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A long running TV show in the 70s-80s called MASH was about a (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) stationed in South Korea during the Korean war.
I’ve never liked the show much…not a big sitcom fan.
But the few times I have seen it, it is interesting to note that when the doctors are not engaged in their primary mission…treating the wounded…they are often engaged in petty arguing and silly antics.
This is true to life.
In the civilian and the military world when people are not engaged with their primary callings and commitments they often devolve into petty and silly engagements with each other.
When people are living in line with their purpose…they have little time or interest in nonsense.
I am not saying we should find our value, our worth primarily in what we do.
We find that primarily in our relationship with God.
Value, meaning comes from God…from this place of being valuable to God…we go and produce good work, we do things that are ultimately valuable.
Eph. 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
The order is important:
- Created in Christ Jesus as God’s workmanship…who we are
- To do what God has prepared in advance for us to do…what we do
Being precedes doing.
But that being said, we are created for doing…not just being.
We are created to do good works.
We were made on purpose for God’s purposes.
When we lose sight of that fact life deteriorates.
Like the MASH unit, created for the purpose of caring for the wounded…when they are not engaged in that purpose they are merely an unhappy group of people who are away at war and who would rather be home.
When churches devolve into pettiness, infighting, hurt feelings, artificial drama…it is often tied to a loss of purpose, loss of meaning and mission.
We exist to “Know and love God, to make God’s love known.”
When we lose sight of and passion for that purpose…things became to dissolve in and around us.
This is not, by the way, an underhanded rebuke…I love our church, and the fact that we major on our mission and do not produce a lot of drama.
This is illustration…because its not just groups of people who are harmed by a loss of mission.
When individuals lose sight of their purpose…their lives begin to deteriorate as well.
They chase meaning in things that are not ultimately meaningful.
Last week we finished with Rom. 10:13, we will begin with that same verse today and move to the end of chapter 10.
Rom. 10:13 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
What Paul does next after this proclamation is to work back from this fact to the preceding steps:
So all who call on his name will be saved…and before calling comes:
- Belief…before belief comes…
- Preaching of the gospel…before preaching comes…
- Being sent to preach the gospel
14 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? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
So put all this in chronological order:
- God sends
- Those who are sent proclaim the good news
- Those who hear and belief…call on the name of the Lord.
- Those who call on his name are saved.
From there he returns to the situation of Israel, how is that so many of them have not believed?
Where is the disconnect?
Did they hear? Yes, of course they did.
17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Ok, but maybe they didn’t understand what they heard.
Yes, they did understand…God gave his word through the prophets Moses and Isaiah that he would extend his grace to the Gentiles.
This is the new covenant but it is not a brand new idea…God had been telling them for ages what was to come.
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” 20 And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”
So, where does that leave the situation between God’s love for the people of Israel and their response to him?
Well, he continues to offer grace to them but they continue to rebel against him.
21 But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
So here is Paul’s line of argument:
God has sent gospel proclaimers to Israel (Paul was one of them). So they have ample opportunity to believe. But in spite of God’s persistence in pursuing them they refuse to believe and receive his offer.
This is the main point of this passage.
That being said…10:14-15 has often been used in sermons to demonstrate the need to send out missionaries.
It seems valid…listen to it again.
14 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? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent?
However Paul did not write these words primarily as a challenge for missionaries to be sent out.
He is asserting that God has already done so…he has and he is sending people out with the gospel.
The point in Romans 10 is that God has made sure Israel has access to the good news.
However, in spite of this fact, they have failed to believe.
But, though this is not first a passage about sending or going…there is clear application here for the need of people to go because God does send people and people need to hear the good news.
So by implication…God continues to send people out with the good news.
Though missions and evangelism is not the primary application of this passage…it is certainly a valid application.
What I want to do next is to ask and answer some questions about evangelism and missions….since Romans is after all about the gospel…taking the good news to people.
Then have a conversation with Brad about what it means to be sent out by God and the church to take the gospel to people.
First ask and answer some questions:
- Is missions arrogant? (Or any form evangelism, trying to convince others to believe what you believe).
The gospel is the good news that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
Paul says that unless people put their faith in him, they cannot be saved.
This belief infuriates people…why?
Because it directly implies that all belief systems other than this one are wrong.
Not that everything in the other systems or religions is bad or wrong…or that these people are all bad people.
But that in the end, there is only one view that is true to the facts.
So the question is not one of arrogance it is one of truth.
It is more like asking whether “rocks fall up or down” than asking who is “smarter or better”
To say “I’m better than you because I understand gravity” is arrogant.
But it’s not arrogant to tell someone that “rocks fall down”…its simply true.
But truth can be told in an arrogant or demeaning way.
The facts themselves are not arrogant…they never are, facts are either true of false…they are not proud or humble.
But facts can be presented in arrogant ways or humble ways…because people can be arrogant or humble.
There is no doubt that the facts of how to have relationship with God (the gospel) have been presented in arrogant ways by arrogant people.
