Tag: missions

Witness in Action – The Samaritan Woman

John 4:1-29

We have considered the root of missions – in the very character of God, to seek out those who are lost with the intent of saving them. Next we learned how God covenanted with Abram to make him a blessing to all families of the earth through his Seed, the Lord Jesus. We saw from Psalm 150 that the ultimate goal of missions is the right worship of the true God, a topic found also in this morning’s text. Then, over the last three weeks, we explored the nature of 1st century missions and how Christ has equipped his church to evangelize the world. Today and for three more weeks we will look at the example of Jesus and also Philip, the evangelist, as they spoke one-on-one about the Gospel.

1.  The Samaritan Woman – one who knew little and had little interest (at first)

2.  The Rich Young Ruler – one who knew a little and had a wrong understanding

3.  Nicodemus – one who had the facts but not the understanding

4.  The Ethiopian Eunuch – one who knew some but had a desire for more

A. The Dialogue

1. Jesus initiated the conversationv.7

a. dealt with issue common to human need

b. nothing overtly spiritual in the opening exchange

c. crossed accepted cultural barriers

2. Jesus’ response had dual significance – “living water”v.10

a. running water – the spring at the bottom of the well

b. spiritual refreshment

3. The woman was stuck on her physical “needs”

a. no bucketv.11

b. no inconveniencev.15

4. Jesus’ next request designed to reveal her need was spiritualv.16

a. her responses show her recognition of an area of emptinessv.17, 20

i. “I stink at relationships.”

ii. “I was thinking about going to church.”

b. and a reluctance to deal with it too quickly and openly

i. “I’m not sure which church would be a good one.”

c. Jesus was careful to affirm her honestyv.17-18

i. “You spoke well.”

ii. “You spoke truly.”

5. Jesus’ response zeroed in on the heart of the matter

a. it’s not where you worship but Who and howv.21-22

b. it’s not a matter of externals, it’s a matter of the heartv.23-24

6. The woman’s saturation point was reached

a. “I’m not ready to deal with it right now.”v.25

b. “Ready or not, here’s the truth.”v.26

c. Jesus’ self-identification is the final recorded interaction between him and the woman

d. There is no direct indication in the text of her conversion

B. The Strategy

1. Jesus had a goal and purpose in mind

a. encourage and edify (build up faith and godliness of) the one who is a true disciple

b. move the one who isn’t a disciple toward a crisis – follow Him or reject Him

2. Jesus spoke so as to prolong the encounter

a. showed an interest and concern in the person

b. made statements that aroused curiosity, kept the conversation going

c. broke the stereotypes

3. Jesus engaged in drawing her out from behind her protective layer

a. wasn’t satisfied with the herfeltneed

b. wanted her to recognize her spiritual condition

c. all for the purpose of identifying hertrueneed – see 1.a.i and 1.a.ii

d. led her to “discover” the same things

4. Jesus dialogued creatively

a. used vocabulary that could be taken one way but applied in another

b. used language and word pictures she could relate to

5. Jesus moved beyond the comfort zone

a. made the transition from physical/felt to underlying spiritual need

b. led her to at least mentally identify that there was something missing

i. guided the conversation into the area of lack

ii. encouraged her to acknowledge the emptiness and insufficiency in man’s solutions

c. OMNISCIENCE IS NOT REQUIRED (for us to have)!!

i. skillful dialogue and good listening will uncover pertinent information

ii. understanding of human nature helps fill in the gaps

6. Jesus did not pressure

a. Sheep scatter when driven, follow when led

b. God often uses multiple means to bring someone to faith

i. Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase1 Corinthians 3:6

c. Jesus was satisfied with giving her a clear understanding of who He was

i. pointed the woman to Christ, the only one who could truly satisfy

ii. pointed her to the only one who could forgive, redeem, reconcile

d. Effective evangelism most often occurs in the context of relationships

i. Pastor Art Warner, Greenfield Alliance (MA): (1st encounter) Can I ask you a personal question?Sure.Tell me about your father.I don’t have a father.Let me guess: you’re lacking a proper father figure in your life so you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places; now life’s a mess.Yup, that’s about right.(2nd encounter) You said you didn’t have a father.Well, I do, but…You’ll have to tell me about him sometime.It’ll make you cry.That’s OK.

