SERMON TITLE: WHY THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH?
SERMON TEXT: “...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
SERMON THESIS: People everywhere need the Lord.
INTRODUCTION: Why go to the uttermost parts of the earth? Not everyone agrees that world missions are a priority. In the morning message, I made reference to Dr. William Carey, who was committed to world missions. His going to India was questioned by a staunch Calvinistic, double-edge predestinationist who said to him in a meeting, when he stood up to speak, “Sit down young man! If God wants the heathens in India to hear the gospel, He will take it to them himself.” As church history records, however, Carey would not sit down. He went to India, and as a result was credited for starting the modern day missionary movement. The question for him concerning world missions was not Why? But rather Why not? (I Corinthians 16:9).
While visiting a Hindu temple in Calcutta last week on the other side of this planet, I was walking around with the group admiring the architecture, the vaulted ceilings, the marble floors, and observing the multitude of gods displayed in unique and various places throughout the temple proper. All the while, I was thinking in terms of the message that I would deliver to you on Sunday, upon my return to Valdosta, when suddenly the question came to me–Why The Uttermost Parts of the Earth? That question was followed by a clear and distinct three part answer. This answer was for me, personally, but I believe that it will hold true for us all concerning world missions.
The three part answer to my question, Why the uttermost parts of the earth? is as follows:
I. HIS VOICE COMMANDS ME. For me, the Why question is non-negotiable. Because His voice commands me. If I am to be obedient to the voice of God, then I must GO. His command is so clearly stated in what we know as the Great Commission.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
It was the prophet Isaiah who said, following his temple vision, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, Here am I. Send me!”(Isaiah 6:8). Like many of you, Isaiah the prophet, responded positively to the voice of God to go. When we are obedient to the voice of God, we can be assured of the following:
1. We will go under His Authority . . .
2. We will go with His Power . . .
“...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
3. We will go with His Presence . . .
Why the uttermost parts of the earth? His voice commands it. Secondly...
II. HIS LOVE COMPELS ME. It was God, Jesus Incarnate, who came to this world on a mission of mercy. A passage of Scripture that we so often quote, and one according to Martin Luther, the great Protestant Reformer, that “Capsuleizes the gospel in a nutshell,” is none other than John 3:16. . . “For God so loved the world...” It was Missionary Paul who said...
for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
It was the love of God, that “constrained” KJV, or “controlled” the Apostle Paul. A better word, I believe, is best translated in the NIV as “compels.” Paul was so compelled by the love of God, that he said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel”(I Cor. 9:16). The Why for Missionary Paul, could be summed up in the word “compelled.” It was the love of God that compelled Paul to go on three missionary journeys, and perhaps four. It is not certain whether or not he made it all the way to Spain.
While everyone cannot go to some uttermost part of the earth, we can participate in giving and praying. To know that you were praying for me around the clock while I was in India brought me great comfort. The rash on my neck was a cause for concern, but I sent my prayer request to you. You prayed and the rash went away.
Concerning giving, does His love compel you to support our more than 6,000 missionaries through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?
Here is a question for us all. Will His love compel us to reach our LMCG in the amount of $5,500.00, before this month ends? In order to reach our goal, we still need $2,308.00. (National Goal is $150 million).
Is His love compelling you to reach our mission goal? Not only does His love compel me . . .
III. HIS COMPASSION MOTIVATES ME.
“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).
In preparation for the worship services in India, the pastor would roll out three or four rugs on the floor for the people to sit on. This preparation for worship reminded me of Jesus’ command prior to His feeding of the five thousand, when He said, “Have the people sit down”(John 6:10). At any rate, they would take off their shoes and sit on the rugs with looks of anticipation on their faces. As I looked into their faces, prior to preaching the Word, I felt such compassion for them. Where did that compassion come from? It was the compassion of my Savior that motivated me. Here I was on the other side of the world preaching to a group of persons for whom Christ died. Why was I there? His compassion motivated me.
Speaking of motivation, following a service in the village of Moga Punjab, the members of the worshiping congregation began coming and kneeling before Leon, and myself, asking us to pray that God would heal them of certain maladies in their bodies. One little boy came to me with a crooked leg, supporting himself on a makeshift crutch, and asked me to pray that Jesus would heal Him. Needless to say, I was moved with compassion and would have made his leg straight immediately if it has been in my power to do so.
Why the uttermost parts of the earth? His compassion motivates me. Concerning the Why of missions, has His voice commanded you; His love compelled you, and has His compassion motivated you?
CONCLUSION: Will you respond this very evening to His voice? His love? And to His compassion? By saying with Isaiah the prophet, “Here am I. Send me!”