They have been presented in ways that mock and belittle others and their cultures.
I once asked a man I was having a gospel conversation with…a question to entrap him, to show he didn’t know as much he thought he did. (I thought he was proud and that it was my job to humble him…I was so dumb)
I “won” the argument and I succeeded in making him look foolish.
But I did not win the man and I was the one who was the fool.
I was telling the truth but I was certainly not telling it in a way that was in line with the truth…I was not intent on loving this man.
The gospel is “For God so loved that he gave.”
Anytime we present the gospel of God’s love to people in unloving ways…clearly we are off track.
But even so, if presenter of truth is wrong, the facts of course remain true.
So it is important to not turn two different things into one.
The exclusive claims of the gospel are not arrogant claims…they are simply true or false.
The attitude and approach of the one presenting those truth claims can be arrogant or humble.
They should be humble…but even if they are not…the gospel remains true.
So people can argue that the gospel is not true and then they must argue that something else is true.
But its not correct to say the gospel truth claims are arrogant claims.
Facts are not proud, people are.
Facts, if they are facts, are true.
So we must tell the truth of the gospel and work and ask God to make us humble tellers of the truth.
- If this is true why does anyone do anything else…other than missions, evangelism?
I once read a non-believer responding to the Christian claim that those without Christ are lost.
He said, something like this…”If this were true and I really believed it then I would do nothing else. I would burn myself out telling the gospel.”
His conclusion was, since most people don’t burn themselves out telling the gospel, then they don’t really believe it.
So here’s his argument:
A=If you believe the Gospel is True
B=Then you would Burn myself out for it.
If A is true then B
Since not B (most don’t burn themselves out) then not A(you don’t really believe the gospel)
His formula is faulty because A is true, but B is not
The gospel is true but we are not called to burn ourselves out for the gospel…some may die for the gospel but none are to live as if it depends on them.
Telling the gospel is not the only way to bring God glory.
His glory is the ultimate purpose of our lives…not evangelism or missions.
Telling the good news is one way to bring him glory, not the only way.
No doubt God has called some to live shorter, harder lives for his glory.
But I don’t believe he has called anyone to “burn out”
What is clear is he has called his people to faithfulness and this includes a number of things:
-raising families for some, vocations for all, rest, worship, creative pursuits, celebration…and evangelism and mission.
The larger call is faithfulness.
The Great Commission Matthew 28:19,20 is not “Go and proclaim” but rather “As you go, proclaim.”
Some are called to leave their situation and cultures and go live among other cultures, many are called to stay…but to stay with the same level of intentionality as those who go.
In WWII about 16 million Americans served overseas.
The US population in America was about 133 million when the War began.
So 117 million did not serve overseas in the war…88% of the population.
However, it is fair to say that the entire country “went to war.”
I had a friend who fought hand to hand combat in the Pacific.
I had another friend who served 3 years working stateside in a federal mental institution (he was a conscientious objector)
My graddad worked on Airplanes in FW, TX.
Christy’s Uncle died on a hill in France at the age of 19…killed by a German machine gun.
People lived sacrificially whether they were home or abroad…they were all part of the overall war effort.
Some went, some stayed…all went to war.
During Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and in the ongoing War on Terror…a few go, the rest of us live as if there is no war.
This is not a critique or a political statement…it is an illustration, a point of comparison.
WWII…some went, most stayed…all engaged the cause.
Now…some go, most stay…some engage the cause.
The WWII model is what I think the mission of the church is supposed to look like.
Some are sent, called to go abroad…all are called to engage the mission where they are.
So yes, we should all probably live with more urgency and intentionality that we do (That includes those serving at home and abroad)…but God is glorified through a life of faithfulness not a life of frenzied activity.
Spending a year in Romans…it is the clearest and best explanation of the Gospel in existence.
If you are a follower of Christ you are called to faithfulness.
This will include seeking to make the gospel known to the people God has place in your life.
It doesn’t have to be (in fact ideally shouldn’t be) weird, disconnected from normal life and normal relationships.
Give a 5-part model for living life in a missionial way.
This is not “adding stuff to your calendar” it is adding intentionality to your life.
Pray: For people in your sphere of influence (while you drive, work with them)
Prepare: To share the gospel (turn your bulletin around)
Pursue: Trust relationships (include people in your life, go to lunch, invite them to events)
Proclaim: Tell the gospel (Identify with Christ, look for opportunities)
Plan: How to include others in their lives
Doesn’t matter if you remember the “p’s”
Get the overall feel…real life, real people…being who you are, where you are…with intentionality.
This is sustainable in your life, whatever your life looks like.
Philemon 1:6 “I pray you will be active in sharing your faith…”
The good news is that the good news does not depend on you.
Ideally we would be good practitioners of the faith…but the truth of the gospel does not depend on our ability to live it or defend it…it remains independently true.
If you feel unworthy to make Christ known…remember this.
2 Cor. 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
So we should strive to be good representatives…but we do not tell others “look at me” we tell them “look at Jesus.”