Engage in Calling - Radical

Engage in Calling

It’s important for believers to recognize the importance of having a vision of how to fulfill the Great Commission. David Platt presents to followers of Jesus what it looks like when the faith family is designed by grace, diversified by gifts, and destined for glory.

  1. Imagine a faith family designed by grace.
  2. Imagine a faith family diversified by gifts.
  3. Imagine a faith family destined for glory.

Engage in Calling

Romans 12:3–8 

If you have your Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Romans 12. Let me invite you to pull out those notes from the Worship Guide that you received when you came in. 

As you may or may not know, there were over a million component parts of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. A million component parts that went into making that spacecraft and mission a reality. Think about that. Even if they had an astounding 99.9% reliability, that would still be over a 100 parts that could fail. That whole mission was designed in a way that every single part, every single person had to be engaged in that mission for it to be a success. 

Out of those 100 parts that could fail, what if it was this one and this one that put together, would cause the whole thing to fall apart? A notable secular anthropologist who had studied all kinds of people and tribes all over the world said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.” I think she was right, but I don’t think she came up with that. I think God came up with that, and Jesus showed us that. I am convinced that the mission He has put before His church is far greater than putting a man on the moon; it is putting the gospel in every corner of this planet among a billion people who still haven’t even heard the name of Jesus. 

Small Groups and the Great Commission in Romans 12:3–8 

A couple of months ago, I closed out our “Cross-Culture” series and gave you ten reasons why I believe The Church at Brook Hills can accomplish the Great Commission. What I want to do this morning as I close out this “Engage” series is make the connection between the Great Commission and small groups. Here is why: I want to make the connection because I am convinced that we have become satisfied in the church and content in the church with giving fifty percent of our component parts to this mission, or thirty or twenty or ten or five percent of our people to this mission. I think we are foolish to think that we could ever accomplish an Apollo-sized goal with less than 100% of the component parts working together to accomplish that mission. I am praying that God would use our time together this morning and the time we have in small groups from next week on to launch a people that are completely engaged with this mission. 

Imagine all the component parts in this room…the gifts, the skills, the abilities, the passions of God’s people…completely unleashed to impact the world for His glory. What we would see is not the pastor movement, and it is not the staff movement, but a people movement. God’s people unleashed to fulfill the very mission for which He has saved us. God, may it be so. So, I want you to dream with me this morning. We are going to look at Romans 12, part of the text we looked at last week. We are going to focus on verses 3 through 8, and I want you to dream with me about what would happen with all the component parts of this faith family behind this one mission through small groups that are making disciples of all nations all across Birmingham and this planet. Listen to Romans 12:3: “For by the grace given me…” This is Paul talking to the local church in Rome, the Christians there. 

…by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 

Imagine a faith family designed by grace. 

Imagine with me…based on Romans 12, imagine a faith family designed by grace. Imagine a faith family designed by grace. We talked last week about how the entire foundation for Romans 12 is first part of verse 1, “…by the mercies of God…” Mercy molds the whole picture called the church. Paul reiterates that in how he talks about grace and faith in these verses that we just read. He starts off talking about the grace that God had given him in verse 3. Later on in that verse, he talks about the faith God gives each of us. 

Then, you get down to verse 6, and it says we have different gifts according to the grace given us. The whole picture of the church saturated with grace. Everything is dependent on grace. In fact, when he says, “I say to you every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you are, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…”, it is actually one word in the original language of the New Testament that is repeated four times in different forms over and over and over again. The translation of that word is most likely “think” or “perceive”. It is translated a couple of different ways in here, though, and it kind of misses the emphasis that that verse gives. In the original language of the New Testament, it is basically saying, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but rather think of yourself with sober thinking…” It just doesn’t sound as good, so we change it. However, the point is everything that we think about in the church, and everything that we perceive in the church, as the church, we must look at through a lens of grace. 

I want you to think about grace and how grace permeates the church. First of all, we are enlisted by grace. Imagine a faith family enlisted by grace. This faith family called The Church at Brook Hills, I remind you that there is not one person in this room who is here by merit or works or by what we have earned to give us the privilege of calling ourselves followers of Christ. It is all by grace. We are called by grace. 

