Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- What is the strategy of God’s mission? How are we – as “mobile temples” – a part of that strategy?
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. How do these verse inform your understanding of the part you play in God’s Mission? Whether you think you’re deserving or undeserving, what is the point of these verses?
- How can we embrace our identity as Jesus’ witnesses wherever we go? What will this look like in every day life?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
So as World War II got started in 1939, Britain chose to do something as a government. What they did is they went underground, under the treasury building, which was in Westminster, which is on London's West End, and they built what they called at the time cabinet rooms. Now these cabinet rooms, when they were initiated, were initiated to bring the cabinet together to talk about issues related to the war. Well, just a few months later in 1940, I think it was in May of 1940, Winston Churchill took office as the Prime Minister. And so he went down into the cabinet rooms underneath the streets of Westminster, and it was there that he proclaimed that he was going to lead the war effort from here.
Over the course of the next few years, 115 meetings were conducted in this war room so that they had the opportunity to be able to plan and to think, and they had kind of a special map room, and they had a place where they met and they strategized. And so kind of what we're sitting in here today is something akin to that. In fact, this is what the war room looked like in Churchill's time. It's still there. You can still visit these places, and so this was kind of a place with maps where they would move stuff around. It was before the technology that we have today, and that's where they would operate, and they did that underground.
I think that's a unique thing because Churchill, when he was doing this, was a man who was on a mission. He felt a real sense of calling to what he was going to do. In fact, he's noted as saying the following. Take a look at this quote. "There comes a special moment in everyone's life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission; a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment, he finds greatness. It is his finest hour."
Now when Churchill said that, I can't help but think as I look back on history, is that Churchill was the right man in the right place for the right reasons, and he felt like he was somewhat a person of destiny, somebody who was fulfilling his mission, even though it was a very daunting one. The mission that Britain was facing and that the Allies were facing in World War II was a daunting one, with Hitler and the Nazi regime and all of that that was facing. It was daunting. It may have even felt somewhat impossible, but he was one who felt a sense of calling and was going to move forward in that mission no matter what.
I can't help but think that when I think about missions, you probably think about it too, the Mission Impossible movie series, right? You've got mission command, who is always finding Ethan Hunt. I don't now how they found him. Everywhere he is, the guy could be on vacation. He could be in a cave somewhere in Bora Bora, and somehow he's getting a phone call from mission command. I still don't know how they find him, but nonetheless they find him. He answers the phone. They tell him this is mission command, and you remember that famous phrase, right?
"Your mission, should you choose to accept it," and then they go on to describe basically something that's, well, impossible. That's why they name the movies Mission Impossible. But then after mission command finishes telling Ethan Hunt that, they basically say, "Hey, by the way, if you get caught, we don't know you. If you die, we'll pretend like we've never heard of you. We basically are disavowing you completely, and so I hope you understand that," which is somewhat disconcerting if I'm getting that mission that's almost impossible anyway.
And then at the very end it says, "Oh, and by the way, this message is going to self-destruct in five seconds." Well, I was thinking about that, and I was thinking just about the idea of mission and some of what the early church was facing, and I was reminded of a number of things. I was reminded that the early church got a mission from Jesus that was really clear, that was really daunting, but that this was what they were born for. This is what they were destined to do, and it wasn't going to be a scenario where Jesus was going to abandon them when it got hard, or if they ended up dying in the course of the mission that he would go, "Ah, I don't know these people. I'm disavowing myself."
Fortunately, our mission instructions that we have in the word of God, they're not detonating in five seconds when we read them, so I'm encouraged that the early church had a mission that they acted on, and we have a mission that we have to act on as well. I mean, it's just been a little less than a month ago, January 22nd, when The Chapel celebrated being 58 years old. 58 years old, and you know, one of the things that I'm thinking about in thinking about The Chapel existing for 58 years is that's something to be celebrated. That's an incredible thing. But while we should celebrate that The Chapel has been around for 58 years, that it has existed for 58 years, what we can't lose sight of is why we exist.
You see, that's my concern today. The thing that I'm most concerned about today in helping to lead and helping to give direction to what we do as a church is that we just don't forget why we exist. You see, when Jesus gave this initial mission call to the early church, he was reminding them what they were going to do, and functionally why they exist. That's what I want to get into just a little bit today, because as the people of God, we see how serious the early church was about mission, and we need to be just as serious about the mission, because the mission is the same. It's the same mission today, 2,000 years later, as it was then, and it's God who has initiated this whole thing.