1st Century Missions – Individual Witness

Acts 8:1-4; 11:19-21

15 years prior to the church in Antioch sending out those first missionaries to Cyprus and Asia Minor, something occurred which set an entire series of events in motion. Stephen, a gifted man chosen to be deacon in the Jerusalem church, had become too effective a witness for the Gospel. Enemies hatched a plot to frame Stephen, falsely accuse him before the Sanhedrin, and hopefully get him out of the way. Not even waiting for a verdict, the mob gathered for his trial lynched him, dragging him out of the city and stoning him. As our text begins Saul, later known as Paul, was satisfied with the outcome – Stephen’s death.

As effective as they were, the Jerusalem church lacked one thing – they had failed to follow through on Jesus’ departing mandate to them.

A. satisfaction 8:1

the “church in Jerusalem”, not the “church in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, …”

6 or 7 years after ascension of Christ, after his instruction to them – “you shall be my witnesses”

had become complacent, satisfied with the status quo

entrenched in the comfort-zone

at risk (perhaps) but not taking risks

content to grow bigger instead of broader

focused on internal needs

feeding widows 6:1

developing support structure 6:2-4

local ministry necessary BUT…..

time comes to move, to obey Christ’s command

B. persecution 8:1, 3; 11:19

mega – severe 8:1

harassment

making havoc – ravaging – trying to destroy

raids – war of attrition, not all-out assault

because of Stephen 11:19

began at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom

directed at typical church member, not leaders 8:1, 3

not the primary leaders who were scattered – “except the apostles”

evidence of God’s sovereign providence

sheep w/o shepherd scatter

church would have died without leadership

results not what Saul desired, exactly what God intended

strengthen – outcome of adversity

look outward

C. dispersion 8:1, 4; 11:19

scattered

Judea 8:1

Samaria 8:1

Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch 11:19

leaders remained

Jerusalem church not without problems – Acts 11:28-30

“And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.”

significant enough material difficulty to encourage help from the church at Antioch

necessary to give unity to the church

Apostle’s Creed – one holy, catholic, apostolic church

provide doctrinal and practical direction in new situations – see Acts 15

D. action 8:4; 11:19-20

man’s work – to be a witness

by giving life

Stephen

eventually all but John, NT author, gave life for the Gospel

Tertullian, 2nd century, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Foxe’sBook of Martyrs

by giving testimony

evangelizing – speaking 8:4, 11:19-20

Jews first

then Gentiles

God’s work 11:21

adding to the church Acts 2:41,47

“The scattering abroad of Jerusalem is the cause of the gathering together of many other churches.”Geneva Notes

both are necessary

God works through means

proclamation

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Rom. 10:17

modeling

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16

“always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” 1 Pet. 3:15

man needs God to do what only God can

only God can give spiritual understanding – “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Cor. 2:12

only God can change man’s heart – “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” Eze. 11:19

only God can save – “Salvation is of the Lord” Jonah 2:9

we must do our part

be outward-thinking and acting

be prepared

be mindful of our heritage

live accordingly

1st Century Missions – Planting Churches

Acts 14:19-28

The church at Antioch blessed with 5 elders: Barnabas, Niger, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul (Acts 13:1). Divinely revealed to them: send out Barnabas and Saul on a mission – the work to which God had called them. The first NT record of a local church intentionally sending men out on mission following Jesus’ ascension. Four essential elements to Paul’s 1st misisonary journey: establishing churches, exhorting the saints, appointing leaders, and reporting to the senders. They still remain as necessary ingredients to missions today – same God, same goal, same method since He hasn’t changed it.

A. Establish v. 21

evangelized – see vv. 15-17

good news of repentance and forgiveness

discipled

baptized – see Matt. 28:19

taught – see Matt. 28:20

to observe [To keep or adhere to in practice; to comply with; to obey,Webster]

Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

gathered – Col. 1:15-18

Acts 2:47 The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

ἐκκλησία– an assembly of people called together for worship; a congregation

B. Exhort v. 22

strengthen hearts

confirming faith – belief and behavior

given events/facts of this (the 1st) century what you believe is the truth

don’t allow opposition or criticism to shake your confidence

“we know what we’re talking about; we were there or know those who were” – witnesses

encourage to continue

sharp opposition in Antioch Acts 13:45,50

plot to kill them in Iconium – fled for their lives – Acts 14:5-6

stoned in Lystra – v. 19

went on to Derbe then returned to the 3 towns

warning of trouble ahead

Jesus’ words and experience

statement about cross-bearing meant something

He told them on the road to Emmaus “was it not necessary for the Christ to sufferLuk. 24:26

“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isa. 53:3

Gospel message and life not popular with many – will be strongly resisted

“all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Tim. 3:12

Christ our example – we should expect similar treatment

Matt 5:10-11 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”

