sermon given by Mr. Dan Rogers on the 30th reunion
of the Boston Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, in
Scripture reading: Matthew 28:1-20. "After the Sabbath, at the
dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other
Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the
tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was
like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards
were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that
you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here;
he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he
lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from
the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will
see him.' Now I have told you.'
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with
joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,'
he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.
Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers
to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into
the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had
happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised
a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them
'You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole
him away while we were sleeping. If this report gets to the governor
[Pilate], we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.' So
the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And
this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very
the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus
had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but
some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority
in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and
make disciples of all 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 am with
you always, to the very end of the age.""
"So the statements in Matthew 28 about following Jesus into Galilee
are very profound. But why? Why did Jesus want his disciples to
go to Galilee and meet him there? What is the point that Matthew
wants us to get as he tells the story? What is it that Jesus is
asking his disciples to do? Well we really need to understand
that because it speaks to the whole purpose of the Christian Church--the
very purpose of the Church of God. In this final chapter of Matthew
[he] sums up his entire gospel, the final words of Jesus before
his ascension. And the point is made that since Jesus is risen
from the dead and as Christ, and Lord over all things, a new age
has begun--an age for which Jesus gives us an imperative command--an
imperative command to all of his disciples--that they and all
of their successors must do. Now, for Mark, Galilee seems to have
some kind of eschatological significance. That means that ultimate
end time kind of wrapping things up significance. Because for
Mark it's there in Galilee that the ultimate mission of the Messiah
will be played out.
Now for Matthew, Galilee appears to hold a similar importance.
In Matthew's gospel, Galilee is the place where there's the Sermon
on the Mount. In Matthew's gospel there's the transfiguration
on the mount in Galilee, and the twelve are commissioned on a
mountain in Galilee. Why Galilee? Why does Galilee play this pivotal
role, it seems, in the gospels? Well Galilee was a region where
major highways crossed each other in the Roman Empire. Galilee
was a major throughway center for trade and export. You've heard
of the fishermen of the Sea of Galilee, like Peter, like John,
James and Andrew. Fish was exported all over the Roman world from
the Sea of Galilee. Other products were shipped all over the world
by the trade routes from Galilee. Of course, products and trade
came into the entire region through these same trade routes. So
it was an area unlike Judea, which was sort of shut off from the
rest of the world and to trade, and to sending forth. [Question:
Which powerful nation today is the leader in world trade and commerce?
Isn't it the United States?] And interestingly, it was in Galilee
that all the disciples lived, the eleven disciples except for
Judas Iscariot. They were all from Galilee.
So what does Matthew seem to be telling us? Matthew even calls
"Galilee of the Gentiles." And throughout the gospel of Matthew
he continually seems to be pointing towards the mission to the
Gentiles. A mission is coming forth to go to the Gentiles, and
is going to begin in Galilee of the Gentiles. It is from there
that the new age will begin, and the gospel will go forth to all
people. Now what's also interesting is that it is the home of
the disciples. It's their mission field, but it's also their home.
So that's very interesting.
Let's look at Matthew chapter 28 then, and understand what Jesus
is commanding us as his disciples today to do. Matthew chapter
28, verse 17, "When they had gathered and saw the risen Christ,
they worshipped him, but some doubted." Perhaps some doubted whether
they should worship him or not. 'Is Jesus worthy of worship?'
Some may have had difficulty understanding exactly who Jesus was.
They saw he was Messiah, but was he also Lord [YHVH]? Was he worthy
of worship? Some worshipped him, some wondered. And then we come
to verse 18, "Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me.' Now "all" is a key word here. "All
authority has been given to me." And the point seems to be that now,
now is the time he's going to begin to exercise that authority. "All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me--now as
the risen Lord I will begin to exercise that authority." And
he begins to exercise that authority in the following way. "Go
therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And
remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." So
since all authority had been given to him, he now gives what is
commonly called "The Great Commission"
to his disciples. Here is what the risen Lord commands so
what he commands them here is for all disciples who will follow.
