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!”

Multi-Ethnic Congregations: A Present Need and a Future Reality

Our world is changing. It is not any secret that ethnic diversity is accelerating in American culture. What has been a traditionally white dominated culture is simply changing before our very eyes. The unfortunate thing is that many times churches are the most segregated gatherings of people in the country. Established churches have a tendency to be mono-ethnic, meaning that they reach one sort of ethnicity. White people go to church with white people. Black people go to church with black people. Asian people go to church with asian people. You get the point. This is incredibly unfortunate and fails to reflect the reality of heaven in which there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation worshiping King Jesus (Read Revelation 5). If established churches are going to survive and thrive the next few decades, we must begin to get a vision for mult-ethnic congregations.

The Church is Not Dying

Many Christians seem to be the prophetic voice of doom. "The Church is dying in America!", well,  so they exclaim. However, this is proving not to be the case. Soong-Chan Rah in his book The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity argues that christianity in America isn't dying it is just changing. He writes incitefully:

“As many lament the decline of Christianity in the United States in the early stages of the twenty-first century, very few have recognized that American Christianity may actually be growing, but in unexpected and surprising ways. The American church needs to prepare for the next stage of her history—we are looking at a nonwhite majority, multiethnic Christianity in the immediate future. Unfortunately, despite these drastic demographic changes, American evangelicalism remains enamored with an ecclesiology and a value system that reflect a dated and increasingly irrelevant cultural captivity and are disconnected from both a global and local reality” (p. 12)

We are looking at a next stage of evangelicalism and it isn't just a white or black movement. It is multi-racial. Rah argues that evangelicalism is actually growing rapidly in America, not among whites, but among first and second generation immigrants from Asia, Africa, and South America. The reason we have been missing this trend is because all of our studies and research are done through an Anglo-Centric lense. Rah continues to write:

“The public face of America is no longer a white male. Meanwhile, the trend of a nonwhite majority America will hit the churches faster than it will hit the general population. This tend is due in large part to the sustaining of American Christianity by newly arrived immigrants who bring their Christian faith with them…. Contrary to popular opinion, the church is not dying in America; it is alive and well, but it is alive and well among the immigrant and ethnic minority communities and not among the majority white churches in the United States” (p. 14).

Embracing Racial Diversity in our Churches

We must begin to reach out and engage people of other cultures and nationalities in our churches. This will by no means be an instintaneous transition. It will be slow and gradual, but we must be commited to reaching all people from every sort of ethnic background. The nations are no longer overseas. The world has gotten smaller and the nations are right outside our door.

In my own church, a southern baptist church, I've been so excited recently because our church is beginning to look more like the throne room of heaven. We still have a long way to go, but by God's grace we have seen multiple cultural backgrounds.

  • We have a thriving hispanic ministry meeting at our church and worshiping with us on Sunday morning.
  • We have many deaf members along with a deaf pastor on staff to reach this people group in Wilson.
  • Our church has become less "white" by having black Americans join and visit our church.
  • We have begun to see Asian people begin to join and visit, including this past Sunday where we had four japanese students visit our congregation.

These are very exciting things that are happening in our church, and for a SBC church which is known for being predominatly a white denominatio, this is amazing to see. It is my conviction that our churches should look like our local Walmart, which has become a population sample of the etnic melting pot of our cities. May we learn to see that the Gospel is for all people from all backgrounds and may we create strategies to reach all the people in our cities, even people with different skin color.

The Reward of His Suffering - Matt Papa

Matt Papa release a new song a few weeks ago called "The Reward of His Suffering".  Matt Papa is a fantastic artists who loves Jesus and loves missions.  All the money towards the purchase of this song goes to missions and spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  I've been listening to this song for a few weeks now, and I really recommend it!  You can go to iTunes and purchase the song by clicking here.  It is worth checking out, and the music video is posted below.  Buy the song, support missions, and pray for the nations! [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/47923874 w=500&h=281]