This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

From the Archives - A Series; Part VII

The following message I preached on June 12, 1994 at the Pure Love United Faith Ministries Church in Lakeland, FL, pastored then by Bishop Cordell Allen.   This was a very vibrant African-American Pentecostal church, and one of the most loving congregations I have had the privelege of ministering to.   Hope you enjoy it and it blesses you.

What Role Does Missions Play In the Church?

I.  Introduction

In recent years, there has been a new emphasis in Full Gospel circles on missionary evangelism, and as one called to missions myself, I am glad to see this.  However, there is much work to be done in this area, as we have many potentially called people in our churches that haven't the foggiest idea of what missions is - their image is of some preacher in African garb and a pith helmet showing boring slides once a year, thus making a good excuse to stay home for the Superbowl.  However, they fail to realize that missions is a very personal issue that should affect the entire Church;  therefore, it needs to be emphasized.

II.  Matthew 28:18-20
      A.  "All Authority Has Been Given Unto Me In Heaven and on Earth..."

            What do these introductory words of the oft-quoted Great Commission mean?
             1.  They state Christ's authority over evil forces of this world.
             2.  It gives Christ authority to delegate that authority to the Church.

             Ephesians 6 tells us that we battle against a lot of spiritual forces, but we are given power over
             them.   This power comes from the Lord Himself, as he has given to us the responsibility to
             establish His Church - we must be bold to take it.

      B.   "Go Therefore..."

              This is our command to take the above-mentioned authority, but what do we do with it?   Read on.

              1.  "Make disciples of all nations..."

                    This means that besides being won to Christ, the nations must be grounded in His Word.  That
                    is why God has raised in our midst teachers.

                    Also, let it be noted that God does not want all of His workers going to just Africa or India, but
                    into ALL NATIONS!  According to a book published by Wycliffe Bible Translators, there are
                    some 20,000 language groups worldwide, and of these some 11,000 or so tribes have no
                    Christian witness.  Therefore, it is not necessary to go on a trail already blazed, for God may
                    want you to be a trailblazer!

            2.     "Baptizing them..."

                    Though one does not have to be baptized for salvation, it should be the desire of every believer
                    to be baptized, as it is the sacrament of initiation into the Church Catholic.

                    I will not get into modes and methods for that is a completely different subject altogether that I
                    have my own clearly-defined views on.  However, though baptism is not salvific, it is very
                    important.   Therefore, if you know of a believer who is not baptized, encourage him or her to
                    partake of this sacrament of the Church as soon as possible.

           3.      "Teaching them to observe all those things that I have commanded you..."

                    Once new believers have been saved and initiated into the Church through Holy Baptism, they
                    must be instructed in the teachings of the faith so that they may fully understand their new life in
                    Christ.   This is important for two reasons:

                     a.  It guards against the development of heresy.
                     b.  It keeps the new believer strong in Christ, that he may not fall into sin.

 III.    Romans 12:4-8

          It is important for each believer to know where they fit into reaching the world, for some may feel confused and intimidated on the issue because of pressure to fall into a man-made mold.  Assure those who are like this to listen to God's Word first.

          A.  Many Members In One Body

                Though we are all part of the Body of Christ, this does not mean we are all alike.   In other words,
                God creates individuals, not clones.

         B.   All Members Do Not Have The Same Function

               Because we are individual members, God gifts us with talents and ministries in order to do that
               which He has called us to do.  We must not be in competition with another of differing calling, for
               ours is just as important.  The Holy Spirit will show us where we fit in.

        C.    One Body in Christ, members unto one another

               This means we are to compliment each other and use our ministries together in order to further the
               Kingdom of God. 

               Some are called into the five-fold charismatic ministries of Ephesians 4:11, while others of us may
               be called into the three-fold ministries of bishop, presbyter, or deacon.  Even the church janitor is a
               type of ministry, for it is a service to the Lord's house.   Therefore, do not be under the false
               impression that the pulpit is the only place of ministry in the Church, as there are a lot of others.