So I want to take you into the book of Acts, into chapter number one, and I want us to take a look at kind of how Acts opens, because we've been looking more in chapter two and further about how the church functions, and kind of the role of prayer and how serious they were about identifying with the church, about community, about discipleship, about service. We've looked at all of these things, but I want us to go back to the very beginning of the book of Acts in the early church, and let's look at what it says about the mission itself that Jesus gave.
Acts chapter one, beginning in verse number one says, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the holy spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command. 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy spirit.'
Then they gathered around him and they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' And he said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the father has set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the holy spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.' And after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight."
Now, what we see here kind of early on is we understand that the mission that we're talking about was given to us in Acts chapter one. We see a little bit of that as well when we look at Matthew chapter 28 in the great commission, but we've got Jesus saying some things here in this passage of scripture, particularly in verse number eight and verse number nine, and I want to pull out a few of those things so that we can understand some things about this mission that Jesus has given us. Here's the first thing that I want us to take a look at or think about.
The mission has a history. In other words, it's pretty fitting that Jesus says what he says, because when we look at Acts chapter one verse number eight, notice carefully what it goes on to say. Jesus says, "You will receive power when the holy spirit comes on you, and you will," here it is, "Be my witnesses." Now, I want to pause there for a moment because the reason that I'm talking about this idea of being witnesses is because what we realize very quickly is that when Jesus says, "You will be my witnesses," that means that the mission didn't originate with them. It actually originated with him, because he's saying, "You're going to be my witnesses."
In other words, "This mission that I'm giving you, I've got a job for you, and that job is that you will be my witnesses." See, the mission originated with God. If we go all the way back into the scripture, go back to the very beginning. In Genesis chapter one, you know the passage, right? "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light, and he separated the light from the darkness." You know the passage, right?
Well, God created everything, and he created the heavens, the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars. He created the sea, the plant life, everything. Then he created humanity, and humanity was considered not just good like everything else was, but very good. And now he's got this male and female, Adam and Eve, kind of a priest and priestess that are living in this place, this earth that he has made, that are now kind of representing, mediating his presence, and God was interacting with them.
You see, what God's desire was was a desire for relationship with those who had been made in his image. God's desire from the very outset was that he would be their God and they would be his people, that this would be an intimate communion, an intimate relationship between image-bearers of God and the God who made them. This was the point. The Bible talks about how they walked with God in the cool of the day; extraordinary. But then as we know when we read on after Genesis one and two, we get to chapter three and we realize that there's a breach in that relationship. That what we call sin, something where Adam and Eve chose to live independently from what God had actually told them they were supposed to live, from what God had told them they were supposed to do, that they made choices that were independent of that instead of living in proper communion with God, and so sin entered in and there was a breach in the relationship.
As a result, Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and the cherubim had flames of fire to keep them out. They were cast out of the garden, but what God did is even in the midst of their failure, where they are now naked and ashamed and hiding, God actually closed them. Because God is the one who is initiating this with human beings. It's not as if everything is dependent upon us. God is actually initiating this idea of reconciliation now, because God's mission has always been from the outset, the divine design has always been, "I will be your God. You'll be my people. We will live in this kind of relationship." That's been God's heart and his design all along.
Now that that is interrupted, what we do see is we see the mercy and the grace of God, because where they are now naked and ashamed, God clothes them. Now there's consequences, right? Because sin interrupts things, there are consequences to that, and that's what we see starting to flesh out. Because after Genesis three, we start looking from Genesis three to Genesis 11, we basically see the rebellion of humanity, right? We see Cain and Abel, and that didn't work out really well, right? Because Cain killed his brother Abel. We see violence coming in.
We then see how God is judging the world that had become violent and wicked, and he's now judging the world through a flood in the time of Noah. We also, when we get to chapter 11, we're looking at the Tower of Babel, where people are trying to build a tower to get to heaven, because they desire to kind of have the pride in their hearts to be their own direction and their own gods, potentially. And so we see all of this through chapter 11, but in chapter 12 we see God reaching down to choose someone who was a very unlikely candidate, whose name was Abram. We call him Abraham. He was the son of a pagan idol maker.
God said, "I'm going to choose you, and through you I'm going to rescue the world." Because God's heart has always been that human beings that are made in his image are reconciled to him, that he is their God and they would be his people. So how's he going to go about that? Well, he chooses Abraham and he says, "I know, I know. I know you and your wife. You're going to be getting up in years, and she's not able to have children. You guys aren't able to have children. I hear you. I know, but I'm promising you this is going to happen through you."
