The Mission of the Church

July 4, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Romans 15:14-33 |

Series:

The Mission of the Church | Romans 15:14-33
Brian Hedges | July 4, 2021

Well, let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to Romans 15:14-33.

While you’re turning there, let me tell you about William Carey, the father of modern missions. William Carey was a British particular Baptist in the late eighteenth century, the 1700s, and he was dreaming of India. In fact, he had maps of India on his walls, and for years was just praying and longing and waiting for the opportunity to go to take the gospel to the unreached people there.

He finally sailed for India from England in 1793, supported by Andrew Fuller and the Baptist church that was supporting them, the rope-holders for that church. He left England with a wife who later proved to be mentally ill and with four children under nine years old. It took seven years before there was the first convert, and then he labored for 40 years without a furlough. He never came home. By the end of his life he had lost both his first wife and his second wife by death, and 20 years into his ministry suffered a tremendous blow to the work.

This was March 11, 1812, and a fire broke out and consumed the mission compound, with years of irreplaceable work. Included in that was a draft of the polyglot dictionary, grammars for two different languages, and ten versions of the Bible that had been going through press, and more. This was before there was a Cloud, before there were hard drives. There were no copies; it was just gone. The work was gone.

When Carey received news of this—he was away at the time in Calcutta—when he received the news, he said, “In one short evening the labors of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God! ... The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to Him.”

He suffered unbelievable setbacks in his ministry time and time again, all kinds of heartaches and suffering; and yet he never gave up. He persevered, and he really was the one who spearheaded the modern missionary movement, so that in the next 50, 60, 70 years there were many, many missionaries who would follow him to India and to other parts of the world.

How did he do it? I think the answer comes from a statement he made in a sermon in 1792, where he very simply said, “Expect great things, attempt great things.” Usually when it’s quoted, we quote it like this: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” That’s not quite what he said originally, but the motto is a good motto. It’s a good motto for us and a good motto for the mission of the church. We are to expect great things from God, and only when our confidence is in him will we attempt great things for God.

Well, William Carey was cut out of the same cloth as the apostle Paul, who was one the of the first great missionaries of the Christian church. This morning we are reading and studying together the heart of Paul, the missionary heart of Paul as recorded in the second half of Romans 15.

Actually, the letter to the Romans kind of draws to a formal conclusion, the body of the letter, in chapter 15:13, which we looked at last week. Really, from 15:14 all through the end of chapter 16 it’s just the close of the letter. It’s a long, extended close where he is sharing his travel plans, he’s sending his greetings to members of the church of Rome. But sprinkled in there are prayers and doxologies and exhortations and an unveiling of the heart of Paul, the missionary. I think that as we study this it gives us a pretty comprehensive theology of missions for the church. So I want us to read it in that light and learn several things about what Paul says.

Let me begin by reading Romans 15:14-33. You will want to read along with a copy of God’s word and follow along in your Bible. So let’s begin in Romans 15:14. Paul says:

“I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written,

‘Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.’

“This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

This is God’s word.

I want you to see with me this morning five things: the heart of missions, the goal of missions, the task of missions, the power for missions, and the partnership of missions. There is a whole theology of missions right here in Paul’s letter.

1. The Heart of Missions: The Gospel

As you know, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is the theme of the book of Romans, and it is the theme of this passage. Three times Paul refers directly to the gospel: in verse 16, “the gospel of God”; verse 19, “the gospel of Christ”; and in verse 20 he says it is his ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named.

Of course, this whole letter has been about the gospel, about the good news of Jesus Christ. You’ll remember that in the opening of the letter, Romans 1:16-17, Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith. As it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Right now, even in this letter here in chapter 15, Paul is just explaining why he has written. He gives them something of an affirmation in verse 14, but then in verse 15 he says there are “some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder.” He wants to remind them of the gospel.