C. Appoint v. 23

local leadership

3-self churches: governing, financing, propagating

required leadership: bishops/overseers/pastors to lead, guide, guard the flock

must be local for long-term sustainability

requires relational connections

contextualizing the message – living the Gospel in a particular culture

under the headship of Christ

“Christ is the head of the body, the church” Col. 1:18

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is his body” Eph. 1:22-23

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Eph 4:15-16

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Eph. 5:23

to direct/encourage outreach in the local neighborhood

growth and reproduction of local churches expected by Christ

“I will build my church” Matt. 16:18

“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world… I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” John 17:18,20

and the apostles

“after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints” Eph. 1:15

“since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints” Col. 1:4

For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” 1 Thess. 1:8

D. Report vv. 26-28

closed the circle v. 26

confusion!?!?!! – Antioch v.19 is in Pisidia (modern central Turkey); Antioch v.26 is in Syria (300 miles ESE, modern far southern Turkey/northern Syria border region)

sent out to do a particular work, then return

permanent or even long-term residency on the mission field not part of the picture

tasked with the goal of establishing self-supporting churches, then return to “base”

had gone out under the authority and commission of local church, needed to report on the success of the mission

important element of maintaining accountability to a local church

even the Apostle Paul did not act as a Lone Ranger – went with at least one assistant, stayed connected with his home church

rehearsed the work God had done v. 27

shouldn’t be a surprise:Acts 1:1the Gospel account recorded “all that Jesus began both to do and teach”, the Acts continue that record

worked miracles through them:Acts 13:11;14:3,10

caused many to believe, others remained in unbelief Acts 13:43,45; Acts 13:48,50; Acts 14:1-2

missionaries readily acknowledged their results explainable only by God

God had worked through them

God had opened the door of faith

rejoiced in the expansion of the church – faith to the Gentiles

the next major leap for the Gospel following the ascension of Christ

no longer just a Jewish church or even Jewish and Hellenistic church

now includes representatives from both major people groups: Jew and Gentile

see Acts 13:52 – communicated that joy to Antioch church

dual significance of successful mission

major barrier to church growth had been crossed: linguistic, cultural, ethnic

God had begun final fulfilment of his covenant with Abram, commission to his Servant

still work to do

2 further journeys at least by Apostle Paul

list goes on down through the centuries

1/3 of the world’s population still live in unreached people groups

without an indigenous church planting movement

1st Century Missions – Equipping Leaders

Luke 24:44-53

The church has a New Testament foundation ( Eph. 2:19-20) but Old Testament roots; the very cornerstone of the foundation first spoken of by King David ( Psa. 118:22) and quoted 6 times in the New Testament is none other than the Lord Jesus. But it was God and not the king who first spoke of this One who would change the world.

Gen. 3:15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

Gen. 28:14Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Gal. 3:16Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

God promised Adam he would send someone who would subdue the serpent; he promised Abraham that through him all families of the earth would be blessed; God clarified through Paul the precise fulfillment of those promises. Since the blessing was to occur through a particular descendant of Abram, he had to be born and accomplish his mission. His mission:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”Luke 4:18-21

But in the first Servant Song recorded in Isaiah 49:1-7 we read at Christmas that the Lord’s Servant was to have a ministry that reached far beyond the tribes of Jacob, indicating that he would indeed bless all families of the world. For families throughout the whole world to be blessed through him, to become part of the worshiping community of saints, they somehow would need to come within his sphere of influence – either interacting with him directly or with his ambassadors.

And that’s where our text today comes in – God’s plan for ambassadors of Christ to impact the world with His message of Good News. Here’s the plan in a nutshell: God came into the world; God sent his Son into the world: his Son sent his church into the world. Remember Peter’s confession, his declaration of who he believed Jesus to be? And what Jesus said immediately following that?

Matthew 16:13-19When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar – Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

A year from that time and the disciples would be “on their own”; Jesus had returned to heaven but he didn’t leave them unprepared. He would entrust to them and later generations of leaders the responsibility of being his people on the ground facilitating the building of his church. For them to be effective in that role, they needed to be equipped for leadership. They must understand how Jesus truly was the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, how to properly interpret Scripture, what his program was for bringing blessing to all families of the earth, and how they would be empowered for the job.

A. Prophecy v.44

Jesus appeared on the pages of Scripture long before Matthew’s Gospel; but until he appeared in the flesh, his followers were limited in their ability to connect the dots. What they had really done was connect dots incorrectly – getting them out of order and missing some – as they tried to gain an understanding of the Messiah.

