I apologise once again for the slow production of notes from Life in the Spirit conference. At the conference there is plenty of spare time to sort out my notes, but back home, there is less time. At last, however, I have produced one more set of notes. This one is from the Tuesday evening.
Ben is a member of the Life in the Spirit team. Until the mid-1990s he served as a pastor in a church in Kent, in the South-East of the UK. Then, the Lord met with him in such power that the Lord turned his life around. He should have been thinking of retirement, but the Lord stirred him for a new mission - to bring the Word of God to other countries, by means of Bibles, literature and teaching leaders. I won't say more because I don't want to compromise this brother's ministry. He is a gentle man of God with a passion for His glory. Something of the Lord's heart came through the teaching.
The theme of tonight’s message is the joy of the Lord in missions. The approach is from Christian hedonism, not a legalistic spirit. We must remember there is more yet to enjoy – so let us go for more. Our chief purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him. Pleasure is the measure of our treasure.
The Great Commission tells us the great “alls”. Christ has all authority. We are to go to all nations and teach all He has commanded, and He is with us all the days, even to the end of the age.
Sadly the Great Commission is often referred to as the great omission. So few churches have a global concept in their mission statement. Jesus’ mission statement includes the world.
Quoting from Piper, Let the Nations be Glad: “Missions is not ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t... Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory… But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching…”
Joy is so key. Nehemiah 8v10 (NIV) – “Go and enjoy… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
1) My contemplation of God’s personal joy and delight in His people and His purposes envisions and stirs me.
2) My own joy in God mightily empowers me.
God is the living God. He is Almighty and there must be no flippancy in our speech concerning Him. Yet we can say that He is a happy God. We see His joy in creation (“He saw that it was good… He saw that it was very good.”). Job 38v7: “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
Therefore God made us to be happy. People’s lives are consumed in pursuit of happiness. Heb 11v25 “pleasures of sin.” Even the suicidal are seeking happiness by their actions. The pursuit and need of joy is a fundamental aspect of creation. In Christ we have the expulsive power of a new affection - set free by discovering joy!
Joy is ruined by sin. From Gen 3 onwards God is reclaiming us (and that true joy for us). God doesn’t give up on His joy though. Eg: Ezek 18v23 – “'Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord God, ‘and not that he should turn from his wicked ways and live?’” Multitudes of souls have no idea of their true purpose.
Is 53v10 – “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” He found pleasure because of love His for all the lost. Zeph 3v17 – He rejoices over you with singing; He takes great delight in you. Heb 12v2- for the joy set before Him. The joy of the Lord in bringing worship where satan reigns. Rev 5 tells us that one day worship will exist everywhere!
It is impossible for us to be too exuberant in worship. We need to be unembarrassed about letting go and worshipping God. It says that in heaven there is a party whenever someone comes to Christ. What an honour to be included in that party, and being used to bring in multitudes that will be around throne on that day. But not just in this country, from the nations. One-third of the population of world has still to hear of Jesus in a meaningful way.
Joy of God’s people
1) Joy of sacrifice. Whatever was to my profit, I consider loss, everything compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him. I count them rubbish that I may gain Christ, not having a righteousness of my own… To know Him the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings… I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me (Phil 3). What is your 'that'? Hudson Taylor said “I never made a sacrifice.” Elliot, “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot hold to gain what he cannot lose.” It is not a sacrifice because of the all consuming joy.
2) Joy of service. Seeing from God’s perspective, in Psalm 2, the Lord laughs and tells His Son “Ask of Me and I shall give the nations for your inheritance.” In Luke 10, Jesus sends out the 70, who returned with joy. Jesus tells them to rejoice that their names are written in heaven. Jesus Himself rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.
3) Joy of suffering. Scriptures say they rejoiced. Blessed are you when men persecute you and revile you, that’s how they persecuted the prophets. We who are rich have a responsibility to share.
4) Joy of submission. “Not my will but Your will.” One example, from China, some believers raised funds to help pay for the release of some pastors from prison. When they arrived at the prison the pastors told them “God has put us here to share His love. Use the money to help our families.” The pastors gave up their freedom and the prison was transformed.
5) Joy of success. This needs to be handled carefully, because it is not about carnal success. But Matt 25v21 says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” What will Jesus say to you? We need to live life backwards – imagine yourself standing before the judgement seat of Christ. Luther said there are two days – to-day and that day. 1 Thess 2v20: “You are our glory and our crown.”
6) Joy of satisfaction. In Your presence is fullness of joy and at Your right-hand pleasures forever more. That pleasure is both future and now for us through the Holy Spirit, who is the downpayment until the redemption! Paul’s desire was to “finish my race with joy… to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20v24). The most precious diamonds come from the deepest and darkest of mines
Another quote! “Therefore the church is bound to engage with the Lord of glory in His cause. It is our unspeakable privilege to be caught up with Him in the greatest cause of history… The gathering of the elect, and all Israel will be saved, and the earth is full of the knowledge of His glory. Then the supremacy of Christ shall be manifest to all. And He will deliver the kingdom to His Father and God will be all in all.”
Missions cause Him joy – joy in heaven; it pleases our Lord Jesus. There is joy on earth as light comes and forgiveness flows, and new life fills hearts. It gives us joy and anticipation of our great reward.
Therefore get your focus back. This is work but not toil. Rededicate yourself to the work. Nothing is more satisfying than serving Jesus.