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Discovering the Purposes of God
Scripture: Ephesians 3:1-21;6:10-20
Track 1 of 8 in the Inside~Out: Discovering the Will of God series
Running time: 29 minutes, 03 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.

"Discovering the Purpose of God" September 30, 2007

113,296 people, they live within 25 miles of this building. Does God have the power to get the gospel into all of their lives? Shoutfest is today. Does God have the power to bring 5,000 or more people to Clat Adams this afternoon to hear the gospel? 600 men on our campus learning how to be men of integrity. Can God do that? Can he bring 600 men here who have the courage to find out what it means to live a life of integrity?

200 bags of groceries, some of which are beginning to accumulate out in the foyer right now. Can God do that? Can he use us to meet the needs of 200 families just ten days from now? A hundred families to pray over those groceries, to pray at addresses around the city, and there are a hundred people that God could bring here next week on Wednesday night to go out into the community and pray, can he do that?

1200 people at Christmas to hear the story for maybe the very first time gathered in this building. Is it possible that God has the power to bring that many people to hear the story? A hundred additions, a hundred new people coming to church a year from now worshipping the father in this place. Can God do that? Does he have the power to bring a hundred new people?

Ten new groups gathering in the middle of the week to study scripture. Could God raise of ten bridge communities among us? Does he have that kind of power? Is God capable of having a hundred children in worship every Sunday over in the warehouse hearing the gospel at their level? Can God do that? Is it possible that God could create places outside of 4700 Broadway across the Quincy area where Madison Park might have influence in the future? Does God have the power to do that?

The text you said just a minute ago certainly seems to indicate that the answer to that is yes. "Now, to him who can do immeasurably more than all that we could ever ask or even imagine ... to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations."

Just how much can God do? What in the world is God up to? What does God want to do? That's the focus of the next six weeks in our small groups, you know, trying to figure out how God leads us to understand what his will is for us. Every adult discipleship class, every bridge community sitting down for six weeks studying the Andy Stanley material "How to Know the Will of God," trying to figure out how does God direct his people to know exactly what it is they ought to be doing with their life and their time, their resources and their energy.

Are you up to that? See, if you are not in a small group or a discipleship class now, you know what I'm going to say next. Why not? Why not take the next six weeks and invest yourself in a new adventure to find out if there is some way that God needs, wants to speak to you in that context? How much can God do?

Now, you need to realize that that text, Ephesians Chapter 3, sits right in the heart of Ephesians. It doesn't sit out here by itself. This is not about just whatever you can dream and imagine. This isn't about -- unfortunately, this is not about the green Z3 I can see in my driveway. It's not about that kind of imagination. It's about an imagination for what God is up to in the world. And the only question that we have to ask is, what in the world is He up to?

And Ephesians tells us. Come back over to the first chapter. Right in the very beginning of the book of Ephesians he begins to lay out God's heart for humanity from the very beginning. It's impossible to miss. We are going to pick it up in verse number 9 in Ephesians Chapter 1 right in the middle of this rather lengthy sentence, and he says, "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when times have reached their fulfillment" -- here is the mystery -- "to bring all things in heaven and on earth today together under one head, even Christ." What is it that God is about? He is about returning everything to the Lordship of Christ. He is about bringing everything back to himself. He is about uniting all of us under the Lordship of Christ, all people, all things, all nations, everything, coming back where it belongs under his control. That is his express purpose.

And then you go to Chapter 2, and you begin to hear the same thing over again. He says in Chapter 2, Verse 11, "Therefore, remember that formerly those who were called Gentiles and who were Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves 'the circumcision,' remember that at that time you were excluded, you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, foreigners to the covenants, without hope, without ... " It doesn't sound very good, without hope, without God in the world.

But don't miss the next verse. "But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." There was a time when anybody non-Jewish was away from God and had no hope of ever coming to God, and now he says in Christ all of that changes. Everything comes together. All people of all kinds have an opportunity to have a relationship with God through Christ. It doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter your social status. It doesn't matter the color of your skin. What matters is do you have a relationship with Christ, and that's all.

What's God's plan? That everybody have an opportunity to hear the gospel and respond to Christ and be brought into a relationship with God and therefore into a relationship with one another. See, if you know God, then you're brought into a relationship with all those who know him and were brought together under his Lordship so that we can share this life together.