Many of the Jewish people had correctly understood that God would send someone to deliver them; they correctly placed the time frame during Jesus’ day. But,… they failed to connect (for example) Gen. 3:15 with Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 – the One who must suffer in order to be a Savior.

The disciples had lived and walked and talked with the One they believed represented the fulfilment of many Old Testament prophecies and promises found in Law, Prophets and Psalms. For them to carry on the work Jesus had begun required they understand Jesus’ work and ministry in the big scope. Jesus graciously pointed himself out sentence by sentence, passage by passage, from Genesis to Malachi – to the discicples on the road to Emmaus and again to the Eleven.

B. Proper interpretatation vv.45-46

In these final training sessions of the Eleven, Jesus patiently instructed his 1st century ambassadors regarding two areas of interpretation:

teaching them how to teach others from the OT, fulfilled prophecy v. 45

demonstrating proper hermeneutics – correctly determining what prophecies apply to Christ

teaching them what to teach others from the OT v. 46

the concept of salvation/deliverance present in the Old Testament as well as New

OT application primarily deliverance from physical danger, enemies, oppressors, slavery; the Messiah will save us from the Romans

NT expanded application – deliverance from greatest enemy, greatest oppression, slavery to sin; the Messiah will save us from the wrath of God poured out against sin

the full Gospel message

in the eternal scope of things there is no Good News, no Gospel apart from the message of salvation from sin and condemnation through faith in Jesus Christ

repentance – turning from sin to Christ and the new life he gives

Acts 17:30 “these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent”

confession – calling our sin what God calls it

Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”

forgiveness – sin no longer credited to our account, no longer held against us

Psalm 32:5 “…and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

freedom – from bondage to sin; no longer the slave of sin but rather the slave of Christ; freedom and an accompanying desire to do what is right in God’s eyes

Rom. 6:16-18Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

hope – eternal existence unhindered by sin and its corruption, lived in the immediate presence of our Savior

1 Pet. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

C. Program vv. 47-48

public proclamation of the Gospel v. 47

What is it that will bless all families, add members of every people group to the body of Christ? The loud public heralding of the message entrusted to Christ’s ambassadors accompanied by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Following in the footsteps of the apostles, Christian missionaries are first and foremost preachers of the Gospel, proclaiming God’s Word of hope and salvation in Christ to all who will hear. It all takes place in the context and by the efforts of Christ’s church as she sends men out to plant new churches where the Gospel will be proclaimed.

The church is central to God’s plan on this side of the Incarnation – Christ promised he would build it upon the rock of Peter’s confession; that is where he is to receive glory as Paul stated in Ephesians 3:20-21:

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be gloryin the churchby Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

the disciples to all nations Acts 1:8

commissioned by Christ to be ambassadors to all nations, establishing churches and reaching the lost; by the time Paul wrote Colossians, all nations of the known world had been reached

“Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you,”Col. 1:5-6

successive generations to all families of the earth

based on eyewitness confidence – communicated personally or in writing v. 48

the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets – found in the heritage of the church and the contents of the New Testament

D. Promise vv. 49-51

divine empowerment

promised the accompanying ministry of the Holy Spirit, without which – no eternal results

guaranteed success

measured by faithful proclamation of the message, not the response to it – see Acts 1:8

It’s a question of obedience, of faithfulness – will we carry out the commission entrusted to us, working as consecrated servants of Christ and leaders in the church to do our part as he builds his church? That is the challenge presented in the form of a prayer by Fanny Crosby in the words of our closing hymn.

Why Missions?

Psalm 150:1-6

God by his very nature is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.Ex. 34:6-7We have seen how God’s nature played out in the lives of two families – Adam and Eve, Abram and Sarai. God demonstrated his mercy and grace, his compassion and goodness, in pursuing his rebellious children for the sole purpose of converting them. Recorded on the pages of Scripture is the evidence of God’s eternal purpose to seek out and save those who are lost – God in action, working directly and through means to work out his plan for mankind.

OK, we know what God has done, we know that He could do this because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. But why would God do all this for sinful man? Because it was what he required to save fallen man from sin? From condemnation? From eternal punishment in hell? Certainly that is all true and it is all important. But it is only one half of the answer! It identifies what man is savedfrom, but not what he is savedto. To be savedfromour sin and its curse without having a new purpose and goal for which to live and strive is frustrating and pointless. Try telling a child all the things he can’t do without directing him toward that which is acceptable and see what happens.