It is the whole book of Romans. You are under the wrath of God because of your sin, and yet, He pursued you by His grace, and He poured out His wrath on Jesus Christ, His only Son, instead of you, and now, pouring out His judgment on you; He is infinitely for you. For all of eternity, He is infinitely for you. His grace…He calls us by His grace. We are, by His grace, identified with the very body of Christ. We are a part of His body, Colossians 1:18. He is the Head, and we are the parts of His body. What an amazing thought. We are so radically identified with Christ by His grace. Paul knew this. Remember, when Paul was enlisted by grace, when he came to faith in Christ in Acts 9, and Jesus encounters him on the road there on the way to Damascus, what does He say? “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute…” Who? “Why are you persecuting me?” Saul says, “Who is this?” He says, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” However, the beauty of that picture is Saul had not been actually persecuting Jesus; he persecuted Stephen. He had persecuted Christians, those who followed after Jesus, but Jesus said, “You are persecuting me.” In other words, He says, “You touch them, you are touching me. You mess with them, you are messing with me.” The church is so radically identified with the person of Christ. We are a part of His body. By His grace, He has brought each of us who is a Christ follower in this room…He has brought us into His body. Enlisted by grace. 

Second, equipped by grace. Not only has He brought you into His body, but Romans 12 is teaching us that He gives us gifts, and that, when we trust in Christ to save us from our sins, the Spirit of God puts gifts personally in us. Let this soak in. Every single Christ-follower in this room without exception, not just the person beside you, in front of you, behind you, but you have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit of God. He has put those gifts inside you. That is not talking about natural abilities. Not just talking about the things that we are good at, although that is all by grace too. However, He has done something…when He saved you, He put gifting inside of you. He gave you a gift…spiritual gifts. He has equipped you by His grace. He has equipped all of us by His grace. 

He has enlisted us, He has equipped us, and He has empowered us by grace. Not only does He give us gifts, but He gives us everything that we could ever need to put those gifts into action. This is the point of 1 Peter 4, where he is talking about gifts there. Where the Bible is talking about gifts in 1 Peter 4, it talks about the gift of serving. It says, “If anyone serves; let him serve in the strength which God supplies.” It is a beautiful picture of the fact that we have been given a gift, people have been given a gift in service, kind of like Paul is talking about here in Romans 12, and the only way that they can carry out that gift is with the strength that God supplies. 

So, He gives us the grace…He gives us gifts by His grace, and then gives us the grace to put that gift into action. This is huge. I think we have a hard time getting our minds, our arms, and our hearts around this picture. You can tell by some of things that we say, and the way we talk about things. Even for me, even more so before I came here to pastor, we would travel a lot a preach more on Sunday morning. Many of you know, if you have grown up in church, that it is a pretty common practice for after a preacher has preached that worship service, the preacher goes to the back and everybody comes by and says, “What a great job the preacher did.” That is just the routine. Everybody says they enjoyed the sermon regardless of whether or not they really enjoyed the sermon; they say it because that is what you do when you leave on Sunday morning. 

So, people would come by. I call it the “glorification of the worm.” That is what it is. It is just…so, anyway, we set up this practice and that is the way it works. However, even now, whenever I travel and preach and God is working, there will be people who will come up and say, “Thank you for what you shared. Thank you for this or that. You did this or that in my life.” I never…I have always struggled with what to say in response to that. What do you say? Because…I started saying, “Well, it is all God.” The only problem with that is I have preached a lot of sermons that He just doesn’t need to be blamed for, you know? There have been some things that I have done that I don’t…He was like, “That was not me. It was definitely you.” So, I don’t feel comfortable saying that. 

So, I am not going to say, “It was all God.” So, a lot of times, I just say, “God is gracious.” Here is what people will say almost inevitably. They will always say, and I am guessing that we have said this and a lot of us have said this in some way: “Well, God is gracious”, and they will say, “Well, yes, God is gracious, but you have to do something with the grace that is given you.” Or, “Yes, God is good, but you have got to do something with what He has given you. So, thank you for what you did.” That misses the whole point of Christianity. It is not grace when you add something to it. The only reason that you can do anything with the grace that you have is because His grace enables you to do anything. It is grace from start to finish. It is not, “Yes, God is gracious, but thanks for what you did.” It is, “God is gracious, 

period.” Everything is by grace. Everything is by His grace. The gifts we have, the gifts I have, the gifts you have, and how we put that into practice, it is all grace, period. So, the picture is God has designed the church by grace. 

