12 Traits of a Biblical Church: Mission - Radical

12 Traits of a Biblical Church: Mission

There are many ways churches can serve their own members and their communities, but we cannot forget the global scope of Christ’s mission. As David Platt explains from Romans 15–16, the church should be about spreading God’s praise among all the peoples. Whether by praying, giving, or going, every member should play a role in getting the gospel to those who have never heard. It is the church’s privilege and responsibility to proclaim the good news to our neighbors and to the hardest-to-reach people groups on the planet.

  1. The local church exists for the accomplishment of global mission.
  2. Jesus died for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world.
  3. As followers of Christ in the church, we live to spread God’s praise among all the peoples of the world.

Biblical Mission: 12 Traits of A Biblical Church – Part 16

If you have a Bible—and I hope you do—let me invite you to open it to Romans 15. I am coming to you today from the capital city, Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. I’ve been here for the last 10 or 12 days with over 200 brothers and sisters from our church. We were coming to the end of this series on 12 Traits of a Biblical Church, and the 12th trait that everything has been leading to is Biblical Mission. So we thought, what better way to think about biblical mission than standing on a roof top in this Ethiopian city, where 200 of our brothers and sisters have been fanning out for the spread of the gospel and the glory of God over the last few days.

I wish all of you could see it. We’ll obviously be having a different time, sharing stories and showing video pictures of what God has been doing here. Outside of this city where I’m standing right now, Washington, DC, is the most populated city when it comes to the number of Ethiopians. We have in our church a large Ethiopian fellowship working together with all of us for the spread of the gospel among Ethiopians there in Metro Washington, DC.

We’ve wanted to more intentionally connect our gospel work there with gospel work here in Ethiopian. All around this city, we have fanned out in many different ways. We’ve had medical teams doing all sorts of work, from training doctors and nurses in hospitals and schools, to performing eye surgeries. We had an eye surgeon who performed 18 different eye surgeries in three days. All kinds of doctors and nurses have been doing check-ups. –

We’ve also had special needs teams and a women’s team doing all kinds of work among vulnerable girls and marginalized women. We’ve had an “Esau team.” We’ve had various student teams. I wish you could all see the way pre-teens and teenagers are thriving in mission here. We’ve been working with church planters in all kinds of places, doing different projects for the spread of the gospel. We’ve had a couple teams go out of the city to more remote areas for the spread of the gospel there.

We’ve done training with pastors. We’ve done a lot of work with orphanages. It’s just been really, really humbling on all these levels, but particularly that level. Ethiopia is experiencing a massive orphan crisis where they estimate there are over five million orphans. That’s a lot of kids without moms or dads. There are many, many kids without any family at all. It’s so humbling to see in one particular orphanage more kids brought in daily who have been abandoned on the streets. We were able to hold these kids and give them baths—which they haven’t had in months. This is not just us coming in to do that, but we were mobilizing and working alongside the Ethiopian church to live out James 1:27 by caring for orphans. I could go on and on and on.

The big picture that I hope you hear is that we live in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need. That need is all around us right there in Washington and that need is all around the world. Church, we have a mission. God has not saved us and taken us straight to heaven. He has left us in a world of massive need for a time. We have a mist, a vapor here. Each one of our lives individually and collectively forma church like this for just a short amount of time. So we want to make our time count for the spread of gospel hope and God’s praise in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need.

The local church exists for the accomplishment of global mission

This is the big picture, and this is what I want us to think about today. We do not exist as a church just to coast through casual Christianity on a week-by-week basis. We are created for so much more than that. We exist as a church for this “big picture” truth that I want to show you in God’s Word. The local church—McLean Bible Church—exists for the accomplishment of global mission. We as a church, as Christians united together in this church, exist for the accomplishment of global mission. I want to explain what that means from the Bible. We’ll start in Romans 15:8 and read through some of Romans 16 as well. I want us to answer the question: what does it mean to say that we exist as a local church for the accomplishment of global mission? What does that mean for every one of our lives? What does that mean for you? What does that mean for me? And what does that mean for our lives together.