God has not left us to wonder what he expects of us, what the goal of redemption is, why we should be vigorously involved in missions. Our missionary God is working out his plan to redeem for himself a vast multitude of worshiping saints. Until that number is complete, missions is necessary since it is the means God has ordained to convert sinners. People are savedfromsin and condemnationtopraise and worship the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth.

Worshiping God is not optional – it is a command that applies to all mankind: “You shall have no other gods before Me”.Ex. 20:3“I am the Lord, that is my name; and my glory I will not give to another nor my praise to carved images.”Isa. 42:8For the saint, worshiping God should not be burdensome; it should be the natural response of a sinner saved by grace and adopted into the family of the King. Let’s consider five aspects of the answer to “Why Missions”?Whatis to occur,whereit is to take place,whythat is the proper goal of missions,howthose targeted by missions are to respond, andwhoGod has in his sights.

A. Whatv.1-6

Praise! 13 of 37 words, 12 of 13 imperative and plural

command issued to groups of people to render praise to God

praise requires an object:

haºlülû yäh ha|lülû-´ël– the self-existent covenant-making and keeping God, the one true and mighty God

praise requires action

praise defined as: the action of acknowledging and ascribing value (degree of importance, quality that makes something desirable), worth (merit, excellence) honor (dignity, exalted rank or place, esteem), and adoration (addressing and loving God as God)

Heb. 13:15Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

praise requires knowledge and understanding

proper praise requires the right thing offered the right way to the right person

error in any of the above is condemned by God in his Word – the wrong kind of sacrifice (animals but not obedience), the wrong way (insincerely – lips and heart that don’t match), the wrong object (worship offered to false gods or idols)

B. Wherev.1

in the sanctuary – church – corporate

primarily a congregational activity – plural imperative repetitive in the hymnal

an essential element of formal public worship (To adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.Webster)

corporate worship is participatory, not a spectator event

God meets with his people, speaks through his word and servant; his people are edified (not entertained) when they actively participate – hearing, applying, responding in spoken and sung praise

in the firmament – life outside the sanctuary

praise is not to end when the saints leave the sanctuary; ascribing value, worth, honor and adoration to God is a 24/7 activity

to be expressed in wordanddeed – showing by action that God truly does hold the place of honor expressed in our words; making choices that reflect his position in first place

C. Whyv.2

for what He has done

his works of creation, providence and redemption

acts that are beyond the abilities of man, that only the true God can perform

since he has done them, he deserves to be praised for them

for who He is

Q. 1. Who is the first and best of beings?
A. God is the first and best of beings. (
Isaiah 44:6;Psalm 8:1;97:9)

Q. 2. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. (
1 Cor. 10:31;Psalm 73:25-26)Keach, Catechism

There is nothing little about God, and there is nothing great apart from him. If we were always careful to make our worship fit and appropriate for our great Lord how much better should we sing! How much more reverently should we adore! Such excellent deeds should have excellent praise.CHS, Treasury of David

exemplified in heavenly worship:Rev. 4:11&Rev. 5:12

D. Howv.3-5

As St. Augustine says here, “No kind of faculty is here omitted. All are enlisted in praising God.”

every form of musical expression – every mood

variety of ways of expressing joy and exciting our emotion

the trumpet calls to worship; lute, harp, stringed instruments and flutes support and accompany our sung praise; timbrel and cymbals punctuate our worship and awaken those who are asleep or indifferent

every part of us

our hands, our feet, our lungs and our lips are all to be engaged in active heartfelt praise of him who is most worthy

remember the first command: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”Mark 12:30

don’t forget the object

all the attention, all the action must be directed God-ward

nothing we do as part of worship should focus attention on an individual, a group, an instrument, an icon (cross, picture, candle, etc.)

anything less than praise fully focused on God robs him of his due

E. Whov.6

everything that has a voice to praise God

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.Gen. 2:7

God has given breath to all things, it is their duty to return some to him in praise for who he is and what he has done.

members of all families of the earth

Since God has promised all families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham and his seed, the goal of redemption must then be to bring members of all those families into the worshiping community.

If all of these saints-to-be are to properly praise the one true God, they must first hear the Gospel, respond in faith, and become part of a local church where they can be discipled – taught “to observe all that Christ commanded” his followers.

For that to occur, there must be a Gospel-proclaiming church within reach of those saints-to-be; that is the primary work of Christian missions. Planting churches where the saints reach out to others in the community and draw them in to hear the Gospel, be converted, and join in worshp of our God.