Get the picture. In just this room…and granted, there is the service that we had before this and the service later, make up the people at Brook Hills…however, just imagine. Just get the picture. What if God has drawn us…this is not just this random picture of this room of different people. What if we are a people that are enlisted by the grace of God; we have been called by Him personally. He has put His gifts in each one of us, and He is pouring out His grace to enable us to use those gifts, and what we have got is a picture of the design of God in the church by His grace. I think this is an incredible picture called the body of Christ. 

I love the analogy the fact that there is a picture of the body. Listen to what…there is a renowned surgeon named Paul Brand, and I put out a quote from a book he wrote called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. I just want you to hear him describing the way…he is talking here about how the way the cells in our bodies work. I want you to think about the parallel he will draw it for us between our bodies and the way that God has created us and the body of Christ. Listen to this. He is talking about cells. He says, 

I am first struck by their variety. Chemically, my cells are almost alike, but visually and functionally, they are as different as animals in a zoo. Red blood cells, disks resembling Life Saver candies, voyage through my blood loaded with oxygen to feed the other cells. Muscle cells, which absorb so much of that nourishment, are sleek and supple, full of coiled energy. Cartilage cells with shiny plaque nuclei look like bunches of black eyed peas glued tightly together for strength. Bone cells live in rigid structures that exude strength. Cut in cross sections, bones resemble tree rings overlapping strength with strength offering in pliability and sturdiness. In contrast, skin cells form undulating patterns of softness and texture that rise and dip, giving shape and beauty to our bodies. They curve and jut at unpredictable angles, so that every person’s fingerprint, not to mention his or her face, is unique. The king of cells, the one that I have devoted much of my life to studying, is the nerve cell. 

I praise God for creating people who enjoy studying this. 

It is an aura of wisdom and complexity. It is spider-like. It branches out and unites the body with a computer network of dazzling sophistication. Its axons, wires carrying distant messages to and from the human brain, can reach a yard in length. I never tire of viewing these varied specimens or thumbing through books which render cells. 

That is weird, but he never tires of it. “Individually, they seem puny and oddly designed, but I know these invisible parts cooperate to lavish me with the phenomenon of life.” Now, listen to the bridge here. My body employs a bewildering zoo of cells, none of which individually resembles the larger body. Just so, Christ’s body comprises an unlikely assortment of humans. “Unlikely” is precisely the right word. For we are decidedly unlike one another and the one we follow. From whose design come these comical human shapes, who so faintly reflect the idea of the body as a whole? The body of Christ, like our own body, is composed of individual, unlike cells that are knit together to form one body. He is the whole thing, and the joy of the body increases if individual cells realize that they can be diverse without becoming isolated outposts. 

I don’t think that it is an accident that Scripture uses imagery like the body to describe who the church is. In fact, you get over to 1 Corinthians 12, we are going to turn there in just a second. Let me just read you this verse. Verse 18, it says this, “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” Now, just let this soak in. What if God knew what He was doing when He brought each of us to be a part of the faith family called The Church at Brook Hills? What if He knew what He was doing when He called you by His grace and put certain gifts inside of you and gave you the grace to use those gifts for a reason for a body? What if a picture of this faith family is intended to be a tapestry of grace where each of us brings the grace that God has entrusted to us to the table to accomplish one grand mission for His glory? I am convinced that this is the design of God’s grace in the church. I pray that it would be a reality of us. That we would realize, imagine a faith family that is designed intricately by grace. 

Imagine a faith family diversified by gifts. 

Imagine a faith family also that is diversified by gifts. Now, here is where it gets a step deeper. We are designed by grace, and really, unified by grace because grace permeates all of our lives, but the beauty of the church in Romans 12 is that there is unity and diversity together. It is one body, many parts. So, we all have grace given to us, but we have different gifts, Paul says, according to the measure of faith given to us. So, there are differences here that make us diverse in the family of God. Every gift is given for a reason; God doesn’t make any mistakes. He hasn’t accidentally overloaded us, the faith family, with more gifts than we need or less gifts than we need, but everything designed together, but we all bring something different by the grace of God to the table. That is the picture of the body here. 

