Let the Nations Praise You: Worship is the Fuel for Global Missions

Missions is an idea far from our minds. In our day to day lives many Christians do not pause to pray or even think about what God is seeking to do across the globe. Although we have been blessed greatly as Christians by receiving God’s gracious salvation, we fail to see how we have been blessed by God to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. No passage describes God’s passion for the nations and our response to God’s blessing like Psalm 67.

“To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!” (Psalm 67, ESV)

God Has Blessed Us in Christ

As we think about our own salvation we have been saved by grace alone. If you are a Christian, God has set his love on you by redeeming you through Jesus Christ. God made a way to forgive you from your sins and in the cross of Christ as he pours out his wrath due our sins on his beloved son the radiant love of God shines like the beaming sun on us. We have been blessed beyond measure.

We who were isolated have been brought near.

We who were lost have been found.

We who were enemies have been made friends.

We who were orphans have been adopted.

We who were hungry have been made full.

We who were condemned have been justified.

You see we too have been blessed greatly by God as recipients of his grace and mercy.

God has blessed us incredibly, far beyond comprehension. We have not just treated better than we deserve we are treated the opposite of what we deserve. We deserve wrath, but have been given peace. We deserve condemnation, but God has given us salvation. God loves us incredibly, yet the Gospel is not simply “God loves me”. David Platt in his book Radical pens these words:

“The message of biblical Christianity is not “God loves me, period”, as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him – his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness – known among all nations.” Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is.” (70)

The purpose of God’s saving work, the reason we have been so blessed is so that God’s glory might be known in all the earth. This means that God desires that all the people of the earth praise him as God and find their joy in him, just as we have. We have been blessed to be a blessing. So for what purpose have we been saved? Why has God so richly blessed us?

So That All the World Might Praise and Be Glad in God

Here within these verses we get the thrust of why God created the world. Have you ever wondered that question? Why does all that exists exist? What is its purpose? What is its appointed end? The answers to all those questions is this – the glory of God. His glory is the purpose of all things. So God has put this world into existence so that he might be praised above all and by all. God’s desire in the creation of humanity was to fill the earth with his image bearers so that the whole earth might be filled with glorious praise. God has chosen to do this through the redemption of humanity. By saving sinners God glorifies himself through his great sovereign redemptive work.

However notice again the object of God’s redemptive plan. His blessing was never meant to stay within Israel, but rather Israel was blessed to be a blessing to the world. By blessing the people of Israel the praise of God was to spread throughout all the peoples of the earth. God’s plan from the beginning of creating is to glorify himself through all the peoples of the earth. The salvation of the nations is just a plan of God it is THE plan of God. It has been and it always will be. Why? Because as people from every tribe, tongue, and nation worship, value, rejoice and be glad in God, He is made glorious!

And he wants the nations to be glad in God! Oh how wonderful it is to be happy in God. To delight in him, to rejoice in him, the enjoy him. The proper display of worship is to treasure God. Here the Psalmist is calling out in petition to God begging that all the peoples of the earth might enjoy God as we do. The psalmist is praying asking that God would display his glory by having the nations find there joy in God alone. Enjoying God is glorifying God. And this is the aim of missions – to bring all the peoples of the earth to find their rest, their joy, their hope in the one savior who takes away the sins of the whole world and who purchases a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation for the glory of God!

So we like the Psalmist join in prayer crying out to God “Let the peoples praise you, o God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” We pray asking for God’s named to be hallowed, for his kingdom to spread, for the salvation of all the peoples of the earth!

The Goal of the Church is Worship, Not Missions

This is key for us to understand. The goal the church is not missions, but rather it is worship. It is the praising of God’s name throughout the earth. That is the appointed end of all creation. John Piper writes in his classic work on missions Let the Nations Be Glad and writes,

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever”

So because we as a church exist for the glory of God and since we have been saved for the glory of God, we must seek to bring glory to God through the evangelization of the nations. The glory of God is our aim in our passionate pursuit of him.

