A Theology of World Missions

NIV Translation

Romans 10:9-15

Romans 10:9-13

Romans 3:23

1 John 1:5

Romans 10:13

Romans 10:14

Matthew 28:18-20

Revelation 5:9

Revelation 7

Good morning, Saylorville. My name is Andrew Bush and I’m the high school director here at Saylorville and it’s a privilege to be bringing you the word of God this morning. It’s a privilege to even just be here in this church building. I feel like I’ve been gone like the whole summer. We had a number of different trips, both things here at the church and personally and it’s It’s just great to be back in the promised land of Iowa here.

I was in a trip earlier this summer to Uganda. If you know that, we took 15 of our high school students and went to go visit some of our missionaries in Uganda, Jonathan and Alannah Michalski. Just an amazing trip. Thank you so much if you were one of those many people that prayed for us and gave financially and sped us on our way. Just had an awesome time in Uganda this summer. And then I’d never been to Africa before, but we doubled dipped in the same summer and went on a second trip to Zambia this time. And went to Zambia with my family, my wife, Jeannie, my daughter, Alice, and my son, Ezra. There we are, hanging out with some elephants. And also with my parents and my brothers and sisters-in-law. And we had an amazing time in Zambia, visiting some missionary friends, some people that have been working with at-risk kids for the last seven years there.

And so, you’ll see there my son Ezra, he’s asleep right there next to two giant elephants. That’s probably like a sermon illustration in and of itself right there. I really wish he would have done more of that sleeping on the airplane ride over there though, right? I mean overall, I think my kids did a great job on the airplane. Many people were praying specifically for that airplane ride. It was like 60 hours there and back in the plane. We had a flight from Dallas to Qatar that was like just insane amount of times like so much time on a plane. It’s all a blur. But I give my kids a B+ overall. They really did a pretty good job. There’s room for improvement to be sure. but overall very pleased with how they did. Still, you can guarantee that in those moments where your kids, they’re feeling the same things you are, they’re just not as good at keeping them inside, right? Those feelings, like, ‘if I don’t get off this plane right now, I’m gonna lose my ever loving mind,’ right? You’ve maybe been there before. Well, my son Ezra’s been there, and I’ve experienced it firsthand. In those moments, you can just guarantee that you’re going to hear, “Ding!” Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the fastened seatbelt sign. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts securely fastened. We’re about to experience a little turbulence. And I’m thinking, “Yeah, turbulence out there or turbulence from this child that does not want to be in his car seat right now, right?” In those moments, you just start grabbing anything and everything that you can. The whole carry on suitcase is unpacked. You’ve got books. You want this? No, okay, fidget toys. No, and you’re just scrambling trying to get your child to calm down. And that was tough, but we made it through. We made it through, right? I looked at my wife. There was a little nonverbal communication going on at one point where I was saying, I see that there’s a problem here, but I have absolutely no clue what I’m supposed to do to be a part of the solution, right?

Maybe you’ve been there. That can be comical at times. It can also be really frustrating in other circumstances when there’s an obvious problem, but you’re like, I got no clue what I’m supposed to be doing about this problem, right? And that, there’s a temptation that comes with those types of situations. And the temptation is this, I felt it on that flight. I wanted to take my noise-canceling headphones, slip those bad boys in my ear, lower my eye mask over my eyes, recline my seat the full three centimeters back that it would go, and just try to block out the pain, right? Just try to ignore the problem and hope that it would go away on its own. I didn’t do that because I try to be a good dad most of the time, but we’ve been there, right? when we don’t know what to do about a solution, it’s easier at times to ignore the problem and hope that it goes away on its own.