Imagine a faith family diversified by gifts where everyone counts. Where everyone counts. That is the whole point here, is that a body has different parts, and that all those parts come together. They all count. They are all important. They are interdependent in a relationship to one another. They are dependent on each other. They work together. They all correspond to the Head. Colossians 1:18, Christ is the Head of the church, and we all work in conjunction with the Head to accomplish the purpose. It makes sense; it makes sense practically. 

If you get caught shoplifting, which I hope doesn’t happen, but just imagine, you got caught shoplifting, would your argument be before the judge, “Your honor, my head did not want to take that leather jacket, but my hand would just not follow.” Would that work? Would that hold up? Absolutely not, because there is an interdependence that works between the head and our hands, and we work together. 

That is the picture of the church, but I am convinced that throughout church history, we have completely undermined this truth, this idea that every part counts. You go back, and you look through church history, and you see the Dark Ages, and you see a time when the power in the church was held by a select few. They were the only ones who could read the Bible. They kept it in their own language. The common people didn’t even have the language, and so whatever this group said, everybody else followed. What you had was all the component parts of the body…ninety-nine percent of them left out and one percent of them actually leading the church. 

That was the picture before the Reformation, but you know I am not convinced that we have come that far since then. Because we are still a people who have a tendency to relegate ministry and usefulness in the kingdom with the people who are most useful to the kingdom; they are that select group of leaders. We almost take the church, and we classify some as first or second class, first or second tier Christians, and most of us are down on the fourth or fifth tier. The first or second tier, that is the pastors and the cross-culture missionaries. They are the ones who are really devoted, and the rest of us, basically, play the filler roles for the things that they don’t have time to do. That is blatantly unbiblical. It undermines God’s Spirit and the power of His people. We have got to realize that God has designed His body where everyone counts. Everyone. 

This is something that they were facing in the first century. Go over with me. I mentioned 1 Corinthians 12. Turn with me over to the right one book, and you will see 1 Corinthians 12, and I want us to look at verse 21. What is interesting is Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 really kind of parallel one another. They are both talking about spiritual gifts as a part of the body. One body, many parts. What is interesting is why the connection. 

Well, you have got to realize that when Paul was writing the book of Romans, you will never guess what city he was in. He was in Corinth, and so he is writing from a church that had really been struggling. From the very beginning of the book of Corinthians, this church we know struggled with division, people fighting over this or that in the church, a lot of division in the church. So, Paul is in the middle of that picture, and he is writing the book of Romans. 

Listen to what he says in 1 Corinthians 12:21. See how they were undermining this picture of a faith family where everyone counts. Listen to verse 21: 

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God [Listen to this] has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 

Here is the picture, and Paul is confronting this head on in 1 Corinthians 12, and he is hitting on it in Romans 12 as well. He says, “Imagine a faith family where everyone counts, where no one is superior.” What they had done especially in Corinth is they had taken the showy gifts or the more spectacular gifts that were very public, and they had exalted those, and if you had those gifts, then you were superior in the body of Christ. He says, “Who are you to say that, because you are the hand, that you don’t need the feet. It is ridiculous.” 

Romans 12:3–8 Says there is no hierarchy of worth in the church

No one superior and no one is inferior. What was happening as a result of that in Corinth is you had a lot of people who didn’t have some of those more public gifts, spectacular, showy kind of picture, and so they were sitting back on the side lines of the church basically saying, “Well, I don’t have what those guys have, and so I am not as important in the church.” What Paul right here is saying is very clear. He says, “There is no hierarchy of worth in the church. There is no hierarchy of worth in the church. Each of you brings something to the table. By the grace of God that He has put in you. It is extremely important, invaluable.” 

You think about it, especially if this scene is how we view church. If we think of church, we think of a room like this for a little over an hour one time a week. If this is church, then the result is some gifts will be exalted as superior and others as inferior because this whole design in this room is not to maximize the gifts in this room, is it? All the gifts that are represented in close to 2,000 people in this room are not being maximized right now. Instead, this whole picture of when we gather together for worship really does maximize the gifts of a few. That would be bad if this was church, but church is not what happens in this building alone. Church is the people of God; we are the church, going out into the city of Birmingham. 

Now the place of ministry is not a building that we have constructed. The place of ministry is your homes and your neighborhoods and your work places. You are the church. You don’t go to church. You are the church, and now the gifts of God’s people are unleashed in the church to impact this community for His glory. Now, we are maximizing the gifts that all of us have when we no longer view church as something that we attend but something that we participate in as the people of God. Now His gifts that are given us for a reason no longer lie dormant in the church wasting away, but now we are alive and letting them be used. We are set free to fulfill the purpose for which God has gifted us. That is the picture. 

