewish people. But from the very beginning, God’s ultimate plan was all people. Listen to Genesis chapter 12 when God first creates this covenant with Abraham:
The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
“Abraham, I’m going to start with you, and it’s going to ripple out from here, but it doesn’t end with you. It doesn’t even end with the Jewish people. It goes to the farthest corners of the Earth. My plan is for every person on the planet, all the peoples of the Earth, to be blessed because of you and because of your descendants, actually because of your descendant (singular), your descendant Jesus.” And the original goal was for God’s family to introduce more family to what Jesus did for them, to introduce more people to what Jesus did for them, to reach, build and send until Jesus comes back again.
The most powerful force that we have at Calvary Baptist Church are our LifeGroups, and I want to challenge you, if you’re plugged into a LifeGroup (first of all, I want to challenge you if you’re not plugged into a LifeGroup, you just miss the overwhelming majority of what makes us who we are. Please get plugged into a LifeGroup), but if you’re plugged into one, now I want to talk specifically to leaders in here: I want to challenge you as a group to take on building up the family of God as a group. Take a team approach to this.
Here’s what I mean: You as a group decide to partner together to reach our community. Let me give you some specific ways that you might do this. You can do it Seneca Choices for Life or through Sound Choices to try to minister to women who are right now considering whether or not they should have an abortion. And maybe you can be the difference that will save a child’s life.
Or you can do it through International Friendship Ministries, this ministry in our community that’s reaching people all over the world because they’re coming to Columbus. Or you can do it through a ministry called Take the City. It’s really not important which one of those you chose. Let the ministry that you plug in with, that you get involved with, be a soul-centered, Gospel-oriented ministry. What I mean is, that ministry is built around introducing people to Jesus.
There are lots of other good non-profits that happen in our community, but frankly, their goal is just simply to do good without bringing the Gospel to people. The mission of God, the mission of Jesus’s church is to of course do good, but don’t divorce it from the Gospel. People have to hear what Jesus has done for them. They need justice, but they have to have Jesus at the same time.
So, I’m challenging you, LifeGroups. I’m challenging you, LifeGroup leaders: Find a ministry (a Gospel-centered, Jesus-oriented ministry), and get plugged in with them, and make an impact in the Chattahoochee Valley. Build the family of God.
III. Go in love
Here’s the third reason why (and frankly, this really should be all you need to know): You do it out of love, first for God, and secondly for people. Jesus said the greatest commandment ever uttered in the Bible is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and strength. But, by the way, the second greatest commandment is almost like it. -almost to the same extent and same importance. Love your neighbor as yourself.
The greatest act of love in human history happened on a mountaintop in Jerusalem 2000 years ago when the sinless son of God gave his life up so that you and I could be cleaned up and made right with God. This mountain of God demonstrates God’s love in ways that nothing else can, and this mountain of God is described for us by the prophet, Micah, back in the Old Testament. Micah chapter 4, verses 1-2. Here’s what the Bible says:
In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. Peoples will stream to it, 2 and many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about his ways so we may walk in his paths.” For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
It sounds a bit confusing. He’s not talking about 1 mountaintop taller than the other. We’re not talking about Mount Everest right now. He’s saying 1 mountain is better, or is bigger, in order of priority or in order of preeminence than the others, and he’s going to tell you what mountain he’s talking about very clearly. People will come to the “mountain of God”. He’s talking about Mount Zion, where the Temple of God is, ultimately where God’s son will be sacrificed. This isn’t just about people coming. This is also about God’s people going.
How did the word go out from there? How did instructions go out from this mountainside in Jerusalem where the Temple was, where Jesus was sacrificed? People took it with them. They left there, and they took that message with them everywhere that they went. The idea here in the Bible is, God’s bringing some people to come and to hear the message, and those who don’t come, God is sending people to them to hear the message. Both are happening at the same time, but the Bible is very clear about it. The idea is, everybody gets the privilege of hearing what Jesus has done for them. Everybody deserves that.
David Platt, who was the leader of the International Mission Board, made this statement, and I think it’s 100% true: “Every saved person on this side of Heaven owes the Gospel to every unsaved person on this side of Hell in their lifetime.” Every one of us who knows what Jesus has done for us owes it to the people who don’t know, because they’ve never heard what Jesus has done for them, every one of us owes them that. And we owe that to them before they slip into eternity. What happens next is in God’s hands.
So, the reason why we’re compelled by love is because believing leads to behaving, which leads to becoming.
Let me explain what I mean by this. Believing that God loves you should change the way that you act. Pretty soon, you start to behave like God loves you. But it doesn’t stop there. Eventually, you start to become an example that God loves people to other people.
I’ll put it this way: Believing the Gospel, the good news that Jesus can change people’s lives, believing that should cause you to start to behave the Gospel, and then you start to become the Gospel. That means believing that Jesus can change somebody should cause you to start to behave like Jesus can change somebody you know, and by behaving like that, it should ultimately cause you to start to become the catalyst that God uses to lead people to Jesus. This is what it means to reach, build and send. We do it out of love. That’s really the only thing that you need to hear, but ultimately, the 3 reasons we do this is for the glory of God, to build up the family of God, and because God loves us and because God loves others, he wants to use us to reach others.
IV. Go to your neighbor
But, I’m going to be very specific with you; I’m going to try to be very plain with you for just a moment and tell you how we are going to do that at Calvary Baptist Church. We’re going to do that just by reaching your next-door neighbor.
