God's Kingdom advanced though the Gospel


God’s Kingdom Advanced through the Gospel

Various Passagse January 29, 2017

I. Introduction:

A. I was at a discipleship conference this last summer and the speaker was Art

Azurdia from Trinity Church of Portland, and he started his message by asking

this question: “if all people had to understand the mission of the Church of Jesus

Christ was to watch what the Church is doing, would they be confused about the

mission?” The answer is absolutely yes as they would come up with all sorts of

different answers as they watch our services and ministries and listen to our


B. But when you look at the word of God, The mission that Jesus left the Church is

very clear and not vague at all. Our mission is to make disciples. Turn to Matt


1. A disciple is simply someone who is a follower of Jesus, learning from Jesus

how to live their life!

2. In the Great Commission the focus of the passage is making disciples as it is

the only command in the passage. But what we also see in the passage are 3

participles which tell us how to carry out the command of making disciples.

(go, baptize, teach)

3. Watch for this as I read: v18-20

4. So the goal is to make disciples, and the means to making disciples is

a) Going is bringing the gospel to people; we call it evangelism – you say

how do you know that? – Jesus made that clear in Mk 16:15

b) Baptizing – When people publically identify their life with Jesus Christ

as their Savior.

c) Teaching – the ongoing process of learning to live like Jesus lived and

commanded us to live!

C. The mission, which we know as the Great Commission that Jesus gave us to make

disciples, has 2 distinct target groups - one is the lost who we bring the gospel to

and the other is the believer as we teach them to live a life of obedience to Jesu’s

way of living revealed in His commands.

D. In the Great Commandment Jesus revealed to us what a fully developed disciple

would look like – love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all

your mind and all your strength. It is a life that is fully devoted to, captivated by

and oriented around God, in particular the Lord Jesus Christ.

E. And when MVC put the Great Commission and the Great Commandment

together, we say it like this

1. Vision (Great Commandment/end): to see Jesus treasured here, there,


2. Mission (Great Commission/means): bring people to Jesus (lost) and become

more like Jesus (believer).

• Since 1 of our main callings is to bring lost people to Jesus, this morning I want to

answer this question “what is …

II. The primary means God uses to bring people to Christ!

A. While there are many different means that God uses to bring people to Jesus,

there is one primary, indispensable, essential means that we must make sure we

keep as the primary means to see our mission fulfilled!

B. God has ordained that people are saved through the proclamation of the word of

God, in particular the gospel message. Read: Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18; James 1:18;

1 Pet 1:23

C. The Book of Acts shows us that the church of Jesus Christ expanded, grew and

was strengthened through the ministry of God’s word by the apostles and all the

believers taking the gospel message to the lost.

1. Let me summarize this by looking at the back of the flyer.

a) The book of Acts is broken up into different segments by means of

progress reports that are given along the way that show the advancement

of the Church of Jesus Christ as they took their role as witnesses

seriously starting in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria then began to

push beyond into all the earth.

b) Review flyer – let me give you a sampling of the reports

(1) 6:7; 12:24-25; 19:20; 28:30-31

(2) State my summary theme

• Up to this point my guess is that we all agree with this Bible teaching, but my concern

is that I have seen a shifting focus of the church in North America on how to bring

people to Jesus. In my opinion something that has started as a good correction to the

church is in danger of going too far and is confusing and watering down the mission

of the church.

III. Shifting focus

A. There was a legitimate concern of Bible believing and proclaiming churches of

the last generation that they were focused more on studying the Bible than living

what they learned in the Bible, and often the gospel was proclaimed with little

relationship or concern for the needs of those to whom they proclaimed it.

1. Thus back in my 20s the big thing was lifestyle and friendship evangelism,

where we needed to let our life and love speak the gospel in the way we lived

with them.

2. The problem is that people were so focused on being friends and letting their

light shine that either they felt they did not need to proclaim the gospel as

their life spoke for them or they never got to sharing the gospel as they let

their light shone on and on, and some of us who are more fearful of sharing

the gospel with others felt “We are off the hook”; all I need to do I let my life


3. While we should be friends and our lives should shine like the light of Jesus

in front of people, we need to understand “that part” of our gospel ministry is

the music that make the words of the song more acceptable, it is the till that

breaks the hard soil of the hearts so the seed of God’s word goes into good


B. Today many people are proclaiming the need to live the gospel, not just preach it.

Again I agree with that, and as a result much greater sensitivities and involvement

by the church to social injustices and meeting the needs of the poor locally and

around the world has started.

1. And this is a good thing, but it is not the main means by which God brings

people to Himself!