Let’s start with Romans 15:8. This is God’s Word to us as a church about the church:

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

What Paul is doing here in Romans 15 is recounting his ministry as he’s working his way toward Spain. The reason he’s going to Spain is because they’ve never heard the gospel there. He’s writing this letter to the church at Rome to say, “I’m coming to Rome, and I need you to help me get to Spain.” Keep that picture in mind to bear on this reality regarding biblical mission. We as a local church exist for the accomplishment of biblical mission.

Jesus died for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world

Start back in Romans 15:8 where I want to show you why Jesus came and why He died on a cross. Paul quotes from four different places in the Old Testament, back to back, and in those quotations we see a picture of God’s purpose in all of history. Specifically, we see the purpose for which Jesus died on a cross. What was that purpose? He died for the spread of God’s praise among all the people’s of the world. Let me repeat: Jesus died for the spread of God’s praise among all the people’s of the world.

It says in verse eight that “Christ became a servant to the circumcised (to the Jewish people), to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that…” So why did Jesus come, serve, live and lay down His life as a sacrifice? “…In order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written….” Now, follow this progression. Starting in verse none, Paul quotes from Psalm 18:49. The picture there is Jewish people praising God in the midst of the Gentile:. “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

Then look at the next quote in verse ten. Here the picture is the Jewish people praising God with the Gentiles. “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” So you have the Jewish people praising God among the Gentiles, and the Jewish people praising God with the Gentiles. Then in the next verse, the focus is on the Jewish people calling the Gentiles to praise God. “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” That’s a quote from Psalm 117.

Then the final quote in verse 12 is from Isaiah 11:10 and the picture there is Jesus—referred to as the “root of Jesse” —rising up and receiving praise from all the nations, both Jews and Gentiles. “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” In Him, all the nations will hope. Don’t miss the progression:

  • from Jews praising God among the Gentiles…
  • to Jews praising God with the Gentiles…
  • to the Jewish people calling the Gentiles to praise God…
  • then all the peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike, are praising God together through Christ

Paul is saying that ever since the Old Testament, from the very beginning, this has been the purpose of God. Everything God has done in the world—throughout the Old Testament into the New Testament—has been done to save a people for the sake of His praise among all the peoples of the world. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why Jesus died. We see the same thing in Luke 24:16-27, where He says, “I died so that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in My name to all the nations.”

It’s almost verbatim what we read in Revelation 5:9, when heaven is singing praises to Jesus. The song says, “Worthy are you…for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” This is why Jesus came and why He died: to make the praise of God known among all the peoples of the world. Not just the Jewish people, not even just Gentile people, but all peoples everywhere. That’s been the purpose of God in history from the very beginning of the Bible and that’s what Paul is saying in Romans 15.

Step back and look around the world right now—in Washington and in places like Ethiopia—and ask the question: what is God doing in the world right now? The answer is that God is doing today what He has been doing ever since the dawn of creation. God is doing right now what He sent Jesus to do 2,000 years ago. God is saving people from among all the nations for the praise of His name.

God is pouring out His love, grace and mercy on all the peoples of the world, so that all the peoples of the world might know Him, enjoy Him and glorify Him. That is the purpose of God in the world. God loves all types of people; not just one type of people but every people group in the world. He wants His love known among all of them. That is the purpose for which Jesus died, so that all the peoples of the world would know His love and sing His praise.

As followers of Christ in the church, we live to spread God’s praise among all the peoples of the world

So if that’s the purpose for which Jesus died, then church—followers of Christ — this must be the purpose for which we live. We exist for the accomplishment of global mission. We exist for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. As followers of Christ in the church, we live for what purpose? We live to spread God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. It makes sense, right? If that’s God’s purpose in the world and our lives belong to God in the world, then our purpose is His purpose. And His purpose includes each of us—every single one of us. Not one Christian is intended to be sidelined in this purpose.

But here’s the danger. We are so tempted to totally miss this. Do you realize what we have done in the contemporary church today? We have taken the worldwide, global purpose of God throughout all history and we have had the audacity to turn it into a compartmentalized program in the church for a few people. “Oh, that’s for the missions people. That’s for the people who care about God’s praise being made known all over the world.” What is that? That makes no sense. Brothers and sisters, who among us who is in Christ doesn’t care about the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world?