He says "Go". Now "Go"
in the Greek here is a participle, with some imperative force
derived from the main verb of the sentence. But it would perhaps
be better understood in English as "going," or "as we go," or "as
we are going." Now the reason I mention that is because some would
read this verse and say "Go!" Well, that's talking about missionaries.
Missionaries are supposed to get up and "go somewhere." They should "go" to
Asia, or they should "go" Europe, or they should "go" somewhere.
(Of course, speaking from an American ethnocentric context) 'they
need to get up and go somewhere and preach
the gospel!' Yes, he is saying that. You do need to go and there
is a place for missionaries reaching out cross-culturally, internationally.
But what the participle is saying is "as you go, while you are
going, in going," and it means "you." It means "me." As we're
going through life--as we're going through where we live--as these
disciples went through Galilee, their home area, as they were
going, as a part of their daily lives, as a part of their routine, they
were to make disciples--and teach people to obey the words of
Jesus. This is something that Jesus commanded his disciples
to do, to make other disciples. And in the Greek, the main verb
here is "make disciples." And it's in the imperative, it is a
command. We are to go and as we go, we are to makedisciples. This
is a command to all disciples from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now what is a disciple? In order to make one you need to know
"what is a disciple?" Well, the word literally means "a learner." Matthew
in chapter 12 quotes the words of Jesus expanding upon the concept
of a disciple a little bit, and there Jesus says, "My disciples
are those who hear me, those who understand me, and those who
obey me." In other words it's "people who stop and listen, who
want to learn, because they seek to follow me, and to live as
I live, and to follow my teachings." These are people who want
to be Christ-like, people who want to be like Jesus. That's what
a disciple is. A disciple is someone who wants to obey the teachings
of Christ, and walk in the ways of Christ.
How do you make disciples? The making of disciples begins with evangelism. Evangelism
simply means spreading the gospel--spreading the Good News. Sometimes
evangelism is a term with which we're not all that familiar. We
wonder 'exactly what does that mean?' 'What am I supposed to do?'
'What does evangelism mean to me?' There's some wonderful definitions
of evangelism I think to help us understand. One of my favorite
is the classical,
"Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find
Bread--one beggar telling another where to find Bread." We're
all beggars, but thanks be to God, you and I have found the Bread
of Life. And all around us are other beggars who are hungry. Don't
you want to tell them where they too can find Bread, and be fed
and nourished, as you are? One beggar, telling
another beggar, where to find Bread. Another example I think of
evangelism, and I'll try to tell this briefly, it's one of my
favorite stories, because it's true It's a little boy, blind,
from a poor nation. His family had immigrated to New York City.
They wanted enough money to get started. And in their culture
begging was an honorable profession. They put their little boy,
blind, out on the streets of New York with a box in his hand to
beg--to get enough money to feed the family, to get it started,
to get it going. Well as the little boy sat on the crowded New
York street, on the sidewalk begging all day, some people would
drop by and they would put coins in the box. And the box was beginning
to fill up. Well, it came to the end of the day and the office
buildings were closing and the people began to rush home, and
the city sidewalks became very crowded. Now the little boy became
a nuisance, because his legs were protruding out into the sidewalk,
and people were stepping on him and tripping over him and cursing
at him, and kicking him as they went by. And finally the heave
of the crowd got so great that it knocked the box out of the little
boy's hand, and all of his days' long proceeds of begging just
went all over the sidewalks. And as he crawled to try to pick
it up, people were stepping on his hands and shoving him aside,
and going on about their daily business--when a man came upon
the boy and sheltered him from the crowd with his own body, and
picked up the little boy and put him up against the side of the
building, and said, "Son, just wait right here, I'll get your
money for you." The man got down on his own hands and knees and
went crawling through that city sidewalk, with people stepping
on him and cursing at him, picking up all the coins and putting
them back in the box. He took some money out of his own wallet
and put it in and handed it to the little boy and said, "Here
you are son. Is there anything else I can do to help you?" Now
the little boy did not know much English. He did not know a lot
about western culture. But there was a figure that he had heard
of in western culture, and so he just had to ask the man the question, "Mister,
are you Jesus?" And the interesting point
of this true story is that the man was a Christian. And the answer
to the little boy's question is, "Yes, I am Jesus. Jesus lives
in me, and because Jesus lives in me, the good that I do is what
Jesus would do. I replicate Jesus in my life. The Holy Spirit
replicates Jesus in me and therefore, yes, I'm here to do the
work of Jesus--helping the poor, helping the needy." But then
going one step further, because he said to the little boy, he
said, "Would you like to know more about Jesus?" The little boy
said, "Yes, yes." He said, "Do you think your family would like
to know more about Jesus?"