What a day will it be when all things in all places unite to glorify the one only living and true God! This will be the final triumph of the church of God.CHS

the desire of our hearts

that we would have “a thousand tongues to sing our great Redeemer’s praise” so that “all things now living….

Our Missionary God – The Focus Broadens

Genesis 12:1-3

In Genesis 3, Covenant of Grace inaugurated with Adam, communicating God’s intent to redeem fallen man from his sinful state. Having preserved Noah and his family in the ark because “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”, God’s covenant found further expression in His promise to “preserve the earth in its present world-order until the consummation”.RobertsonIn our text from Genesis 12 God reveals more of his redemptive purpose for mankind, this time as it would take shape through one man, Abraham, and his offspring. But the benefits of the Covenant of Grace revealed to Abram extend not only to his biological offspring, but also to his spiritual offspring scattered throughout all the nations of the world.

By the time we get to Abram, mankind doesn’t have a very good track record. Adam, the 1st generation, rebelled against God. That rebellion continued until the 10th generation when God judged mankind and the earth with a Flood. 10 more generations and man’s rebellion again caused God to act in judgment as he confused their language at Babel and scattered its inhabitants over the earth. Twice mankind’s persistent sinful presumption resulted in God taking action that completely altered the cultural landscape.

Yet throughout it all, God relentlessly pursued his plan to “roll back” the curse, the devastation of the flood, the dispersion of a single world community. We find God on mission in the world again, rescuing a childless couple from idolatry in order to found a nation and through them bring the light of the Gospel to the entire world. That would look like an impossible task, given what had so recently occurred at Babel. No longer was the world a single family, albeit with two lines – saved and lost – all speaking the same language. Now there were languages to learn, concepts to translate, barriers to overcome in order to communicate Gospel truth to all families of the earth.

150 miles SE of modern Baghdad God spoke to Abram, issuing the command to leave country, family, and father’s house. No deals were made here, Abram was expected to relinquish his hold on that which represented his safety net in order to trust entirely in God. For Abram, trust meant action – literally pulling up stakes and leaving town for an unknown destination. God promised Abram that his obedience would be rewarded but not in a conditional sense – if you obey, then I will bless. No, it was in the form of “you do this and I will do that”. God was in complete control of the terms of his covenant with Abram.

Scope of blessing broadens

you v. 2

God is the active party – he will make Abram a great nation, he will bless Abram, …etc.

Just as with Adam & Noah, God established a covenant with an individual – Abram – but with implications for many other people: I will make you a great nation; you shall be a blessing. For Abram to be a blessing there must be others for him to bless! This is “typical” of how God interacts with mankind – a personal relationship with individuals in the context of a community. Here God makes promises to Abram but in relationship to a community of others connected in some way to Abram.

those who bless you v. 3a

God extends his blessing beyond Abram directly to those who bless Abram – direct contrast to the second group identified here, the ones who treat Abram dismissively or dishonorably. Once again the two lines defined and distinguished at the Fall, the saved and the lost – described by how they view Abram and the particular blessing promised through him.

Abram was to be the father of our Savior: Matt. 1:1“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” To dishonor Abram is to dishonor his offspring, in this case Christ himself. Those who would properly honor Abram are those who recognize how God worked through Abram and his descendants to make Abram a source of blessing.

all families of the earth v. 3c

repeated theme Gen. 18:18;22:18

Even Abram must have understood the promise to be larger than just his biological descendants. 350 years after the flood the families of Ham, Shem and Japheth had multiplied and spread over the Fertile Crescent from Turkey to Egypt and beyond. If all the descendents of those families as well as Abram’s were to be blessed, God must be promising something big!

Yet God graciously repeated his promise of blessing for all families of the earth through Abram twice more, and at times when Abram needed encouragement. God repeated it first when he was preparing to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinful immorality and again when Abraham was following God’s command to sacrifice Isaac.

Common sense tells us just from what God told Abram that the promise of blessing had a vast scope, beyond anything yet experienced by mankind. But God in his Word gives further indication of just how vast the extent of his blessing would be.

two indications of the greatness of scope:

Deut. 7:7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;

Isa. 49:6 Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’

When God told Abram that He would make him a great nation, God meant far more than the nation of Israel; he meant the nation of saints of which Peter spoke in1 Pet. 2:9-10: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” Think for a moment of the language God used when he repeated his promise of offspring to Abram:

Gen. 13:16 “I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.”

Gen. 15:5 “And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Gen. 17:5-6 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.”

Gen. 22:16-18 “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

In the first century the Jewish population was estimated at about 2% of the world total; today it is about 0.2% of the total. Clearly God had far more in mind than just the Jewish people when he promised such extensive blessing of posterity to Abraham; clearly God had in mind His kindgom of saints, all who are spiritually descended from Abraham.