If you don’t care about that, then ask yourself if you really know Christ. Because this is the reason for which He died. Who among us doesn’t want to see the gospel and the grace and the glory of God spread to all the peoples of the world? Don’t we all want this? Don’t we all want to see all the peoples of the world enjoying God’s grace and singing God’s praise? Surely none of us who has been saved by the grace of God and filled with the Spirit of God is content to ignore the purpose of God in the world. It’s why we exist as Christians. It’s why we exist as a church—for the spread of God’s praise in the gospel among all the peoples of the world.

Now at this point, I know many of you are thinking, “Wait a minute. What are you saying? Are you saying that we’re all supposed to be missionaries?” You’re thinking, “I knew you were too focused on missions, David. You don’t care about the needs right around us. Are you saying that we’re all supposed to move to another country? Is that what you’re saying?”

Well, first, it doesn’t matter what I’m saying. The question is what is God saying? I just want to show you what God is saying in His Word. And no, God has not said in His Word that we’re all supposed to move to another country. There are no verses like that. I suppose the Holy Spirit could lead us all to move to David Platt 2018 6 another country, but I’m guessing He’s probably not going to do that. It’s His sovereign prerogative to do that.

So this is where pastorally, I want to help you—I want to help us together—to think about what is common for all of us, then what is a calling for each of us. These two categories are really important. I hope they will help as we think about biblical mission as a church. There are some things that are common for all of us, and there are other things that are a matter of calling for each of us.

What is common for all of us

Let what we’ve just seen soak in more and more, because this is so different from the way we’re wired to think, even in the church. As followers of Christ in the church—every one of us—live for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. We know this. We say it to each other every week at the end of our worship gathering: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We encourage one another every week to spread the gospel for the praise of God among all the nations, among all the ethnic groups, among all the people groups in the world.

Out of over 11,000 distinct people groups in the world, over 6,000 of them are still classified as unreached by the gospel. That means there are relatively few Christians and hardly any churches among those people groups. Remember unreached and lost are different terms. People are just as lost right around the building where you’re sitting right now as they are in Somalia, which is pretty close to here. The difference is—and what makes people in Somalia unreached in a way that people right around the campus where you’re sitting right now are not—is because they do not have access to the gospel at all. Those people have Christians living around them. Those people have a church that is able to spread the gospel. In Somalia, there are have hardly any Christians or any churches at all.

Romans 15–16 Reminds Us that We are Called to Share the Gospel with the Unreached

This means people in unreached people groups—and there are over two billion of them—have little to no access to the gospel. They don’t know a Christian who will share the gospel with them. They don’t know about Jesus. This is what Paul is talking about here in Romans 15:20: “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named.” He wants to take the gospel where there’s no knowledge about Jesus.

What we’re seeing here in Romans 15 is that we are created by God for the spread of His praise among all the peoples of the world and there are a lot of people in the world who have yet to be reached with the good news of His grace. This is why we must focus not just on Washington. Yes, focus on Washington. Yes, yes, yes. That’s our mission statement. We glorify God by making disciples and multiplying churches in all nations beginning in Washington, DC. So much of what we do is focused right there in Washington, DC. But it’s why we don’t have the option of saying, “We just focus on the needs in Washington. There’s so much need here, so we don’t look elsewhere.” No. We must look elsewhere, because Jesus has told us to look elsewhere. He’s commanded us to make disciples of all the nations.

Picture it like this. Imagine you’re in a community that is ravaged by a tornado. Obviously, it’s not just your community, but that tornado comes through and ravages all kinds of communities in different places over a wide area. I want you to imagine for a moment that you are not just in that situation, but you are on the ground leading rescue operations as people’s homes have come down. You are in charge of all the forces that are going out to help.

You look at the community around you and think, “There are more needs here in this one community than my whole team can reach.” There are other communities that are farther away and you know it would take time to travel to those communities. It would cost to get there. So you’re starting to think, “Okay. Do I send people elsewhere? We have so much need here. We have more need than we can ever meet right here.”