"Yes." He said, "Well, I will sit here and wait with you till
your family comes, and then we'll go together, we'll have something
to eat, and we'll talk about Jesus." That's evangelism. Evangelism,
in many ways, is replicating what Jesus did. We are the body of
Christ! Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus dwells in us, and we replicate
his ministry. And in his ministry, Jesus did good deeds and preached
the gospel. Good deeds often open people's minds and bring their
attention to where they're ready to listen and to hear, and to
consider. I submit to you, that doing good deeds without sharing
the gospel is a fine form of humanitarianism. But the Christian
calling is to share Jesus--to share Bread--to share true Life,
not just a good deed, not just a good work, though those are very
important--but something that has eternal meaning, the gospel
of Jesus Christ. That's what evangelism is. Making disciples stares
with evangelism, reaching out to others, talking about Jesus Christ,
and that Jesus came, and lived and died, and sits at the right
hand of the Father, and is coming again--and that he can live
in you through the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit in Christians that brings forth this witness.
The gospel of John tells us, that the Holy Spirit bears witness,
give testimony to Jesus. In fact, noted theologian Michael Greene
has suggested very strongly that he wonders how can you have the
Holy Spirit and not testify of Jesus? He says, "Is that even possible?" Because
the work of the Holy Spirit in human lives is evangelizing--testifying
to the good works of Jesus and telling people about how they can
be saved through accepting Jesus as their saviour, and how they
can dwell with God for all Eternity. So the Holy
Spirit brings this work to pass. The response to evangelism is
discipleship. Because you just don't stop and say, 'You know,
brother or sister, do you know the Lord? Will you accept the Lord
Jesus Christ in your heart?' 'Yes I do.' 'Will you pray the sinner's
prayer with me?' 'Yes, I will.' 'Well, have a good life, see ya
around, adios, so long, hope it works out.' No, you don't leave
them there. Now they must be discipled, they must be taught, they
must be educated. They need to be led to either a small group
or to a congregation. But they need to be led to fellow Christians
who can now begin to disciple them. Spiritually mature Christians
teach new Christians how to become spiritually mature and how
to walk as Jesus walked, to live as Jesus lived, how to do the
good deeds of Jesus, and how to tell others about Jesus. So the
response to evangelism should be followed up with discipleship,
teaching. The response to discipleship, as you begin to be taught
about Jesus, the natural response is baptism and receiving further
instruction--instruction in how to become Christ-like through
the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. And it is up to
those who are the spiritually mature Christians to bring these
new Christians along toward the maturity of the fullness that
is in Jesus Christ.
Jesus commanded the eleven to go and to make disciples. He told
them to go and teach all subsequent disciples to
go and do everything that he'd commanded them. So the command
is incumbent upon us to evangelize, and to make disciples.
` So I have this obvious question. Why don't we? Why don't we?