Apathetic to Missions

Though so many of us seem completely unmoved by missions. Why bother with international missions? Isn’t all the focus on missions excessive? I mean we may give money to missions, why is there any need for us to go? If we are honest many of us don’t even think about missions.

We don’t pray for missionaries.

We don’t pray for the unreached people groups of the earth.

We don’t cut back our spending so we can give more to missions. We don’t go on missions trips.

We just simply don’t really care all that much do we?

Yet, perhaps the reason we don’t care about global missions is because we do not love God as we ought. Perhaps the reasons our zeal for mission is weak is because we do not desire for God to be made glorious in our lives and in our world. Again, Piper writes,

“Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak. Churches that are not centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervent desire to “declare his glory among the nations” (Ps 96:3). Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claim upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.”

If you are struggling to have a heart for missions. If the sacrifice seems to great to you and to costly, then pray that God would show you more of God. Pray that you would see the radiance of his glory, that another veil would be lifted and that you might see his majesty! I’m convinced the reason we are apathetic towards missions is because we do not realize the majesty of the God we worship. Our hearts have yet to be gripped by the beautiful vision of God’s glory that grips our hearts and brings us to our knees in worship. When his face shines upon us and we know the joy of his presence, a privileged purchase by Christ, then we will want to call the world to praise and be glad in this gracious God.

The reason our heart for mission is to small is because we do not realize the largeness of the God we worship. He is the God of the nations! He is the God of the universe and he WILL be made glorious in all the earth. He WILL be exalted among the nations. And he has chosen to glorify himself through us as his church. He is calling us to be a part of spreading his glory throughout all the earth. He is giving us opportunity to participate in the very purpose of creation.

Talk about a life filled with meaning and significance! Do you want that? Do you long to not waste your life on trivial pursuits that end up no where? Missions is God’s invitation to you Christian. It is your calling. It is the purposive your redemption. We have been blessed to be a blessing. We have been blessed by God to take this Gospel of grace to the very ends of the earth. What a sacred privilege and what a glorious honor! We must begin getting serious about this divine calling. We must begin to get serious about sending disciples globally around the earth.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”

What About Those Who Never Hear the Gospel?

Is Jesus the only way to God? Are those who believe in different religions or in no religion on a path that leads to hell? What about those who never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel? One of the most controversial claims of Christianity is the exclusivity of the Gospel. This simply means that Jesus is the only way. There is no other options and there are no other paths to escape the destruction due our sin. The pluralistic post-modern sentiment that tends to dominate western thinking today is disgusted by such an arrogant and narrow-minded claim.

Jesus is the Only Way

Yet theology and truth is not determined by cultural wishes but by the revelation of God. God has revealed to us his truth and his plan in Scripture. The Word of God is quite clear as Jesus said himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6). The exclusivity of Christ is not something arrogantly fabricated by the church but clearly taught by Jesus, the son of God. Jesus is not a way, but the only way. The simple definite article, “the”, makes it clear that there is only one possible route to the Father and it is through the son.

Most people who can escape the logical fallacy of a pluralistic understanding of truth can grasp the exclusivity of the Gospel. After all both Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity can’t all be right. The religions contradict themselves on the most basic level. So if we can grasp that only one religion must be true and if by God’s grace we come to see the Christian faith as the true faith, there is often one last hurdle for people. What about those who never heard the Gospel?

A Weighty Class Discussion

I remember the first time I encountered this difficulty. I was in my first semester at Charleston Southern University and I was taking an evangelism class. In that class the professor gave us a hypothetical dilemma known as “the man on the island”. The situation is that there is a man on an island who has never heard the Gospel. He is completely deserted in that island and there is no one who can tell him about Jesus. The dilemma is what happens to the man when he dies? Does he spend eternity in hell or does God save him even though he never heard about Jesus?

The professor then made us get into groups and begin discussing our position to the dilemma. For a bunch of first semester bible students we were surely stumped. This is the kind of stuff they didn’t encourage us to think about in Sunday School. After great discussion the class seemed split. Some said the man would be saved and others said that he would be condemned. After some class discussion the professor finally revealed his position, the man would spend eternity in condemnation and apart from God.