Then suppose you hear that in some of these other communities that are really far away, that the people there don’t want to be rescued. They’ll actually work against you coming to help rescue them. They’ll actually resist you when you try to rescue them. The likelihood is you’d say, “What’s the best use of the resources I have? Let’s just stay right here. Let’s not waste time and energy to go to those places. We could lose valuable time that could be used to reach the needs here. Besides, those people are going to resist us coming to them.”

As the one who is in charge on the ground there, the only reason you would go to other communities, including communities that are far away and would resist you coming to them is if the commander above you said, “I want people to be rescued from every single community. So make sure you get to every single community.” If your commander had told you that, then you would do whatever it took to get rescuers into even the hardest, most resistant communities.

I hope that illustration will help you get a picture of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 28:18-20. He is saying, “Go make disciples—not just wherever, but of all the nations. I want My grace known among all the peoples of the world.” So that’s why, as Christians in the church, we don’t have the option of saying, “We’re just going to focus right here, because there’s so much need right here.” Yes, there’s so much need right here, and yes, we focus here. But we have been given a clear charge from our Commander to make His grace, His goodness and glory known among all the peoples of the world, including places that are far from us, that are difficult to get to and with people who will resist the spread of the gospel there. We go because Jesus has told us to go to them.

This is our clear command. The purpose of God is that He would be praised among all the peoples of the world. So we live as a church to see Him praised among all the peoples of the world. This is why we must have, as McLean Bible Church, a priority on getting the gospel—not just to people right around us, but also far from us. It’s because Jesus has commanded us this way.

Now, here’s what’s so exciting. God has brought many of these hard-to-reach peoples and places to us. Think about Somalian men, women and families who are all around us in Metro Washington. It’s really, really hard to get into Somalia, then even harder to share the gospel there. But we have opportunities to do that right around us, right where we live. What a privilege God has given us!

Just last week before I left to come here, I was at a restaurant talking with a Saudi man. I think, “It’s pretty hard to get into Saudi Arabia and share the gospel, but I can do that right here in this restaurant.” God has given us such a gift to be able to reach the nations right where we live and to see the nations represented in our church, then to connect the work at home with work in these different places. That’s what’s happening here in Ethiopia. Oh, that God would allow us to see Somalians in Washington come to know the grace of God, then connect that with the spread of His praise in Somalia. May it be so!

We all live to spread the praise of God among all the peoples of the world. So practically, what does that mean? Let’s look at three applications.

1. We all pray for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. Do you realize every day you have the opportunity to be part of what God is doing all around the world from your knees, in your house or in your car, when you’re gathered in a small group, or when you’re bowing your head about to pray over your meal? When you’re laying in bed at night and you can’t sleep, you have an opportunity to join with what God is doing in North Korea. You can’t get into North Korea, but you can be part of what God’s doing in North Korea by pleading for the spread of the gospel there and asking for God’s grace and mercy to be made known for the strengthening of the church there, particularly for those who are imprisoned or being persecuted.

You have the opportunity to be part of what God is doing in Somalia and Ethiopia—I could go on to list country after country. There’s no place in the world where you don’t have the privilege of partnering with God through prayer. So I want to ask you, when you think about your prayer life, is there a global component to your praying? I’m guessing many of us—maybe even most of us—are pretty focused on what’s right in front of us. God is calling all of us to pray for the spread of His praise among all the peoples of the world.

So put a global component into your praying. Make it intentional. One easy way is to download the Joshua Project app. The International Mission Board has an app as well. There are others like this. Just download one of those apps and every day it will pop up with a people group. You can spend 60 seconds praying. I was praying earlier for the Jobu people in Indonesia. I can’t even remember if I’m pronouncing that people group right, but God knows who they are—a Muslim group in Indonesia that is unreached by the gospel. I was praying for God’s grace and glory to be made known among them.

You can do that every day. It only takes 60 seconds of your time. Or lead your family to do that. When you gather around, and you’re about to pray before dinner, just say, “Let’s pray for the spread of the gospel to a people group that’s never heard it.” We want to do this together as a church when we gather together. We all pray for the spread of God’s grace among all the peoples of the world. So that’s one thing that’s common for all of us.