Well, it’s my privilege this morning to be continuing in our series Theology on Fire. And today we’re talking about a theology of world missions. And if you’ve ever heard a message on world missions before, then my guess is that you’re aware that there’s problems in the world, many problems in the area of world missions. and it’s pretty easy to identify those problems most of the time. The challenge is figuring out how you can be a real tangible part of the solution in that. Right? So it’s my burden this morning to not only present you with that theology of world missions, but to set it on fire in your lives in such a way that you leave today with some tangible, doable steps where you could work towards meeting that need and finding your place in God’s global story. So that’s my heart for you this morning, my desire for you, in order to accomplish that, we’re going to need a lot of help from God. So would you join me in prayer for just a moment as we ask God to speak to us today?

Father, we come before you today. And as we look at your word, it’s going to become apparent that there’s real problems in the world. I pray that every person in this room would leave today knowing what you want from them in order to be a part of the solution. I pray that every single person here would leave knowing what their role is and how they fit into your story. And God, I do pray for the unreached people around the world, those who have yet to hear the good news about Jesus. God, would you send workers into the field? Would you reap a harvest amongst all nations for your glory? Lord, as we’ve sung, you are worthy of it. Every people, tribe, nation, and tongue, God, would you gather them together around your throne and allow us to be a part of that? In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Okay, we’re going to start today by looking at the book of Romans. So if you have a Bible, you can turn to Romans chapter 10. We’re going to start by looking at verses 9 and 10 and see the good news of the gospel laid out in one of my favorite, one of the most clear gospel passages in the entire Bible. And then we’re going to see how Paul works through that logically to bring some conclusions as it relates to world missions. So Romans chapter 10, let’s start with verses nine and 10, and I’ll be reading from the NIV, that’s what’ll be on the screen, but you can follow along in whatever translation you’ve got. This is what it says.

If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord. And believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it’s with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it’s with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” 

Let’s start by being super clear on what this gospel message is. You see it there on the screen in front of you. It’s the good news of the gospel that there is salvation from our sin that’s available through Jesus Christ for all people. These verses continue on to say that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is a salvation that’s available for everyone. Salvation from what? Well, if you were to read the whole book of Romans, you would find it really obvious that humanity has this sin problem, right? We have set up other gods that we worship and we give glory to them instead of the God who is worthy of it. And so our sin is something that separates us from God and it’s endemic to every single human that’s ever existed.

Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and falls short of the glory of God.”

And that’s a problem because God is perfectly holy. First John 1:5 says,

“God is light, and in him there is no darkness whatsoever.”

So even the smallest flaws in our hearts are enough to separate us entirely from a holy God. But the good news is what you see here that we can have salvation from our sins and from the penalty of sins by believing in the person and in the work of Jesus Christ. And you see that in these verses, first, the person of Jesus.

Romans 10:9-10,If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…”

So when we say believe in the person of Jesus, we’re not just saying believe that Jesus was a real person who existed, but we’re believing something about him that he is Lord. That means he’s an authority in our lives, right? He calls the shots. He’s king. He’s the one that tells me where to go. If I’m a follower of Jesus, then I should be following Jesus, right? Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, that’s the person of Jesus, and then the work of Jesus,

“…and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,

implying that he also died and was buried. And so, that work of Jesus is what actually accomplished salvation for us. It’s Jesus’s work on earth that achieved salvation, His perfect life, His sacrificial death on our behalf, it paid the penalty for our sins. So now by believing in the person of Jesus and the work of Jesus, we have salvation.

Before we go any further, this would maybe be a good time to simply ask, is this something that you have put your trust in? If you’re here today and whatever you may think that your relationship with God is, If you have not put all of your faith in the person and the work of Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, then according to the Bible, you don’t know him and you are currently under God’s wrath. And so I would urge you if you’re here today and you’ve never believed the gospel. You’ve never been saved. There’s a lot of Christian lingo, been born again, been saved, believed the gospel. This is what we mean by that. Have you believed in the person and the work of Jesus Christ? Is that what you’re resting in? And if not, I would urge you to find rest in that this morning. This is the good news that we preach every single week. But this good news has sort of a logical way that it works itself out in our lives. And that’s simply this, that if belief in the person and the work of Jesus Christ is what’s necessary in order to be saved, then people need to know about the person and the work of Jesus in order to be saved. It’s a pretty logical connection there, but Paul brings it to our attention in the following verses. He says this in the next section there that you read,

How then can people call on one whom they have not believed in?” And how can they believe in the one whom they’ve not heard?”

