Saturday, August 16, 2014

Here I Am, Send Me

God in His wisdom has chosen to involve man in His loving plan to save mankind.  The price for sin has been paid, for our Lord Jesus Christ has purchased our salvation with His blood shed on the cross, but messengers must still proclaim the good news. While the eternal destiny of souls are at stake, the Lord has chosen to rely on His people to complete the rescue mission.

Have you offered yourself to the Lord to be one of His messengers?

The Need
Every minute there are thousands of people tripping into hell.  Whether or not they hear and obey the gospel will have eternal consequences. This is an issue of the highest level of seriousness. The King of kings wants us to come and consider this matter that He is working on, and to join Him in His work. He is willing to put responsibility on us. God has delegated this to us and He's counting on us. If we fail, then there are at least two possible consequences:

1.    Souls will needlessly perish (see Lk 13:3,5; Jn 3:18)
2.    We will be guilty of their blood (see Eze 3:17-19; 33:6-9; Act 20:26-27; and  Ultimate Accountability)

The apostle Paul laid out the need for messengers so well!  First he explained the message of the good news that must be proclaimed.  Here is the message:

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Rom 10:8-13)

Then Paul explained through a series of questions why messengers are needed. He said:

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’” (Rom 10:14-15)

Let’s look at each of Paul’s questions. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? They cannot. How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? They cannot. And how will they hear without a preacher? They cannot. How will they preach unless they are sent? They cannot.  Everyone needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ at least one time, so that they can have an opportunity to believe in Him and call upon Him and be saved.  And in order for that to happen, they need a preacher, who must be sent to them to tell them the good news.

Jesus expressed the need for laborers this way:
“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He *said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” (Mat 9:35-38)

The harvest has always been plentiful and the laborers have always been few.  The masses take the highway to hell, and very few seek to reach them with the gospel.  That's why nobody who has obeyed the call should ever have to return to secular work due to lack of funding, because the need for laborers is so great.  God wants us to have deep concern and compassion as He does.  He wants us to pray about it, and eventually as you pray for Him to send forth laborers into His harvest, He may send you.  Until then, as you continue to pray, you can give financially to support the ones who have already been sent out.

The Sending or Great Commission
And Jesus did send out messengers. 

“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (Mat 28:16-20).

First of all, He had instructed them to go to a certain mountain in Galilee.  They obeyed and met with Him there.  And up there on the mountain in His presence, they worshiped Him.  They would not stay on that mountain, since none of them lived on it. They would all need to go from that place once He ascended.  And He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”

A Reiterative Process
Jesus commanded the eleven to go and make disciples and teach them to do everything He commanded them to do. The eleven apostles went and made disciples and taught them to observe everything Jesus commanded them (the apostles) to do.  The disciples of the apostles then went and made disciples in obedience to what Jesus commanded the eleven apostles to do and instructed them to observe everything Jesus commanded the eleven apostles to do. This process has repeated itself throughout the generations.

I would like to emphasize that disciples are expected to do what the eleven apostles were told to do. Some people think what Jesus commanded was just for the eleven apostles to do, but it's for every disciples to observe.

Still Unfulfilled
If you know Jesus today, it is probably because others have obeyed the Great Commission down through the generations.  But just because you may have received the gospel does not mean the commission has been fulfilled yet, so we do not have the privilege or luxury of sitting back idly or sleeping during harvest. This is not the Great Suggestion in the sense that it is optional.  It is necessary that we all proclaim the good news. And no matter where we go, the Lord has promised to be with us always. 

Earlier Sendings
The Lord had previously sent out the twelve and seventy others. From these earlier commissions or "sendings", we can learn more about how to go and what to say and do.

The first time He sent out the twelve it was like this:

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness....These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city. Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.’” (Mat 10:1-20).

And when He sent out the seventy others, it was like this:

“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. ‘Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. ‘Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. ‘Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' ‘If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. ‘Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. ‘Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' ‘But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' ‘I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” (Luk 10:1-12)

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. ‘Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. ‘Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.’” (Luk 10:17-20)

Preach the Gospel to All Creation
So we know that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and He has commissioned not only the twelve and the seventy other, but all of His disciples to go and proclaim the good news to all creation.  That was part of the reason He initially called His disciples:

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’" (Mar 1:17).  If you have decided to follow Jesus, then you have signed up to become a fisher of men.