2. We all give for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. You notice when Paul gets down to Romans 15;24, he says, “I hope to be helped on my journey to Spain by some of you.” Basically what he’s saying is, “I would love some financial support to help me get the gospel to Spain.” We have an opportunity in our giving every week through our offerings, not just for the spread of the gospel and God’s grace right around us, but for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world.

The reality is there are over 200 members of this church serving in Ethiopia this week in part because of your giving. Many of you have given to individuals. You gave in a special offering we had. This is the fruit of your giving, so be encouraged. Your giving there is resounding to God’s grace here in Ethiopia. So let’s think about how that can be a reality in our lives and in our church all the more. More and more God has put us in one of the wealthiest places in world history and Psalm 67 is clear. God gives wealth, not for more indulgences ,but for the spread of His worship in the world. Let’s give freely and sacrificially for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. Let’s examine our hearts and lives— n our families and in our church—saying, “How do we best use the resources we have been given for the purpose God gave them for, the purpose God has put us here for: for the spread of His praise among all the peoples of the world.”

3. We all go for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. When I say we all go, I’m not saying we all move to another country. Here’s what I mean by that: We all make disciples. It’s what we encourage one another to do every week. Jesus said, “This is how God’s praise will be made known among all the nations, by My people going and making disciples” (Matthew 28:19). We make disciples right where we live, then we make disciples wherever God leads us. The Word of God is calling all of us to make disciples right where we live.

Think about your neighborhood, your apartment complex, your workplace, your school, the community around you, the city around you. We’ve all been commanded to go and make disciples right in our sphere of influence. Every one of us are to go and share the gospel. Go and lead people to Christ. Go and help them follow Christ. This is what we do. We glorify God by making disciples and that’s for every one of us. We do that right where we live, then we say, “God, I want to do this wherever You lead me.” God calls all of us to make disciples wherever He leads.

Romans 15–16 Reminds Us that We All have a Calling

What’s common for all of us is we all pray, we all give, and we all go right where we live and wherever God leads for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. Now, what’s the calling for each of us? This is what I love about what’s happening here in Romans 15-16. Here in Romans 15, Paul is saying, “My ambition is to see Christ preached where His name has not been known.” It’s really interesting. If you look at verses 19-21, it’s a pretty fascinating passage. He says:

By the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

Then he gets to verse 23 and says, “But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions…” Think about that. He just said, “I’ve preached the gospel from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum,” to all these different cities that we know Paul traveled in the book of Acts. Then he says, “There’s no more work for me to do there.” Now, did that mean that everybody from Jerusalem around to Illyricum had become a Christian, that everybody was a follower of Christ and there was no more work to be done? No, not at all.

What that means is the gospel had been proclaimed there, churches had been planted there, churches were being pastored there. So the gospel had gone there, but here’s a place over here the gospel had not yet gone to Spain. Paul says, “I want to get the gospel there.” Now, he’s writing this to the church of Rome, but he’s not saying, “And everybody in Rome needs to move there with me.” Instead, Paul is expressing God’s call on his life to go to Spain for the spread of the gospel there.

What I love is when you get into chapter 16, he starts talking about all kinds of other people. Follow along beginning in verse one:

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila…. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Do you see that? Twenty-six different people whom we would never recognize otherwise. I mean, we might name our kids Paul, but not many of us are naming our kids Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Narcissus or Rufus. All these people are playing all kinds of different parts in biblical mission and Paul is acknowledging and encouraging them.

This is what I want you to see. What is common for all of us is that we all pray, we all give and we all go. All these people are doing that. Now, what’s a calling for each of us? God is going to call each one of us in different ways to make His praise known in the world. What’s a calling for each of us? Okay, we all go—right where we live and wherever God leads.

1. Where we go. Think about all the different places God might lead you to go making disciples in the world. Start right around you—inside our community and outside our community, right where you live. I think about Serve DMV, all the different opportunities there are for mission locally, right where we live. All kinds of people in this church are doing all kinds of different things. Not one of those people would say, “Okay, everybody has to do this,” or “Everybody has to do that.” There are all kinds of different options, inside outside our community. It might be among people who are like us or among people who are not like us culturally or ethnically.