No one is superior; no one is inferior. Now, it becomes a reality when the church is infusing the community around us and all nations as God has designed it to be. No one is superior; no one is inferior. No need to compare. You don’t have to say, “Well, I don’t have this or I don’t have that like that person; that person has got this or that.” There is no need to compare any more. All that does is result in pride, always; comparison leads to pride. He is talking about humility all over Romans 12. 

No need to compare and no need to copy. There is no need for any one of us to say, “I am not as useful in the kingdom, because I don’t have the gifts that the pastor has, or I don’t have the gifts that this person has or that person has.” That undercuts the very work of the Holy Spirit of God in each of our lives. Please hear this from the authority of God’s Word: Every Christ follower in this faith family counts. God has given every one of you gifts that this faith family needs. As a result, He has surrounded each one of us with gifts that we need; interdependent, working together. 

Imagine a faith family where it is not dependent on a few people counting. Imagine a faith family where 4,000 people are counting week by week for the glory of Jesus Christ. Imagine a faith family where everyone contributes. Now, this is the purpose of gifts. Who are gifts for? Now, if you give a gift, obviously, you give it to someone. Who is the gift for when it comes to spiritual gifts? 

I think it is two-fold. Obviously, it is a gift for each of us when we trust in Christ. The Holy Spirit puts gifts inside of us. However, I think it is deeper than that. You look in the New Testament, and the first time you see “spiritual gift” mentioned is actually in the book of Romans, chapter 1. Romans 1:11–12 says this: Paul is talking to the church there, and he says, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong…” Then, he explains it. He says, “…that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” So, Paul says, “I want to see you to give you a gift.” 

Now, that doesn’t mean that Paul is coming to Rome with a bag of gifts with him. What he is saying is that, “I am going to take the gift that God has given to me, and I want to use it to strengthen the body there, and God is going to use your gift to strengthen me.” So, our gifts are given to us to be given to others. Does that make sense? This is huge. 

This is what we were talking about two weeks ago when we go through suffering and difficult times, and God comforts us, not to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. God gives us comfort so we can comfort others. God gives us gifts so we can give those gifts to others. So, we can encourage others in their faith. So, imagine a faith family where everyone is using the gifts given to them by the Spirit of God to encourage each other. 

Now, this is why we are focusing so much on small groups. It goes back to just what we were talking about. If this is all we do as a church, then we will not be using the gifts that God has given us to encourage each other, but when we get together with small groups of people, where we are walking with each other in our faith journeys and sharing life together like we talked about last week, then and only then, our gifts are going to come alive and be used to build up the body of Christ and multiply the gospel throughout Birmingham to the ends of the earth, where everyone contributes. Gifts are intended to be used, and that is what Paul is doing here. 

In Romans 12, he gives a list of seven different gifts starting in verse 6. Seven different gifts. He talks about prophesying, he talks about teaching, serving, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others or giving, leadership or showing mercy. Seven different gifts. What is interesting, though, is when you compare this passage to 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4, the four passages that really talk about spiritual gifts, individual spiritual gifts, you don’t really get a nice, neatly packaged list of gifts. Have you ever gotten a little confused about that? You would think that there is a list of gifts that the Holy Spirit gave out, that we could just put somewhere in the Bible and make things a lot easier, and then we could really do these spiritual gift tests like we want to do and that it would work well. However, maybe that wasn’t the point. 

Now, follow me here. The emphasis in Romans 12, I am convinced, is not on Paul giving us a list that we can go take a test about. I am not against spiritual gifts tests, but just follow me here. I think his emphasis is God has gifted every single one of you, so do something with it. I mean that is his point. He says…this is the way he writes. “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it. If it is serving, serve. If it is teaching, teach. If it is encouraging, 

get busy encouraging. If it is giving, then give. If it is leading, then lead. If it is showing mercy, then do it.” Do you get the point? He is saying, “Just put your gift into action.” 