I’m in Romans 10 verse 14-15, by the way.

“And how can they hear without someone preaching to them and how can anyone preach unless they’re sent as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?”

You see what Paul is saying here? He’s saying that no one was ever saved by simply believing in God. No one was ever saved because they looked up at the stars at night and said, whoever you are out there, I believe. No one was ever saved because even though they were believing the wrong thing, they were really earnest in their hearts and they tried the best they could and so they just took what they had and they did the best that they could with what they understood. No one was ever saved that way. People are only ever saved by believing in the person and the work of Jesus Christ and And so it takes people like you and like me who know the person in work of Jesus to go and bring that good news to those who have never heard it.

And Jesus knew this. Jesus understood that this is how it was going to have to work out. He knew that people would have to tell other people about this good news. And so he gave us some instructions. I hope you’re familiar with them. It’s going to be on the screen. I want to read the great commission because this is Jesus’ marching orders for the church. Right before he ascends back into heaven, he’s talking to the 11 disciples and those that are following him and he gives them this commission in Matthew 28, 18 through 20. Jesus came to them and said,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

So there’s that Lordship again, right? Jesus is the one with authority. He’s the one that calls the shots. So we listen in and say, what do you want? We’re ready. We’re ready to listen.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all (what?) nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I’m with you always to the very end of the age.”

I hope that you’re familiar with this verse. We talk about these verses a lot And that’s a good thing. These are really important verses in the Bible. Maybe one downside of being really familiar with this verse is that we tend to generalize it a little bit. We’re familiar with this. And so we just sort of tack it on to anything related to evangelism at all. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but my concern is that I think many people look at this, and they simply see Jesus calling us to make as many Christians as possible. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make as many Christians as possible. You should be sharing the gospel everywhere that you go amongst any people group or type or whatever.

But what I wanna bring to your attention is that the thrust of this passage is not just a general call to make a lot of Christians. It’s a specific call for the church to disciple the nations. That’s how it reads in English. It’s even more emphatic if you were to read it in the Greek, the original languages it was written in. We are called to disciple the nations. And the nations there, it’s the word “panta ta ethne”. It doesn’t refer to the roughly 195 nations involved within the United Nations today, or the nations that you can see outlined on your globe or world map at home. This is a word that refers to all people groups. It’s every tribe, nation, language, and tongue. It’s a little deeper than that. It’s more like the 1700 people groups that exist in our world today. And this commission that Jesus is deploying the church towards is one that is very much still in progress.

Here’s where we get to the obvious problem when it comes to world missions. And that’s that of those 1700 people groups, there’s over 700 of them that are currently considered unreached. That means less than 2% of the population of that people group identifies as Christians. That means that for over 3 billion people in our world today, they will be born, they will live, and they will die, and they will almost surely never meet a Christian, never hear a clear gospel message. There will be no church down the street for them to attend. All of their family members will be unbelievers. There will be no missionary that comes to them and shares the gospel. They may not even have a Bible in their own language. And it’s almost certain that unless God intervenes in a miraculous way in their life, they will be born, live and die, and never hear the gospel, and they will go to hell. They won’t know, because believing in the person and the work of Jesus is what is necessary to be saved.

So here’s the problem, we have a great need for many people to go and be those beautiful feet and share the good news of Jesus with those who have never heard it before. Who aren’t just unsaved, but are nobody’s looking for them. There’s only one thing worse than being lost. I heard David Platte say, “It’s being lost when nobody’s looking for you.” And that’s the state of many billions of people in our world today. It’s at this point where maybe we’ve identified the crying child on the plane. And the tendency now is to say, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about that.” Because frankly, me and the wife and kids not planning on packing up and moving to Nepal.

