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Apr, 2023

Together for Joyful Nations

So do you ever think about the future? Ever think about the future? Now, I'm not talking about just the the future of the stock market or the future of the housing market or the future of the job market or the future of religion or politics or technology or sports or architecture or whatever else is out there. I'm talking about the the actual future, the the real future, how things are going to actually be. Here's a glimpse John in revelation. I looked and behold a great multitude which no one could count from every nation and all the tribes, peoples and languages and, and palm branches were in their hands and they cried out with a loud voice saying salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb that is the future. There's no confusion in the language. God made clear that we got this picture that is the message from the Bible for our hearts, for the future. No matter what you hear on Fox News tonight, no matter what you hear on MSNBC tonight, no matter what you hear on talk radio this week, this is the future. Salvation belongs to our God who right now is sitting on the throne and will always sit on the throne and no president and no king and no queen will ever knock him off. Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb to Jesus. This is the message of the future from the Bible. A message that many would shine that they, they would not read or listen to this truth about the lamb of God. This truth about Jesus and say, yeah, yeah, I, I I'll believe that they, they would shun it, but I would just ask and invite you to consider it. Maybe you are a Christian and, and you forgot that this is the future. The news convinced you that there's a different future or maybe you're not a Christian and, and that sounds like Mumbo Jumbo. It sounds, sounds like a fairy tale. Sounds like something from Narnia. I would just invite you to consider it to consider this truth that salvation belongs to God through the lamb Jesus Christ. And also I would invite you to remember that there has never been a time where people weren't believing in God, meaning there's always been plenty of people that said no way. This is a fairy tale. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in this message. I don't believe in anything about Jesus. 1600 years ago, Augustin was living a very respectable life of, of philosophy. He was also living a life full of, of immorality. He was not following after Jesus, but then he considered the future. He considered the truth about Jesus and he was converted. He, he came to faith in Christ and this is what he wrote about God. You have made us for yourself. And our heart is restless until it rests in you, your future will be restless without God. God is the only one that makes the future rest. He's the only one that, that brings everything together. So, is there anything you can do about your future? Yeah. There, there is, we continue our series together for good where we're looking at the values of a healthy local church. And why are we doing that? Well, we're doing that because there's plenty of bad in the world. There's plenty of confusion and heartache and Brokenness and anger and frustration and division and strife and hatred and so many other things. There's, there's so much bad. So as a church, we want to be together for good in a world of bad. We want to strive to be together for good. And, and what kind of good? Well, the, the good that comes from the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And why do we want to be together for the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Because it is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that will change your future. And, and when the gospel of Jesus gets a grip on your understanding of the future, ok, to beware of, of all the conspiracies and, and all of the prophecies and all the, not the prophecies of the scripture, but the crazy prophecies out there, of everything that's going on, be aware of, of everything that's out there that convinces you that somehow Jesus is not key because there's something about when your future is gripped with the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ, things change. And you may find yourself grabbing a palm branch and saying Hosanna, what does that mean? We'll see if we can find out You're going to be looking at Matthew chapter 28 verse 19. Our message today is together for joyful nations, together for joyful nations and and Jesus is talking to his closest friends. And in this moment, this is what he says to them. Matthew 28 verse 19, go there for and make disciples. This is the final instruction Jesus gave. It's, it's his last words. Go make disciples. What's a disciple? Well, simply put a disciple is a learner, a follower. It's someone who is learning to follow Jesus, who is following after Jesus. So the the last word that Jesus gave us, the last word, last instruction that he gives is to go and make learners and followers of Jesus to help people find Jesus to make much of Jesus so that people will find him so that people will follow him so that people will learn from him so that people will love him and that people will live with him forever. That that's the instruction go and make disciples not go and make sanctuaries, not go and make gems, not go and, and make choirs, not go and make praise bands, not go and buy a piano or an organ or drums, not go and, and hire a pastor or a youth pastor or a children's minister or family life minister or music minister or anybody else. No, go make disciples. Doesn't mean that any of those things are bad or wrong and all of them can be used for the glory of God. But the instruction was go and make disciples, make disciples. The, the one thing, the, the one thing that we're supposed to focus on the, the one call, the one instruction, the one commission go and make disciples. Someone said there's times in the church today it seems like the great commission has become the great confusion, confusion because we, we seem to have forgotten what it is that we're actually supposed to be doing. The, the one thing that we're called to do and, and how could we be confused about that? How could we forget the one thing we're supposed to do? Well, oftentimes it's because we're very busy, very busy as Christians are very busy in the, in the life of the church. We, we're so busy trying to keep our traditions or we're so busy trying to bring in every new