Think about it. How can we be intentional about reaching people groups right here in the city of Washington, DC? How can we be intentional about reaching Somalis or Ethiopians or Persians or Saudis or whoever it might be? We have to be very intentional about reaching people who are not like us. But that doesn’t mean all of us are called to work in the same way among all these people groups all at the same time.

No, God’s going to lead us in different ways and God’s going to call many of us to stay right there in Washington, DC, making disciples. God’s also going to call many of us to leave Washington, DC, for the spread of His praise among all kinds of places in the world. God is doing this naturally. He has made our city in many ways transient, where people come in for a while and then fan out around the world. So we’re all open to this. “God, You may leave me in Washington, DC, for decades, or You may lead me outside of Washington, DC, at this time or to go to that place.” Where we go is a calling for each of us.

2. How long we stay. There are all kinds of different time frames for when we go to different places in the world. You think about short-term trips like this, brothers and sisters who’ve spent a week and a half of their lives. They’ve given short-term mission to making the gospel known, serving the church, spreading the gospel in Ethiopia. The opportunities are there. It’s really breathtaking to that we can now jump on a plane and be part of the spread of the gospel in another continent within a matter of hours. What a privilege!

So I want to encourage everybody in our church to at least ask God, “Are You leading me to go on a short-term mission trip at some time?” Just ask Him and see what He says. Now I’m not saying God tells you in His Word that you must go on a short-term mission trip. But at least ask, “Okay, are You leading me to go on a short-term mission trip? Where can I go?” Start to explore options.

I guarantee you that serving Christ and spreading the gospel in another context like this, for a week or a week and a half, will have a massive impact on your view of spreading the gospel and living for the praise of God among the peoples of the world. What would that look like? I’m not saying everybody even can go, for a variety of different reasons, but just consider it and ask God.

You might go short term, or you might go longer than that, what we sometimes refer to as “midterm,” maybe for a month or two or for a year or two. This is where I again want to continually encourage any students—as you’re approaching college, during college, right after college—please consider spending at least a summer, if not a semester or a year or two years, somewhere else in the world, spreading the gospel of God and the praise of God among the peoples of the world. You have a unique opportunity to do that right now. We as a church want to help point you to different places where that might happen.

Short term, mid-term, long term—I pray that God will raise up many Pauls from our church whose ambition is to see Christ preached where He’s not been named, in such a way that they move specifically to another place in the world for the spread of the gospel.

Again, God is not calling every single person to do that, but if there are a couple billion people in the world who have little to no knowledge that Jesus has died for the spread of God’s praise to them, then I’m confident in a church of 10,000 people that God is calling many people to do that.

Here’s the key. Don’t think, “Okay, those who do go and move somewhere else are first-class Christians, but everybody who stays are kind of second-class Christians.” That misses the whole point. Paul is not saying to anybody in Rome who doesn’t go with him to Spain, “Well, you’re just second class. You’re being disobedient.” What matters is not where we go or how long we stay. What matters is whether or not we’re being obedient to Jesus. For some people, obedience to Jesus will mean staying.

For some people, obedience to Jesus will mean going to live somewhere else. The issue in our lives is that we’re saying, “God, I will go wherever You lead.” What’s going to be different for each of us is where we go, how long we stay, how we get there, what kind of work we do there and what kind of financial support we need. Paul is saying, “Hey, I need help. I need financial support to go to Spain.” There’s a sense in which that’s going to play out in some people’s lives as the Lord leads to another place for the spread of the gospel in the world, along with the financial support that’s needed for that.

But there are also other opportunities. Think again about the transient nature and even the global work that’s represented there in Metro Washington. God is sending people out among the nations naturally through jobs, skills and positions that are open to us. So why not intentionally pursue those kinds of positions for the spread of His praise among all the peoples of the world?

I remember talking not long ago with a brother and sister who were working in a job where a position came open in another part of the world—a very unreached part of the world. They saw it and jumped on it, saying, “We’re going to go. We want to see God’s praise known there and God has opened an opportunity for us to do that with our job. We don’t even need extra financial support. We’re going to be able to do that because God has supplied the funds for that to happen.”

This week I loved watching our team of doctors and teachers and all kind of different people with all kinds of different gifts and skills. What happens when we view our lives this way? What happens when we think, “Okay, God’s given us education, experience, gifts, skills—how do we use those for the spread of God’s praise in the world?” Then we say, “God, however You want to lead us—do that among us.”