When you just think about the gospel emphasis in this letter—in fact, Romans is the most thorough, detailed, the longest exposition of the gospel anywhere in Paul’s writings—here are some of the things that we learn:

The gospel is God’s power for salvation (1:16-17). The gospel discloses for us the righteousness of God that comes apart from the law, that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, his work on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (3:25-26). It is the gospel of the cross and resurrection; Christ, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (4:25). It is the gospel which shows us the way to have peace with God through being justified by faith (5:1). It is the gospel that shows us how we are freed from the condemnation of sin and of the law and are made free through the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8)

This is a thrilling book about the gospel of Jesus Christ, but what I want you to note here is this, that Paul as he has written this long, detailed argument about the gospel, it’s all been for a certain purpose, and that purpose is to encourage the church of Rome and to elicit their support for his mission, because he’s headed to Spain and he wants them to help him in his mission. In other words, this is in many ways not only an exposition of the gospel theologically, but it is a very practical letter, which is meant to show the outworkings of the gospel, both in the life of the church and in the mission of the church.

I think we just have to remember that built into the very DNA of the gospel is the fact that it is news and news that must be shared. We are called to share the gospel, to share the good news with others.

Can I just be so bold as to say that a church that is not passionate about missions is a church that has lost its wonder at the gospel? If we’re not passionate about missions, we’ve lost sight of the beauty and the glory of this good news, news that needs to be shared with all the peoples of the world.

The first thing that we need if we are to be a mission-focused church is to recover the heart of the gospel. I think we are a gospel-believing and a gospel-loving church, but brothers and sisters, we need to see the more thorough outworking of this heart for the gospel in mission and a focus on the missionary task of the church. So the heart of missions is the gospel.

2. The Goal of Missions: Worship

You get hints of this in verses 15-16, where Paul begins to describe his ministry. He describes his ministry using terminology that is directly drawn from the Old Testament temple worship system. Look at verses 15-16. “But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

That’s a pretty compact statement, but Paul uses here five terms that are directly related to the temple worship of the Old Testament. The word “minister,” the term “priestly service,” “offering,” the word “acceptable,” and the word “sanctified.” All of that is language from the temple. Paul here is using that language figuratively to describe himself. It’s almost as if he’s imagining himself as a priest in the service of God, and he’s offering to God a sacrifice, and the sacrifices he’s offering to God are Gentile converts, people who come to Christ through his ministry. He offers them up to God as a living sacrifice of worship. In the same way that in chapter 12:1 he appeals to all of us to offer ourselves, our own bodies, as living sacrifices to God, here Paul says, “I’m a priest, and I’m offering the Gentiles, the nations, as a sacrifice of worship to God.”

What this shows us is that worship is the primary motivation for missions. God’s glory; that’s the primary motive for missions. This is the goal. This is why we must be engaged in missions as a church.

You also get this at the beginning of the letter in Romans 1:1-5. Paul there talks about how he is an apostle set apart for the gospel of God, and then he describes and defines the gospel. But in verse 5 he says this: “. . . through whom we have received grace and apostleship—” and here’s the purpose “—to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” There’s the reason for missions. The reason for gospel proclamation, the reason for evangelism is for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. The fame of Jesus’ name; that’s what should motivate us.

Then you remember the paragraph above in Romans 15:8-12. We were looking at this last week. Paul tells us why God sent Christ to be incarnate among us, why Jesus became a Jewish person, a servant to the circumcised. Listen to what he said, and as I read this (Paul’s giving here a litany of Old Testament quotations), notice two things. Notice the word “Gentiles,” which is the Greek word ethne, from which we get our word “ethnic” groups. This could be translated the peoples or the nations of the world. He uses that word six times. Then notice the language of worship.

Chapter 15:8: “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles [the peoples of the world] might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.’

“And again it is said,

“‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’

“And again,

“‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.’

“And again Isaiah says,

“‘The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.’”

You see, this is the reason Jesus came. He came so that the nations, the peoples of the world, will hope in God’s mercy, will praise him, will glorify him, will extol him, will sing to him. It shows us that God’s glory is the ultimate goal and motivation of missions.

Nobody has said this more clearly than John Piper, in his wonderful book Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. I highly recommend it. Listen to what Piper says. He says, “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. Worship is the goal of missions.”

You see, brothers and sisters, there’s more than one motive for why we should do mission work. One motive is because people who do not trust in Christ, who are left in their sin, will perish eternally. That should move us to compassion, love, desire to see them rescued and saved from sin. But the ultimate reason is because God is so glorious, because Jesus is so great and so mighty, he deserves to be worshipped by all the peoples of the world. Christ deserves it! God deserves it! He is the greatest being in the universe, and if we are not compelled by a love for the glory of God and a vision of God’s glory and his beauty and his worthiness, then we will never be rightly motivated in our missions.