Robby Gallaty wrote a book called Growing Up, and in this book, he said, “When the Church becomes an end in itself, the Church ends.” I’ll explain what he means by that. When the Church starts thinking of themselves, can only think of themselves, only focuses on the people who are in the church and cannot think about the people who are outside, the Church (not local church), the Church ends if the Church thinks of itself as an end and only thinks about itself. That is a recipe for the end of the Church in 1 generation.
So, Jesus knew that was a possibility. That almost happened in the New Testament, and to make sure that didn’t happen, Jesus used some of his last words on Earth in the book of Acts to prevent that from happening. “Hey, stop thinking just about yourselves. It’s time for you to think about everyone who hasn’t yet heard what I’ve done for them.” Acts chapter 1, starting in verse 4:
While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak about; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This is to his disciples. This is right after his death, right after his resurrection. He’s walked on the Earth with them, and he has taught them. He’s just about ready to leave Earth and go back to Heaven. He’s having 1 final conversation with them.
Can you imagine how frustrating this must have been to Jesus? Jesus is saying, “Hey, I’m just about ready to leave. I’m going to send the Holy Spirit. He’s going to do incredible things with you. He’s going to do incredible things for you.” And they said basically, “Uh, yeah Jesus, but we’re really expecting you to make Israel great again. So, are you about to make Israel great again? I mean, we waited during your lifetime. It didn’t happen during your lifetime. Now that you’re resurrected and about to go back to Heaven, is it now? Are you going to do it now and make Israel great again?” They were only thinking of themselves, but Jesus had the whole world in mind.
We’re talking end-of-time right now. You can’t do a pie chart. There’s no Excel spreadsheet that you can do to try and figure this one out. Stop trying. That’s the Father’s decision. You don’t get to know it. But, here’s what you do need to know. And this is it. When the Church thinks about itself and only itself and cannot think of anybody else, it’s the end of Christianity in a generation.
“You are going to take my message from your town of Jerusalem, and you’re going to take it to all of Judea. But, it’s not going to stop there. You’re going to take it to Samaria. That’s the country to the North. That’s Canada. It’s going to go from your community, all over your country. It’s even going to go to Canada, but it’s not going to stop there.” Look at how far this message is going to go. It’s going to go TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.
“You’re going to start in Jerusalem. It just makes sense that you’re going to start right here where you are, but it’s not going to stop in Jerusalem. It’s going to go to Judea, to all of your country. But, it’s also not going to stop there. It’s going to go to the neighboring countries. But, I’m not even going to let the message stop there. The message doesn’t stop until the ends of the Earth.” That’s the language that says, every nook, every cranny, the hardest places to reach, the most remote parts of the Earth. “That’s how far you’re going to go with my message. And by the way, I’m sending you. This is your job. This is your mission. I’m expecting you to take ownership for this mission.”
So, if you’re freaking out right now, and you’re thinking, Jeff is about to ask me to become a foreign missionary. Relax; I’m not going to ask that of you. However, I would be over the moon if God was calling you to spend the rest of your life doing missions. Here’s what I’m asking you to do: Would you just simply tell your next-door neighbor what Jesus did for them and how they can experience eternal life too?
We did some research this week. These statistics only come from international students and the military in the Chattahoochee Valley and ONLY from the year 2017. -just for one 12-month period. We don’t even know how many people from the business world fit into this category, but in 1 year, in our community (only in the Chattahoochee Valley), more than 100 countries sent people to our community. Most of them lived here for 5 months, 7 months, 12 months, just last year. That’s all of the statistics we have.
Listen, if you were to compare these countries against all of the nations that the U.S. has good relations with (North Korea’s not on this list. Syria, Yemen, Iran…They’re not on this list), just last year, just our community, nowhere else in the world and only in 2017, 90% of the western hemisphere lived in our neighborhoods. 50% of the entire continent of Africa lived in the Chattahoochee Valley last year. 70% of Europe, 75% of Asia, even 30% of Oceana lived in the Chattahoochee Valley last year.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, on this map, everywhere in red, just last year, 2017, just the Chattahoochee Valley, people from those countries lived in our community, and many of them lived in neighborhoods and apartment complexes all over the Chattahoochee Valley, which means you don’t really have to go be a foreign missionary, because the world is coming to our community, and our community is sending people all over the world. I don’t even have the numbers for the people whom businesses brought to the Chattahoochee Valley. This is just the military and international students. -more than 100 countries.
So, when you reach your next-door neighbor, you can have a global impact. You can do Acts 1:8, and you can do it just by going to your neighbor. That’s the kind of privileged community that we live in.
• I felt Jesus calling me to turn to him in faith today. I surrendered to Jesus for the first time this morning.
– I want to reach out, but I’m not sure where to start. I’d like a pastor to contact me about this.
+ I am going to __________ this week.
- Do you have to become a foreign missionary to fulfill the Great Commission?
- Sending requires sacrifice. Why do you think some churches don’t send people out to fulfill the Great Commission? Why do some churches seem hesitant to send their “best people” out?
- What do you think happens to the church that keeps giving away a lot of people and money to fulfill this mission?
- Is it possible to share the Gospel with someone outside the faith and not have genuine love at the same time? (Love for that person? Love for God?) Explain your answer.
- Is it possible to believe the Gospel and not live out the Gospel at the same time?
- Why is it always best to start reaching the world by reaching your neighborhood?
- Pray for your neighbors by name this week.