And the professor was completely correct. If Jesus is the only way than he is the only way. The New Testament is filled with an urgent passion to spread the good news of Jesus as far and as quickly as possible. You see the apostle Paul the great missionary attempting to make his way to Spain at the end of the life. He was always pushing to get to new people to share the good news of Jesus. Paul writes in Romans 11

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14–17, ESV)

The whole class felt the weight of the professors words that day. It was a heavy reminder of an eternal responsibility that is passed from one generation to the next. There is a great urgency for us to take the Gospel to the very farthest and most isolated parts of the world. It is the great task of the church to go and make disciples of all nations.

Tell the World

Because there are thousands dying every day all across the world without access to the Gospel, the church has an urgent mission. Simply put, the world must be told that Jesus is Lord. They must hear about how Christ died in their place for the forgiveness of sins. Yet, they cannot believe in Jesus if they have never heard. As Christians we must begin to take the Great Commission seriously, urgently sending and being sent around the globe for the glory of Christ for the good of the nations.

The Greatest Teenage Mission Field

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Dear Christian Teenagers,

You might think that God cannot use teenagers. To be honest, the culture does not think you are capable of very much. Our culture constantly potrays you as disrespectful, hedonistic, immature, goof ups that can never accomplish anything of significance. Unfortunately, our culture's view of you has poisoned the minds of Christian parents and church leaders. Many treat youth ministry as a place of entertainment rather than a place of missionary training. As a result we've result we feed you pizza, but refuse to feed you the word of God. You and I both know that you are capable of far more. I know and believe that God can use teenagers powerfully for the sake of His kingdom. How do I know this? Because he has given you the greatest opportunity.

You might not have ever thought about it, but for many of you God has placed in you the greatest mission field in the United States: The public school. God has given an opportunity to be surrounded by people your own age from a variety of different backgrounds and beliefs. God has surrounded you with people who are in desperate need of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who would believe (Romans 1:16). God has saved you and blessed you in Christ so that you can be his messenger and ambassador. You see, people will not be saved apart from the Gospel, and we are God's chosen means to spread the good news about Jesus. People will not be saved unless you and I go and tell them. Hear the words of the apostle Paul:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” (Romans 10:14–15, ESV)

You see, people cannot call on Jesus unless they believe. People cannot believe unless they hear the gospel People cannot hear the Gospel unless someone tells them. Someone can't tell them unless they are sent.

As public schools become more closed off to church ministries, you are God's means of taking the Gospel to the students in your school. God has sent you into your school to proclaim the Gospel. He has given you access that no other adult or even teacher can have. You have been sent as an ambassador to proclaim Christ!

Students, do not squander this wonderful opportunity our great God has entrusted to you by keeping your mouth shut! Eternity is coming and hell is hot. Time is of the essence and eternity is long. Boldly be the mouth piece of God, sharing the Gospel and inviting your friends to repent and trust Christ! Rise to the challenge. God has given you an incredible opportunity. "Oh how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Go and take the Gospel to one of the greatest mission fields in our country and may God use you to save the lost and help the helpless. As the missionary William Cary said, "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God."

For the Glory of God,

Justin Deeter

Top Quotes from Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

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JI Packer's Book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is a incredible work that takes on the perceived tension between Calvinism and Evangelistic urgency.  Packer proves that the two are not enemies but friends.  He argues that a robust, Biblical, understanding of the sovereignty of God rightly fuels evangelistic effort and provides hope and boldness to the evangelist.  It is an incredible work, brief and to the point.  If you have wrestled with God's Sovereignty and Evangelism (and who hasn't) be sure to give this book a read.  It is well worth your time.  Here were some top quotes I picked out in my reading to give you a taste of what this book has to offer you.  You can pick up the book at Amazon Here.

There is abroad today a widespread suspicion that a robust faith in the absolute sovereignty of God is bound to undermine any adequate sense of human responsibility. Such a faith is thought to be dangerous to spiritual health, because it breeds a habit of complacent inertia. In particular, it is thought to paralyze evangelism by robbing one both of the motive to evangelize and of the message to evangelize with.