This is really built into the mission statement of our church: “We exist to glorify God—” that’s why we’re here. “We exist to glorify God by following Jesus in the Spirit’s power for the redemption of the world.” The whole reason is the glory of God. That is why we should be engaged in missions; it is the goal of missions.

Worship is the goal, the gospel is the heart.

3. The Task of Missions: The Obedience of the Nations

Look at verses 17-21. This is a remarkable passage that as much as any other passage discloses the heart and the ambition of the apostle Paul. Listen to what he says.

“In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles [or the nations] to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ . . .” Notice this in verses 20 and 21: “. . . and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written [quoting Isaiah 52:15],

‘Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.’”

This is showing us that the task of missions is the work of bringing the nations to obedience to Christ through the gospel ministry of word and deed. Paul describes this as his work for God in verse 17, and he says it is to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles.

He describes his method in ministry; he says it is by word and deed. John Stott comments that “the combination of words and works, the verbal and the visual, is a recognition that human beings often learn more through their eyes than their ears. Words explain works, but works dramatize words.”

Again, this is one of the core values of Redeemer Church: mission. It’s on that banner right over there: “Sharing Jesus in word and deed.” We are to share Christ, and we do that both by what we say (that’s sharing the gospel) and we do it by what we do, good works and deeds of love and service and generosity and kindness to others. Those two things belong together. That was Paul’s method, it was Jesus’s method; it should be ours as well.

Then you see Paul’s ambition in verses 20-21, which is to preach Christ where he has not been named. Of course, this connects to the Great Commission, to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded.

You remember that back in May Marv Newell gave a wonderful message on the Great Commission, and he talked about how there are a third of us, a third of humanity, who have never heard the name of Christ; they have no opportunity. It’s where Christ has not been named.

That’s two billion people! Do you realize that? Two billion people who don’t even have an opportunity to hear the name of Jesus, two billion people comprised of over 2,000 distinct ethno-linguistic people groups who do not have access to the gospel of Christ; 2,000 groups of people who are not worshipping Jesus Christ. Paul says, “My ambition is to go there and to take the gospel to where Christ has not been named.” He was a pioneer missionary who didn’t want to build on anyone else’s foundation.

You know, what I’m doing is I’m building on somebody else’s foundation. There’s a place for that. We need pastors and we need churches to be built up. That’s what God called me to do, and Paul in 1 Corinthians talks about Apollos doing that. That’s all good and right, but what Paul was called to was this pioneering work of penetrating into a new area, to take the gospel where Christ had not been named.

We need that today. It is still the task of the church, for the glory of God, to take the gospel to those places of the world. That’s the task of missions: the obedience of the nations.

4. The Power of Missions: The Holy Spirit

How do we do it? The answer is we need power, and that’s point number four, the power of missions. We see this in verses 18-19 in three statements here that Paul makes. In verse 18 he says, “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, to bring the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed.” He says, “Christ is doing this through me.”

How do we do this? You read a story like William Carey, or you read about the apostle Paul, these missionaries who have made so many sacrifices—how do they do it? Well, they didn’t do it in their own strength; Christ did it through them.

As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Or in 1 Corinthians 15:10 he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

In other words, Christ is the agent who is working; we are merely the instruments. Christ has the power. That’s the first thing Paul says.

Then in verse 19 he says that he did this not only by word and deed, but “by the power of signs and wonders.” This refers, of course, to the supernatural apostolic ministry of the apostle Paul. There were supernatural things that happened, these gifts of the Spirit given in a supernatural way.

These words (again, I’m drawing from Stott here), “signs, power, and wonders,” those three words coming together have different connotations. Signs indicates their significance in demonstrating the arrival of God’s kingdom; power indicates the character in demonstrating God’s power over the natural world; and wonders indicates their effect in arousing people’s amazement and wonder. As Stott points out, Paul’s only other use of these three words in relation to his ministry is in 2 Corinthians 12:12, where he calls these things “the marks of a true apostle.”

I think one of the things we learn from that is that these gifts were specifically given to the apostles to authenticate their ministry. So there was this time period where these were very, very common. Of course, the question is, should this be normative in the church today?

