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Evangelism: You Were Made for a Mission
10/23/2005
Scripture: John 20:21
Track 7 of 8 in the Purpose-Driven Life series
Running time: 22 minutes, 02 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, October 23, 2005
7th sermon in an 8-part series.
MADE FOR A MISSION
Purposeful Words: A series of Sermons on living a Purpose-Driven life

(John 20:21)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett


Our Bibles end in a prayer. The last words we have recorded for us are the phrase, Come, Lord Jesus. And, at the risk of sounding completely heretical and maybe out of touch with reality, I can't pray that prayer. I think I have a time or two, but it always goes away. It goes away because every time I drive through an intersection in Quincy, Illinois and I'm stopped at a stop light, I see cars going in front of me and I can't get this haunting question out of my mind. "Do they know Jesus?"

I run down the streets in my morning jog and I go past houses, some of whom I know the owners of and some I don't. I can't help but wondering, "do these people know Jesus?" And I cannot pray, Come, Lord Jesus. Because they are not ready. I would be even more personal than that because there are some people that I know well, whose first names I could give you and you would probably recognize them and for that reason, I can't pray, Come, Lord Jesus.

Oh, it's not that I don't want Him to come back. Don't misunderstand me. I would love for Him to return. I'd like for this to be over. There are days when it's more profoundly true than other days, but in all honesty, when I let my heart speak I can't ask Him to return.

The text we're looking at this morning is 2Peter 3:9 and it really is the reason why I have such a hard time with that closing verse in our Bibles. As we come toward the end of the New Testament, Peter writes this second letter. It's in the context of people who were wondering where in the world is Jesus. I thought He was coming back quickly and He hasn't returned. Where is He? Why has He not come yet? And Peter says in 2Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

And if you come down to 2Peter 3:14 you hear this. . . . . .friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless,. . . . . . .Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation. . . . . .

Unfortunately, my prayer is the opposite of the prayer at the end of Revelation. I don't pray, "Lord, come quickly." I say, "Lord please wait." Wait, because there is a world in desperate need of Jesus. You happen to be among the lucky few if you believe in luck.

You were born in a country where being a Christian is easy. It's legal. You happen, most of you at least, to have been born in the context of a Christian; a neighbor, a friend, a parent who introduced you to Christ. You're among a limited few. Two billion people in the world live where the name of Jesus has never been heard. Another two billion people live in the world where the name of Jesus is heard, but becoming a Christian will run you against every cultural more that there is. You happen to be where it's okay to be one. In fact, it's just perfectly fine for you to be a member of a church.

My job is to try to pull Purpose #5 together for you and to do it quickly because we have things out in the foyer that we want you to see about what this church is doing in the way of global evangelism. I'm going to do my best to do that, but, I want to just remind you of the one thing that I really am here to say, and that is that God really does want you to be saved. Because He wants everyone to be saved.

That's Peter's statement isn't it? The Lord is not slow concerning his promise but He wants everyone to come to repentance. We've talked about the fact that we were made for God's pleasure. We were created for worship. We've talked about the fact that we were formed for His family. That we were designed to live in fellowship with Him and with each other. We are created to be Christ-like. We're to be a part of a discipleship process where we become more and more like Jesus. We are shaped for service. We're to be involved some way in ministry. And by the way, many of you participated last week in our ministry fair and several of you have said, "I want to step up and be involved" and for that we're grateful.

As you have been reading and will read over the next several weeks, you recognize Rick Warren is going to say those four things are things we will do forever. "The fifth purpose is the one thing", he says, "we will only do on earth." He says, "We were made for a mission." There's a word for that in the New Testament. And it's called "evangelism". It has to do with people coming to know who Jesus is and to be really honest with you, the preacher in me is really glad that I'm running out of Rick Warren messages. Not that I don't think they are true. It's just that they are hard for me to work with.