And of course, there's probably a point when you're 70, when you're 80, when you're 90, where you're going, "Yeah, right," right? But it eventually happened. In their old age they had a child. They named the child laughter. You'd laugh too if you were a million years old and having a baby. They named him Isaac. It meant laughter. And as a result, then comes kind of the patriarchs, and basically you have the birth of Israel. Israel found themselves in a precarious position, eventually. They were in bondage to Egypt, but God raised up Moses. Moses brought them out of bondage, and interestingly enough when he takes them across the Red Sea and he's moving toward the land of promise, Moses goes up on a mountain and he receives commandments from the lord.
And do you know what those commandments were for? Those commandments were for Israel, so that they would be a distinct people. So that all the nations that were around them, all the nations that surrounded them, that worshiped all of these other false gods, gods of their own making, they would be able to see with this unique people, this distinct people, that the God of Israel is actually the God of everyone, and that they would actually be, watch for it, they'd be witnesses to everyone around them that God is actually God.
You see, this is what God was doing. And so as God led them ultimately into the promised land through Joshua, and then started raising up between judges and kings and then ultimately prophets, these prophets kept pointing them back to the very purpose of their existence. In fact, God would speak through the prophets, prophets like Isaiah. In chapter number 43 he said, listen to this, "You are my witnesses," declares the lord, "And my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he. Before me, no God was formed nor will there be one after me."
Do you hear it? He's saying to his people Israel, "You are my witnesses." He goes on to say it again in chapter number 43, verse 12. He said, "I've revealed and saved and proclaimed. I am not some foreign God among you. You are my witnesses," declares the lord, "That I am God." He also goes on in chapter 44 to do it again. "Do not tremble. Do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any god beside me? No, there is no other rock. I know not one." Are you hearing this? You see, when we arrive actually at this place in Acts chapter one, when Jesus says, "You will be my witnesses," this isn't new language.
This is actually born in the history of the people of God, because what God has always intended for his mission is that the people of God would be a witness to him. Why? Because God has always wanted to see the reconciliation of his image-bearers to him. He wants to be God over them. They are his people. He is their God, and that reconciliation will come when the people of God are witnesses to who God really is, specifically as he's revealed himself in Jesus.
So, the mission has a history, but the mission also has a strategy. So it now only has a history, but it has a strategy. Look again in verse number eight, and I'll highlight something for you there. Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the holy spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses." When the holy spirit comes on you. You see, one of the things that I think is important for us to remember is that the reason that there is a strategy to the mission is because there is a strategist. The strategist is the holy spirit of God, and the holy spirit says, "Here's what I'm going to do." Jesus says, "I'm going to put the holy spirit in my people, and as a result you're going to have the power to be my witnesses."
And he tells them that that's going to happen locally and it's going to spread out all over the world, right? I mean, this is extraordinary to think about. Because as you think about this, one of the things that keeps running through my mind is that this strategy is the brilliance of God on display. You see, where in times past what would have to happen is that if you wanted to experience the manifest presence of God, everybody from all over Asia Minor, like on this map, all over Europe and Asia Minor, those that wanted to experience the presence of the God of Israel would have to come to Israel.
We've got a little temple right there. It's a big, little red temple. The temple wasn't red, by the way. We're just marking it so you can see it. There it is, right there in Jerusalem, all right? Everyone would have to show up to this place right here. Jesus says something revolutionary about the strategy for this particular mission. He says, "You know what I'm going to do? I'm actually, instead of people having to come to a building in a place, I'm actually going to put my spirit inside the building of their lives, the building of their bodies, that I am now going to be in them."
So, now what we have is we've got temples all over the place with anybody that knows Jesus, anybody that has come to faith in Jesus now, these are mobile temples because the spirit of God is inside of them, and everywhere they go, God goes. What are they doing when they go? They're being witnesses. Why? Because God wants every man, every woman, every child, to hear and see and respond to the good news that they can be reconciled to God, that God can be their God and they can be his people.
It's extraordinary. This is the strategy. Now, you're going, "Wow, this seems like a strategy that's a little bit risky." Because man, you know me, and I know you. I know what some of you people are like. I know some of your stories. I know some of your background, and you know me. And man, sometimes we just kind of hang out with one another, and we are painfully unimpressed by each other, right? Some of us don't have all that much to bring. Some of us don't have all that much knowledge. Some of us don't have all that much personality, and God has chosen to use us as his strategy.