Now, that’s a controversial topic, and my position is that I think most of the time in established churches where the gospel has taken root, we don’t see this as a normative thing. But in pioneer settings, in places where the gospel has not yet deeply penetrated—I mean, God is sovereign, and he can work a miracle anytime he wants to through whomever he wants to, and we know the testimony of many people, especially Muslim people who are coming to Christ, they come to Christ after they have a vision of Jesus that prepares the way for the gospel to reach them. So yes, it seems that God still does this in some ways, in some settings, according to his sovereign will, his sovereign pleasure. Let’s never have a theology of God that rules out God’s sovereign ability to work in wondrous ways to bring about the conversion of people through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul talks about the power of signs and wonders, and then notice this in verse 19: “ . . . by the power of the Spirit of God.” This is the most important thing. This is the key thing: the power of the Spirit in our hearts and lives, making us effective in ministry. That’s what we were talking about last week, right? The fullness of the Spirit producing joy and peace and hope in our lives.

If you study carefully the book of Acts—read the book of Acts, and every time you come across the word Spirit or the phrase Holy Spirit, circle it, underline it, and look at what’s around it. This is what you’ll see; this is the invariable pattern: Fullness of the Spirit followed by boldness in ministry. Filling of the Spirit followed by courageous preaching and proclamation of the word, or courageous suffering for the name of Jesus. I mean, this is what changed the church, isn’t it?

Think about Peter on the night of Jesus’ betrayal. What is Peter doing? He’s denying three times that he even knows Jesus! He’s absolutely frozen with cowardice. But then the Day of Pentecost comes, the Spirit is poured out on the church, and here is Peter, who is transformed into this bold apostle who is preaching the name of Jesus, and he’s willing to suffer anything for the name of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, this is what it takes. Surely one of the most important applications for us today is our need for God’s Spirit to empower us for ministry. I think we need to pray for a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit in our hearts and lives so that both locally, with friends and neighbors, family members—whoever we’re in contact with, people who are not believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be sharing the gospel, and we need the power of the Spirit to do it. We need that, and we also need to see the power of the Spirit empowering this church and those that our church sends out to be effective in mission and in ministry for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Now, it’s almost a month in advance, but listen, at the end of this month, the last Sunday of the month, on July 25th, Sunday evening, we’re going to have a prayer meeting. This will be our coffee break for the night, but it’s going to be a prayer focus. Part of what we need as a church is very focused, mission-oriented, Kingdom-centered prayer, where we are learning to intercede together for the mission of the church, for the needs of the world, and for the glory of God. I hope you’ll be here for that. The power for missions is the power of the Spirit.

5. The Partnership of Missions: The Church

Finally, number five, the partnership of missions. This partnership is a partnership in the church. You see this in verses 22-33. This is the long part of the passage. I’m not going to read all of it again. In verses 22-29 Paul is giving his travel plans. He wants to go to Spain, but he wants to go to Spain through Rome. The reason he wants to go to Rome is so that they will help him on his journey. In fact, that word “help,” commentators tell us that that verb was almost a technical term for helping missionaries on their way. That could be financial help, giving provisions or money or encouragement, prayer, whatever. That’s why Paul’s writing this. This is a gospel tract written to a church that Paul has never visited, in order to get their support to help him to get to Spain, to take the gospel where Christ has not been named. But before he does that, he’s going to Jerusalem to take an offering to the poor saints of Jerusalem, and he’s asking the church to pray for him and help him by prayer as he does that.

So there are his travel plans in verses 22-29, and then an appeal for prayer in verses 30-33. I will read that again. As I read it, notice that Paul gives reasons for prayer in verse 30, he talks about the struggle for prayer in verse 30, he talks about the specific requests in verses 31-32, and then he gives a benediction in verse 33. So let me read it, verse 30.

Here’s the appeal: “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit—” This is why we should pray; because we belong to the same family, we’re brothers and sisters in Christ; and because of the Lord Jesus Christ, the lordship of Christ over the church; and the love of the Spirit, who binds us together in unity and love. This is what Paul’s been focusing on earlier in this letter, right, the unity in the Jewish-Gentile church. Now he’s appealing to them. The reason he wants them to be unified is so they can be unified for mission, for the glory of God. He’s saying, “Pray for this. Because of this, pray.”

