Now or Never - A Missions Mandate

Bible Book: Isaiah  45 : 22-25
Subject: Witnessing; Missions; Preaching; Christmas
Introduction

Isaiah 45:22-25 read,  Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength. All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.

Just before Christmas a few years ago 38 so‑called rockers got together in England to make a record to raise money for Ethiopian famine victims. The title of the song they recorded is most significant: "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

That's a searching question for the Christian Church to face. Do the millions of  people on planet earth know it's Christmas? Have they heard that God sent His Son to die for them? Do they know of the miracle of the Virgin Birth, the Incarnate Son of God?

If they do not know, why do they not know? Why has the Church been so long in taking the good news to earth's millions? The one question missionaries fear to hear from the lips of non‑Christians in un-reached lands is: "How long have you known about the Gospel? Did your father know about the Gospel?" Are you part of the problem or the solution? Are you willing to take the Gospel to some area of the world where Christ has not been preached?"

What is 750,000 miles long, reaches around the earth 30 times, and grows 20 miles longer each day? Answer: The line of people who are without Christ. (Pulpit Helps) We live in world that desperately needs Jesus Christ. This was brought home to me in an even more vivid and graphic way when I saw the recent report from a number of polls that reveal that a large segment of the American population believe in God; however, it is estimated that about 20% attend church every week and less than 40% attend once a month. How can more than 80% believe in God but only 20% attend church weekly? The fact is that people say what they think people want to hear and not what they really believe. Our faith is actually shown by our works rather than simply by our words.

Noting that America is far more irreligious than we have been told should come as no surprise to those of us who truly love the Lord. Look at the heroes of Americans in this day. They include Rap music stars who blatantly encourage crime and promote sexual license, female singers who take off their clothes in public, Athletes who live promiscuous lives, cartoon characters whose names I will not even repeat, and the list goes on and on. If America is one of the most religious nations on earth, and yet has so many moral and ethical problems, what of the rest of the world? In reality, our nation and our world has never needed Jesus Christ more than right now! For a long time America, and perhaps the world, feared nuclear destruction more than any other problem. Terrorism is perhaps the greatest fear of many today - or, perhaps the financial collapse of the world markets. But, the real problem for the world is one of personal sin and the coming accountability for it!

Today, I want us to look at the subject, To The Ends Of The Earth. Let us turn our attention to the hope of the world. Every year at this time, we as Southern Baptists emphasize Foreign Missions. As we think of this subject today, let's do so by considering Isaiah 45:22-25. 

I. The Simple Plan

Numbers 21:8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live."

There is a story to the effect that a certain society in South Africa once wrote to David Livingstone, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to send other men to join you."

Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will come ONLY if they know there is a good road, I don't want them."

"Christianity is a missionary religion, converting, advancing, aggressive, encompassing the world; a non‑missionary church is in the bands of death." Friedrich Max Muller Instant Quotation Dictionary_, p. 59.

John 3:14 records Jesus' alluding to Numbers 21:8.

The plan is simple but the work is not. We must lift Christ up, if we expect people to believe upon Him. This must be done in the way we live, in our faithful worship and labor in the local church, through our personal witness, in your praying, and through sacrificial giving to the mission cause of our Lord.

Someone asked me, "Preacher, if Jesus paid it all, why are you always taking up offerings?" He was joking, of course - at least I think he was. I answered, "Jesus paid for our sins, but there are CARRYING CHARGES! We must carry the message to the world and that takes money!"

II. The Sure Promise

Numbers 23:19 read, "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"

William Penn, the founder of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was well liked by the Indians. Once they told him he could have as much of their land as he could encompass on foot in a single day. So, early the next morning he started out and walked until late that night. When he finally went to claim his land, the Indians were greatly surprised, for they really didn't think he would take them seriously. But they kept their promise and gave him a large area which today is part of the city of Philadelphia. William Penn simply believed what they said. Should we do less with God!

Our Lord promised to be with us as we carry His message of love and salvation to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). He keeps His promises! When we are willing to go, to pray and to give in order to take His message of grace to a lost world, He will be there to provide the power to accomplish the task.

III. The Sweeping Problem

Nelson Price, pastor of the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Cobb county Georgia wanted to place his church's television ministry into the most un-churched counties in America. He contacted the Research Department of his denomination and asked them to give him a list of the most un-churched counties in American. To his utter astonishment one of those counties was Cobb County Georgia, the county his church was located in! (By Dr. Edwin L. Cliburn)

There is no shortage of those who need Christ. Even among those of us who claim Christ as our Savior, there is a need for renewal and revival. Without question, there is pressing need for us to become serious about taking the message of Jesus across the street and across the seas!

Some churches think of the lost as being far away, and certainly many unsaved people live in far away lands; however, missions must be viewed locally as well. We all have neighbors, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and family members who need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Doing missions is not just going to some place in America on a mission trip, giving to some offering to help missionaries, praying for those who witness, but it is being a witness right where we are. It is strange that some will pray and give for people to go across the world with the gospel, but those same people will not go across the street to take the gospel to a neighbor.

IV. The Singular Path

During the Arab‑Israeli war in 1967, an American reporter was flying over the Sinai desert with an Israeli officer, and they spotted some fifty thousand stranded Egyptian soldiers who obviously were dying of thirst. When the situation was reported in the newspapers, a number of world leaders and organizations tried to do something to help. But every time a plan was suggested, some military, diplomatic, or bureaucratic obstacle prevented its being carried out. By the time help came, thousands of the soldiers had died. How equally tragic it is for churches to spin their wheels in programs and committees while thousands around them are desperately thirsting for the spiritual water that only Christ can supply.

The path is to do all we can to reach the lost before it is too late. Feeling bad about not sharing with someone, when we discover that he or she suddenly died, is does not change the residence of the one to whom we failed to share God's saving grace. This is our day! This is our time! We get one chance - one life in Christ - to share with others. We simply must not fail in this critical task of being missionaries and help those who go to places we cannot go.

V. The Serious Peril

"If I straighten the pictures on the walls of your home, I am committing no sin, am I? But suppose that your house were afire, and I still went calmly about straightening pictures, what would you say? Would you think me merely stupid or very wicked? The world today is on fire. What are you doing to extinguish the fire?" Corrie ten Boom, "Amazing Love," p. 101

Sharing the Lord's love with the Lord is serious business. When we are more worried about whether we can find a parking place near the entrance to the church, or whether the church is too hot or too cold for our liking, we are serious about silly issues. We must concentrate on that which is most important to the heart of God. Christ sent His only Son to die for the sin of this world. We should do no less than give our best to take His message of redemption to the ends of the earth!

VI. The Secure Provision

God has given a pure provision for the sins of the world. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. Yet, millions languish in their sins because the 'Good News has not reached them. We are charged with the ministry of taking the message of Jesus to the Lost world!

How many provisions have been made for sin? Only one! John 14:6. There is only One secure provision for the souls of mankind, and that provision is the Solid Rock. If there were many ways to be made right with God, the missions mandate would carry very little weight; however, there is only one way and those of us who know Christ must be His ambassadors in this world.

VII. The Splendorous Place

Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

The Lord won the victory at Calvary and now sits at the right hand of the Father. He has promised power from His throne as we do forth to share the Gospel of Jesus to the World. And, he has promised us a home with Him in heaven when our work is done. Let us get on with the word of sharing the Good News. Many will come to faith and salvation.  After all, you came because someone told you about Jesus. It may have been a parent, a friend, or a preacher, but when you heard it, you received Him into your life - a decision you will never forget. So NOW, right now, you need to be a Christian helping others come to the Lord.