In other words, the strategy actually has legs; you, me. The strategy actually has legs, like it can run, because it's us. It's his life in us. That's why I think Paul said, and he described it really well when he wrote this in his letter to Corinth in II Corinthians four. He said, "For God, who said 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory, displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
You see, that's the beauty of this, right? God is the one who initiated his mission, and he's chosen to use us in this strategy of being able to know put his spirit in us, that we are mobile temples, that wherever we go, God goes. And even though we're just jars of clay, unimpressive in ourselves, when people see the activity of God and how he can transform a life, and he sees hearts that used to be in rebellion against God, who wanted to be their own gods, now surrendering themselves to God, they see the power of that and they can't help but go, "Man, I want to know who this is. Who is this Jesus that has the power to transform a life in such a way?"
This is a part of the beauty of the strategy of God. He takes the weak things of the world and he confounds the wise. He takes the jars of clay, and inside of them puts his glory on display. You see, that's why we as the people of God, we always need to give ear to what the spirit of God says and what the spirit of God does, because the spirit of God is the strategist. He's the one who is operationalizing the entirety of the mission. He knows everything about what's going on everywhere, and it's his power in us that's going to be able to accomplish the mission. That's why we've got to listen, as a church.
That's why we talked about how the early church was serious about prayer, because they're listening to the voice of the spirit through the word. That's the kind of people that we have to be. I mean, if you remember when Jesus wrote and communicated these letters to the churches that we read about in John's Revelation, right? We read John communicating about the revelation of Jesus in the early churches, the seven churches there in chapter two and chapter three of the book of Revelation.
Do you know that there's a common statement in every one of those letters, so-called, to the churches? And it's this. Here's what it says in Revelation 2:7 as an example. "Whoever has ears, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches." Why do we have to be so attentive to the spirit of God? Because the spirit of God is the grand strategist. He's the one who is putting together every puzzle piece as to what God is doing in the world, and he wants to use you, and he wants to use me. We've got to pay very close attention.
You see, he's sending us. Why? Because God is a sending God. This is a part of the strategy, and this is why we listen to the spirit. God is a sending God. Think about it this way. The father sent the son. The son sent the spirit. The son and the spirit sent the church, and the church sends the message of the gospel into the whole of our neighborhoods and our worlds and our places of business and our schools. This is what we do. Why? Because we are now acting out in the new creation of who we are. Really, we're acting out the heart of God. God is a sending God, and we are a people who are sent, who are sending the message of the gospel to the world. That's why we have to pay attention to the voice of the spirit in our lives.
So let me ask you this. Do you walk filled with the spirit? Because if you don't, you're going to miss out on the action of the mission. To not walk filled with the spirit means to not walk in the power to be able to be a witness. And to not walk in the power to be able to be a witness means we're checking out of the mission. You see, I get concerned sometimes that we take the Ethan Hunt approach and we shift it. In other words, we actually look at the mission as optional. Your mission, should you choose to accept it. That's not an option for us. It's not an option to say, "Should we choose to accept it," right? Because this is what we've been made for. This is what we've been designed for. This is actually our destiny. It's why we're here. We are here to be witnesses on mission for Christ. This is why we are doing what we are doing.
So, the mission has a history. The mission has a strategy, but let me give you a third thing. The mission has a geography. We picked that up here from Acts chapter one verse number eight. Look at it again. Jesus said, "You'll receive power when the holy spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." So the mission clearly has a geography. Now interestingly enough, this is exactly, the way that Jesus kind of laid it out, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth, that's exactly how it played out in the book of Acts.
So we're reading in chapter one, but if we were to read the whole of the book of Acts, here's what we'd find. That the first seven chapters, the church is in Jerusalem. That's where they are. When you're reading chapter one through chapter seven, you're seeing that the church is in Jerusalem. But maybe they were getting a little too comfortable in Jerusalem. Maybe they were not remembering exactly what they were designed for, that this wasn't just to say. This mission was not just about people from a Jewish background in Jerusalem. This mission was actually for the whole world, and maybe it even took something for God to initiate persecution for them to be able to start moving forward in the mission.
Because right after chapter seven something changed, and notice what happened. It says this in Acts chapter eight verse one. "On that day, a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." You see, what God wants, God is going to get. And if God says through Jesus that the mission is going to be Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth, then here's what you can take to the bank. That's exactly what it's going to be. And when you read the book of Acts, this is what you figure out real quickly about this particular strategy, is that chapters one through seven are in Jerusalem. They're not going anywhere. They're not following through on what the mission is, and so you know what happens?