Requires use of means: God

interacting directly with Abram

Abram was not simply a conduit through which blessing flowed to others; he received great blessings from God himself.

rescue from idolatry

a son of promise in his old age

the joy of seeing Christ’s day by faith John 8:56

an eternal inheritance in heaven which he also saw with the eye of faith Heb. 11:9-10

working through Abram

Isaac was truly Abram’s son

Abram set the example, handed down the heritage of a godly example to his son and grandsons

It was to Abram’s descendents that the “oracles of God” Rom. 3:2, that is, the law and by extension the Old Testament, were entrusted

Jesus by way of his mother Mary was truly Abraham’s son

clearly indicated in Matthew’s “official” family tree of Jesus; also significant to the principle that God intended to bless the nations is the inclusion of 4Gentilewomen in that family tree.

Tamar, wife of Judah Rahab, resident of Jericho Ruth, the Moabitess Bathsheba, wife of David

working through the Seed of Abram

Paul labors to make two points clear: grammar is important and so is context, especially when words can have multiple meanings.

the one promised Seed Gal. 3:7-9,16 When God used the singular rather than the plural, it was significant.

the spiritual seed Rom 9:6-7 When God spoke of offspring, he had more in mind than biology; he was thinking of family resemblance – if you were truly children of Abraham, you’d think and act like him. John 8:33ff

involves proclamation of the Gospel

publicly declaring the promise

If the “beginning” of the promise was the preaching of the Gospel to Abraham (Gal. 3:8) we must recognize that the Gospel is also central to God’s blessing. We cannot expect blessing apart from hearing and responding positively to the Gospel message. It is those who are of faith who are blessed with Abraham (Gal. 3:9).

Since “faith comes by hearing” Rom. 10:17, the Gospel must be proclaimed in order for those numberless multitudes God promised Abram to come to faith. That’s where we come in

have a story to tell – of Jesus and his love

the primary means of blessing

Christ himself, the one in whom all the promises were fulfilled Gal. 3:16

Our Missionary God

Genesis 3:1-19

Common perception: Missions began with the Great Commission; oh yeah, maybe Jonah was a missionary. There was Paul, and Barnabas, and Silas and Timothy, and William Carey and all the heroes of the modern missions movement. Carey, the Father of Modern Missions, who wrote “An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens” (1792) and whose example inspired hundreds like Jim Eliott, Nate Saint, and their companions.

Missionary (Webster, 1828) is “One sent to propagate religion;” Religion (Ibid), “in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man’s obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God.”

Poverty-stricken view of missions, overlooking or discounting the spread of the Gospel from the Mediterranean to much of the world prior to 1800. Even more important, it completely ignores mission work in the Old Testament. Most important it fails to ground missions in the character of God. Missions, from the Latin “to send”, describes what God did first and then requires of us. Consider what God did: “And we have seen and testify thatthe Father has sent his Sonto be the Savior of the world.”1 John 4:14But that was not the first time God entered the world on a mission. Using Webster’s definition, God first entered the world on mission in the Garden only days after Creation.

A. Situation

God had created a perfect world (Gen. 2:8-9) with the perfect place of worship populated with perfect people. Remember God’s own assessment of his total creation:

“Then God saw everything he had made and indeed it was very good”Gen. 1:31“exceedingly good” “good in the highest degree”; implied: unable to be improved upon

An environment where everything was pleasing to the senses, where no good thing was lacking for mankind, plant or animal. Adam and Eve: a perfect match – with each other, with their environment, with the God who made, loved, and governed them. God created man with a will to choose what is good and pleasing to God, and also the ability to disobey.

God gave Adam responsibility for managing the Garden – his reward: free consumption of every available resource but one. The consequence promised for disobedience – certain (not instant) death. (Gen. 2:15-17) It was in that place of perfect beauty and provision where God and his people met for worship, the intimacy of their relationship unhindered in any way.

B. Seductionvv.1-6

Into this perfect setting came the serpent, having already rebelled against God and been expelled along with his followers from God’s presence. A sworn enemy of God, Satan’s prime objective is to thwart God’s every plan and purpose.

His target: the woman; his strategy: shift her focus.

God had told Adam: “You may eat freely (to your heart’s content) of every tree but one.” The serpent encouraged Eve to think about what God said theycouldn’tdo. Instead of seeing the incredible abundant provision and being properly thankful, look at what you don’t have that you really deserve.