2. All of these good deeds will find approval by the rest of the world and even

done by those who do not know Jesus Christ, but you mention to those doing

the good deeds next to you their need for Jesus Christ or they will go to hell,

it will change from approval to attack so fast you will have no idea of what


C. Art Azurdia in his message last summer shared that Doctor Paul Ebert, who was a

Professor of Missionology at Trinity Divinity School who is now with the Lord,

was a Mennonite and speaking about his own people he shared this observation

1. 1st Generation of Mennonites were preoccupied with the Gospel and believed

there were social responsibilities that they needed to be sensitive to.

2. 2nd Generation Mennonites assumed the Gospel and engaged more in social


3. 3rd Generation of Mennonites abandoned the Gospel and became entirely

absorbed in social responsibilities.

4. This is not only the pattern of the Mennonites but also many mainstream

denominations in the United States!

D. Then Art said after 34 years of ministry and travel, and I can say after 31 ½ years

of ministry, that I agree with him, that right now the church of Jesus Christ in

America is in the 2nd generation and is only 1generation away from abandoning

the Gospel.

1. We have talked often about the importance of MVC outliving my generation,

and the leadership has become intentional in our efforts to do that. We have

made some significant decisions in our focus and ministries and services to

position ourselves for this

2. But it is of vital importance that MVC continues to make the proclamation of

the gospel our primary preoccupation, otherwise we will become a church

that is highly relevant to the current culture but highly irrelevant to the eternal

culture of the kingdom of God!

E. I did not give today’s message because I think MVC is struggling with this, but it

is clear that the larger church in North America is moving this way and pray that

MVC will not be squeezed into the mode of North American church but into the

image of Jesus of whom it was said it was His custom, (habit, preoccupation) to

teach the people (Mark 10:1, Lk 4:16) and Paul’s custom, (habit, preoccupation)

to reason with the people from the scriptures (Act 17:2)

1. I thank God for ministries people of MVC engage in like the Hepburns

building homes for the Homeless, the Agape Center ministering to urban

youth and families, Operation Blessing providing food for the poor right here

in our own back yard, Operation Christmas Child blessing children around

the world at Christmas, our High School Ministry which engages in good

deeds in our community, our kids’ clubs that provide fun for kids, our

basketball ministries that meet real social needs for both kids and inner city

youth, and the list can go on. But all of these ministries are motivated by and

built around bringing people to Jesus and helping them become more like

Jesus –not assuming the Gospel but preoccupied with the Gospel as they

engage in meeting real needs of the people they minister to!

2. From these ministries we hear story after story of people being saved by the

gospel and their lives changed to become more like Jesus after their hearts

have ben opened by meeting real needs in their lives!

F. Good deeds are good and important to set the table for hearts to respond to the

gospel, but it is the proclamation of the Gospel itself that is the essential and

indispensable means that God uses to transform lives and the church of Jesus

Christ to grow and expand.

1. It is not either or but both and, but both in their proper place – preoccupied

with the gospel and engaged in friendships, social responsibilities and good


2. Recently Louie Giglio’s wife, Shelley, posted something that Beth Moore

said at the Passion 2017 conference which John Piper reposted and said:

“Carve this like an anthem into your hearts”. This is what Beth said.

a) You will watch a generation of Christians – of Christians – set the Bible

aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will

completely sound plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the

devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice truth for love’s sake. And

you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the

other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both truth and

love? Beth Moore

• So to bring people to Jesus ultimately means to bring the Gospel to lost people, the

very gospel that has the power to save them! So where do you start?


A. It all starts with a life decision to set the direction of your life and join us as a

church as we seek to carry out God’s mission here in this world. Seal that

decision before God by signing your name inside the word ONE on our wall and

joining the MVC team.

B. The practical implications of this decision is that you recognize, reframe and

change your paradigm as to why you are alive, your purpose in life, and what you

do with the time you have, places you go and relationships you already have!

1. That you are Jesus’ witness and ambassador 24 hours a day wherever you are

at with whomever you are with.

2. When with lost people constantly asking God “what should I do or say to

help bring this lost person to Christ?” and when with a believer constantly

asking God “what can I do or say to help this person become more like


C. As a church we are in discussions with how we can excel still the more so as to

better equip you as a witness and ambassador and how we together can better

carry out the mission that Jesus gave to us. So be praying for us in this.

D. But right now I want to tell you about 2 opportunities to be equipped to excel still

the more in sharing the gospel with others!

1. 4 hour seminar regarding how to have spiritual conversations with lost people

on Saturday, March 18, with the President of the Midwest Converge district

our church is a part of

2. 6 week small group to be trained by some of our leaders on just what the

Gospel is and how to share it. Sign up this morning at the desk