All these things and when you think about it, you look at that list, I maintain that you could almost build a case about everyone of those is in some way a part of all of our lives as believers. We are all a part of teaching the commands of Christ according to the Great Commission. Now, obviously, that looks different in different ways and some do have a gift when it comes to teaching larger groups of people in different settings, but we all have a responsibility to reproduce the Word. Is mercy, “Well, if I don’t have the gift then I need not show mercy.”? Is that the point? I don’t think so. Every man in this room, who has a family, has a responsibility to lead. Does that mean that he has the gift of leadership? “Well, I am sorry that I don’t have the gift of encouragement, so I am not going to say anything nice to you today.” Is that the picture? 

So, here is the deal. Paul is saying, “Serve the church. You get in church and you give your life to encourage others in their faith.” Now here is the beauty. I am convinced that when we are doing that, when we are living to encourage each other’s faith, sharing life together like biblical community is talking about, I believe that is when God shows us areas where He has gifted us. I think we get things a little backwards. “I am thinking we will take a test, and then we will go out and put it into practice.” Instead, what if…what if we were each in a small group of believers where you were with ten or twelve other folks who are on a faith journey, and you started thinking, “How can I best encourage each of these people in their faith journey?” All of a sudden, you begin to have a desire to do this or that. You begin to serve them. I guarantee you, you will probably think of things that I won’t think of; you will probably do things that I might not do. All of a sudden, God is showing us how He has crafted us uniquely to be an encouragement to others in their faith. 

I know this is the way it has worked in my own life. God has put me in all kinds of ministry situations, opportunities to serve. In some, I feel like I thrive in by the grace of God. Some I feel like I don’t belong in by the grace of God. Some situations where I want…not that I don’t want to show mercy or I don’t want to encourage, but somebody else in that same situation is so much more effective in actually doing that encouraging or showing that mercy or doing this or that, that in the same way, when it comes to proclaiming and in teaching and encouraging in the body of Christ, it is in an area where I feel like I thrive more by the grace of God. When somebody else would want the Word to be taught and want to encourage the body, but would not want to do it in that particular way. We are crafted differently. 

However, the point is, start serving each other. Start helping each other in each other’s faith journeys and, as you do that…as you do that, you will see your gifts. Just keep doing it, keep doing it and keep doing it. That is what Paul is saying here, where everyone contributes. 

The whole point is God has gifted every single one of us who is a Christ follower. If you are a Christ follower in this room, God has given you gifts. If we are not using those gifts, then that means that we are letting that which God has given us by His grace lie dormant. It is sitting back on the sidelines watching the game go on when God has designed for us to be in the thick of things, sharing life with other people and encouraging them in their faith. God has gifted you for that reason. Don’t think for a second that you don’t count, that you don’t have enough to bring to the table in that. Don’t think for a second that your gift is intended to be sidelined. It is not. That is why we are getting in small groups because we want to encourage each other’s faith in this way. Imagine a faith family designed by grace and diversified by the gifts that we have. 

Imagine a faith family destined for glory. 

Then, ultimately, I want you to imagine with me a faith family that is not just designed by grace and diversified by the gifts given us, but imagine a faith family destined for glory. This is where it gets really good. I want you to see how this all comes together. If you read on past Romans 12:8, what you will see is the most practical part of the book of Romans. In Romans 12, 13, 14 and the first part of 15, what he is doing is he is talking about very practical things that we do in the church. 

I want you to come with me to Romans 15:14. I want you to see where it all leads. What Paul does is he gives a summary statement of his life and all the truths that he has shown to this point. Listen to what he says in Romans 15:14. I want you to see the truths in Romans 12, reiterated here in Romans 15. Look at verse 14. “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again…” Listen to this. “…because of the grace God gave me…” There it is again. He gave me grace. “…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Verse 17, one of my favorite verses in the entire book of Romans. Listen to this. “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” Now, let that soak in for a second. “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” Paul is saying here, he is talking about God giving him grace and God giving him gifts, and as he used those gifts to serve God and to serve in the church, his glory, his boasting is in Christ Jesus because Christ is the One, Jesus is the One who enables him to do all of that. So, when he serves God, it is all to bring glory to Christ, because Christ is giving the grace to make that a reality. So, when he serves God, it brings great glory to Jesus Christ, and that is what he boasts in. Not in anything that he has done, but in everything that Christ has done in him. 