Oh, there are a lot of reasons. I think one reason is that some
of use have been taught and believed and sort of liked the idea
that religion is a private, inward, personal matter. 'I'm devoutly
religious, but I don't want anybody to know it. So I don't behave
that way, because I wouldn't want anybody to know how religious
I am.' You know, it's difficult to imagine Jesus living through
his whole life, and then he dies, and someone says, 'I wonder
if he was a religious man?' I think they sort of figured that
out. Oh, there are certainly personal and private aspects of our
devotion to God and our relationship, our intimacy with him. But
it is something we should live out in the open. How many times
did Jesus say things like, 'You're to be a light set on a hill,
don't put your light under a basket. Put your light up on a hill
so that the whole world may see what you do, hear what you say
and glorify your Father who's in heaven.' We're to be salt, to
have an effect. Salt has an effect on whatever it touches. It
makes it salty! Christians when they touch the world should make
it Christiany! That's what we're supposed to do. It's not private
and personal in that way, it's a public ministry. We must confess
Jesus openly with our mouth and confess him in what we do and
how we live as well.
Why don't we evangelize? Well, some of us know Christ,
but perhaps don't know him. We know about
him, but do we know him? I think of Peter, who lived with Jesus
through his ministry, traveled with him, listened to him teach,
was very close to him, and then when Jesus died, they said, 'Well
Peter, what are you going to do?' And he said, 'I don't know,
I guess I'll go fishing now. This whole thing's over, he died.'
'Didn't expect it to happen.' 'Well yeah, he said he was going
to die.' It seems as though Peter knew Jesus but didn't really know him--knew
about him but didn't know him personally. It wasn't until Peter
encountered the risen Lord, and you can read I Corinthians 15:3-8,
where Paul talks about the encounters of Peter and James and his
own personal encounter with the risen Lord that was transforming.
Until you've met the risen Lord in your life you don't know Jesus.
You may know about Jesus, but you don't know Jesus--until you've
encountered the risen Christ and he's touched your heart and you've
accepted him as your saviour, and he's come to dwell in you, and
your life will never be the same again. And when that happens,
you can't wait to share that joy of what you've found with other
humans, because you know how much it's going to mean to them to
find the risen Christ the way that you have found him (or the
way, indeed, he has found you).
Sometimes we don't evangelize because we're not confident in our
own standing with God. We think, "Well, I'm a fine one to talk
with others about being a Christian! I'm not much of a Christian
myself." Now that may or may not be accurate, it's hard to say.
For most of us I don't think it is accurate. Coming out of the
culture that many of us have in the Worldwide Church of God, where
we felt like we had to qualify, perhaps, to be in God's kingdom,
we had to work hard, and we never worked hard enough, never quite
sure if we were going to make it--it's very difficult if that's
your mindset, to share Jesus with others and say, 'Well, I think
you should accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour so that
you can be saved--at least I hope you can be saved. I hope I qualify.
I hope I make it. I hope I don't get left behind.' That's not
a real positive message. But when you say, 'Jesus Christ has saved
me, and yes, I am weak, and I am fleshly, and I am human, and
I sin, but God is God! And you know what? He can save me! I'm
in His hands. If it were with me it would be impossible. But with
God all things are possible. Praise God, amazing grace, how sweet
the sound that saves a wretch like me.' 'Praise God for his glory
and his sovereignty.' I'm not secure in myself, I'm secure in
God. My salvation is secure in him. I hope we can all believe
that, and then share that security with others. That, when they
accept Jesus Christ as their saviour, their salvation will be
secure, for it depends on God and not us.
Sometimes we feel too empty to share, there's no overflow of joy.
You know, you can imagine, if you're a Christian and you're not
filled with the joy of salvation, you say, 'You ought to become
a Christian!' 'Why?' 'Well, because it's hard work, boy, just
look at me, just look at how happy I am all the time, look at
the joy in my life, just bubbling out of me.' To know Jesus Christ
is to know joy, but that doesn't mean you never experience sorrow,
it doesn't mean you don't experience trials--Jesus did. He was
acquainted with grief. He was a man of sorrows, but was also a
man of joy. The joy is that inspite of the grief, inspite of the
trials, you know Jesus. You know your saviour, you know your Redeemer
lives. And you know that because he lives, your sins will be forgiven
and you will be saved, and there is hope for humanity. Praise
God. How would you like to live without that knowledge? How many
people are living without that knowledge? How many people are
dying, killing themselves, because they don't have that knowledge?