God allows for there to be a persecution that breaks out, and guess where they scatter? Judea and Samaria. By the way, by the time you get to the end of the book of Acts, God has taken one of the people who were the catalyst for that persecution breaking out in Jerusalem, named Saul, and has transformed him and renamed him, and now he's called Paul. He, by the time the book of Acts ends in Acts chapter 28, Paul has traveled all around. Check this out. Paul has traveled all around Asia Minor and most all of Europe, basically what we would call in that, in the old world, the ends of the earth.
We end Acts chapter 28 with Paul having traveled all over Asia Minor and Europe, and now he's sitting in a Roman jail cell, and that's how Acts chapter 28 ends, exactly how Jesus said. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth. That's how it played out. Now what's interesting is that you and I, we're living in Acts chapter 29. If you want to look that up feel free to, but it's not in your Bible. See, Acts ends in chapter 28. We, right now, we're living in what I would call Acts chapter 29.
You see, what's happening in our lives right now is we are writing the history of our own nation. We're writing the history of the church in our day. What we see in the book of Acts is we see the history of the church for a period of the early church, right? But now we're seeing the history of our church being written in our day. What kind of history do we intend on writing at The Chapel? Do we intend on writing a history that's just filled with, "Hey, we came to a place and we just really enjoy it. I just feel good, and it gives me a little bit. It's basically the equivalent of a spiritual cappuccino for my week, and I just kind of move on and do what I do"?
Or, are we going to be dead level serious, like the early church, and get about the business of living our lives on mission. Because you and I, we don't know how long we have. We do not know. Too often in my ministry life have I seen people who have left this life at early stages in their life, who didn't see it coming. Too often in my life, I have also seen people live, and live to an old age, but didn't live their lives on mission and regretted all the years that they wasted.
You and I have an opportunity right now to humble ourselves before the holy spirit and say, "God, I want to be used in my circle." Now as a church, we're getting after this idea of every man, woman and child and partnering together with the body of Christ, because we realize we've got geographic responsibilities. We've got responsibilities in western New York. We've got responsibilities nationally. We've got responsibilities globally, and as a church and as leadership, we take that very seriously. And you guys know from seeing what we do and how we're doing it and what we're giving toward and who we're partnering with, you know we're serious about this.
But not only should our church corporately be doing this, but individually we've got to ask questions about our own circles of influence. How does it look like in our family, like in our immediate family? What does it look like in our work spaces? What does it look like in our network of friends that we have? Are we really, at this point in our hearts and in our lives, are we really representing Jesus? It doesn't mean that we've got to hold up signs and yell through bullhorns. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about, are we really representing Jesus, showing Jesus to the world that we live in, so that they can see who he is?
Because listen, God's the one who's initiated this mission, and his desire is that every man, woman and child, all of these image-bearers in the world, come to know who he is through his son Jesus. You know why? Because God wants to be their God, and they can be his people. This is what he's been after from the very, very beginning. So, the mission has a history. The mission has a strategy. The mission has a geography. But I want to finish by telling you that the mission has a victory.
See, this is the super encouraging part of this, because you can imagine that when the early disciples are hearing this commission, right? This is what's going to happen. As I said a number of weeks ago, this had to be really kind of frightening for them a bit, like we don't have the strength. We don't have the power. We don't have the resources. Oh, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, ends of the earth. What does this mean for us? This has to be overwhelming to them.
But the mission has a victory. You see, right after Jesus said all of this, notice what it says in Acts chapter one, verse number nine. It says, "After Jesus said this, after he kind of commissioned them with this, he was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight." They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside him. And of course those angels told him, "Hey, why do you keep staring in the sky? He's going to ultimately come back."
But what I wanted to point out, and what I highlighted in there, is that it says that a cloud hid him. E call this passage the ascension of Jesus, right? Kind of the idea where he returned to the father, and it talked about he did that as a cloud hid him. It was no accident, when Luke was writing the book of Acts under the inspiration of the holy spirit, it was no accident that he said what he said. This wasn't just some cute little party trick that he was saying, "Oh, this is neat that Jesus did this." I think he's actually specifically referring to an Old Testament passage that gives us an indication of what this looks like.
It was in the book of Daniel, and when you look in the book of Daniel chapter number seven, here's what you'll find in a few of those verses. It says, "As I looked, thrones were set in place and the ancient of days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow. The hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the ancient of days and was led into his presence, and he was given authority, glory and sovereign power. All nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."
