Monday, 13 March 2017

Why Mission and therefore Church Planting matters - Part 2

This is part 2 of 3 posts on why we should be engaged in mission and how that necessitates church planting in all its forms from Acts 1.

Part 2: The world still needs to hear the gospel(6-8, 10-11)

The kingdom is both now and not yet. The kingdom has come because Jesus is God’s anointed king, the Messiah. His people enjoy living under his rule as a result of his rescue. But (10-11)he’s going away, and his kingdom will only be fully realised when he returns. The disciples (7)live in the now but not yet time of the kingdom.

It’s a bit like pregnancy. When you’re pregnant you know you’re having a baby, you’re waiting and getting ready. Things have changed and are changing and yet the real change is still to come. Until the moment when the child is born are you a mum or a dad? Well, both yes and no. You are already a parent but you haven’t yet realised your parenthood.

We live in that same time, between Christ’s comings. We live in the kingdom, preparing for it, enjoying the reality of it, but awaiting the full realisation of it.

And Jesus gives his disciples a task between times; to be his witnesses. To tell others about him, as they stake their lives on who Jesus is and what he’s done. Luke 24:46-48 tells us what they witness to “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Jesus will bring about the kingdom through them, as they go to the nations and tell others who Jesus is and what he’s done because otherwise they face a lost eternity.

You might be thinking ‘yes but that is the Apostles’ job, it’s given to them.’ As you read through Acts we see that they teach and witness to others who come to faith and automatically start teaching and witnessing to others, who come to faith and automatically start teaching and witnessing to others, and naturally churches gather and are formed. Acts isn’t just about the Apostles, this isn’t just their responsibility. For every Peter and John there’s a Dorcus, Cornelius or Philip. For every Paul there’s an Apollos, Priscilla or Aquila.

Acts 1:8 isn’t just the Apostles’ mission it’s the mission of every believer. Turn to Acts 28:30-31, read it, (yes you right now, unless you've memorised it that includes you, read it) it feels a bit unfinished doesn’t it? Paul is witnessing in Rome, lots of places have heard the good news about Jesus, but it hasn’t yet reached the ends of the earth yet. We are left thinking what happens next? It is deliberate because the mission still stands. When we trust Jesus as Saviour he becomes our Lord and his mission becomes our mission, his glory becomes our concern as we enter the family business, the world needs to hear the truth about Jesus.

Someone, I don't remember who, said the world needs the gospel because for believers this world is all the hell we will ever know, but for unbelievers it is all the heaven they will ever experience.  The sheer lostness of the lost must compel us to take the gospel to them.

There’s no-one the gospel is not for. It is for all classes, all races, all genders. And it isn’t just about leaving wherever some is and going to the ends of the earth, though it may mean that for some, it’s about witnessing where we are. Will you be a witness right now right where you are? And in Acts we see the Apostles strategy for doing this is through the church. Not lone ranger evangelists, but believers gathered together on mission to reach and disciple the lost together. It’s about churches looking at the places around us where the gospel doesn’t currently reach and thinking creatively and boldly and outside the box about how we witness there. It’s about looking at where churches are struggling to reach out and witness and revitalising and re-energising them with the gospel so they can witness.

As you think about your city, town or village this morning, where are those unreached places? Is it the council estates that are bounded by neighbourhood relationships? Which we drive past but at the moment aren’t reaching? Is it some of the surrounding towns or villages which are very much self contained units?

Only one power exists on this planet, in this town, this community that can bring lasting change. Only the love of Jesus Christ that conquers sin, wipes out shame, heals wounds, and reconciles enemies can change the world one life at a time. And that message has been given to God’s church, to us.

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