How many people are throwing away their lives in worthless pursuits
because they don't have that knowledge? How can we as Christians
live knowing there are people who don't have that knowledge, with
whom God has called us, and wants us to share that knowledge with
them? Now surely God could reveal it to them himself, but God
gives us the privilege to share in the joy--sharing the joy of
the Good News of Jesus Christ with other people. That's what he
wants us to do.
Sometimes we don't evangelize because we're uncomfortable. It's
demanding, it could be embarrassing. 'I'm scared.' 'I don't know
how to talk to people.' There are all sorts of things that we
could say. But when you are filled with the love of God, when
youre close to him, and you love Jesus with all your heart,
you'll find a way. It will just come. You don't have to worry
about it. It will come. Be filled up with the Holy Spirit, be
filled up with the love of Jesus, be filled up with the joy of
salvation, and it will spill over. It'll spill over. You know
the Psalmist said, "My cup runneth over." As Christians our cups
need to run over and start getting other people wet with the joy
of salvation that we have.
Sometimes we don't evangelize because we feel 'I'm too ignorant.
I didnt go to a graduate school of theology.' 'I don't know
that much about the Bible.' 'How can I share my faith with others?'
I think of the man at the pool. The man who'd been blind from
birth. Do you remember the story? John 12 I think it is. The Pharisees,
the doctors of the Law, the scribes came up to him and said, 'Well,
what's happened here!?' 'Well, this man Jesus, he prayed for me,
he anointed me, and I can see.' 'How do you know?! What do you
think, he's the Messiah? You don't know! You're ignorant!' He
says, 'I know I was blind and I know I see.' 'Yeah, but you haven't
studied with any of the rabbis! How can you be saying these things?'
He says, 'Well, I may not know a lot, but I know I was blind,
and I know I see.' You know we may not know everything there is
to know, about harmatology, eschatology or heamonetics or whatever,
but you know what? Don't we all know we were blind? And don't
we all know we see? Praise God, we can tell people that. All you
have to do is tell your story, you don't have to do tell them
some fancy theology. Tell them your story--how Jesus Christ has
impacted your life. Share your story of how the Holy Spirit has
worked with you. Share it. You have a story to tell. When the
opportunity presents itself, and it will, be ready to tell your
story. If you read the book of Acts you'll find that Paul told
of his encounter on the road to Damascus three times. Peter tells
his story of meeting Cornelius three times. Over and over again
they tell these stories [testimonies] throughout the book of Acts.
Same story over and over again. It's their story of their encounter
with the risen Christ, and of what God has done in their life.
We just need to share our stories with others.
Sometimes we don't share the gospel with others because we're
isolated in a church ghetto. You know what I mean by that! Pretty
soon [after] we became Christians, we joined a church. And now
we don't have any friends except the people in the church. We
live in the church, play in the church, we go to church, we live
with Christians, and we don't know anybody who's not a Christian.
Why in the world do we want to know anybody who's not a Christian?
What would we want to do hanging around with people who are not
Christians? 'I hang around church people.' 'I want to be with
church people.' Whoa!--very difficult to 'Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel unto all nations, and make disciples' when
you're not going out into the world. They accused Jesus of being
the friend of sinners--eating and drinking sometimes with drunkards.
And he was even seen to be talking to prostitutes. And he was
criticized. His answer was, "The whole have not need of a physician,
but the sick." We're to go where there are sick. Make friends,
meet people, where you work, where you go to school, in your community,
your neighborhood, with your neighbors, with your friends, with
the unchurched. Get to know people who don't know God,
and share your story with them.