So don’t think, “Well, I’ve got to leave my job.” Think, “Is there any way I can leverage my job, education, or experience for the spread of the gospel?” These things are callings for each of us. As we go, as we all go making disciples right where we live, wherever God leads, He’s going to lead us to go different places in our city, beyond our city, in our country, beyond our country. He’s going to lead us to go for different amounts of time—short term, mid-term, long term. He’s going to lead us to do all kinds of different types of work. This is what He’s doing.

Let me bring all this to a head. This week it has been so exhilarating for me as a pastor to watch 200 of our brothers and sisters working together, using their gifts for the spread of God’s praise here. It’s been nothing short of awesome and in a sense, it’s a microcosm of what He’s called us to do every single week together as a church. We exist for the accomplishment of mission, from where we are to the ends of the earth.

So with all our different gifts, all our different skills, let us refuse to compartmentalize missions to a program in the church for a few select people. Let’s realize we all live for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. Let’s lay our lives down before Him and say, “Use us however You want” and let’s just see what He does. I guarantee you, God will do things in and through us that we could never imagine.

Let me close with this story. A lot of this work in Ethiopia was started because of God’s work in one couple’s heart. Dr. Z and Naomi, our brother and sister from Ethiopia and members of McLean, came back a couple years ago from a trip here when their eyes were opened to the need for the spread of the gospel, specifically for the care of orphans. So they decided they were going to do something about it.

There was one government orphanage that they were exposed to a year ago where every single week three to five kids were dying. So they began to mobilize the church—not just McLean, but the church here in Ethiopia—to reach out and work with that orphanage to help care for orphans. That was a little less than a year ago when they started working amidst of that kind of crisis, with three to five kids dying every single week. Over the last six months, only one child has died in that orphanage.

There are multitudes of children alive right now because of the work and calling of God in this one couple’s life—and this is just one part of what they’ve been doing. I could go on. The tentacles just keep spreading in ways that are beyond what they ever could have asked or imagined.

Romans 15–16 Shows Us that God Calls Each One of Us to Live on Mission

Again, I’m not saying that God is calling every single person to do exactly that. That’s the beauty. God is calling each of us to do different things. But we come together as a church and we live for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world. As we do that, He will lead us to do all kinds of things and use us in all kinds of ways beyond what we could ask or imagine, for the spread of His praise among the people of the world. May that be the story of McLean Bible Church—a church on mission as God has called us to live on mission.

Let’s pray.

O God, I praise you for brothers and sisters who are there in Washington right now, who have made this trip possible, who have made ministry here possible through their giving, through their praying. Lord, we praise You for the unity we have together, in Christ, on this mission, across continents right now. We pray together that from Washington, DC, to the ends of the earth, You would use us—our lives, our families, our church, our family together in Christ—however You desire for the spread of Your praise among all the peoples of the world. God, please, use us however You want for the accomplishment of Your purpose. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Question 1. According to the sermon, why do local churches exist?

Question 2. What is God doing in the world right now?

Question 3. What role does prayer play in the spread of God’s praise among the peoples of the world?

Question 4. How does a biblical view of the mission of God change the way we give?

Question 5. What unites all of the people Paul Mentions in Romans 16? How can this help shape our view of obedience collectively and as individuals as we live to proclaim the gospel of Christ for His glory among the nations?

THE LOCAL CHURCH EXISTS FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF  GLOBAL MISSION. 

ROMANS 15:8-33

“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’ And again it is said, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.’ And again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience – by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God – so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ, and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.’ This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

JESUS DIED FOR THE SPREAD OF GOD’S PRAISE AMONG ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD.

REVELATIONS 5:9

“Worthy are you, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

ROMANS 15:9

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

ROMANS 15:10

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people .”

PSALM 117:1

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”

ROMANS 15:12

“The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCH, WE LIVE TO SPREAD GOD’S PRAISE AMONG ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD.

WHAT IS COMMON FOR ALL OF US…

We all pray for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world.

We all give for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world.

We all go for the spread of God’s praise among all the peoples of the world.

 

 

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!