At the end of Mark’s gospel, he records the Great Commission in this way:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’” (Mar 16:15-18)

It was clear from Mark’s gospel that the Lord sent out His disciples not just to preach but to cast out demons and heal the sick in His name.  That’s why it is so important to ask for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and then wait to receive it, so that you are endued with power to be His witness.

Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8)

Jesus Sends You!
Just as the Father sent Jesus, He sends us.

“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’”  (Joh 20:19-21)

The Lord is still saying to His disciples today, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  He is a sending God, because He has compassion for the lost and doesn’t want anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Offering Your Life
Have you obeyed the Great Commission?  Have you offered your life to the Lord to go and proclaim the good news?  Let me share with you what happened to Isaiah the prophet.

“In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isa 6:1-8)

Isaiah was related to King Uzziah, his cousin, who had recently died.  And the Lord took Isaiah up to the throne room of God to see the King of kings. He was sitting on His throne, high and lifted up.  God is not like us. He is awesome and mighty. The train of His robe filled the temple.

When you stand in the holy presence of the Lord, you are humbled and realize His greatness and your true condition.  He is not just holy, but thrice holy in the most perfect way. Even the holy angels who declare this truth in His presence are created to be awesome.  The mightiest heavenly beings love and fear Him.  The very sound of their voices giving God praise caused the thresholds to shake and the heavenly temple to fill with smoke.

It’s easy to think of somebody else who would be a better messenger, rather than we ourselves.  It’s easy to think of all the reasons why we are not fit for such an awesome task.  Like Isaiah, we feel so unworthy.  He actually felt a holy terror, saying, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”

The thing that Isaiah realized was that even though he was a prophet of God, seeking to live righteously before the Lord, he was still a man of unclean lips and he lived among a people of unclean lips.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all need salvation.

The angel took the live, hot coal from the altar that was burning with holy fire.  He touched Isaiah’s lips with that coal and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’

How could an angel administer atonement to the prophet?  Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins.  I think that this altar in heaven that was burning with holy fire represented the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that was still yet to happen in time. Yet in eternity there is no time. 

And with Isaiah standing right there in God’s presence, the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” This is very interesting, because God can do anything He wants and He knows all things. He was asking this question, not because He lacked information, but in order to express the need and wait for Isaiah to respond.  That’s the way God works.  He wants us to offer ourselves willingly in His service. 

Isaiah’s response was to say, “Here am I. Send me!”  I pray that will be your response today in the presence of the Lord.  As He considers the thousands that are perishing every minute, as they die and go to hell, He still asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” May you respond as Isaiah did, “Here am I. Send me!” 

This is not just for certain people to offer their lives as a sacrifice to God, but for all disciples.  Paul said,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1)

Do you have the same attitude that Paul had when he said, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1Co 9:16).

Are you under compulsion to proclaim the good news to the lost?  Paul knew that if he neglected the call to do so, he would be in big trouble. He said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”

His whole life was devoted to completing that task.  He said, "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Act 20:24)

We need cross-loving men and women today who will say, “Lord, I offer my life to you as a living sacrifice.  I am under compulsion to preach the gospel. The love of Christ compels me! Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.  I consider my life as worth nothing to me so that I may testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Going Forth on the Great Adventure
When you do this, you will embark on a great adventure with God.  He will take you at your word and you will become like Abraham of old, the father of the faith.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;’” (Gen 12:1-2).

The Lord has called many people to go forth from their country and from their relatives and from their father’s house to a land the Lord has shown them.  For many this has been to foreign nations. Many have been sent away from their hometowns to other lands for the sake of the gospel.  And they have gone forth with God’s blessing to make the name of Jesus great. But the important part is that you go to the land that God will show you.  As long as He is in control, then you will be in the place where He needs you to be.  You will be going forth on the great adventure in a walk of faith.

Putting it All Together
Will you look at the fields that are ripe for harvest?  Will you see that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few?  Will you pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest? Will you have compassion for the lost, those who have never had the chance to hear the gospel even once?  Will you look and see that they are they are distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Will you recognize the need?

How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?

Will you accept your call as a disciple of Christ to become a fisher of men? Will you hear God saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Instead of saying, “Send someone else,” will you willingly offer your body as a living sacrifice to God, and in His presence say, “Here am I. Send me”? I encourage you to do that right now.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Give Me Children or I'll Die!, Rescue Souls!, Compassion for the Lost (poem), Ultimate AccountabilityFishers of Men - the 419 series, Be a Star for Jesus, International Impact of Pentecost, and  Multiplication. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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