So maybe the easiest thing is just to slip in our noise cancelling headphones and put the eye mask over our eyes and recline our chairs and ignore it and hope that the problem takes care of itself. I don’t believe that’s a real option for genuine Christians. I believe that every single Christian should be playing a sacrificial, meaningful role in world missions. And that’s not just my belief, I think that that’s what we’ve seen in these verses that we’ve laid out, right?

Let’s follow the logic here. If salvation is offered to all people through belief in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and if there are people who will be born, live, and die without coming to an understanding of the person and work of Jesus, and if Jesus’s solution to that problem is a commission for the whole church to be actively involved in making disciples of all people, then every single Christian should be playing a sacrificial, meaningful role in world missions. It’s a part of Jesus’ heart, and if you have Christ’s heart in you and you do if you’re a follower of Him, then it’s a part of your heart too. It’s a part of your very DNA. We exist in part to reach the nations for the gospel.

This is not just a niche within Christianity where there’s some people, you know, Andrew, he’s the high school guy, so he’s interested in youth ministry. And Caleb Fisher, he’s interested in kids ministry. And Pastor Pat, he’s interested in locally evangelism. And John Nemmers, he’s interested in church planting locally. And then there’s some weirdos that are interested in world missions. No, this should be a part of the DNA of every true follower of Jesus. Every Christian should be playing a sacrificial meaningful role in world missions.

John Piper has said, “You have three choices when it comes to world missions. To be a joyful sacrificial go-er, to be a joyful sacrificial send-er or to be disobedient.”

I hope that there’s no true follower of Jesus in this room that’s content to be disobedient. So for the last few moments of our time, I want to simply take the theology that we’ve talked about and set it on fire in such a way that you leave today knowing exactly some ideas. Maybe not exactly, but that you know what you could do to be a joyful sacrificial go-er or a joyful sacrificial send-er. OK?

Let’s talk about being a go-er. If you’re here and you’re thinking, ‘I think that maybe God’s calling me to be a goer in some capacity.’ You may be older, you may be younger, there’s a spectrum there, you may be, I don’t know where you fall in there. But if you think God is calling you to cross a border in some way to be a go-er for the sake of the gospel, I want you to know that I’ve been praying for you. And there are so many people in this church that are praying for you. I’ve been asking God to raise up more people from within this church to go and be those beautiful feet to go be workers in a harvest that’s plentiful where the laborers are few and that Saylorville Church might be a place that’s known for its sending capacity. That you might be added to our list of the 26 missionary families that we support currently that are active on the field including six that are sent from Saylorville Church. We would love to add to that list and  I’m so grateful if God is moving in your heart to be a go-er and I just want to encourage you by saying, you’re in luck, you’ve got like the coolest church ever that could send you out. Like there are so many people here, like fists full of people that have a heart for God’s mission around the world that want to put wind in your sales and money in your bank account and practical help in every way you can think of, and just to get you exactly where God wants you to go in the world. This place is full of people like that, and it really makes me super pumped. And so if you think you’re a go-er, like take whatever the next step is for you. Talk to somebody, talk to our missionaries that are here, get in contact with our missions committee, or whatever you need to do, figure out what your next step is to keep going. Because we’ve got tons of people that want to get behind you.

Some of you could be a go-er of sorts without even leaving the country, because there are nations that have come to us. And you could possibly be a great welcome-er when it comes to the nations that are visiting us, just to give you a couple quick ideas. Did you know that there are over 900,000 international students that come to the US every single year? And more than half of those are from an area called the 1040 window that’s largely unreached by the gospel? What if you had an impact on some of those people that are here just for a few years at school and then go back home to their home nation that’s largely unreached? Only 10% of international students are ever reached by any sort of Christian ministry. And only 20% are ever invited into an American home at all. We could make an impact there. Or just the people that you work with. There are a lot of people, especially from Southeast Asia, that live in the Des Moines area. Following the Vietnam War, Iowa had a lot of refugees that came here from Cambodia and Laos and a Vietnam and places like that. And we just need to open our eyes to that. Go to a restaurant you don’t normally go to or visit some people that you work with or that you live near that are from somewhere different than you. Get out of your comfort zone a little bit and be a welcome-er to the nations that have come to us.