I'm excited about what we're going to do after Celebration Sunday because we're going to turn to 2Corinthians 5:11 and start and take that great passage about "outreach" and what it means for us to be the church in the community. Our forty days has focused on us. We have really tried, worked hard, at helping us come together around the theme of being disciples and really understanding God's purpose for our lives. But if we miss this purpose, we have missed the whole point. Because we were made for a mission. We were not made to be consumers at all.

There are three words in this text I would really like for you to understand and we only have a little bit of time to talk about them.

The first one is the word Promise The Lord is not slow concerning his promise. He does, in fact, intend to return. He will be here. You can count on it. He will come back.

Last weekend I had this opportunity to be at this conference and in one of the workshops I was in, they were demonstrating a number of video clips that are available for worship services. They were making us aware of some of those resources and one of the clips that they happen to show was a "Man on the Street" kind of collage of interviews. Where they walked up and said to people, "What happens to you after you die?" The answers, were at first, a little humorous. But the longer the clip rolled and the more people that they interviewed on the streets, apparently in front of a university, and the more times people said, "I don't care," the more frightening it became.

Because the Lord is returning, and with that return, there will be a judgment. And people will have to make a direction.

Fortunately, this same writer in 2Peter, the one who wrote 2Peter, wrote a word or two or spoke a word or two that were recorded in the Book of Acts, one of which is in Acts 4:12 . . . . .there is no other name under heaven whereby man must be saved, than at the name of Jesus. There is a word about the promise of God that says you can be ready for Jesus return. There is one who comes to prepare you for that day. To prepare you and your neighbors and your friends and your relatives and the people around the globe, who need to hear the name of Jesus. Can be ready for that promised coming. Don't think that He won't return just because He hasn't come yet.

There is a second word in this text. That is the word "All". It's no bigger in its original language than it is in English. "All", but it's huge isn't it? "All" He desires that "all", not some, "all". Have you thought about the great commission passages in Scripture? Mark 16:15 Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.

Matthew 28:18-20 the version that Matthew records. Go into all the world and make disciples teaching them and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And low I am with you always. . . . .

Or everybody's favorite, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Do you hear the size of this thing that God has in mind? It isn't about a little town someplace in central Illinois along a river. It's not even about a nation that occupies most of the continent. It's about a world full of people. "All" And "all" is not just numerical. Have you thought about some of those statements that Paul writes? For example, in Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Or his version of it in Colossians 3:11 . . . .there is no Greek or Jew, slave or free, barbarian, Scythian.. . . He doesn't care. It isn't based on status. It isn't based on wealth.. It isn't based on skin color. It isn't based on literacy or intelligence. He just wants everyone to know His Son personally.

2Peter 3:9 I hope will get etched in your thinking. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise. But He desires, it is His will that everyone would come to repentance.

In your reading this week you will undoubtedly run across Acts 1:8. It's one of Rick Warren's favorite verses. That we are to be His witnesses, first in Jerusalem and then in Judea and then in Samaria and then into the uttermost parts of the earth. And the standard explanation and then I think, correctly, the explanation is Jerusalem is where you live. It's people just like you, who speak the same language, who look like you, who eat like you, who are like you. And He expects us to take the Gospel to those people.

And then there is Judea. Judea is that immediately surrounding area. And, frankly, they're pretty much just like you. Just a little further away. Adams County. The Tri-state region.

And then there is Samaria. Samaria is not necessarily geographically a long way away, but people who are a little different, speak a little different language, have a little different custom. Some of them live down that way, on the North side near the river. Some live in Chicago or Los Angeles or Seattle. Some live around the world, which is the last place He says go, to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The image is that we have this responsibility. And in fact, I want you to know that out there in the foyer and down the halls is evidenced by this church over the years has decided to take that call seriously and you'll see representatives from the continent of Africa and the Island of Haiti and a variety of places around the world, in virtually every part and corner of the country including cities of our own United States where we are doing our best to take seriously that call to say, "We want EVERYONE to know." EVERYONE!