He picks it up again in Chapter 3. He starts to pray in Chapter 3. He never quite gets around to praying in the first part of the chapter. It's as if he is introducing this topic. He mentions Gentiles. It reminds him that he had a special mission to go to the Gentiles, and so he starts talking about that mission. He says in Chapter 3, Verse 4, "In reading this you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. This mystery was not made known to men in other generations as it is now revealed by the spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets." This mystery is that through the gospel Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, sharers together in the promise of Christ. Do you hear it? The mystery is that everybody can have a relationship with God. Everybody.

And in the midst of that conversation he says again in verse number 10, "His intent was that now ..." Are you looking? Now what? "Through the church." Not through agencies, not through the camp, not through WGCA, not through the bible colleges. As important as those things are, he didn't choose outside agents to do his job. It was now through the church. So who is the church? You know it's not a building. So it has to be? Us. Thank you.

So how is God going to get the word out? What's his purpose for our lives as believers? To get his word out into the world so the 113,269 people have an opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ, not because some radio station or some camp or some organization tries to do it, but because you and me decide we are going to be what God calls us to be. We are going to be the church, and the church is going to be the agencies through which God chooses to get this mystery made known.

Right at the heart of that story about God's purpose for our lives comes this statement, "Now to him who is able to do beyond all that we could ask or imagine be glory in the church."

What can God do? And if we were to ask ourself, what in the world is God up, to one of the things we would have to understand is that God has a purpose for its church, and it is singular in nature, and it is to introduce people to the story of Jesus. That's why we're here. We live so that we can be a part of what we might call witness or evangelism, about sharing the story. This is about us making sure that this mystery of the gospel of Christ has a chance to get out where people can hear it. 113,269 folks ought to have an opportunity to hear the gospel.

Here is my question. How many times should you get to hear it before the rest of them get to hear it at least once? Should you get to hear it twice before everybody hears it once? Should you get to hear it a dozen times before everybody gets to hear it once? I'm not talking about whether or not God can bring 113,000 people to his son. You and I both know not everybody is going to respond to the gospel, but should they be out this close to the church and not at least hear the gospel at least once?

You need to understand that there isn't any way that that's going to happen without people making an accusation of you and me that we are intolerant. I mean, just the very nature of what I just said, that they need to have Christ, without Christ they have no hope, sounds terribly intolerant, doesn't it? It is. So if you think I'm being intolerant, I am.

But it's not my choice. I mean, what difference would it make in the universe if I said, it doesn't matter to me who gets to go to heaven. I'm not calling the shots. I'm not making the choice. So if I say to you all, you all get to go without Jesus, it still wouldn't matter, because Jesus himself said, "I am the way." And Peter repeated that then when he said, "There is no name under heaven given among men whereby man must be saved then the name of Jesus."

It's intolerant, it absolutely is. But if it's that way, if that's the case, then wouldn't you think that we would be compelled to tell them that that's the only way? Isn't that the story that God has placed you and me in a particular place so that the story can get told?

I need some pictures. I need photos. I need your photos. I don't know what photo you are going to bring. I just need a photo. I need a photo of where you work. I need a photo of where you go to school. I need a photo of your neighborhood. Wherever it is that God has placed you to be this person who represents Him in the community, the one through whom he was he is going to accomplish his purposes, wherever that happens to be, whether your family or neighborhood -- maybe you have multiple places where God has put you -- he has placed you here to preach the gospel of Christ, to live out Christ among people, I need your picture. We are going to put a collage of pictures on the back wall of the foyer so that by the time the six weeks is over we will have plastered that back wall with enough pictures to let everybody know we are reaching people for Jesus.

Now, I need those pictures, but I don't need them for me. Well, I mean, I need them for me because I want to be sure that we are doing our job. You need them, because you need to know that God has placed you somewhere specific. And I know it's a lot of trouble. You got to go out, take the pictures, take it to the store, get it developed, take the little chip, take it in, get it done. It's an awful lot of trouble. So was the cross. So don't let that stop you. Starting next week pictures of wherever God has you placed to be His message.

