Ash & I had the privilege & joy of going to snowy (!) St.Joseph MI as speakers for their Feb. missions conference last weekend. We thank God for their hospitality & commitment to Christ's work of missions, both locally & worldwide. Below are Ash's sermon notes... beautiful, if I may brag.
BEAUTIFUL FEET IN MISSION - February 4, 2018 - Christian Reformed Church, St. Joseph MI
Romans 10:9-15 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Beautiful feet… a rather unusual metaphor! We think more about their ugly sizes, smells, painful sores, etc.
Positive’s …in sports: quick, agile, fast – aiding in making great plays leading to victory
Negative’s …six things the Lord hates, including feet that “make haste to run to evil.” Proverbs 6:18
In our chosen Isaiah text, feet have a purpose for which they are positively serving. And I propose that “beautiful feet in missions" means our being sent to all nations with the proclamations of the Good News in Christ Jesus.
John Piper… “The ultimate goal of God in all of history is to uphold & display His glory for the enjoyment of the redeemed from every tribe & tongue & people & nation.”
*** GOD CALLS & CONFERS HIS REDEMPTIVE PLAN
A. Abraham …in Genesis 12:1-3 we see the eternal Covenant of Redemption taking root in the life of this man who believed & obeyed God. God promised to make Abraham a great nation even though he did not get to see it. And God began to bless the families of the earth through Abraham.
Here is the beauty, in an embryonic way, of the Great Commission as we know it in Matthew 28: 16-20.
In reading the rest of Abraham’s story, there are many starts & stops… progress & regress… but always the flame. Even though it flickers, it continues to burn as God reveals His sovereign control!
B. Jesus …“in the fullness of time” God sends forth His Son, the promised Messiah, Savior of the world.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
And we recall the old hymn “Out of the Ivory Palaces” …into a world of woe; only His great eternal love made my Savior go!
Now we see the divine mission of God become more visible. We also see its scope broadening...
1. Jesus grants grace to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4)
2. Healing Centurion’s servant (Luke 7) and commending his faith
3. Healing demon-possessed man of Gerasenes who in turn was commanded to ‘go home and tell” (Mark 15)
4. Healing Syro-Phonecian woman’s demon-possessed daughter. She persistently begged and thus her “great faith” was also rewarded (Matthew 15)
As the gospel reached Gentiles, it would expand in full bloom as we will see.
*** GOD CONFIRMS THE ACCOMPLISHMENT & FULFILLMENT OF HIS REDEMPTIVE PLAN
A. Beginning with the Incarnation there is great joy with the Good News that will be for all people …for unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-10)
B. Jesus tells His disciples in the final week of His life what is about to happen… His purpose: to give His life as a ransom for many! Mission accomplished! “It is finished!” (Mark 10:33-34, 45)
C. (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus did all of this for the joy that was set before Him… enduring the cross, despising the shame then seated at the R hand of God. And what is that joy? …His bringing many sons to glory! Why do we need reminded of this? Why important? Because there is another stage yet to be fulfilled.
D. It’s what we call The Great Commission (Luke 24 ff) …what is written about Jesus is to be proclaimed to all nations! …AND it’s to be done in the promised power of Holy Spirit!
*** GOD COMMISSIONS THE CHURCH TO EXPAND THE CHURCH TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
The Book of Acts is history – telling the expansion of the Gospel and the building of Christ’s church, which includes Jews & Gentiles both.
“Going & telling” brings with it challenges, which is why the Lord said we need the infilling power of Holy Spirit!
Though some are specially called & sent, everyone else is trained and equipped by Holy Spirit through church & missions leaders …to perform works of service …to give & send …to pray.
Ephesians 4:12 …to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. We all have a role to play!
Let’s look at some of the resources Holy Spirit provides/uses:
A. WORSHIP... Vitally important that we know what it means to have deep, joyful satisfaction in worshipping God in Spirit & in truth. John Piper: “Worship… both the fuel AND the goal of missions.”
Note: that’s what our medical teams do each day in morning worship & devotions before going to a clinic site.
B. PRAYER... Acts 2:42 tells us that prayer was a regular, important part of early-church gatherings.
1. Ephesians 6:18-19 describes them “praying at all times… making supplications for all the saints, and also for me, that the work be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the majesty of the Gospel…”
2. Colossians 4:2-4 “Continue steadfastly in prayer …with thanksgiving …that God may open to us a door for the Word …that I may make it clear how I ought to speak.”
3. Colossians 4:12 Epaphras is a good example “…always wrestling in prayer for you …stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
4. 1 Thessalonians 5:25 “Brothers pray for us…”
I know the missionaries you support yearn for your prayers on their behalf. I challenge you to be more and more a praying church!
C. SUPPORT for DAILY NEEDS... Paul in Philippians 4 “…kind of you to share my trouble …no other church entered into partnership with me in giving & receiving except you only …you sent me help for my needs …I am well-supplied from the gifts you sent from Epaphroditus.
Here is a great example of what makes the Great Commission like unto “beautiful feet” – both in going and in sending & supporting.
Aged apostle John writes to Gaius commending him for support of faithful missionaries to whom he showed hospitality “…sending them on their way in a manner worthy of God” Gaius likely spared no effort to be generous, and Scripture speaks often of being both sacrificial & generous!
We all need to examine ourselves today – how do we measure up? And it’s not about law but about love!
William Borden of wealthy Borden Milk & Dairy Corp. family…
While in college through Student Volunteer Movement, he felt the call to take Gospel to India. He gave his $1 million (imagine today's worth!) inheritance to various mission organizations! While on a layover in Egypt on his way to India he contracted spinal meningitis & died. In his Bible they found these words:
John Piper… “Therefore the church is bound to engage with the Lord of glory in His cause. It is our unspeakable privilege to be caught up with Him in the greatest movement in history—the in-gathering of the elect "from all tribes & tongues & peoples & nations" until the full number of the Gentiles come in, & all Israel is saved, & the Son of Man descends with power & great glory as King of Kings & Lord of Lords, & the earth is full of the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the seas forever & ever. Then the supremacy of Christ will deliver the Kingdom of God the Father, & God will be all in all.” (Desiring God, May 1, 1990)
Amen and Amen!