Sunday Sermon: Ekklesia, We’re On a Mission!

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Today we’re starting a brand new series of messages. I’m entitling the series ‘Ekklesia.’ Ekklesia is the Greek word for church. It’s the word Jesus used when He said – “… upon this rock I will build my church (ekklesia); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) It’s the word found in the book of Acts which says – “And the Lord added to the church (ekklesia) daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:47) It’s the word Paul used when spoke of Christ being – “…the head of the body, the church (ekklesia) … (Col 1:18)

It’s a very important word because it helps to define for us some of Christ’s thoughts concerning our roles as His followers. The word ‘ekklesia’ is formed by putting two words together: ‘ek’ means {out} and ‘klesia’ means {called}. Therefore, we may conclude that ‘ekklesia’ means – CALLED OUT or CALLED OUT ONES. That’s what the church is. It’s an assembly of people who have been called out from this world and unto the service of Jesus Christ. The church is not about choir robes and stain glass windows. It’s about men and women, boys and girls, teens, young adults, senior citizens, middle aged, whoever you are, responding to God’s invitation to salvation and then following Him as Lord.

Our study of Ekklesia will take us through much of the book of Acts. We’re going to use the example of the early Christians to mentor and to teach us what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Our goal is to be the Ekklesia of Today!

Acts 1
1  The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2  Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3  To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4  And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7  And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Notice that the church revolves around Jesus Christ. The gospels are about the ministry Jesus began. The book of Acts is about the ministry that Jesus continues to perform through His body, the church. The gospel of Mark ends this way – “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them …” (Mark 16:20) Christ is still involved in His church. His desire is to work through each of us individually and collectively.

The Great Commission

Luke tells us that Jesus remained here on earth for 40 days after His resurrection, in which time He proved to His disciples that He was indeed alive. The reason Jesus went to such an extent to prepare His disciples was because He was giving to them a very important task. Their duty was to go into all the world and preach God’s good news of salvation to every person. That’s what the Bible says: “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 The Bible tells us that Jesus died for the sins of the world, (1 John 2:2), and that God is not willing than any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9) In addition to their duty to share the gospel with the world, they were to teach or the word we often use – “disciple” all those who would come to Christ. “… teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:20

Some believe that this mission was only for the first disciples. I disagree. I believe that as long as God allows this world to stand and His church to remain here on this earth, He intends for His ekklesia, to preach and to teach. I would not be here today if someone had not told me and someone won’t be here in my place tomorrow unless I tell them. Paul wrote to Timothy, “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2 NKJV)

Many call Christ’s command – the ‘Great Commission.’ Matthew closed his gospel with these words –

Matthew 28
18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Notice that Jesus told us that He would be with us until the end of the world. Keeping Christ’s words within the context in which He used them, we cannot conclude anything else other than the fact that Christ intended for His Great Commission to be our mission until the end of the world.

The word ‘Commission‘ means – {an authoritative order, a charge, or direction}. Unfortunately, in some churches the Great Commission has become the Great Omission because many who consider themselves to be a part of the church have chosen to disregard Christ’s command.

Church, this is our commission. This is our marching orders. This is our charge from the Lord. This is our direction for the future. In the mind of Christ, this is why Twin Oaks Baptist Church exists and therefore it is the responsibility of every member of Christ’s body to get involved. Brethren, we are on a mission! Some of us have been called to be on duty at a factory and others on a farm. Some are on duty in a store and others at school. Many believe that the command to ‘go’ could also be translated as – “as you are going.” As you are going to work, to the store, to school, and among friends – preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach those who will listen how to become a committed follower. Being a part of the church and reaching the world with the gospel is not a program, it’s a lifestyle. Yes, there are some who have been called to foreign lands and through our support, we enable them to give their full attention to spreading the gospel in that country; but every born-again believer is a missionary. We’re all on mission with God to preach and to teach. We are the ekklesia!

Now let’s go back and examine our text in the book of Acts. I will call your attention to three things in this passage: The Perspective, The People, and The Power. These three things were a part of the movement of the early church and they must be a part of this church in order for us to do the will of God.

1. The Perspective

A. Disciples’ Perspective

6  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7  And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

9  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10  And while they looked stedfastly
(stared and kept staring) toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

What was the problem? The disciples were concerned with being ‘called-up’ (Rapture) when Christ wanted them to be concerned with being ‘called-out’ to a lost and dying world. Like so many Christian, they were focusing only on those things that pertained to them and their future and failing to see a lost and dying world that was all around them. There is a danger in setting dates concerning End Time Events; but there is an even greater danger of sitting down and doing nothing until it happens. Far more Christians are sinning by sitting down than by setting dates.

B. Our Perspective

For many folks, trying to tell someone else about Jesus is a very difficult thing to do. It can be frightening and the devil does everything he can to keep us from it. However, we can’t let our fears become an excuse to cause us to keep the gospel hidden.

Perhaps this will encourage you. My daughter Cindy, sent me a link to a video on Youtube. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM) It was recorded by a guy named Penn Jillette. Penn Jillette is a comedian, magician, entertainer, writer and most of all, a self-professing atheist who prides himself for being a very outspoken individual concerning whatever he thinks. In this video clip, Penn Jillette tells about an experience where someone gave him a Gideon New Testament. Here is some of what he said about this event –

“I don’t respect people who don’t try to proselytize.” (Convert someone over to your way of thinking)

“If you believe that there is a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell and not getting eternal life … and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward … how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize them?” (i.e. – the only reason we don’t try to tell people about Jesus is because we don’t really care about them)

“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming to hit you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you and this (i.e. salvation) is more important that that.”