He continues. Verse 18. “I will not venture…” Listen to this. “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done…” Did you catch that? “You won’t hear anything coming out of my mouth except for what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the nations to obey Him.” Don’t miss it. Paul says, “When the gifts that God has given me by His grace become alive in me, so that I serve others and that I build up the church and I advance the kingdom, it brings great glory to Jesus Christ, because He has given me all those things.” 

Do you realize the converse of that? Don’t miss this. If we are a church that sits back on the gifts that God has entrusted to each and every one of us, and there are not outlets for those gifts to be used in serving other and accomplishing this mission together…if we go throughout our Christian lives, which is extremely possible to do this, going to a worship service Sunday in or Sunday out or every once in awhile, and never getting plugged in to the mission of God that we share together as a faith family…if we do that, then we will neglect the gifts that Christ has given to us by His Spirit and, as a result, we will rob Him of the glory that He desires in giving us those gifts. 

So, the driving motivation behind why we do small groups and why we use the gifts that God has given us to encourage each other is because it brings great glory to Jesus. How we want His glory! We glory in Him. We boast in Him. We want our lives to point people to Him. That is the picture. 

We are guaranteed to prevail

So, what does it mean “a faith family destined for glory”? We are destined for glory in Christ. We are destined for glory with a Savior that is worthy of all praise. He is worthy of all praise. We are destined for glory with a Savior who is worthy of all praise and on a mission that is guarantee to prevail. Listen to…you have got to see this. This is Paul talking about how he wants to make the gospel known among all the Gentiles, among all the nations. He says, down in verse 20, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written…” Now, listen to this. He quotes from the Old Testament. “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” 

Anybody know where he is quoting from there? What book? Audience participation part of our program. He is quoting from the book of Isaiah, chapter 52, verse…now these people over here are really smart. No, they have got a note in their Bible that sends them to the bottom, and it says Isaiah 52:15. You have got it too. You can be really smart just like that. Isaiah 52:15. “You know, oh yeah, that is Isaiah 52:15. That is an easy one. Yeah, the one before that I don’t know where it is, but it is Isaiah 11:10. That is it.” 

Remember Isaiah 52? Isaiah 52 and Isaiah 53, those two chapters together are talking about Jesus, the One who is pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. It is the prophecy in Isaiah of the cross, saying that Jesus is going to go to a cross. What Isaiah 52:15 is saying is that Christ is the Savior on the cross. “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” They will experience His salvation. The nations will bow down to His supremacy. We are destined for glory with a Savior worthy of all praise on a mission guaranteed to prevail. 

“Why do you use the word ‘glory’ there, Dave?” Here is why. Because Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20, he said, “What will be my glory, my joy, my crown…” He said, “My glory will be when I stand before Christ one day, and you will stand around me singing His praises for all of eternity. The people who I have poured my life into, you are my glory, you are my joy, you are my crown. The people I have poured out my gifts for, the people that I have invested the grace God has given me in them, they are my glory; they are my joy; they are my crown.” 

So, here is the beauty. When a faith family called The Church at Brook Hills becomes an army of small groups, mobilized with one goal, each small group saying, “We want to impact the world by making disciples of all nations”, there will become a day when we will stand before God in heaven, and we will say, “We will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through us.” Our glory on that day will not be how much money we have left behind to those who are here on this earth. It will not be how much material goods and how much earthly pleasures we have enjoyed. Our glory on that day will be a throng of people from every tribe and every people and every nation singing His praises because we took all the grace that was given to us, and we poured it out for the sake of the world. 

That is the picture of the church. A body of Christ, displaying the glory of Christ, scattering together in groups of people who are taking everything that Christ has given to them, and it is not lying dormant any more. It is the church awakened. It is the church truly reformed, now using the gifts that God has given them to accomplish His purpose, His mission. It is not about using 50% of the component parts or 60 or 70 or 80 or 90 or 95 percent of the component parts of the church. It is taking every gift and every person and every part of the church and using it to accomplish one mission together. Imagine that kind of faith family designed by grace to be a tapestry of His body. Imagine a faith family diversified by all kinds of different gifts all across this room. Imagine a faith family that is designed for glory with Him. 

Are You In? 

The question that I ask you is “Are you in?” Are you in? Do you want to be a part? I am convinced…I am convinced that when we see the beauty of the church and what God has designed the church to be, we will abandon everything to be a part of this thing. I think it is why there are some of you that I have talked to who have packed up and moved your family and your job here to Birmingham, because you want to be a part of what God is doing in this church. It is not that God is not doing it all over the place. I challenge you, if you are not a part of this faith family, get involved with believers where you are. Christ followers accomplishing this mission. 