contemporary idea or we're, we're so busy trying to plan events for, for every single holiday that's on the calendar. We're, we're so busy trying to defend every single conspiracy and, and, and factual biblical, spiritual, theological, whatever it's out there. We're, we're spending so much time. We get so amped up when someone challenges us that suddenly we spend all of our time on things that are good. They're just not best. It's the one call, the one call for us to make disciples, the one commission. It really is not confusing at all. It's just we kind of get sidetracked. Why is it that we're so confused? Well, think of it this way. How many times in the New Testament of the Bible is the word Christian used three times, just, just three times in the New Testament. How many times in the New Testament of the Bible is the word disciple used 239 times. In other words, there, there may be some confusion about what we're actually supposed to be. So you can call yourself casually a Christian. Oh, I'm, I'm a Christian. I'm a born again Christian. We, we have language that we can use but, but actually you can call yourself a Christian and not be a disciple because a disciple is someone who is learning, who is believing and keeps believing someone who is leaning into and leaping out to follow Jesus, a disciple is someone who with great joy follows after Jesus Christ. See Christian is a box that you can check on a form that you're filling out under the religion section. But being a disciple forms who you are, it checks out in every section of your life. Now, does that mean that every section of our life is going to be us being perfect Christians? No, it does mean though that there's no confusion in our hearts about what it means to be a disciple. In other words, our our hearts understand what it means to follow after Jesus, to learn from Jesus, to lean toward Jesus, to leap and joy toward Jesus. Our our hearts understand the truth. And it's not just our hearts, people around us, people that are around us most of the time that interact with us, they, they see and know that we're not just somebody that goes to church there, there's something else about our attitude. There's something else about our actions that, that line up with learning and, and leaning and leaping toward Jesus. So are you a true disciple of Jesus? Are you a true disciple of Jesus? Here's one way to know, listen to the next thing that Jesus says, go there for and make disciples of all the nations. One way to know that you are truly a disciple of Jesus Christ is that disciples make disciples. That that's part of what it means to be a disciple and, and the first disciples, they made disciples. How do we know they made disciples? Because the gospel did not stay on a mountain on the east side of Jerusalem. The gospel made it all the way from a mountain on the east side of Jerusalem to North Augusta, South Carolina. And it found me, disciples make disciples. The gospel didn't stay in one place. The disciples left that place with the great news of Jesus Christ. How did that happen? Because they didn't stay. They, they didn't just say OK, I'm I'm going to listen to this. This is, this is great information, Jesus that sounded important. Guys. We should memorize that. Let's let, let's make sure better yet. Can someone stitch, can we put that in a cross stitch thing? Maybe we can hang it up in the house somewhere, go and make disciples. That sounds like it might be important. Oh, that last part too of all the nations. Let, let's be sure we remember that. No, they, they heard Jesus say that and they got the weight of it. And I said, oh, we're supposed to do something with this. We're, we're supposed to take this truth and, and make disciples and not just disciples of the people who just happened to be around them. Last week, we talked about intentionally meeting with people. We talked about intentionally meeting with someone for, for 20 minutes a week just to, to pursue this idea of making disciples if, if we're not already doing it and, and we said, you know, guys find, you know, one other guy or maybe a couple other guys and, and just meet together, read one verse of scripture, talk about it and pray. It doesn't have to be more than that. It's just a starting place. Just, just somewhere to start. And we said, ladies go find one or two ladies and, and, and meet together 20 minutes and, and read one verse of scripture and, and talk about it and pray just, just something to get. You started in these discipline type relationships And granted, you know, the the best is to be face to face. But, but you know, technology is amazing today. You know, you can do a three way call or you can do a zoom call or whatever and, and, and you can still engage with something that's 20 minutes long. So I will ask graciously from last week to this week. Have you found your 20 yet? Have you found your one or two that, that you're going to make 20 minutes with to, to make disciples together. It may be hard and it's OK. But we're going to keep asking because because we really believe this will change our individual lives and the life of our church. It sounds crazy, but 20 minutes can do it, 20 minutes can do it And God desires and delights to do something amazing in those 20 minutes. And beyond those 20 minutes. That, that's what Jesus is getting at here. The beyond. He says all the nations, all of them. Now, now nations there doesn't mean, you know, government political groups that are around a certain piece of land. That's a completely different story. The, the Bible proclaims that there is only one human race on only one. And then statistically our one human race today, it breaks down into somewhere between 17,000 and 24,000 ethnic groups. The the word for nation here that Jesus uses is an ethnic group, a people group if you will. And those people group among the 17 to 24,000, about 10,000 of that group of people, those those ethnic groups, they have what's known as an indigenous church movement. In other words, the gospel is in those people groups enough that there are churches that are sharing the gospel and making disciples. I think I did some, some rough math. I think it was last year. I think I even included in a sermon that I think just a little Google mapping. And I was able to find, I think 48 churches that I could almost walk to from our church. So in other words, we among the people groups have an indigenous church movement, we could say that we are a reached people group that, that