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We Do Whatever It Takes to Reach All People

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2021 9:00 am

We Do Whatever It Takes to Reach All People

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 18, 2021 9:00 am

Get comfortable being uncomfortable, knowing that Jesus wants people from every tribe, every tongue, and every background to be welcomed into his family.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. There is literally nothing that we can do with the 99 that brings Jesus as much joy as reaching the one, which means that in all our focus on taking people deep, we can never lose the priority of going after the one, because nothing we can teach to the 99. Nothing we can do as the 99 brings Jesus as much joy as restoring that one lost sheep, as reclaiming that one lost prodigal son or prodigal daughter. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. You know, believers aren't meant to be stagnant ponds just sitting around hanging onto what we've got. Stagnant ponds stink, right?

They're overgrown with algae and aren't exactly enjoyable to say, have a refreshing swim in. The better picture of us is that we're meant to be refreshing, cool rivers where gospel water flows freely through us to others. Today, pastor J.D.

challenges us to get comfortable being uncomfortable, knowing that Jesus wants people from every tribe, every tongue, and every background to be welcomed into his family. We do whatever it takes to reach all people. If you missed the beginning of our new teaching series yesterday called Be the Movement, you can find that first message online at But now let's dive into today's teaching in the book of 1 Corinthians.

Here's Pastor J.D. We're in a series called Be the Movement in which we are looking at the core values that define the mission of the summit church. These are not new values for us, of course. They're just fresh articulations of the biblical values that have guided us now for going on about two decades. These are values that we believe should not only define our church, we believe they also ought to define our lives. They are the essence, we believe, of what it means to follow Jesus, and I'm showing you how they are thoroughly anchored in Jesus's life and ministry and in the lives of the apostles who followed him.

I want you to know these values, to embody these values really at the core of who you are, and I want you to live them out. You know, we have said for a while that our mission at the summit church is to be a movement of disciple-making disciples in Raleigh-Durham and around the world. We don't want to be merely a group that gathers in, you know, several hundreds and several thousands on the weekend for a large religious show. We want to be a group of disciple-making disciples who carry the gospel with you everywhere that you go. Well, this season has given us, you realize, a chance to actually take some huge leaps forward in that because we're in a season where we just can't come together as several thousand people in big locations, so we've called on you to lead smaller gatherings of the church in your home. Hear me, the church needs to still gather. We always say that not gathering is not an option for Christians, and we say that nobody should worship alone. Well, this means that that's an opportunity for multiple leaders in our congregation to rise up and lead in the movement in their homes and in their neighborhoods, perhaps even in their workplaces. What we say is you be the movement. You know, a while back I made a statement to our church that I explained that we needed a new standard for success for our members, what we counted as maturity. It was a quote from a guy named Francis Chan.

Here's how it went. He said, Long gone are the days when we should be content with a bunch of people who sing out loud, don't divorce, and give to missions. I now want to know I can drop off any member of my church in a city and that person could grow in Jesus, make disciples, and help start a church. We want to know that if your job sent you to Dubai and there were no churches there, that you would be capable of helping start a church and making disciples there.

You see, that's what God wants for his people. That's Jesus's vision for you as a disciple. If we do this right, if we rise to this moment, when this chapter is over, but we're going to see, we're going to see a lot of leaders equipped to lead in this mission like never before. A lot of you are going to end up discovering leadership gifts that you didn't even know that you had, that you really could be a part of a movement and you could be a church leader. Okay.

All right. The first of our four values was number one, we prioritize the gospel above all, which is what we looked at last time. For Jesus and the apostles, we saw the gospel was a message of first importance, which meant that all other agendas, right, no matter how good and worthy and important they are, they all take a distant second place to the gospel. The second value, number two, what we're going to look at today is we do whatever it takes to reach all people.

We do whatever it takes to reach all people. Again, Luke 15, I've got your Bible. Jesus is going to tell three stories in this chapter that are absolutely gripping. These stories show you how God feels about people who are separated from him, how he feels about you. If you were separated from him, three parables that really all make the exact same point, each increasing in intensity. Hey, you ever wonder, you ever wonder how God feels about you?