I shall try to show further that, so far from inhibiting evangelism, faith in the sovereignty of God's government and grace is the only thing that can sustain it, for it is the only thing that can give us the resilience that we need if we are to evangelize boldly and persistently, and not be daunted by temporary setbacks. So far from being weakened by this faith, therefore, evangelism will inevitably be weak and lack

The desire to oversimplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising that even good people should fall victim to it.

We must not at any stage forget that. For if we forget that it is God's prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize.

And the point that we must see is this: only by letting our knowledge of God's sovereignty control the way in which we plan, and pray, and work in his service, can we avoid becoming guilty of this fault. For where we are not consciously relying on God, there we shall inevitably be found relying on ourselves. And the spirit of self-reliance is a blight on evangelism.

He who does not devote himself to evangelism in every way that he can is not, therefore, playing the part of a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ.

In other words, evangelism is the issuing of a call to turn, as well as to trust; it is the delivering, not merely of a divine invitation to receive a Savior, but of a divine command to repent of sin.

The results of preaching depend, not on the wishes and intentions of men, but on the will of God Almighty

We never know what sin really is till we have learned to think of it in terms of God, and to measure it, not by human standards, but by the yardstick of his total demand on our lives. What we have to grasp, then, is that the bad conscience of the natural man is not at all the same thing as conviction of sin. It does not, therefore, follow that a man is convicted of sin when he is distressed about his weaknesses and the wrong things he has done. It is not conviction of sin just to feel miserable about yourself and your failures and your inadequacy to meet life's demands. Nor would it be saving faith if a man in that condition called on the Lord Jesus Christ just to soothe him, cheer him up and make him feel confident again.

In our own presentation of Christ's gospel, therefore, we need to lay a similar stress on the cost of following Christ, and make sinners face it soberly before we urge them to respond to the message of free forgiveness. In common honesty, we must not conceal the fact that free forgiveness, in one sense, will cost everything; or else our evangelizing becomes a sort of confidence trick.

It is a tragic and ugly thing when Christians lack desire, and are actually reluctant, to share the precious knowledge that they have with others whose need of it is just as great as their own. It was natural for Andrew, when he found the Messiah, to go off and tell his brother Simon, and for Philip to hurry to break the good news to his friend Nathanael (Jn 1:40ff.). They did not need to be told to do this; they did it naturally and spontaneously, just as one would naturally and spontaneously share with one's family and friends any other piece of news that vitally affected them. There is something very wrong with us if we do not ourselves find it natural to act in this way: let us be quite clear about that.

We should not be held back by the thought that if they are not elect, they will not believe us, and our efforts to convert them will fail. That is true; but it is none of our business and should make no difference to our action.

Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel.

Paul's confidence should be our confidence too. We may not trust in our methods of personal dealing or running evangelistic services, however excellent we may think them. There is no magic in methods, not even in theologically impeccable methods. When we evangelize, our trust must be in God who raises the dead.

God can make his truth triumphant to the conversion of the most seemingly hardened unbeliever. You and I will never write off anyone as hopeless and beyond the reach of God if we believe in the sovereignty of his grace.

Thanksgiving is a Daily Activity

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Thanksgiving is a daily activity.  There is always a lot of energy and encouragement to be thankful in the month of November.  However, for the Christian, thanksgiving must be a daily activity.  We must not be thankful just on days we eat turkey, but every day of our lives.

Why? Because thanksgiving is the proper response to the Gospel.  It is our thanksgiving that fuels our worship.  It is our thanksgiving that fuels our pursuit of holiness.  It is our thanksgiving that fuels our mission.  If you take thanksgiving out of the Christian life, you get monotonous ritual and habitual routine.  There is no passion for the spread of the Gospel without thanksgiving for the Gospel.  
 
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow.  I am looking forward to enjoying it with my family.   Eat your fill and give thanks.   But more than anything, I pray that our thanksgiving propels us to radical mission every day of the year.  
 
Happy Thanksgiving!