the gospel is here and there are churches making disciples. But there are somewhere between 10,000 unreached people, groups, groups of, of people, these ethnic groups of people that there is no indigenous church movement. In other words, there's not enough gospel there that's created churches that are sharing the gospel and making disciples. So it's the unreached people groups that become a focal point of the life of the church. Our church has adopted an unreached people group. The Malik people make up about 746,000 people in population. They're found in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. And their predominant primary religion is Islam and 0.0% of the Malik people are Christian. It's quite a step right Now. What that means is there are some Christians among those 746,000 but not enough to cause the statistic to even come up with a point something there, there's some but but the math doesn't come up in the statistic, A mission agency called aims. Our church is supporting an indigenous missionary, meaning more than likely they are a Pakistani person who is living among the 16,000 Malik people that live in Pakistan toward the northern area. Now, we can't directly interact with this person. We don't know this person's name because it is too dangerous to their life for it to be discovered that they are with the Ames group and that they are with our church and that, that we're sending that person and caring for that person so that the gospel will be among those people. However, we are able to log in and get some updates. And so so this week, one of the updates was that there was a pocket of people that they got to share the gospel with. And some of those people came to faith in Christ Hosanna. Salvation belongs to our God who is sitting on the throne and to the lamb. And our church was part of a group of people having the barriers broken down. Like just in the last two weeks, people were transferred out of the Kingdom of Darkness and sin into the Kingdom of Light with Jesus making disciples of all the nations. We're also a southern baptist church that means that we are in friendly cooperation with more than 47,000 other churches and missions and, and ministry. We, we cooperate together for those two primary things and, and through something called the, the cooperative program, a giving system and through the Moon Christmas offering which we have in, in December, those two ways, our investment there, we are also engaged in thousands of other ways that unreached people are being reached with the gospel and also through the cooperative program and, and through the Annie Armstrong Easter offering, which we have available right now. There are people unreached people that are receiving the gospel right here in our country. I saw a statistic, there's more than 580 unreached people groups that now have a presence in the United States. That that's astounding. It means that Jesus has called us to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to the Malik people in Pakistan to make sure that the Gospel gets to them. And then in this strange kindness from God, God has also brought unreached people to our doorstep to the United States. Why so that we can be mad and angry and tell them to get out. I'm not talking about immigration law here. I I I'm talking about when unreached people are in our country. Maybe as students at Carolina, maybe they're here on, on work visas as engineers with, with some big company. There are all kinds of people that, that come to our country that come in our community and God has brought them here so that we can make disciples. My friends, Jimmy and Karen spent um almost 15 years I think in Milan Italy And the church that, that Jimmy was the pastor of there. They lost 50% of their congregation every year, every year. How about that? For encouragement? Right. But the reason they lost all those people is because they had so many international people in Milan working and they were there for like one year contracts and and two year contracts. So they were only there for a small amount of time. So what did they did, what did their church do? Their church did everything they could with the opportunity they had to make disciples, God brought them right to the door God in his kindness, he calls us to go to the other parts of the world. But he also in his kindness. He brings the world straight to us. So we go and make disciples at home and at work and at school, we go and make disciples through God's helping hands and school time bible. And the Scooter Scott project, we go and make disciples through the Lexington Baptist Association and the South Carolina Baptist convention. We go and make disciples Casey and, and to West Columbia and to Colombia and to Pillion and to Kentucky and, and to Myrtle Beach and, and to Guatemala and to, and to Pakistan and, and on and on and on. It goes, this is the call of our life. This is the one thing Jesus asked us to do Now over the last 30 years of being in ministry. And even when I was a kid every now and then I would hear somebody in the church say, Hey, you know what? We don't need to go halfway around the world. We got plenty of missions to do right here in our own backyard. Aren't you glad? The disciples never said that? Because if they did, this church would not exist. Now we go and we go and we go and we go here and then we go, there. We, we go, both, it's both and I praise God that the disciples did not leave the gospel on that mountain because it made it to us the, the one truth that could break the barriers between us and God. It came to us. So we go and make disciples of all the nations, all the people groups in all of the places because it wasn't a suggestion from Jesus. It was his command, his instruction. It wasn't, hey, if you get some extra time in the spring or summer, maybe when you have a break from school or work, if you get a minute, make disciples. No, Jesus said this is the one commission. If you're going to claim to be a follower of mine, this is the one commission. And that's why we do it because Jesus called us to do it. But we also do it because as Christians, our hearts need to be a little more toward this guaranteed ultimate future. And we sang a few weeks ago, the song almost home. You know, don't drop a single anchor. We're, we're almost home. All of us are almost home. If you're 18 and you're a Christian, you're almost home If you're 80 and you're a Christian, you're almost home. We're all almost home. And that's a great