Sometimes we don't see the need to evangelize. There are various
concepts people have theologically. They say, 'Well I don't see
any need to rush out and share Jesus with people. After all, isn't
there some day coming, some resurrection or something way off
in the future where everybody gets a chance?' 'I mean, why should
I sweat it and knock myself out now?' 'Everybody will find out
someday anyway. God will take care of all of them.' Or another
version of that, 'Won't all good people go to heaven? I think
all good people are going to go to heaven, so why should I knock
myself out? God knows who the good people are and they're going
to go to heaven, bad people go to hell, it's all worked out. I
don't need to sweat.' I submit to you that neither one of those
lines of thinking is a proper way of thinking. Even if they were
true--whatever, way off in the future some day or maybe in heaven
or whatever some day, way off in the future, some day down the
road, these people will have their chance and they'll know Jesus--let's
not worry about it. [and we people in the Worldwide Church of
God have historically firmly believed that the 2nd resurrection
(Rev. 20:5,11-13) is where all of unsaved humanity receives their
opportunity for salvation, and some of us still feel this may
be a Biblically accurate scenario.] Okay, I've asked myself this
question. How much longer do I want to go on not knowing Jesus?
Do I want to take a break from knowing Jesus?--say, give me half
an hour where I won't know Jesus. God have mercy! I don't want
to go one second, let alone a minute, not a day, not a week, not
a month, not a year without knowing my Lord! How long can
you live without knowing Jesus? There are people out there who
do not know Jesus Christ. How much longer do you want them to
live like that!?!--If you can do something about it? And we all
have different ways we can do something about it, I'm not suggesting
we all do the same thing or whatever. I'm saying that God has
called each one of us in our own ways, and has sent us forth into our Galilee,
into our homes, into our communities and our families and the
people we know, and the lives that we live, and the jobs that
we work at--and it's there for us. And whatever unique way God
has gifted us, or calls us or uses us according to our personality
and nature and works and whatever--all I'm saying is, be
available to the Holy Spirit, and he will use you. He
will use you to share the gospel with others. And there is a need,
there is a need.
So why must we evangelize? Because Jesus commanded us to. It's
not an option, it's a command. It's the last parting words of
a dear friend, who before he left us, said, 'Now before I go,
my last words to you on earth are this. Are you listening carefully?
Go and make disciples. Teach them to follow me. Now I've got to
be going. But don't forget what I told you. Do this till I come
again. And I'll be with you in doing it, even to the end of the
age, when I come again.'
How do we get ready to do evangelism? I suggest one way is to
grow spiritually, to become more Christ-like. Spiritual disciplines,
prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, solitude, communing
with God, serving others--these are all ways to grow in Christlikeness.
To make yourself available present yourself to the Holy Spirit--'use
me, use me Lord.'
Some are gifted for evangelism. Some church growth experts, like
Peter Wagner, say that one out of ten people is gifted for evangelism.
So what do the other nine do--sit on our hands? You know if you're
not gifted for something you know what it means? It means you
have to work harder, that's all. If you're gifted, it comes easy.
If you're not gifted, you got to work at it. Jesus commanded us,
gifted or not, to do evangelism. Some are really naturals at it.
I know, I've got a relative who is just one of those people who
likes to talk to other people. You know, you go out to a restaurant,
and she's sitting there, and we're all eating, and she leans over
to the next table and says,
"Hey, that looks good! What you got there?" I'm like, 'Oh my!'
I just don't do that! And the people go, most of the time they'll
come back, "Hey, I got the steak, it's really good!" "You ought
to try it!" "Hey thanks, maybe I will!"
"Hey, my name is Where are you from?" I think, 'How's she
do that?' It's a gift in this, it's part of her tempermate nature.
It's not mine. But that doesn't mean I can't do it. I was praying
about this. I'll share it with you, because I saw all this burden
for evangelism in my own life. I'm just not that kind of person.
