October 3, 2021

Portrait of a True Missionary


For many of you, the word “missionary” is familiar… or not? Challenge for children: draw a portrait of a missionary including everything from the sermon.

If you read Matt. 28, we see that we are all missionaries in some way! Some, will devote their whole life to this, some will just be part of it. 4 principles that every Christian worker should be guided by in ministry, and especially true missionaries!

I. Say “no” to good things, for the sake of better things (v. 22)

We live in a world of constant rush. You have to do so much that you get dizzy at times. But, we can only do what is most important!

(v. 22) – A passionate desire, a zeal for the Gospel, kept the apostle Paul from doing good things. This is the first lesson of every missionary and evangelist. Willingness to say NO to good things for the sake of better things. Paul speaks of the struggle of every minister… to say NO to good. Sometimes, it is the only tool left to reveal to us the struggle of priorities!

Mission teaches us to say NO to good, for the sake of better things!

It is good to get your career figured out soon, but maybe for 1 year…

Q: Have you learned to say NO to good things, for sake of better? Do you have specific examples of it?

II. Think globally, act locally (vv. 19, 23-24, 28)

Do you want to go to Spain? (homeland of Seneca, tutor for Nero)

Do you  have the ability to look at the whole world globally, and think of all the sinners there, of the Gospel for the whole world, for the church all around the world, and the kingdom of Christ?

There is a certain balance where we think globally, but act locally.

(Pr. 17:24) “The discerning sets his face towards wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”

In Paul’s life, we observe this. He sleeps and dreams of Spain. But, until now, he did not get there, because he was busy with what was directly in front of him!

Christ (Matt. 9:36-38) – sees that this field is ready for harvest, yet (10:1) – deals with people in front of Him!

Q: Do you see the world around you as a great field ready for the Gospel, and at the same time, do you bring the Gospel where you are (v. 19)? Parents, kids ministry teachers – the world needs the Gospel!

III. Love the Church (vv. 24-28)

A. Hunger for the fellowship of the Church (v. 24)

Paul longs for, desires, seeks the fellowship with the saints!

There are missionaries, evangelists who do not have that spark in relation to the church. They look at the Church as a stepping stone toward something greater. But the church is the end and ultimate goal of evangelism – everything must end in the church. Missions do not use the church to achieve their programs, but mission programs are used for the good of the church!

After all, the ultimate goal of evangelism and mission is the church planting! Everything goes back to the church!

Christ is clear about the priority of the church! (Matt. 16:15-18) – He will build His Church!!!! This is Christ’s priority. Is it ours?

(v. 24) But he also excepts something from the church (to be helped = to equip for the trip), but only after enjoying their fellowship!!!!

This word is used in (3 John 6) and is part of hospitality – help for the further trip. Fellowship can be expressed in support and hospitality!

B. Invest in the Church (vv. 25-28)

It’s about financial care for the Jerusalem church in need. This is yet, another element of the life of the church – care for the needy and spreading of the Gospel!

But a serious question arises: on the basis of (vv. 19-20), Paul already worked there and his main goal is to go where the Gospel has not been preached! Why is he planning to return to Jerusalem instead of Spain and Rome, for simple delivery of the money? Isn’t it a significant setback? 

This is the natural way to attach your heart to the church.

Christ said “where your treasure is, there your hearth will be also.” (Matt 6:21). Let’s say that you come to me for a financial advice for the investment of ($50K). I suggest that you buy specific shares or bonds. You follow my advice. And now, a million dollar question: the next morning, when you wake up, what will you do first? You will run to the internet to check the stock market. If you have this shares or bonds for 2 years, with confidence I can tell you that you will be completely absorbed with everything that has to do with the company that you have shares from! You have placed your treasure there, and after a while, your heart followed the treasure!

See, what happened in the historical context in Paul’s ministry… Macedonia and Achaia are the northern and southern parts of Greece. These are the churches in Athens, Corinth, Philippi, and Thessaloniki…

What did these churches do for believers in Jerusalem? (2 Cor. 8:1-9; 9:1-6). Paul saw the need in Jerusalem, and took it personally to raise funds for them. And when you have invested much of your time, energy, emotions and money, you cannot just simply walk away from it, and give it to faithful men, and just go to Spain. Where the treasure is, sooner or later your heart will be also! Paul’s heart was in Jerusalem, contrary to his calling to spread the Gospel! Do you sense the pain of this dilemma?

Make no mistake, your heart will follow your investment. By investing in the church, you strengthen the call to your heart to be there. Invest in the church and ministry and you will notice how your heart runs after your investment.

This is why Paul, called to be an evangelist for the Gentiles, contrary to his calling, goes back to Jerusalem. His heart is there! This is the paradox of his ministry.

Q: Do you prioritize the church? One way it can be measured is by the fact that you invest time, effort, thoughts and money into the church.

IV. Evangelize believers and disciple unbelievers (v. 29)

This idea is from Paul, but the wording from Get Real, John Leonard.

The heading of this point should bother you, at least a little, because it is against our usual understanding of things – we evangelize the unbelievers, and disciple believers, and it is true for the most part. But not in our text (v. 29) – Paul’s intention is to evangelize the church… similar to (1:15).

Stop, Paul, we are already saved! Speak about Christ to none-Christians! The fact is that there is tendency for any church to separate the preaching of the Gospel and of the discipleship. When we separate the Gospel from discipleship, we inevitably come to dichotomy where we speak the Gospel to unbelievers (sinfulness of man, holiness of God, substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, faith and repentance), and then we talk about discipleship to believers. In other words, we focus on grace for unbelievers and on obligations for good deeds for believers. As a result, we bring grace to unbelievers, but deprive of it believers, demanding righteous deeds from them, pushing the sense of duty, or even guilt for not doing it.

But Paul wants to talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the church, because there is a tendency to leave out grace, and move on to works. And this is such a common problem that he is ready to fix it through evangelism… and for that even ready to put on pause Spain!

(Luk. 24:44) – All of the Scripture points to Christ! The more we grow in Christ, the more we pay attention to grace, which ultimately makes us as believers more attractive!

But why discipleship of unbelievers?

A simple question: when did Christ’s disciples become believers? Nobody knows. But everyone knows that Christ took ordinary fishermen, ands for 3.5 years discipled them and led them to a living faith, which transformed their lives in such a way that for the sake of the Gospel, they all but one died a martyr’s death.

When at the end of Matt. 28, Christ gives the assignment to the disciples, go and make disciples of all nations, he doesn’t say, go and make believers of all nations, but rather, disciples! We go to the people for the purpose of disciple making.

Q: How often do we speak the Gospel to each other? When we do so, it refreshes our perception of grace, and makers us less harsh, demanding, judgmental, but loving, forgiving, gracious – this is attractive!

How do you view evangelism? Is evangelism making of disciples of Christ for you? 

Plus, believers need the Gospel as much as unbelievers do!

The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to proclaim the Gospel to believers (1 Cor. 11:23-28) – Christ has suffered for us – this is grace that believers need no less than unbelievers. This helps us solve so-called Galatian problem – the church in Galatia turned to God through the preaching of grace, but after they believed, they quickly departed from grace to keep the works of the law. Communion solves this problem by pointing us back to the need of grace for believers to continue on their path to heaven. 

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