thing. That's, that's an amazing thing because it will not get better here. I mean, we can make some improvements. We can definitely bring good into the world through the gospel. But, but everything that Jesus truly prophesized is, we're crazy if there's going to be heaven on earth in our lifetime. That's not how it's supposed to work. Now, the hope that we have is in the future and that hope gives us tremendous confidence. Right now today on another day, Jesus said, this, the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come. There, there seems to be this sense here that Jesus is saying once the good news of the gospel gets to all of the unreached people groups and there's a, there's a church movement of the gospel among these unreached people groups. That's the moment that he's returning. If we're looking for a sign that sure seems to be a pretty good one. And I, and I said this a while ago and, and I, I still get excited when I even thinking about it, but the reality is it is not completely unlikely that one of our kids or one of our teenagers in this church might be the one that takes the gospel to the last unreached people group and triggers the return of Jesus Christ. Come on now. Are you kidding me? No, I'm not in January. I'll, I'll go with our, some of our pros and, and we'll go up to, to Atlanta for the, for the Passion Conference and, and we'll be in the Mercedes Benz Stadium, um, or maybe the one next door. I can't remember where it is this year and, and there'll be, I don't know, 50 something 1000 people between the ages of 18 and 25. And the likelihood that some of those people in that room are going to die for their faith is high and the likelihood that one of them might be the person that takes the gospel to the last unreached people group and, and triggers the return of Christ. It's, it's high. So we plant the seed today of the gospel in this church, knowing that we may never sit in its shade, but we still plant, we plant because it is the future that we look toward this guaranteed future that listen cannot be taken away from us. Please don't miss that. Cancer cannot take away your future with Jesus. A good or bad government cannot take away your future with Jesus, a miserable home life cannot take away your future with Jesus. A miserable job, cannot take away your future with Jesus wars and rumors of wars cannot take away your future with Jesus and nothing you hear in the news this week can take your future with Jesus away from you friend. Let us be confident in our salvation. Let us be confident in our commission. Why? Here's why? Because Jesus said all the authority of heaven and earth has been given to him. And then he says, with all of that authority that he is with us always, especially when we are going. And making disciples and going and making disciples of all nations. The reality is there's 1000 excuses some of us have come up with this week for while we're not going to meet with somebody for 20 minutes. Come on. Let's just be honest, we have OK. But we've said, oh man, I just, I don't have time and I don't know who to ask. I, I don't know if it'll work out for us to meet somewhere. I don't wanna talk to him on the phone. I don't wanna zoom. You know, we, we have all these excuses. We, we say things like, well, I just, I don't know the Bible well enough or, you know, I don't have a car, I can't drive or I don't know, maybe, maybe I'm just too introverted for something like that or I'm too young or I'm too old. Look, I, I don't mean to embarrass her, but I, I told her just a few weeks ago, I, I think that God is using Nancy Shumard more since she's moved to her assisted living center than maybe he has in her whole life. I, I, I've never heard someone who is engaging with people with the gospel all the time instead of saying who is me. I can't believe I have to be here. Thank you, Nancy. Thank you for challenging me to remember in the middle of my whiny life that I've been called by the king of kings to make disciples I have a friend of mine who's 100 years old. She doesn't leave her house much anymore, but she's making disciples every day. And, and one of those disciples is me. Listen, you can do it. We, we can do this. Jesus did not give us an impossible task. He gave us a, a super, super simple task. Go and make learners, make followers, make disciples. So go find your 20 pray for the Malik people, pray for how God may want you to be much more engaged with making disciples of all the nations. And is there any more fuel for the fire, any any more gas for the tank? Well, there's just one more thought that I just I love this. John Piper says this. If all believing human hearts were from one people group and full of glad praise to God, he would get great glory in that salvation. In other words, if heaven look just like us, the people in this room, OK? And we're all about the same, ok? If heaven looked just like this, God would be glorified, However, heaven will not look like this. We've already been promised that in in revelation seven. So Piper goes on to say this, but in the end, all the redeemed hearts come from 10,000 different ethnic groups, then their united pleasure in the glory of God's grace will shine with a brightness of praise far beyond the praise of any one group in other words, it will be beyond our imagination to be a part of the bright shining glory of God that will happen through His people. All the people from every nation, every people group, every ethnic group, every tribe, every tongue, every language. That's the future. But that is the future. So what would happen if we did this? What would happen if we really obeyed Jesus and made disciples of all the nations? What would happen? What would that look like in your life and the life of our church? What if we obey Jesus in a world full of bad? I want you to know that the future is now in a world full of, of bad. The future is now in a world full of division and hatred and strife and confusion and anger and discord in a world full of Brokenness and heartache. We wanna be together for good, together, for the good of making joyful nations to together for the good of, of making disciples of all the people so that a day will come and we'll all gather and it won't be just a bunch of little kids running around on Palm Sunday. But we all going to grab a palm and with loud voices, we will shout Hosanna. Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb Jesus. The future is now


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