Today we begin a new message series called “Beyond Borders.” In this series, we’re going to be talking about missions. However, our definition of missions is going to much broader than what most people think. What is missions? Rather than going to the dictionary to define missions, let’s go to the Bible.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Although missions is talked about from Genesis to Revelation, these verses, commonly called the Great Commission are the best summary. The primary verb in the Greek language in these verses is one word which means “make disciples.” So the definition of missions is “making disciples of Jesus Christ from all nations.” Making disciples is done by going, baptizing and teaching. Now that we’ve defined what missions is, we need to discover who should be involved in missions. Although this command of Jesus was originally spoken to the 11 disciples, we know that since it applies until the end of the age, it is a command for every believer. The commands of Jesus are not optional, contrary to what many people believe.
John 14:21a (ESV) Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.
In other words, if a person truly loves Jesus, if a person is truly a disciple of Jesus, that person will keep Jesus’ commands. Normally, when we hear the word Missions we think of missionaries in other countries. Missions definitely includes that aspect, but it is much more. Let’s look briefly at the three areas of missions. In the concentric circles you see the central circle is where we live, the St. Louis area. The next circle is the country in which we live, the United States. And the largest circle represents every nation of the world. Each of these circles is part of missions and as we’ll see God desires every believer to be involved in each of these three areas.
There are three ways that each one of us should be involved in missions, to be missionaries. Those three actions are to: Pray, Give and Go. In today’s message, we’ll begin to unpack what actions God is asking of us in the three areas of missions. So, what’s with the name of our message series “Beyond Borders”? Borders are barriers that can keep us from taking actions to follow Jesus in Missions. Borders or walls can keep you from praying, giving and going to obey Jesus. God wants you to break through the borders that hold you back from making disciples.
Today, our message is entitled “God the Seeker.” Why must we be involved in missions? First of all because God commands us. Secondly, we are to do missions because God Himself is always seeking the lost.
Luke 19:10 (ESV) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus came to save the lost and make disciples. We, as followers of Him, must also make our primary purpose in life to seek and save the lost. This morning, we’re going to begin in Genesis to understand why the lost need to be saved and how God showed the way to reach them from the very beginning of time.
Genesis 1:31 (ESV) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
In the beginning, God created the earth as a paradise for man to live on. He spoke the universe into existence with His Word, creating all there is from nothing. What God created was very good, the perfect place for mankind to live in relationship with God.
Genesis 2:25 (ESV) And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Man was created in a state of innocence. God created man in a beautiful garden in which he could do anything, except one thing. Man could not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s intention was that man would eat from the tree of life, which would ensure that man would have eternal life together with God forever.
Genesis 1:26a (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Man was created in the image of God, so that he could have a relationship with God. A relationship in which man could talk to God and God talk to man. A relationship in which man would rule over the world that God had created under the direction of God. God created man to have a relationship with that would last forever. As we go on with the story in the next point, we’ll see how an enemy came in to seek to thwart God’s plan. Yet, God never gave up on His plan of paradise filled with people in an eternal relationship with Him.
If you’re a believer who has a relationship with God, then God commands you to partner with Him in missions. First of all, in the area in which you live St. Louis. We are to go, beyond the comfortable borders of our lives, to make disciples in our city. So we are to help people get saved and part of a Bible-believing Spirit-filled church. Contrary to popular opinion, there are not many of those churches here. As you are part of Life Church, your goal should be to help add people to this church. As we grow, we can disciple more and more people for Jesus.
We would like every attender and member to accept the Plus One Challenge. Make a commitment to doing everything you can to add at least one person to our church family this year. If you haven’t already done so, please take out your connect card and check the box to accept the Plus One Challenge for this year. Throughout this message series and beyond, we will be giving you practical steps that you can take to reach St. Louis for Jesus. It is past time for this church to begin to grow exponentially and fulfill its destiny of reaching hundreds for the Kingdom. You are part of that destiny. So, let’s continue with what happened to the paradise in Eden.
