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Thursday, September 20, 2018

What's the next sermon series?

“So what are we doing next?”  

This is the question I hear repeatedly every time we are nearing the end of another book of the Bible on Sunday mornings.  I like to keep it a secret to build anticipation, and I’ve never been a master of deflection, so my answer is usually something inelegant like, “I can’t tell you.”  Though I'm not usually forthcoming with the new series, I love it that so many people are eager to know what’s in store, and no one looks forward to a new series more than I do.

We’re doing something a little unusual next.  In a sense, we’re going to be considering the entire message of the Bible.  That’s right - the whole counsel of God in four messages.  We’re considering this:  What is the point of everything that God has done and how should we live in light of it?

As you know, our focus this year is on equipping for evangelism.  This sermon series will serve that focus while not zeroing in exclusively on evangelism.  Our aim will be to think deeply about God’s agenda for the world and how this agenda should drive our lives.

In his book, The Course of Your Life, Tony Payne writes: 

“Because God’s agenda for the world is to transfer us into Christ’s kingdom and to transform us to be like Christ, then our agenda is to press forward towards maturity in Christ by prayerfully  setting our minds on God’s word and to move others towards maturity in Christ by prayerfully speaking God’s word to them.”

This is the theme of our next four Sunday’s together in the Word.  It is so easy to miss the forest for the trees when it comes both to reading the Bible and living the Christian life.  The big picture helps us to put everything in its proper place and orient ourselves accordingly.

When we don’t see the big picture, we easily misunderstand any small component of it.  Worse, missing the big picture of God’s plan has ramifications for how we live our lives.  If we don’t understand what God is doing in history, we may view His commands to us as an unrelated collection of moral directives.  We may then seek to obey God as it pertains to spiritual growth, moral purity, discipleship, and evangelism without understanding how those things are related to one another or how they correspond to God’s grand plan for the world.  We may engage in these activities with the mindset that our purpose in them is simply to be as moral as possible until Jesus comes back.  What a tragedy!  God’s commands to us are intended to accomplish something - His grand plan!

This series will help bring all this into focus.  All that God has commanded serves His plan for the world, a plan which He has made known to us.  The Bible reveals what His agenda is and therefore what our agenda should be.  He has also revealed His means for accomplishing this agenda.  

God’s agenda, quite simply, is this: to transfer lost people into Christ’s kingdom and to transform saved people into the image of Christ.  Because we belong to Him, His agenda should be our agenda.  

God’s means of accomplishing His agenda is the ministry of the Word.  Lost people are saved by hearing the Word of Christ; saved people are matured by the Word of Christ dwelling in them richly.  If we would participate in God’s agenda, we must use His means - speaking the gospel to the lost and the saved, and commending that gospel with our lives.  This should our lifestyle.  

Disciples making disciples.  This is precisely what Jesus had in mind when He commissioned us in Matthew 28:19-20, and it is what we'll be considering together for the next four weeks.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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