Well, these three stories will tell you exactly how. First, Jesus tells a story about a shepherd with a hundred sheep when he discovers that that one is missing. The shepherd doesn't say, well, I got 99 more, a 1% attrition rate isn't bad. No, he is so distraught over the one lost that he stows the 99 in a safe place and he goes out all night searching for the one. That's how God feels about you.

And then look at the size of the summit church and say, wow, that's a lot of people. No, he cares for you. He cares that you are lost.

He wants you. The second story is about a woman who loses a valuable coin. This time it's not one out of a hundred that's lost, it's one out of 10. And we're to assume by that, that that means that it represents a tenth of her life savings.

And so this woman spends an entire day tearing her house apart, looking under all the cushions and ripping up the carpet to see if it slipped under there, just trying to find it. Now, obviously you wouldn't do that for a penny. You wouldn't do that for something that wasn't valuable.

You would only do something like that for something that is very valuable to you. And the point is lost people are valuable to God and he is searching for them. And the third parable, in the third parable, the value of the lost object increases once again. This time it is a lost son. The son rejects his father. It's what we call the story of the prodigal son. The son shames the father and he runs away with his inheritance to a far country. The striking thing in this parable is that the father, rather than disowning his son or harboring anger toward him, this father stands at the door of their house, the door of their property, every day looking out toward the far country where his son has run away to, longing for his son to come home. And when that son comes home, the father can hardly contain himself. He casts aside all dignity and runs to embrace him. He just can't, he just can't be happy without his son.

Is there anybody you love so much that when they're not happy, you can't be happy, and when they're separated from you, you can't be, you can't, you can't be happy. That's how God feels about, about you. The point is, listen, lost people matter to God. Lost people matter to God. In fact, let the extreme weight of Jesus's words here in Luke 15, let him, let him settle in on you. Verse four, what man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lost one of them, doesn't leave the ninety and nine in the open country and go after the one that is lost until he finds it. When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing.

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors saying to them, rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. Just so I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven, verse seven, over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance. There is more joy in heaven over one lost person being reclaimed than over the faithfulness of the 99.

Summit, I want you to think about that for a minute. There is literally nothing that we can do with the 99 that brings Jesus as much joy as rescuing that one. Yes, we care about the 99. Yeah, we want to minister to you, the 99. We want to take you deeper into the gospel.

That's going to be our third value. Make disciples, not just converts. But get this, nothing we can do with the 99 brings Jesus as much joy as rescuing the one. Here's how we say that at the Summit Church.

We say value two, we will do whatever it takes to reach all people. I'm going to show you now, I want you to say goodbye to Luke 15. Once you go to 1 Corinthians 9, which is three or four books, you know, to the right of that in your Bible. And I want to show you how the Apostle Paul embodied this priority. And then I want to talk about what it means specifically for our church. So 1 Corinthians 9, if you can turn there, I'm going to read beginning in verse 19.

Here's how it goes, right? For though, Paul says, I am free from all. I'm a free man. I've made myself actually a servant to all.

The ESV doesn't do a great translation there because the actual word that he uses is slave. I am totally owned by something else. Nothing, nothing's really mine anymore. And what is it that Paul says he is owned by? He says, I am owned by my desire to win more of them. To the Jews, I became as a Jew in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law, though not myself being under the law, of course, because I've been freed by the gospel. But I did it so that I could win those under the law. To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law, not, of course, being outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ.

Why did I do that? So that I could win those outside the law. To the weak, I became weak that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some.

I do it all for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessings. Verse 24, do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one actually receives the prize. So run.

So run that you may be this one who wins that prize. Paul says that for him, winning people to Jesus is similar to running a race. You know, in a race, if you've ever run in a race, you lay aside anything that doesn't help you win, right? You have a right, if you're running a 5k or a cross-country event, you've got a right to wear a backpack or football helmet, that fancy new pair of cowboy boots that you love so much, you've got a right to wear all of that.