The thing is, we have seen it over the last four weeks, small groups enable us to engage in Christ. We need each other to grow in Christ. We cannot grow in isolation from each other. Jesus showed us with the way that He modeled, spending time with those twelve guys; this is the way that you impact nations. You live for the nations by participating in disciple making in small groups. We saw the next week how small groups are the avenue through which we are able to express the care and comfort and compassion of Christ to each other. Then, when we go through difficult times, we always have a group that we lean on. God comforts us in a way that we will now be able to comfort others. We saw last week how we were intended to share our lives with each other. We are not islands; we are one family molded by mercy together. We see this morning how He has gifted each one of us, and if we don’t have an outlet where we are letting those gifts be released for the benefit of the body, then we are robbing Christ of the glory that is due His name. 

So, I ask you, in light of that, “Where are you heading?” Will you say, “I want to be a part of making disciples of all nations through small groups of believers all across this community in a way that will impact the world”? I want to invite you to take that Worship Guide out that you received when you came in. Inside, there is the card that I have referenced the last three weeks. It says “Connect to Community” and talks about small groups. There are small groups starting next week, September 9. It will be an eight week commitment. 

At the end of that eight weeks, you have got all kind options. You can continue that small group, or you can do something completely different. What we are asking…what I am challenging every worshiper at Brook Hills to do is to say, “I am going to make an eight week commitment to a small group.” There is that card where you can fill that out, indicate any preferences that you have. Look through all that information on there, and next week, we are going to start these small groups. 

Let me tell you where we are headed starting next week. We are going to dive into a series called “Abide”. What we are going to do is we are going to talk about how we abide in Christ, and how we walk with Christ. We are going to hit on some basic truths in Christianity, but I am convinced some truths that, I am convinced, somewhere along the way, we have a dangerous tendency to miss out on. Our Small Groups are going to be tied to what we are doing on Sunday morning. So, the goal is for you to walk through eight times in a worship gathering here and eight times with a small group, and you come to an end of that time, and you spend time thinking through the non-negotiables, the basics of what it means to walk with Christ. 

Now, some of us might be tended to think through this series. We will talk about this some next week, “Well, if it is basic, then I already know the basics, then what is the point?” Here is the point. These are small groups that are mobilizing to make disciples. The point is not to just teach us the basics of Christianity. The point is that we would all be equipped to teach others the basics of Christianity. This is key. I ask people…many times, I ask people…I will say, “Imagine that you would lead somebody to faith in Christ tomorrow. Just imagine with me that tomorrow, God gave you an opportunity at work, your neighborhood, to lead somebody to faith in Christ.” Here is a question that I have. “If you led somebody to faith in Christ tomorrow, what would be your plan over the next six months to help them begin to grow in Christ?” When I ask that question, the majority of people have no clue. The majority of Christians have no clue. 

That is a problem, and I think it indicates one of two things. Either, number one, we are not planning on leading anybody to Christ tomorrow, so we don’t have to worry about it. Of course that is not good. Or, number two, we are planning on leading somebody to Christ but then relegating them to an institution to do the job that God has actually designed us to do in their lives. We will get them involved in some Bible study of something, and that is what I will do. No. It is what making disciples is all about. So, my prayer is this series that we are walking through and why we are starting off with a small groups emphasis with this series is so that we would be a faith family that is able to, not only lead somebody to Christ, but from that point,to begin the disciple making process in somebody else’s life. I am really, really excited where we are headed in that. I want to encourage you, challenge you to be a part of one of these small groups as an avenue through which we are accomplishing this mission together. 

I am going to invite these guys to come and to lead us much like them have the last couple of weeks. As we have time to fill out that card, I want to invite these guys to lead us. They are going to lead us in a song that I think beautifully depicts the picture that we have seen in Romans 12, God’s grace and how He has crafted each of us. As you fill out that card, or you sit there, and we hear the words of the song, I want to challenge, encourage every Christ follower in this room to consider the gifts that He has given you, and the way that He has crafted you. To not let any inferiority or superiority enter into your mind but to appreciate what Christ has given you by His grace and to consider how you can best use that to build up His church for His glory. Will you consider that and pray through that? 


David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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