He went on to say, “this man cared enough about me to proselytize me.”

Several times in his video, Penn Jillette made the comment about the man ‘looking me in the eyes’ and ‘genuinely caring about me.’ Though he has not become a believer (yet), and though he says that he doesn’t believe that there is a God, if you watch this video you will see that this proud atheist has been noticeably touched by the genuine authenticity and concern of this Christian regarding the destiny of his soul.

I don’t want this message to come across as though I am trying to be hard on you; however, I do want to deliver it with passion because I believe that we, the ekklesia, have something to be passionate about. Notice what Luke says – 3  To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passionIf Jesus was passionate about the message of His death, burial and resurrection, should we be anything less?

For years Christians have read about the early church and marvelled over what happened, but I believe that if some of those early Christians were here today, they would tell us that it wasn’t because they were something special, but it was because they had made the decision to be committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

2. The People

I am very proud of Twin Oaks Baptist Church and I believe that if ever there was a church that could experience a true revival, it is this church. One of the things that I am proud of is our increased interest in what we call ‘Missions.’ The reason we call it Missions is because we believe that the church is on a mission to reach and teach the world. Recently I received a report from the SBCV regarding our Mission Support. This includes what we give to what is called the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these, let me take a moment to explain.

As a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, Twin Oaks sends its mission support to either the International Mission Board or the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through these two mission agencies, churches like Twin Oaks helps to send missionaries throughout North America and around the world. This report I received listed the amount of money churches like Twin Oaks and other, who are located in the Mid-west Region of the SBCV, have given to missions. There are 85 SBCV churches in the Mid-west region listed on this report. And among those 85 churches, Twin Oaks is 10th in its giving to missions. By the way, this report includes some major churches in the Roanoke area. In addition, let me say this, the amount that we as a church give to missions does not come from our general budget, but from what you give above and beyond your regular tithes. Tammy and I were taught to give an offering as well as a tithe and so we, as a family, want to give to missions, above and beyond what we give to the ministry of this church. And I can say that I believe that we have been blessed by God for doing so. The amount that we as a church gives is deteremined by what you as individuals want to give and among 85 churches, we currently rank tenth. In my mind, that’s tremendous!

Over the last few years, our support of missions has greatly increased and I think that you will agree that there is potential for even more. Sunday School classes take up an offering each week for Missions. Last Easter, we did something called the ‘Widow’s Mite Box’, of which 100% of what was collected went to support missionaries. You can also give anytime throughout the year either by designating on your check that this money is for missions or by using a tithing envelope. If you have a special need, you can see either myself or Melanie Ingram, our church treasurer.

In addition to this, we have also doubled and tripled our part in sending out Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Boxes. It’s good to see tubs already beginning to fill up with school supplies that will go in these boxes. Our VBS kids gave nearly $1,700 in offering this past summer to purchase over 300 Gideon Bibles.

Some folks will say, “Foreign missions is not our responsibility.” I disagree.

Acts 1
8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Matthew 28
19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations

Mark 16
15  …Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

2 Peter 3
9   The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

John 3
16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world! But may I remind you of what scripture says –

Romans 10
13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Jesus said: “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in: Jerusalem – Judea – Samaria – Ends of the earth ”

  • Jerusalem – our community and county and surrounding counties
  • Judea – State of VA, America
  • Samaria – even the groups that we don’t naturally want to reach
  • Ends of the earth – just that, the ends of the earth, the whole world!

That’s what we believe in this church because that’s what God’s Word teaches. And in order for us to be Christ’s ekklesia of today, His called-out ones, we must realize that our mission is to be a part of Christ’s effort to preach the gospel to the entire world and to teach them how to live the Christ-honoring Christian life. The answer to our nation’s problems are found in the Word of God. The answer to broken homes and broken lives are found in the Word of God. The answer to pre-marital sex, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, homosexuality and every sin of our modern society is found in the Word of God. Are you committed to be a part of Christ’s called-out ones?

3. The Power

A. Ability

Acts 1
8  But ye shall receive power,
(ability) after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Do you believe that? Do you  believe that God can give you the strength and ability to be His witness? Some of you don’t. You’re scared to death that you might mess up or that someone might ask you a question that you can’t answer. I know that because I’ve experienced those same emotions many times myself. Let me encourage you with this little challenge –

1. Pray that God will give you the opportunities that He knows you are capable of

2. By faith, go through the doors that God opens

The ability to be Christ’s witnesses comes through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of every believer.  “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you Listen to something else Jesus said about Holy Spirit power:

Luke 12
11  …take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12  For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

B. Authority Mt. 28:18

Matthew 28
18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power
(authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Jesus has jurisdiction over heaven and earth. All authority has been given to Him to preach and to teach and Jesus delegates that authority to His church, His ekklesia.

Conclusion:

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

The #1 reason people don’t accept Christ as their Savior is because they have never heard. Yesterday I was at a family reunion. My cousin, who was the main organizer of the reunion, told a little story just before someone said the blessing over the meal. He told about how he had been raised in a good home, but that his parents never took them to church or never said a prayer. As a matter of fact, he said that he had never heard a prayer in his entire life. That is until one day when he was invited to each lunch with my grandparents. And there at that table, my grandfather bowed his head and thanked God for the food. As my cousin told this story, he began to cry. And he said, “Uncle C.T. closed the prayer with – “In Jesus name, Amen.”  “In Jesus name”, how much of the world knows nothing about Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sins that can be found in His name. Our mission is to go into all the world and preach His name to every person. Are you a part of the Great Commission or the Great Omission?


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