But if you care about winning, you're not going to wear any of those things. In fact, you're going to lay them aside. Paul says, I will lay aside anything that keeps me from bringing more people to Jesus. I've made myself, he says, a slave. I made myself a slave to the mission, which means nothing I have really belongs to me anymore.

It's all been surrendered to the goal of the mission. Interestingly, all the context of 1 Corinthians 9, when Paul writes that, is Paul is explaining why he won't defend himself against certain attacks that have been made on his character. You know how much it bothers you when somebody attacks you and you want to like, then you know they're wrong and you're, you want to get out and you want to defend yourself, right? Paul says, I got a right to defend myself. I have the right to defend myself, but I just don't see how that will help the gospels advance in your lives. So I'm going to lay down that right to defend myself.

You see verse 15 when he says, but I've made no use of any of those rights that I had. Even defending my reputation is going to come second to the gospels advance in people's lives. Whether it helps him reach more people is Paul's grid.

Y'all for everything. Again, we express that here at the Summit Church by just saying this, we do whatever it takes to reach all people. So let's talk about what this means for the Summit Church, okay? Let me give you a few things here. Number one, it means that our mission to the lost trumps the comfort of our members.

Our mission to the lost will always trump the comfort of our members. Early on here at the Summit Church, we decided to set aside our preferences in order to reach people. One of the stories that I love to tell about this involves a beloved saint who unfortunately just went home to be with Jesus just a few weeks ago. His name was David Baber. He's one of our elders here at the church for many years. When I first came to the Summit Church in 2002, I'd started a basketball ministry and a gym that we owned at the time. Groups of local guys from the neighborhood would come to play every Monday night. I noticed that they all knew each other well. They all had nicknames for each other that corresponded to what they were good at in basketball. One of the guys, they called him Money because he never missed a three-pointer. Another guy they called Streak because he just was so fast at cutting into the lane. The nickname that they had for me was No Don't Shoot.

I wish I were kidding, but that is the gospel truth. There's another guy whose name was Ayer, and they called him that because he could just jump like crazy. He and I, I guess very unexpectedly, we struck up a friendship. I ended up marrying he and his fiancé. But to make a long story short, over the course of several months, I was able to lead him to faith in Christ.

He'd come from a pretty difficult background. I got to baptize him in our church. He was up in the baptistry. As far as I know, as far as I can remember, it was the first African-American that we baptized in the Summit Church.

I stood up there. We were in that old property of Homestead Heights Baptist Church. He gave the most incredible testimony about coming to faith in Christ.

There was hardly a dry eye in the whole place. I baptized him. After the service, David Baber came up to me. He said, son, because they all called me son back in those days. He said, son, you know that a lot of people are complaining about these changes you're making in our church.

I said, yes, sir. He said, you know, I got some questions about some of these changes we're making too. I kind of smiled. I wondered where he was going with it. Then I looked at him, and I could see he had a big old tear welling up in his eye.

His voice got really shaky. He pointed toward the baptistry, and he said, but son, if that's what you're if that's what we're going to get right there, you can count me in for all these changes. And that sort of embodied a spirit of people at the Summit Church that just said, whatever it takes, we'll let whatever needs to change, change if it helps us reach more people for Jesus.

I want you to know, Summit, especially those of you that are new or here, that where we are, we are where we are because of a group of people, a group of saints that were willing to make themselves uncomfortable for the sake of reaching others. Sadly, you know this, the countryside of America is dotted with churches who won't do that. Their members don't want to change because change is uncomfortable, and so they sit on furniture that was designed in the 1940s. They listen to music that was popular in the 1950s. They listen to a pastor who was dressed like he got stuck in the 1960s. I heard one guy say, he says, you know, if the 1950s ever come back, a lot of our Baptist churches are totally going to be ready, right? Some of you, by the way, you might have grown up in a church like this, and so you know how hard it is to get them to change anything, right? The organ, the order of service, the hand bails.