In making his argument, Satan accused God of being less than totally benevolent, of knowingly keeping back things from his children. Satan implied that God liked being #1 and had taken steps to ensure Adam and Eve didn’t try to take his spot.

God is holding out on you and what you’re missing is good. There’s only one thing that stands between where you are and being like God – knowledge, of another category of things: evil.

appealed to Eve’s desires

“For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world”1 John 2:16(lust: desire, appetite, longing)

good for food – appealing to her bodily desires

pleasant to the eyes – appealed to her visual perception; desired what she saw

desirable to make one wise – appealed to pride: I can be like God!

C. Self-preservationvv.7-8

Immediately after sin: attempt to repair what was broken. How many times have we seen that?! Their best solution – to hide – from what they had done, from one another, from God.

fig leaves

— relationship with each other already damaged; no longer total openness between husband and wife or in any human relationship

attempting to fix their own problem, rather than going to God who had provided for their every need up to this point. Trust in self exceeded trust in God – they could do better at fixing their issues than trusting God to do what was right and necessary to repair the damage.

fear

— relationship with God in question

By their actions, demonstrate reluctance to converse with God, aversion to being in his presence. Preferred the bushes to God. This after only one overt act of disobedience. If any sinner would logically seek out God for help it should have been Adam and yet he persisted in his rebellion.

D. Solutionvv.8-19

From the limited scope of our text through verse 13, it sure seems like God took a great risk placing Adam and Eve in the Garden and then allowing the Serpent to come slithering by. It would be easy to think that, given what happened, God might have to retreat to his heavenly design studio and engineer a fix for the problem.

God came

walking seeking calling questioning

Were the questions for God’s benefit? So he could gain information he lacked? Of course not. Opportunity after opportunity given to our first parents to confess their sin, throw themselves on God’s mercy, ask his help, trust his solution to their woes. Yet repeatedly they blamed someone else for their dilemma: the serpent, the woman, even God. No acknowledgment of responsibility or of having sinned and needing forgiveness, no hint of repentance.

At this point two options occur to us that God might pursue – obliterate Adam, Eve and the serpent so he could start overorfigure out how he would recover from this disaster. But there is a third “option”.

We must consider what the rest of Scripture teaches.Ephesians 1:4tells us that God determined a plan of redemption before he began creation of the world.2 Timothy 1:9declares that God’s purpose for saving us existed “before time began”. The Fall and consequent need for redemption in no way took God by surprise; in fact, it was all part of his plan that, in order to guard his justice and holiness, cursing and consequences for evil would be necessary. So, too, was a Redeemer necessary, one who would ultimately restore fallen man to even better than his original state.

If redemption and restoration were to occur, God would have to make the first move. Remember, Adam and Evehid! God came down to that awful scene and spoke some fearful things – words of condemnation and death, hostility and hardship, pain and suffering.

God cursed

the serpent (and, by extension, Satan)

the one who once had authority among the angels of heaven, millennia of humiliation

the ground

the earth’s productivity would be gained only with great effort (toil)

the sinners

the dying process began immediately; pain and frustration would be their lot

But in the midst of this horrendous yet deserved sentence of death, there is an unquenchable beacon of hope and mercy. Even the curse was not complete:

Adam and Eve did not die immediatelyandthey were promised offspring

The ground did not become a wasteland – it would still produce food, albeit at the expense of weeds

God promised

hostility

between those who followed Satan in his rebellion against God, soon to be personalized in Cain and his descendants on the one hand, Shem and his descendants on the other

Throughout human history there would be two lines, two communities – the lost and the saved, the children of the devil and the children of God. The one would try to conquer or even destroy the other.

a Redeemer

That hostility would find its ultimate expression at the Cross.

It was there that Satan bruised the heel of the one who was the Seed of the woman. From the head, the hands, the feet of our Savior on that wondrous cross love flowed down as he poured out his very blood as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. That sacrifice cost him his very life.

It was there that the Savior gave a fatal wound to the Serpent from which he would never recover. When Christ nailed our “certificate of debt” to the cross, taking it out of the way, he thoroughly disarmed Satan. (Col. 2:14-15) When our sins are forgiven, Satan no longer has any weapon to use against us.

Why are we here today? Yes, it is because of the Cross of Christ and the empty tomb, key elements of our present salvation and future hope. But, don’t forget, God came into the world on mission – first in the Garden, then again in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus. It was the Lord Jesus himself who told Zaccheus that he had come to seek and to save those who are perishing under a sentence of death. (Luke 19:10)