Genesis 3:1 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
The serpent in paradise is identified as Satan in the Bible. Satan is an evil person bent on opposing everything of God. Satan seeks to steal from, kill and destroy man because man is made in God’s image. In this verse, Satan begins his conversation with Eve by lying about what God commanded. He then goes on to …
Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV) But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan tempts Eve to disobey God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He insinuates that God is keeping them from something good, in fact, that they could become like God by sinning. The temptation is effective and both Adam and Eve …
Genesis 3:6 (ESV) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Here we see the three-fold aspects of temptation: the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life. Eve disobeyed God and Adam followed in her sin. That sin, known as the fall, affected every aspect of creation and human history down to our day.
What happened with Adam and Eve is true of every person since then. Every person is tempted by Satan, disobeys God and sins. The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Once you have sinned, there is nothing you can do to undo that sin. That is why, every person needs a Savior, to save them from the consequences of their sin. That is where you and I come in. As believers, our destiny in life is to lead people to Jesus, who alone can save them. Then we bring them into Jesus’ church so they in turn can learn to lead others to God.
The second area that God calls us to reach is our country, the USA. While many of us cannot go beyond St. Louis, we can all pray that our country may be reached. A week ago, I was in a conference with Mike McCary, a leader in the Church Multiplication Network, the US church planting network of the Assemblies of God. Currently, there are 13,000 AG churches in the US. Over half attenders are under 35 and over 40% attenders are ethnically diverse. The goal of CMN of AG is to plant an additional 10,000 churches in the US over the next 10 years. In St. Louis, we are seeking to begin 20 new churches in the next 3 years. Our newest church, CityReach Church St Louis, was just launched 2 weeks ago. The pastor is Alfred Long, who has a tremendous testimony of being delivered from drugs through Teen Challenge.
Genesis 3:8-9 (ESV) And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
These verses tell us that God regularly walked in the garden and conversed with Adam and Eve. Yet, something was different this day. Rather than walking and talking with God, Adam and Eve went into hiding. So, God called out to Adam, knowing full well what had transpired, and said “Where are you?” God was showing his love by seeking the lost and hiding man.
Genesis 3:10-11 (ESV) And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Disobedience to God’s command, sin, broke the relationship of man with God. After sinning, man became afraid of God, ashamed of his condition and so man hid and separated himself from God. God knew what had happened and questioned Adam about what he had done. Not only had sin broken the relationship with God but also …
Genesis 3:17 (ESV) And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Because of sin, a curse came upon men, women, the earth and all its contents. Weeds, difficulty of work, death and the pain of childbirth are all part of the curse of sin. The paradise that God had created for man was lost. Paradise will be restored one day for believers in the new heavens and new earth. Until that time, God makes a way for the broken relationship between man and God to be restored, as …
Genesis 3:21 (ESV) And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Adam and Eve had sewed for themselves a garment of fig leaves, but that had not covered their sin and shame. So, God killed some animals and make for them garments of animal skins to clothe them. This sacrifice involved the shedding of blood brought a covering or atonement for their sin. It looked ahead to the perfect one-time sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. At the beginning of the book of Genesis, we see God seeking after sinners to bring forgiveness.
God is calling us as a church to be missionaries, each one of us. To seek after the lost and those not connected to a healthy church family. He is calling us to be active in St Louis, in America and the entire world. We answer His call be Going, Praying and Giving. Your tithe, the first 10% of your income goes to support your local church, Life Church and our outreach to the St Louis area. We encourage you to regularly give an offering above the tithe to support Missions, both US and World AG missionaries.
In closing today, let’s watch a video about world missions called “We Hear the Call.” As we do, God will be calling each of us to go, pray and give through missions. I believe that all of us need to repent of not obeying God’s commands to seek the lost as He does. Repent of not going, praying and giving as we should. Repentance means to make a change of mind to commit to do our part in seeking the lost, here in St Louis, in America and around the world.