Anybody grow up in a place with the hand bails? And Lord, help us if somebody's going to try to bring in a drum set, and that'd be tantamount to setting up an altar to Satan. The sad truth is that many of these churches have prioritized maintaining their traditions over reaching their grandchildren. And listen, I know it's easy for us to sit here and feel smug because, oh, we're so modern and contemporary, but, and it's true, by the way, this is an amazing church, but you realize how easy it is for that spirit to creep back in. How willing are you and I to put up with things that we don't like in church for the sake of reaching somebody else?

How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? Let me make this real for a minute, okay? Paul's illustration in 1 Corinthians 9 that we're looking at, his illustration for how he applied this principle was to have Timothy, his traveling companion, circumcised, right? And if you're like, what is circumcision?

You just ask whoever's leading your home gathering and they'll be happy to explain it to you, okay? But for Jews, being circumcised was the thing you did to show respect to your heritage. Well, Timothy had a Jewish mom, but a Gentile dad, and so Timothy had never been circumcised. Well, that had become a huge obstacle as a problem for a lot of Jews they were trying to reach because it was a stumbling block because they thought that that meant Timothy was disrespecting his heritage. And Paul says, listen, according to the gospel, he doesn't need to be circumcised, right?

He's free. So in order to remove any obstacle for the gospel, Paul had Timothy, a grown man, get circumcised. I want you to keep that in the back of your mind as the standard for being uncomfortable in church. I feel like Timothy would say to a lot of us, please do not bellyache that the music is not exactly to your liking.

And I feel like we would hear him say that and be ashamed. We believe that we should always be pushing the envelope here. We just want to get comfortable, like I'm saying, with being uncomfortable.

We want to do things innovatively or sometimes when it feels risky. I love how a pastor friend of mine, a guy named Craig Groeschel, says that he said to reach people that nobody else is reaching, you've got to be willing to do what nobody else is doing. This is why, by the way, we chose to pursue multi-site all those many years ago. Just to be clear, multi-site is a big headache for everybody, but we figured that it was easier for us to reach more people in the triangle if lost people had a facility that they could come to within a 15-mile drive of their homes. I always say that I'm flattered that you would drive 45 minutes to come to our church. I really am.

I'm honored by that. But I can promise you that the person that you just met in Starbucks or in your neighborhood who doesn't know Jesus that well is not going to drive 45 minutes to come hear a message that they don't really understand yet, right? So what we said is rather than build one big gargantuan six flags over Jesus kind of building, we said let's build slightly smaller gospel outposts all over the triangle. And so we say to people stay where you are, serve where you live, let's be the church in that community. That's why we did that even though it wasn't an ideal way to set up a church and there are a lot of challenges to it.

I hope that you and I will always feel a little bit uncomfortable at the Summit Church because the mission is not about meeting our needs. The mission is about reaching our neighbors. Number two, being a church that that's willing to do whatever it takes to reach all people means. Number two, we pursue with not just depth. I sometimes hear the criticism that we need to stop focusing on growing and instead focus on taking people deep.

And I get that. Like I told you, our third value is that we make disciples not just converts, all right? But you can see from Jesus's parable that there is literally nothing that we can do with the 99 that brings Jesus as much joy as reaching the one, which means that in all our focus on taking people deep, which we're going to do, we can never lose the priority of going after the one because nothing we can teach to the 99. Nothing we can do as the 99 brings Jesus as much joy as restoring that one lost sheep, as reclaiming that one lost prodigal son or prodigal daughter. Charles Spurgeon, who was a 19th century preacher, who was not known for his shallow sermons. He wasn't, you know, light and seeker friendly.

