(This is part four of a series entitled, “What God Requires of the Church.” The posts in this series include: 1. Individualism vs. Christ, 2. The Ordinary Means of Grace. 3. Participation. 4. Evangelism and Missions.)
The last couple of posts in this series (here and here) have focused on the “ordinary means of grace” in the church. We’ve seen that when the church practices these ordinary means, “the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers” (Acts 2:42), our eyes of faith are set directly upon the Lord Jesus Christ. When we appropriate God’s appointed means in worship, our minds and hearts are drawn out to worship Jesus.
And when the church is set upon Christ in worship, our hearts are changed. We’re conformed to His image. He makes us better and better worshippers. And we start to want the things He wants, which means, among other things, that we want the name of Jesus to be known among all the nations. The highest goal of the “ordinary means of grace” is worship to the glory of God. But when our hearts are engaged in worship, we naturally want others to join us in the same. John Piper rightly says, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” What Piper means is that we engage in the work of evangelism and missions so that there will be more worshippers. The worship of God in Christ by the ordinary means of grace in His Spirit is both the fuel and the goal of missions.
Look at what happened in the Jerusalem church when they practiced the “ordinary means of grace.”
1. Reverential Worship. Acts 2:43 says, “And awe came upon every soul.” The word “awe” means “fear.” The church was filled with a holy and reverential fear of God as they beheld Christ through the ordinary means. Worship isn’t only rejoicing and jubilant praise. True worship is also full of reverence, awe, and a holy loving fear of God almighty, the sovereign Creator of all things.
2. Joyful Worship. And Acts 2:46-47 says that they responded with “glad and generous hearts, praising God had having favor with all the people.” The means of grace not only lead to a reverential fear of God. They also lead to gladness, rejoicing, and praising God. God had redeemed them and shown them such grace, how could they not rejoice? These believers’ consistency of love to God and sincerity of faith actually gained them favor in the community.
3. The Conversion of Souls. Finally, Acts 2:47 says that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Now, Pentecost was a unique historical event, which will not be repeated. But we can learn that there’s an historical pattern by which God saves souls. People were saved when the church practiced the ordinary means of grace. When God’s people get Gods’ heart by faithfully worshipping Him, they gladly and willingly “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The faithful practice of the ordinary means of grace leads to evangelism and missions. These ordinary means are the means by which God powerfully and graciously redeems souls and adds them to His church.
Why is that? It’s because the real obstacle to evangelism and missions isn’t that we lack a strategy or methodology. Certainly there is a place for strategies and methodologies in missions. But the real obstacle, the greatest obstacle, to evangelism and missions is our own hearts. If we don’t do evangelism and we’re not passionate about missions, it’s a problem in our hearts. It’s a worship problem. And the ordinary means of God’s grace are the means by which our hearts are drawn into the worship of our great God.
Come to Morningview’s Global Missions Conference 2014!
With that in mind, I would like to urge every Morningview member to attend our missions conference on Sunday morning and evening, Monday evening, and Tuesday evening. Here’s a link to the conference schedule. Let me give you several reasons it’s important for you to attend.
1. Our missionaries need us. I’ve heard this from our missionaries time and again. They depend upon our fellowship and our prayer support. The international mission field is often very hard. It can get lonely and discouraging at times. So, please come and speak encouraging words to our missionaries. Ask them questions. Edify them in the truth of Christ with love. You have no idea how much it means to them.
2. We need our missionaries. On a number of occasions, I’ve been challenged and edified by insights provided by our missionaries. They have unique perspectives on the American church and we need to hear what they have to say. Please come to our missions conference to fellowship with the missionaries, which is one of the ordinary means of grace.
3. For prayer. Come to the missions conference to lift your prayers with your brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of missions. Come pray corporately with your church for your missionaries and the work of missions. Prayer is absolutely necessary in mission work because the work itself, the salvation of souls, and planting new churches, is entirely in God’s sovereign hands. Therefore, we must be in prayer together for missions.
4. For the worship of Christ. Come to the missions conference to learn about how Christ is working among the nations. Learn about the souls that have been saved, the advancement of the kingdom of light, even though the darkness is so great. Above all else, the missions conference is an opportunity to worship our risen Lord for His mighty work of redemption.