“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive [or struggle] together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,” and then here are the requests (verse 31), “that I may be delivered [or rescued] from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.” Then the benediction in verse 33: “May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Here’s the main takeaway from all that: the apostle Paul could not have fulfilled his missionary calling or his ministry without the help, the partnership, the support, and the prayers of the church. How much more is it necessary today for every missionary to have a church or even multiple churches who, like Andrew Fuller for William Carey, are holding the rope, are praying, are supporting, are encouraging, helping them. Brothers and sisters, this is part of our job. You may not be called to go cross-culturally and learn a new language and go to a new culture in order to take Christ there—you may be called to that, and you should be open to that. But most of you probably aren’t called to go, but you are certainly called to send and to support, and you do that as you give and pray and as you encourage our missionaries.

Redeemer Church, again, one of our core values is community, which means “following Jesus in partnership with others,” and part of that partnership is the partnership of prayer, as we together are supporting and praying for our missionaries and for the mission of the church.

We’ve looked at these five things: the heart of mission is the gospel; the goal of mission is worship, the glory of God; the task of mission is the obedience of the nations; the power for mission is the power of God’s Spirit; and the partnership of missions is the partnership of the church.

I started this message with a story about William Carey. Let me end with another missionary named William; this is William Borden. Maybe you’ve heard of William Borden of Yale.

William Borden was born into the Borden family; if you’ve ever bought Borden milk or dairy products, that was the family, so a very wealthy family. He was born, and by the time he graduated high school in 1904 he was already a millionaire. For his high school graduation, his parents gave him a trip around the world, and the effect of that trip was a deepening burden for the lost, unreached people of the world.

He wrote home to his family and he said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” About the same time, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.” His ambition was to give everything to Christ.

He then completed his education at Yale, and as he was doing so he was sharing Jesus right and left, starting prayer meetings, starting Bible studies. By the time he graduated, what had begun with 150 freshmen meeting in a weekly Bible study—by the time he graduated, 1,000 of the 1,300 students at Yale were involved in Bible studies and in prayer meetings that Borden had a hand in initiating. It was a revival on the college campus.

He was evangelizing like crazy, but his passion was the mission field, and he eventually narrowed his focus to the Ganzu people in China. That’s where he was headed, and when he graduated from Yale he wrote two more words in the back of his Bible: “No retreats.” No reserves, no retreats.

He left for Egypt, where he was to study Arabic, because his intention was to work with the Muslim people in China. Then he contracted spinal meningitis, and within a month, at 25 years old, he died.

It was a tragic loss, and of course some people might think, “Well, his life tragically ended and was maybe even a waste.” Of course, it wasn’t a waste; God had his purposes. And William Borden himself, near the end of his life, had written two more words in the back of his Bible: “No regrets.” No reserves, no retreats, no regrets. Again, it’s a great motto for us in missions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, where are you this morning? Are you engaged in the mission task of the church, both locally in evangelism and globally through your prayer life and through supporting and encouraging missionaries? It has been well said that every single one of us is either a missionary or a mission field. My hope this morning is that we’ll be a church of missionaries, people who are engaged in the mission of the church for the glory of God. Wherever you are this morning, let me encourage you to look to Christ; be transformed by the gospel and by the Spirit of God and for the glory of God; pursue the mission of God for the church. Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your word and we thank you for the example of the apostle Paul and these other missionaries in the history of the church who inspire us in so many ways. Lord, our prayer this morning is that you would work in our hearts so that, just as they were captured by a love for you and by their vision of the glory of God, that in the same way we’d be so captured by a passion for your glory and by a deep understanding and sight of the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we would be compelled to go, compelled to share, compelled to pray, compelled to give.

Lord, my guess is that most of us this morning—and I include myself here—we need a fresh touch of your Holy Spirit. We need to be awakened to the needs of the world, and we need to love your glory so much that it burdens our hearts to know that there are two billion people who are not praising you and who have no opportunity to hear the name of Jesus. That’s not something I can manufacture, that’s not something that a mere sermon can change, but your Spirit can do it, and I pray that your Spirit would come and would work in us what is pleasing in your sight.

As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, may we come remembering what this table signifies: the love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us, Christ who came and gave everything, he withheld nothing. There were no reserves in Christ’s love for us. As we reflect on his great sacrifice, may it inspire within us sacrificial love for Jesus in return. So Lord, draw near to us in worship as we come to the table and as we worship in song. Send your Spirit to us, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.