              We are each one ministers, and as such, we each have the duty and anointing to serve others in the
              love of the Lord.  This is also a mandate from God himself.  Therefore, we need to get busy, for the
              time is short.

      D.    Joel 2:28, Mark 16:15,17; Acts 1:8, II Timothy 2:15

              How can we do our function of ministry in the Body of Christ?  Well, I am glad you asked!

              We, of course, are not equipped of ourselves to carry out this mandate, for we are finite beings.
              We are limited in resource.   However, God has a plan for us.

              1.  Joel 2:28

                   God has promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in the last times.   We see this beginning
                   to happen in Acts on the day of Pentecost in the upper room.

                   I am not familiar with everyone's personal view on this issue, but it is quite obvious that there is
                   something going on in the Church today.   I personally feel that the Lord is coming back soon,
                   and that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Joel talks about is happening now.

             2.  Mark 16:15, 17

                  In this passage it talks about how the Holy Spirit will accomplish this task of filling believers to do
                  His work, and a number of signs are mentioned in relation to this.  Among them are mentioned
                  healings, raising dead men to life, tongues, casting out devils, and a number of miraculous works.
                  Those who attempt to relegate these things to the first-century Church exclusively need to
                  recognize a few facts:

                 a.  God does not change (Hebrews  13:8)
                 b.  God is restoring His truth, as documented in His Word, to the Church which by and large has
                      not had the fulness of His Word.

                 God is real, and His power is real.   So, let us be glad in the fact that we serve a mighty and
                 sovereign God, and let us seek after His will for us.
           3.   Acts 1:8

                 This is a very wonderful and powerful promise of the Holy Spirit being sent from the Father to us
                 through Christ.  What is the function of the Holy Spirit?   He empowers us to witness of course,
                 but where?   IN ALL THE EARTH!!  Therefore, the Holy Spirit is who empowers us to minister
                 to others, and He manefests this power through signs and wonders.   This is important, as humans
                 are by nature a "believe it when we see it" race.  Therefore, God provided these signs.

         4.    II Timothy 2:15

                We must seek diligently to prepare ourselves for the service God has called us to.  The approach
                with which we do this is to study His ways, and make application of them to our own lives. 
                However, we must do this within the boundaries of the Word of God.

                James 2:17 tells us that faith without works is dead.  In other words, we can sit and listen until we
                are blue in the face, but without the practical application of what we hear then we have not done
                anything.   James 1:22 likewise exhorts us to be doers as well as hearers.

                All we say and do, in other words, requires preparation.  Preparation comes from knowing God's
                Word, which produces spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).  However, it takes actual work to
                produce quality fruit, and this work aids in its maturing process.   Nevertheless, despite the
                hardships, we all must go through the process in order to endure;  if we do so, it will pay off
               handsomely in eternity.  Therefore, let those of us especially called into missions submit, prepare,
               and apply ourselves to strive for the high calling God has given us.

III.   Conclusion

The whole purpose of all this is to increase awareness of missions in the Church, and provide tools to help those of you who do feel the call of God to missions.  However, this is what it all boils down to.

God wants willing vessels.   He can equip someone who is submissive and patient to go through the learning process.   God wants all nations to come to know Him, and He expects those of us who do know Him already to introduce them to Him.  In order for us to do this however, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, grounded in the Word of God, and apply the things we learn in God's Word to our lives.   God can and will use anyone He chooses to use;  the question is will we allow ourselves to be used of Him?  He does not care about where we fall short so much as he desires us to develop what we have to serve Him.  If we consecrate ourselves to Him, He will take the little bit we have to offer and do a lot of things with it.  All we have to do is surrender it to Him to do just that.  You are special to the Lord, and He has just the right place in His service for you to fill that no one else can.   Therefore, if the Lord is dealing with you to serve His kingdom, please respond.   Time is too short, and you cannot afford to be discouraged about your weaknesses;  instead you must focus on your strengths so the Lord can use them.   Yield to God today, for He needs you to reach some lost nation somewhere for Him.  Amen.