Looking Around

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In, Out & About: Joining In On God’s Mission



1 Cor 3:5-11, Acts 13:1-3, Phil 4:15-16

Cody John Simpson


  • There are 3 things we need to incorporate as we look around to find co-labourers in the Gospel mission:
  • Individual Partners – 1 Cor 3:5-11
    • The Corinthians fell into the sin of divisiveness or factions. Certain groups preferring certain teachers in the early church. 
    • Paul confronts the foolishness of this because by God’s design, many people are brought into the mission of spreading the gospel, each in their own task.
      • Ultimately the true unifying component is the foundation of Christ. Its all about Jesus.
    • We often think that spreading the gospel is our individual mission, in the sense that we have to go it alone with the people in our lives. Maybe we can pray for one another but that’s it. 
      • It’s like the familiar phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” It often takes a church to bring the gospel to bear in someone’s heart. God uses multiple people in different capacities. We ought to utilize this as a strength instead of trying to be lone wolves:
      • Invite others not only into our lives but into our communal church lives as multiple opportunities arise for someone to see God at work in the world.
  • Like-minded churches & ministries – Acts 13:1-3
    • In simple modern-day ministry terms Paul was a church planter. He went from city to city starting churches. 
    • Acts records how Paul & Barnabas got their start in this church planting ministry. They were sent out by their home church in Antioch. 
      • This is remarkable, because today’s church mentality is to build and keep building our own churches, rather than building others. This means holding onto our best leaders and not partnering in works that take resources from the mother church. The Elders of the Antioch church didn’t do this, and most importantly we see from the Holy Spirit’s leading that this isn’t God’s way. We are to build the Kingdom, not simply our local church. 
    • Not only was this the attitude of the Antioch church, but also of one of Paul’s church plants: Phil 4:15-16
      • The Philippians also wanted to partner with Paul to create new churches, which meant sending resources outside their own church. This attitude Paul commended. 
    • When we talk about spreading the gospel beyond an individual basis we start talking church planting. We’ve witnessed by sheer numbers that planting churches reaches the lost better than established churches, and it is the Biblical model we have to go on.
    • But church planting often means partnering with other like-minded churches. Maybe its pooling finances, or leadership training, or volunteers. It always means sacrificing and giving to another church (the new church to be planted).
  • Churches of different traditions – Mark 9:38-41
    • Here is an interesting situation. A man casting out demons in the name of Jesus, but he is not an associate of Jesus’ disciples. We don’t get a lot of details, but we can figure out these essentials:
      • He isn’t one of the main professed disciples who would have been in Jesus’ entourage.
      • He was familiar with Jesus’ ministry, likely was baptized and is presently doing the work of Jesus.
      • He’s actually having more success than some of the 12 at doing Jesus’ work (earlier in ch 9 the 12 fail at delivering a boy from a demonic spirit).
    • This is attacking John’s pride. Someone outside of their group is experiencing God’s blessing. 
    • Yet Jesus is clear, there is evidence of God at work in this man, though he is not “with us,” he is actually on the same team.
    • This is a big challenge for us today. It’s uncomfortable. Does God move in other churches unlike ours?
      • What about the Anglicans & Presbyterians baptising babies, the Pentecostals speaking in tongues, or the Methodists & Wesleyans with their women preachers and Arminian theology?
        • These differences aren’t small and there is a reason as Baptists we don’t follow into these practices or beliefs. 
        • But at the same time they profess Jesus, the Son of God, crucified for sin and resurrected so that through repentance & faith we can have forgiveness and eternal life with God. 
      • We don’t like to think that God moves in churches that aren’t like our own. But we need to heed Jesus. There are fundamentals that bind us all, but in other areas we’re going to find disagreement and difference and we can’t let that lead to division.
      • Now that means that not all of our partnerships will look the same. We probably won’t do a joint baptism service with Anglicans any time soon. But could we not serve our community together. Can we not simply pray and worship together? Celebrate their victories over sin and darkness? Perhaps the starting point is to accept that God is with His people there too.
  • The world is all about division. Either out of a desire for power, pride or purity, our naturally sinful drive is to exclude and tighten our circles. 
    • But in Jesus God has opened up the circle. He started with the nation of Israel. If you wanted to know God, you had to go through Israel, and if you wanted more intimacy and closeness with God you had to become a Jew. Jesus changed that on the cross. His sacrificial death meant that anyone could become forgiven and cleansed and thus brought into a relationship with God. As God has widened His circle the workers He has called to spread the gospel to the nations forms a diverse team. But we are a team. The universal, invisible church, the body of Christ. 
      • John 13:34-35 – Our love for one another in the church will show that we are indeed disciples of Jesus.
  • As we go out into the world, noticing others, loving them and bringing them into our lives so that good news of salvation through Jesus would be spread and come to fruition, may we not think that we are alone in this task
    • May we protect ourselves from being over-burdened.
    • May we attack our pride realizing that its not about us, nor do we have all the skills or resources to help others. 
    • May we realize that God’s mission is greater than us. It includes so many other people and churches, and we are meant to work together for the greater kingdom. 
    • Most importantly may we realize that this is a privilege from God. We don’t engage in this mission because of something special about us. God doesn’t need any of us, but it is His pleasure to include us – so let’s stop making it about us and our way of doing things, and seek to do things God’s way.