Quickly, let’s talk about what it means to be a good send-er. I want to give you just one idea that I think every person in this room could do if you wanted to this afternoon. You could leave here and you could go on to Saylorville Church’s website. You could pull up the list of missionaries that we support and pick one of them. one missionary that we support and commit in your heart to adopt that missionary and be the best send-er possible for that one missionary family. And you make sure that you’re reading their monthly updates and you pray for them every single day. Stick their names on a post-it note on your bathroom mirror or an alarm on your phone and you pray for them every single day. And then you respond to their emails and you say, “Hey, I’m really praying for you. Thanks for sharing about this need or that need. we’re asking God to help. Please let me know if there’s any way I can help. And then when they’re here for missions conference, you hang out with them, you babysit their kids, you take them out to dinner, you go to their breakout things and listen to the updates of what God’s doing, you get behind them, maybe even go visit them on the field.

You know we’ve had a couple families recently, like in the last year, the Hubenthals went to Uganda to visit the Michalskis, the Brandts went to Germany to visit Kristi Walker. And rather than doing like a summer vacation to Disney World, they went to Africa or Berlin and had like a crazy family adventure. And it was awesome. Talk to them if you have questions about it. Because I would love to see more families from our church, not necessarily waiting for the next short-term trip, although participated in those. But just go and just go hang out with the missionaries in their element. That would be awesome. Be great, send-ers.

We need to wrap things up because we’re headed to the Lord’s table now. And so I just want to give you a couple of thoughts as we head to the Lord’s table. First, during our time of quiet and contemplation, I want you to seriously pray and ask God, ‘God, if every single Christian should be playing a sacrificial, meaningful role in world missions, then what is my role?’ and ask God to reveal how He wants you to be a part of His story around the world.

Secondly, as you reflect on the perfect life and the sacrificial death of Jesus, remember what that death accomplished. We read in Revelation chapter 5:9,

“You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals.” (This is what we just sang a few moments ago. Why?) Because you were slain. (And what did his blood accomplish with your blood?) You were purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Look, we think about Jesus’ life and death, and we thank God, he saved me. And that’s true. But zoom out and realize that he purchased people from all around the world. What are you doing to go and get those people?

There’s a scene in Revelation 7 where every tribe nation language in tongue is gathered before the throne and before the Lamb and they are worshiping God. And there was a time when I was in Uganda just this past summer where I was with our team and we started singing the song, “God is so good.” Just that simple melody. And we decided to sing it in every language that we could represent. And some of us represented better than others. But we had some Ugandan people there with us. So they were singing in Lugandan, some knew Swahili, and they were singing that. A lot of us were singing in English. Some people knew Portuguese. Some people knew Japanese or French. We had seven different languages that we represented. And we sang that simple melody. “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” Around the throne in seven languages, and it was beautiful. And it made me think about this scene in Revelation seven and what it would mean to be around the throne and to see people from every tribe, nation, language, tongue, and to see them worshipping before God. And I knew that I wanted to be a part of getting some of those people there. I wanna be a part of getting the nations to Jesus. And I hope that that’s your heartbeat as well. So as we enter into a time of communion, ask God, what role do you want from me? Let’s pray together.

Father, we’re so grateful for your word, for all that it teaches us. I pray now that as we think of your perfect life and your sacrificial death, that we would remember that that death accomplished salvation for us, yes. But for many people who have never heard the good news yet, and we just ask that you would send laborers into the field to go and bring those people to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. We ask in His name, amen.


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