You see, this was the Messianic picture that was painted in Daniel, and interestingly enough when it talks about this idea of coming with the clouds, in Daniel and in Acts chapter one, this was not talking about ... Listen carefully. This was not talking about Jesus coming from heaven to earth. This was talking about the son of man coming from earth to heaven. You see, the picture of the clouds were a picture of triumph, and were a picture of vindication, so that when Jesus comes before the ancient of days, the ancient of days says, "Sit down next to me." Why? "Because you have received all authority and glory and dominion."
You see, why do I tell you this? I tell you this because our mission is contingent upon this. Jesus himself is the guarantee that our mission succeeds. This is on him, not on us. That's what we have to remember. This is all about what he has done. Just like, by the way, when God said, "I'm going to make a covenant with Abraham so that I can rescue the world, and through his seed will come the messiah," which it did. This wasn't contingent upon Abraham. It was all contingent upon God. God said, "I'm going to do this, not because you're who you are, but because I'm who I am."
And God is going to get what God wants in his mission, ultimately. Now, he's not going to override the opportunity for people to be able to say no to him. I'm not suggesting that in any way. But what God has desired all along, God gets, because he has a people ultimately that are his people. In fact, listen to what the book of Revelation chapter 21 says. It says, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look, God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Those who are victorious will inherit all of this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.'"
That is what God desired all along. From the very beginning, God wanted a people from every tribe and tongue and nation, to be his people. He will be their God. They will be his people. See, this is the mission that we've been commissioned with. So why wouldn't you want to get in on this? Why wouldn't you and I want to dive headlong into this? Here's why. We've got guaranteed victory in this mission. We know that God is going to have a people for himself, so why wouldn't we want to be a part of being witnesses, being people that are filled with the spirit so that everybody can see that even in these jars of clay, there is a glory that is inside of us because of what God has done through his son Jesus? And now, we are mobile temples, and everywhere we go God goes, so that they can see the glory of God in us.
Why wouldn't you want to get in on something that is a guaranteed victory? And, oh by the way, it's why you exist. It's why you and I even exist. We're here not just to bide our time. We're here not just to satisfy all of our desires. We are here to declare to the world that there is a God who transforms everything, who forgives us of our sin and rebellion, who brings us back into reconciliation with the father because of what Jesus has done by the power of the holy spirit. That Jesus went to a cross and died for the sins of humanity, that he got up from the grave, over coming death, hell and the grave, and that now by faith in him, by the power of his spirit living inside of us, his life inside of us, we can proclaim and show to the world that we live in that God is alive, that God wants them to know him, and that they can do so through his son Jesus.
This is the mission that we have been given. It's why we exist. We don't exist for ourselves. We exist as a church, as the people of God. The reason we exist is for every man, every woman, every child, to hear and see the gospel of Jesus Christ. But see, in order to do that, if every man, woman and child in western New York is going to hear and see and be able to respond to the gospel of Jesus, it's going to require each man, woman and child in the body of Christ to be living life on a mission.
So, this is your mission. This is my mission, and we choose to accept it. It's not an option for us. This is who we are. This is what we do. What kind of history do you want to write? What kind of history do you want to write with your life? My hope is, is that the history you write with your life is someone who said yes to the mission of God, that now walks filled with the spirit of God so that the world can look at these jars of clay and see that there is something different inside of us that we didn't do ourselves, that God in his grace did on our behalf. And so that we can proclaim to a world, "Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the father except through him." That is our mission, so let it be said of us that this is our mission, and we choose to accept it. Let me pray for us.
So father, for every single one of us, you are calling us to a place of saying yes to your mission. And that doesn't necessarily mean that we have to pick up and move somewhere or change our occupations. You know exactly where you want all of us. You have us in the marketplace. You have us in schools. You have us in homes. You have us in our communities. You have us in every sphere that we have represented in our neighborhoods and in our cities and in our regions. And wherever we find ourself, may we be a people that walk filled with your spirit, because we are working on a mission that you have designed, that you have originated, that you empower us for, and there's a guaranteed success.
You will get what you want, a people that are your own. And God, we've been given the privilege by your own grace to invite people into that family, to invite people into that party, that life that only you can give. And I pray today that you'd remind us, God, of the great victory that you have given us in Jesus, and that this mission ultimately will be mission accomplished, because of what Jesus has done through his death and his resurrection, and what he will do in consummating history at his return. So lord, turn our eyes to you, that we might be filled with your spirit and live our lives on mission, we pray in Jesus' name, amen.