One of the things that God is doing is trying to help us realize that there is no way to get this story out if you and I don't tell, because he doesn't have secondary plans. See, we only have one real question when we meet somebody: Does this person know Jesus? That's really the only question we have to ask: Do they or do they not know Jesus? Because once we make that decision we know what our choice is. Our choice is to help them come to know Jesus or to help them know Jesus better.

There is a secondary purpose that the church has on a horizontal level, and that is if we know that somebody is believer we encourage them. We help them grow. You can call that whatever you want. It's called discipleship. It's called encouragement. It's called edifying people. The idea is that when we are in a relationship with one another we help people grow.

That is Paul's prayer in Ephesians Chapter 3 when he finally gets to the place where he starts praying, starting with Verse 13. You read several of the verses from that. If you were reading between the songs, you read the text. That we would become stronger, deeper. We would know the love of Christ. We would have strength and stamina to be able to carry this thing out because everybody knows that this is a marathon, not a sprint. A tip of the hat to you sprinters, you've got great fast whip muscles, but this is not a sprint. Did you read the news this morning? There was a new world record set yesterday in Berlin. Haile Gebrselassie ran the marathon in 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 55 seconds. 26.2 miles in less than 2 hours and 5 minutes. That's an average of 4 minutes and 46 seconds per mile. Now, I know that there are a lot of you that could do a mile -- well, I know that there are -- well, somebody in here may be able to do a sub five-minute mile, but my bet is we've got nobody in here who could put 26 of those back to back.

Anybody can make it from here to that baptistry. It's easy to become a disciple. It's not about becoming a disciple. It's been remaining a disciple and being at the finish line, not at the start. For those of you who are into this kind of thing, you all know if you are a sprinter the only person could who gets a medal is the one who comes in first. Those of us who are a clunky old marathoners we love marathons because everybody that finishes gets a medal. All you got to do is just get there. Isn't that more like the christian life? This isn't about how many can start. This is about how many finish. And everyone who finishes gets a medal.

So part of my task as a believer is if you are a believer to try to help you get to the finish. If you haven't started the race yet, it's my job to get you to the starting line. That's how we view people, because that's the nature of the church. That's a horizontal level. My relationship with every person on the face of the earth falls into one of two categories. Either I have to help them come to know Jesus or I have to help them grow up in Christ by encouraging them to do what they need to do.

But the church plays at a different level besides just the horizontal people level. It also operates on a more spiritual plane. And if you find yourself over in the sixth chapter of Ephesians starting at verse number 10, you are going to discover that there is a another category. You might call it warfare. You might call it service. What you get in Ephesians Chapter 6, Verse 10 is Paul beginning to pray about his warfare that we are in, and he reminds us in that section that we do have an enemy. We have an enemy who is out to destroy us, and there are certain things that we do in order to try to do battle effectively with that enemy. And that's what that whole passage is about. Stand completely firm in this.

We live in a world where Satan has taken to task the family. He has attacked it, and he is winning. Because that's what Satan does. Some of you will remember this story. Jesus is in the Mount of Transfiguration. He has taken Peter, James, and John with him. Down in the valley -- while all that is going up on the mountain top, down in the valley there are nine disciples and there is a family, and this father brought his demon possessed son and he asked the disciples to cast the demon out of the son. And text says they couldn't do it.

In that context, William Lane in his commentary on that text says, "The boy who was demon possessed is a picture of what Satan would like to do to all of humanity, to destroy it, to take the image of God right out of it to do it harm." You can rest assured that Satan would do anything in his power to destroy your marriage. He will do anything in his power to ruin your family and make it as dysfunctional as possible. He will do whatever he has to do to try to make your life absolutely miserable, because that's what Satan does.

And, no, no, we can't solve every problem in our social universe, but we can do this. We can come together and we can give groceries to 200 families at least once and do battle with the dysfunction in our world. We can do that. And maybe that will lead you to do it again, and maybe it will help you fall in love with somebody that you can reach into a dysfunctional place, who for whatever reason is unable to care for himself, and make a difference that begins to put a face on Jesus.

Maybe, just maybe you care about your family enough that you would be aware of the fact that in a couple of weeks there is going to be a special seminar here for parents about abstinence, and every parent and grandparent in this area of every teenager is invited to come and to learn how to talk to your kids about what may be the most destructive thing in our culture right now, and that is sex outside of marriage.