Three words: Promise. . . . .Everyone . . . and, . . . Repentance, that's the one that throws me. I have to admit it. I would write this verse differently. God didn't give me the privilege of being the writer of Scripture. But, I would have written it differently. I would not have said that. I would have said, God wants everyone to believe. Got wants everyone to come to faith. God wants everyone to be saved. What he says is, "God wants everyone to repent." Because He understands that this is not about us and our consumer mentality. Oh, it isn't that being a Christian isn't a great blessing, it is isn't it? I mean, who'd not want to be one that is one? Most of us who finally find our way into the faith whom God reaches out and touches; most of us come here and we discover that man, this is really good and I don't know why I was anything else. I have said that to you before and I would say it again.

I was a pagan for a long time. Frankly, I wouldn't go back. There was nothing back there that I wanted. That's why I left it in the first place.

But that's not what this text is telling me, that God has a boat load of blessings for me. It's true that He does, but that's not what this text is about. This text is about my responsibility before God to be the person that God desires for me to be. Becoming a Christian is not about being a consumer and taking in all of the good stuff of God. Becoming a Christian is about being a disciple of Jesus and letting that shape your life into what God calls you to be, whatever that is. And you just sang it. I hope you meant it. 'Cause God heard it. It went through the roof. I'll go wherever. I'll be whatever. Really?

Will you go across the grocery store aisle and try to create a friendship with the checkout clerk? Will you go to the dorm room down the hall and try to create a relationship with that other person and talk to them about Jesus? Will you go out of your way to car pool with a friend to work so that you can have opportunity to show the love of Christ with them? Will you go everywhere, anywhere? That's what you said.

I sit at stop lights. I drive down streets. I walk past houses and I cannot get this haunting question out of my mind. Do these people have a relationship with Jesus? Because I've read my Bible. I know there is an end to this. And while the Lord is patient and He keeps waiting and He keeps waiting, there will come a day when He stops waiting and it will be over. I mean, really over. And then the question is, "will that person that you know, know Jesus and will Jesus know him or her?

I wish. . . . .I wish I could pray the prayer. I really wish that I could come to you and say, "together let's pray, Come, Lord Jesus." And I can't!

But I can ask you to join me in praying, "Lord, send us. Send us to our neighbor. Send us to the person who does service work at our house. Send us to the person who teaches our children or who cares for our parents. Send us across the street or across the country or across the world. But never let us be satisfied that the Kingdom is as big as it's going to be because we happen to be in it.

I'm not suggesting that the writer of Revelation was wrong. I'm only suggesting that I think that until the people that I know and love come to Jesus, I'm just going to have to wait for the prayer. Just going to have to wait.

Some of you in here can't pray that prayer either. Got loved ones that you deeply care about and you know if Jesus came today they'd be in trouble and you're not going to pray that prayer because you want them to know Christ and you want Him to be patient. And so, your prayer is going to be, "Lord, open a door for this word. Open a door for a conversation. Open a door. Do something to get their attention.

Some of you can't pray that prayer, Lord Jesus, Come because you know you're not ready. And there is nobody in this room that can do anything about that except you.

Now if you don't know what to do. You just don't know how to get it done. If you know you're not ready, but you don't know what you need to do about that, then come and see us. That's our job. We want to tell you how to do that. But if you know what you need to do and you just haven't done it, can I ask you this Biblical question? What are you waiting for? Why are you waiting? What needs to happen to convince you that you need to make a decision for Jesus? What more does He have to do? He sent His Son. He raised His Son from the dead. He has patiently waited and called you through Christian friends. He's given you a WORD. He's sent His Spirit into your heart to try to work on you. What more do you want Him to do?

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise. But He wants everyone to come to repentance. And if you've not come to repentance, then that invitation is for you. But if you have, then He wants you to go, go and tell.

Let's stand and make this song our prayer.