I don't want to bother anybody. I don't want to be annoying. I
just don't like to do that. But I was praying about this, and
I said, "God, just lead me into it, it's not my nature. I'm not
gifted at this. It's not natural for me, but God I know I need
to do it. Help me." Now I do quite a bit of flying. I love to
fly. And the reason I love to fly is because there are several
things I love to do in life. One is reading books, and the other
is drinking coffee. And when you fly you can read books and they
bring the coffee to you while you read! Wonderful! So I load up
with a bag of books for every flight, and I try to read as many
books as I can each flight. And I just keep the coffee coming,
and it's great. And then I went and prayed about this. And I didn't
think about the books that I read. The books I read tend to have
these funny titles, that have like "God" in them, and "Jesus" and "Church." So
I'm sitting there and I'm reading and saying, 'Boy I'm glad I
got this time, I really need to get through this book!' 'I really
need to get through this book, Oh, it's great to have this private
time to read like this.' And pretty soon somebody says, "Mmm,
excuse me." "Yes." "Ah, I couldn't help but notice the title of
the book you're reading. Are you like a preacher or something?"
(Ooooh!) "Yes, or something." "Well, you know, I've had these
questions in my mind lately. Would you talk with me about them
for awhile?" "Okay." And I'm thinking, 'I really need to finish
this book.' I put the book down and say,
"Okay." We start to talk and have a good conversation. You know,
it took me awhile to realize, 'That's my prayer being answered!'
And I found it annoying! So now I expect it. Somebody calls them
Divine Appointments. You don't make them, God does. But they are
appointments on the Divine Calendar book, you know-- [God's] Daily
Appointment Schedule. I'm sitting there on the airplane and I'll
count on them. One day I didn't have anybody next to me, and I
thought, 'Boy, I'll get through the books today.' So I'm reading
my books and the flight attendant sits down next to me and says, "I
couldn't help but notice the book you're reading." Okay, here
we go again.
I've taken walks through the city of Pasadena. I was taking a
walk one day to get some exercise, clear my head and pray and
meditate. And a fellow walks up beside me and he says, "Do you
mind if I walk with you?" "No, fine, sure, let's walk." I'm thinking,
'Boy, this is not going to be easy. I need to pray.' 'I need to
meditate, and this guy is probably going to try to talk to me.'
It's annoying. We walk along and he says, "I'm a truck driver." "Oh,
okay." "I'm just in town for tonight and I'll be in another town
tomorrow night, and I'll be in another town the night after that,
and I try to get out and get a little exercise and do a little
walking." "Oh, okay." "It's nice to meet somebody like you who'll
walk with me." "Well okay, I'm glad to do that." And he said, "You
know, I'm really lonely." I said, "I can understand that." "Divorced,
kids are grown, we don't talk. Every night it's a different city,
a different motel. I'm so lonely," he said, "I have to tell you,
sometimes I've just thought about ending it all." I said, "Oh
wow!" I said, "Let me tell you my experience with loneliness." And
I began to tell him how I encountered Jesus Christ because I felt
the same way he did! And it was when I met the risen Christ that
I knew that I would never be alone again--that I would always
have somebody to love me and who cared about me deeply. And I
shared that with him. And he began to cry. And we began to cry
together, and then I said, "Can we pray for you?" And he said, "Please." And
we stopped right on the city sidewalk of Pasadena, and we prayed
together. And I said, "Would you like to accept Jesus Christ as
your saviour and never be alone again?" He said, "Yes I would." I
said, "Well pray that." And he prayed that, and I said eventually, "Well
listen, in every city you go I bet there are churches. And most
churches have something going on every night." So I said, "You
get your yellow pages, and you look under the evangelical churches
and you start calling them until you find somebody whose got something
going on, and you go over there, or you meet somebody." "Or you
go to a prayer group. And you go to church on a Sunday, and you
meet Christians wherever you go--you'll never be alone again." And
then I know what's going to happen to this guy, I just know what's
going to happen to him. One of these days in some city he's going
to be out for a walk, and someone's going to come up to him and
say, "Do you mind if I walk with you?" That's how it works. That's
how it works.