We could do that. We could choose to do battle. We could choose to try to make a difference in whatever small way we can, because we believe that that's why the church is here. Now, we can either do it, or we can throw our lot in and say, okay, let the government take care of it.

Why does the church exist? Why in the world are we even here if it isn't to try to do battle with domestic violence, if it's not in order to provide mentors for young men and young women, if it isn't to try to make a difference in a dysfunctional world? Why are we here?

Well, you know that ultimately we're here for one fundamental reason. Overarching everything else that we do we are here to worship. "Now, to him who can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine to Him be glory." We're here to worship him.

So why in the world would you choose to come out on a Wednesday night, the 17th of October, and join in a family worship experience that is designed to have everybody in your whole family find an experience of worship? Because you understand this fundamental principle: That it is your job as an adult to teach your children the most important lesson in the world, which is worship. Now, I tip my hat to every one of you. You saw it in the video. Was that not delightful watching parents take their kids to the grocery store and teach them to buy groceries and go over the list and get them excited about that? That's the kind of things we ought to be doing with our children.

I love the fact that on Saturdays when the guys are doing their thing with the women, the widows and the single moms, I love the fact that some of our guys bring their sons, some of them very young sons, so that they can see service in action. That is an incredible lesson.

But you need to all understand you can teach your children to love all people. You can teach them not to be afraid of any people group. You can take the fright out of knowing strangers. You can teach them how to serve. You can teach them to be good people. But if you have failed to teach them to worship, you have failed. Because our fundamental reason for existence is to worship. Whether it's corporate or private, if we haven't taught our children this lesson, worship God, then we have not done our job because we have not fulfilled the purpose for which we exist.

So why in the world is the church here? The church is here because these are the things that we do, and they are symbiotic. If you follow that language from your old biology days, one thing feeds another. You come to church and you share in a corporate worship experience and it just excites you so much how God ministered to your life you just want to go out immediately and say, hey, you ought to experience this. Come with me sometime.

Or you come out of a situation where you've been sharing your faith with somebody and God has opened the door for you to talk about Jesus and you find yourself saying, man, I got to get into a discipleship group because I don't have enough answers for this thing. If I'm going to share my faith, I got to know something, so I'm going to start learning.

So you come out of a learning experience with a small group, a discipleship group, and you are sitting around talking about scripture, and suddenly you say to yourselves, man, there is a family down the street that could really use some help. We don't really need to call the church about this. Let's just take our small group and do that. We can do this. We can enter into this world.

And one thing drives another. You find yourself saying, if I'm going to matter as a christian, if I'm really going to fulfill the purpose of the church, then the one thing I'm going to do I am going to make sure that the world has an opportunity to hear about Jesus and experience worship. And I'm driven to that. Because that's why I'm here. That's why I exist. That's why you exist.

And I cannot imagine you leaving this building together without at least praying for the kids at Shoutfest, at least praying. I can't imagine you as a man leaving this building without at least considering your calendar and saying, would a day at Men of Integrity help me a better man, a better disciple of Jesus? I can't imagine you leaving here and not wanting to go home immediately and say, listen, you need to join me in worship because you need this story. And this is the greatest message ever told.

See, I can't imagine you leaving here not knowing Jesus yourself. Because when you get right down to it, what's God's purpose in the world? So that you can finish the race. But if you haven't started, you are going to have trouble finishing. If you've never given your heart to Christ, you are not even at the starting line. So would you commit yourself to his purpose, to living it out everyday, making sure that the person next to you at work or at school at least knows that you know who Jesus is? Would you make it a point to make sure that your relationship with other christians is the kind of thing that encourages, edifies, and grows? Would you not wait until next Wednesday to go out and buy your groceries and teach your family about service, and going to war against the dysfunctional world in which we live in the name of Jesus?

Would you just take a good look at your life and ask yourself, have I given myself to Christ? And if you are halfway there, would you commit today to be three-quarters of the way there? If you are 80 percent committed, would you commit yourself to ? Would you make Jesus the one thing you do in life? Let's sing together.

[Transcribed by GN12]