Here's what he said. If my hearers are not converted, I feel like I've wasted my time. I've lost the exercise of brain and heart. I feel as if I've lost my hope and lost my life unless I find for my Lord some of his blood-bought ones. I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unpack all the mysteries of the divine word, for conversion is a thing that we're supposed to live for. He's known throughout history as one of the deepest preachers that's ever, ever been around, but he said the thing that drives me is seeing that one lost son or daughter be restored home. So yeah, we want to continue to grow deep and we're going to talk about that, but believers that grow deep without also growing wide are probably not as as deep in the gospel as they think because growing deep in the gospel always makes you reach wide for the gospel. We're not supposed to be in a stagnant, a stagnant pond where you simply receive, receive, receive. We're supposed to be a river where gospel water flows through us to others. That's number two.

We are, we're going to pursue not just depth, we're going to pursue width also. Number three. Number three, it means that we go after all peoples in our community, not just one kind. Do you notice that our statement specifically says we do whatever it takes to reach all people? All there doesn't just mean as many as possible. It means all kinds of people. I mean, certainly we want to reach as many as possible.

That's the whole point of the story of the 99 and the one. Every lost person matters to God, but all there means, means all kinds of people. People from every walk of life, from every socioeconomic strata, from every ethnic group. When Jesus gave the great commission in Matthew 28, he told the apostles to go and make disciples from pantata ethnic.

That's a Greek phrase that literally means all the people groups, different tribes and different ethnicities and different language groups. That's why at the Summit Church, we send out so many missionaries from the church. By the way, currently we have 276 members who are living overseas right now on a church planting team. We do that. We don't do that because everybody in the triangle is reached.

We don't do it because there's nothing left to do here. We do it because Jesus wants people from every tribe and tongue to be a part of his family. Growing deep in the gospel always makes you reach wide with the gospel. Everything else for Paul was a secondary matter behind bringing people to Jesus. This has been a timely message from Pastor JD Greer on Summit Life. If you'd like to listen again, or if you want to share this message with a friend, visit Knowing the Scriptures better has been a primary goal for us this year, and to help you continue to grow, this month we're offering a new Bible study, something a bit different from our other resources.

One of the things that I'm always curious about when I buy a book or a Bible study online, JD, is the format. What exactly will I hold in my hand when I receive it? What can we expect?

It's a great question. It's called Be the Movement. It's essentially a four-part study with an introduction and a conclusion. The book ends it. Each part is going to have a few pages of teaching from me and our team here at Summit Life written out, followed by a handful of questions that are just based in Scripture. My favorite thing, I feel like my job as a preacher teacher is to help people read the Bible better. It's just like, hey, you're hearing me teach this, but how can you engage in the text? You can work through the book at really any pace. Every once in a while, Molly, we get the critique here at Summit Life that I talk a little quickly. I tell people I automatically come at 1.5 speed.

If that's you and you're like, how do I slow this down? The great news is this book is for you. Then there's a pretty robust prayer section that gives you prompts to help you respond to what you just spent time studying. By the way, another question we get a lot here is, I want to have a prayer time, but my mind wanders and I start out praying for missionaries and I end up thinking about the Netflix show I'm watching the night before. This will help you actually put some structure to it so that you can actually move along with the Holy Spirit and Scripture in prayer.

I think it'll help you have a more fulfilling prayer time. From the very beginning, God intended for His church to move from household to household, neighborhood to neighborhood, nation to nation, moving into areas of brokenness and despair and injustice. We're bringing God's healing, hope, and perfect peace. What moves us today is the same thing that moved the earliest disciples 2,000 years ago, the gospel. We'll send you a copy of this new study today as our way of saying thanks when you donate to support this ministry. Summit Life is funded by listeners like you. And when you link arms with us today, you're helping us bring gospel-centered Bible teaching to the radio, television, and web every single day. You can do that with a one-time gift or by joining our team of regular monthly gospel partners.

Just give us a call, 866-335-5220, or you can give and request the Be the Movement study online at I'm Molly Vitevich inviting you to join us again Friday when we look at truly pursuing all people in our communities with the love of Jesus. We'll see you right here Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-21 09:30:20 / 2023-07-21 09:41:09 / 11

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