You've probably seen the example of the checkerboard, you know,
where you put a grain of rice on one of the squares. And on the
next square you put two grains of rice, and then on the next square
you put four grains, and then 8 grains, and then 16, and 32, and
then 64, and when you get to the end of the checkerboard you have
what is it?--some billions. Well do you realize that's how Christianity
works? Do you realize it started with Jesus, and then eleven,
and then twelve, and then 120. And then within about thirty to
fifty years much of the Roman Empire--tens of thousands, millions
today. If each Christian went out and brought two people to Christ
a year, I forget, but somebody did the math on that, to something
like 30,000,000 people would come to Christ every year. It's
incredible. But that's how God works. He works through us. Make
yourself available. Pray about it. Ask for the opportunity. You
don't have to be gifted, just ask God to make a Divine Appointment for
you. Small groups, prayer, there are many ways to do evangelism.
Michael Greene has a wonderful book called "Evangelism Through
the Church" that I would highly recommend if you
want to know more about evangelism, much more than I can go into
today. But we must evangelize. We must. Jesus is going ahead of
us. He's going ahead of us into Galilee. And if we want to be
with Jesus we're going to have to follow him into Galilee where
Our God is a missionary God. He has a mission. He's reaching out
to touch lost people. Since our God is a missionary God, to be
his people we must be a missionary people. And that can begin
in our own families, with our own friends, with our own acquaintances,
with people we know. It doesn't mean you have to go to another
country. In fact, I'm told now, that the United States is the
3rd largest unchurched nation in the world. Isn't that
incredible, the 3rd largest unchurched nation--Wow,
you'd think the Soviet Union, China, India, [but the United States
is] the 3rd largest unchurched nation in the world.
Do you know where Korea and other Asian nations are training and
sending all of their missionaries?--the United
States. They're sending missionaries to this country to evangelize
Americans, because we are becoming increasingly a secular nation,
and it's scary. And here we are at home, in Galilee. This is where
we need to start. We don't have to go anywhere but home.
Jesus is beckoning you and me to follow him into Galilee. "Come
on, come on." Jesus is saying, "Follow me into Galilee."
For those of us in the Worldwide Church of God we're beginning
to realize that it's time that we understood the words of Jesus
in the Great Commission. That this is not a job for any one person,
but it's a job by his grace he has given to each one of us. As
his disciples, Jesus command to you and me is to go and make more
disciples. That's what our Lord wants us to do. He wants us to
share in that joy, he wants us to share in his mission, to share
in his ministry. And the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in us,
to replicate the ministry of Jesus Christ in each of our lives.
Let's yield ourselves to the direction that the Holy Spirit is
leading. Let's resolve today, for each of us in whatever way God
calls us to, to follow our Lord and Saviour into Galilee, and
to go forth and to make disciples, that all the beggars in this
world may find Bread, and be filled for all eternity.
Our Great God bless us please. You have sent us forth. We go forth
sometimes with trepidation and fear, but Lord you've also promised
that you would be with us unto the end of the age. You are with
us and we thank you for that. Holy God our Father through Jesus
we praise you as the Holy Spirit instigates our prayer. We yield
ourselves to you that we may go forth and that we may spread the
gospel, that others may know the joy of salvation which you have
given to us, and that others may share in your family, and that
not another day, nor week, nor month may go by to where we can
touch someone's life with the Good News that you've so graciously
have touched each of us with. God, thank you for the Boston congregation
of the Worldwide Church of God, thank you for raising it up, thank
you for keeping it up, thank you for these people. I ask a special
blessing for each one here today that they may be blessed, that
they may be empowered, and that they may go forth, and share their
blessings in touching the lives of others. Thank you Great God
in Jesus name, Amen." God bless you."