According to one source (article titled Finishing the Task): believers as percentage of world population increased from 2.5% in 1900 to 11.2% in 2000. “The number of believers in what used to be “mission fields” now surpasses the number of believers in the countries from which missionaries were originally sent. …In 1974 approximately one-half of the world’s population was living in unreached people groups. Today just one-third of Earth’s inhabitants live in unreached people groups.” Winter
According to another source (article titled Stagnant Christianity): “Worldwide, Christianity claimed 600 million adherents in 1900, making up 35% of the world’s population. Seventy-five years, two World Wars and one “Cold War” later, Christianity had barely kept pace with the global population but had spread out more evenly over the planet. Total adherents rose to 1.3 billion by the year 2000—still one-third of the world.” Long
Finally, “We’ll know we are finished [with the missionary task] when a church planting movement has been established within every people.” Winter
I believe it’s simpler than that: As long as there are those for whom Christ died who have not become worshipers of the true God, we have work to do. We’ll know we are finished when Jesus returns. Our text has both those things in view: joyful worship from all the nations. And btw, every true child of God should be involved in cross-cultural ministry, taking the Gospel to unreached people groups. It’s all a matter of definition – bottom-line simplest distinction: two cultures – saved and lost. Those in one must cross boundaries, overcome barriers to reach people with Gospel in other culture. And,…two or more people that make up a unit who have not responded to clear Gospel message in faith – an UPG.
Why is that important? Too easy in day of specialists to rely on someone else to do a particular task. Not to minimize or depreciate what those called to minister far from ancestral home are doing – is important and has its place. But,…Jesus’ commission and early church practice: begin at home; Jerusalem first, then Judea, Samaria, and beyond. Means every last Christian who is mature enough to articulate their faith has responsibility to proclaim truth across cultural boundaries as God gives opportunity.
Goal in big picture is “joyful worship from all nations” – see Rev. 5:9 – but we’re not there,…yet. So, in the meantime, people of God have specific duties to perform: singing, giving, telling. “Whatever men build, men will destroy, so let’s get on with the business of building the kingdom of God.” Augustine
A. sing to the Lord v.1-6
all should praise (1)
singing from a new perspective
“The possession of grace fills us with very different feelings from the possession of anything else. A man who has much money is not very anxious that all the world should be rich; one who has much learning does not long that all the world were learned. But if you have tasted the grace of the gospel, the irresistible longing of your heart will be: “Oh, that all the earth might taste its regenerating waters.”
there is good news (2)
think about what others believe about the God of the Bible – he is remote and uninvolved (Deists); powerless to change hearts (Arminians); can get us to Purgatory but not heaven
now think about what we believe – he is intimately involved in governing his creation; he must use his power to change hearts…and he does; he has done everything necessary to bring his people all the way home
apart from God’s grace, every last soul has no good future to look forward to, no true freedom to enjoy, no all-encompassing hope in either this life or the next
good news is: countless times every day God is changing the destiny of people around the globe – what’s not to sing about
hold on tight!! – here’s how the LXX (Greek OT) translates: ευαγγελίζεσθε ήμέραν εξhe is glorious and great (3-4)
God’s glory equated with his benevolent presence –כּבודkâbôd – 1 Sam. 4:18-21 Eli’s daughter-in-law, Ichabod, ark had been captured, father and husband both dead
glory sums up everything about God in comparison to everything else – endless source of praise and meditation and thanksgiving
God’s wonders visible evidence of his greatness – not necessarily miracles, related words frequently used when Jesus demonstrated his power or authority in surprising ways
God is worthy of praise for who he is and what he does; his people have ability to discern and grasp both – should be quick to express what we know
bump a full glass, what’s inside spills out; bump a Spirit-filled Christian, praise should spill out
he is superior (5-6)
catch the irony: the heathen made their gods, the true God made the heavens and everything under them
the true God doesn’t just sit there, is living, moving Being – “we cannot be said to know God if we have not discovered that there is in him an incomparable glory and majesty.” Calvin
B. give to the Lord v.7-9
his due (7-8a)
if God really is all we say we believe he is, then…must give to him what is due him: praise and worship fitting to someone of his splendor and rank
God’s glory far surpasses our individual ability to acknowledge and praise; requires group effort – all families of the earth plus angels plus anything else that can praise
structure of these three poetic “lines” that of crescendo – gradually increasing in loudness and intensity and excitement
Gospel call, invitation to worship goes out in concentric circles – ripples on a pond – crowd grows in size, volume increases as voices are added and as anticipation grows
can’t hear all the voices with ears, can with hearing of faith – whole body of believers growing every hour as new brothers and sisters are converted and adopted
each hour we are that much closer to appearance of the King; excitement and anticipation build as arrival of great person nears
a fit sacrifice (8b)
sacrifice obviously a central part of OT life; not as obvious in NT but still a central part of Christian life
Heb. 13:15Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Heb. 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Phil. 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Rom. 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
call to worship ultimately a call to enter very presence of God – not bowing down and worshiping a symbol but the living God himself
God’s holiness is what sets him apart from his creatures, gives him his majesty; if a created wonder makes us stand there speechless, mouth hanging open, God himself far more so; then when we do get our voice, praise and worship
God’s majesty and holiness are overpowering, even to his children; remember Daniel and John – no high-five’s, easy familiarity
day will come, that day, when every voice will acknowledge God and his supremacy; how much better to do so from love than compulsion
C. tell the world v.10-13
God rules (10a)
truth the world needs to hear ever since Adam and Eve: God rules, not Satan, not this individual or that one, not fate or chance or evolution or laws of nature
can, if we use God-given wits, turn at least a part of virtually every conversation to God’s governing of his creation – that’s a good thing, is in part what gives meaning and purpose to life, hope for the future
wrong will be made right (10b)
injustice, real or imagined, one of hottest-button issues; only if there’s a good and powerful God is there any hope for real justice; only God can mandate justice in both this life and next
he is coming (11-13) Rev. 19:11
should be ultimate cause for joy: the King is coming, the Savior is coming, our Heavenly Father, our elder brother
he is coming with purpose – to set all things right, forever – no mistakes, no need for do-overs
the goal of missions (or evangelism) is not salvation but worship
make disciples / followers / worshippers, not fans; fans identify, followers participate
in witnessing we do, in missions/ministries we support should keep right end in view: Jesus’ commission was not to make converts but disciples – not do make this decision, pray this prayer, then go about rest of life; should be “come with me, let me introduce you to my family, let’s hang out together and learn together”
D. here’s why => three “for”s – v.4, 5, 13
God is great – God has given us the best possible object of worship, himself; the best of men can do no better
idols are worthless – God has opened our eyes to the truth, kept us from trusting a lie, given us a genuine hope
he is coming – will be great and exciting and joyful time,…for his people; disaster for everyone else
World must hear the truth – both warning and welcome, the bad news first and then the good news. Jesus calls us to do our part, one conversation, one relationship at a time. Telling others what we know, what we’re excited about, what is important to us and should be to them.