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Kick-Starting a Plan to Reach the World, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 29, 2021 7:05 am

Kick-Starting a Plan to Reach the World, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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In January, Chuck Swindoll opened the Gospel according to Matthew, and for the past 11 months, he's walked us through a verse-by-verse study through all 28 chapters. His in-depth study came to a grand crescendo with the Great Commission of Jesus to go and make disciples. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck begins an essential follow-up study about the practical implications of this Great Commission. He'll start by showing us how the disciples implemented the marching orders of Jesus.

Chuck titled this first message in the series, Kickstarting a Plan to Reach the World. When we finish with the gospel by Matthew, we found it almost unfinished in that we were left with Jesus and his disciples together, but we might say hanging on his words, almost as if saying, and what next. Thankfully, Luke took up his pen after writing his gospel, and the Lord led him to write an entire book that would trace the events, that would answer the question, what next? And that book we know as the Book of Acts. Interestingly, it's named the Acts of the Apostles, though, except for one occasion when the Apostles were named, only four Apostles appear by name in the Book of Acts. It's really the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

And we're looking at that book together at this time and next as we sort of finish up the account of the gospel by helping each of us understand what followed and how the Lord implemented a plan that was designed to reach the world. I'm reading from Acts chapter 1. If you've not already located that in your Bible, please do so. Acts 1 verse 6. So when the Apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?

He replied, the Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. Men of Galilee, they said, why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go. Look at that verse I just read. We are in between the last part of the last phrase. Jesus has been taken up from you. That was a long time ago in our past, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go, and that's yet future.

We are in the in-between, awaiting his return. You're listening to Insight for Living. To search the scriptures with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to slash studies.

And now the message from Chuck titled, Kickstarting a Plan to Reach the World. One of our major goals in life is to simplify the complicated. Because my world is so directly connected to the Bible, my desire is always to simplify what is written in the scriptures. At first glance, the Bible can appear to be intimidating.

It's a big book, lots of pages, lots of words, often in small print, filling one chapter after another with thoughts and statements that are somewhat unfamiliar to the person who doesn't know the content of the Bible. And it also contains words that are sometimes not used in our generation, so that has to be clarified. I have a small framed sign that sits in my study, and I read rather regularly. It says, idiosyncratically eccentric phraseology is the promulgator of perturbable obfuscation. Little sign sits in my study. When you turn it around the other side, it says big words cause confusion. That sign is saying that, but it's not saying that, so it needs to be simplified. Sometimes big words are misleading, making you think one thing when in fact they mean another.

I thought of that when one of our church members sent me an email this past week that illustrates it perfectly. He wrote, I called an old classmate and asked him what he was doing. My former classmate replied that he was working on aqua thermal treatment of ceramics, aluminum, and steel under a constrained environment. Well, I was impressed.

However, upon further inquiry I learned that he was washing dishes with hot water under his wife's supervision. Why did he say that? When it comes to the Bible, there's no reason to be intimidated. There really isn't. I've spent my life studying it, and I've learned that it really is readable, and it is all understandable. Some parts of it, of course, are mysterious, hard to grasp, but that would be a very small portion of scripture.

In fact, let me give you a tip. Everything in the Bible falls under one of three categories. Everything. The Bible is either including information about people, or events, or great ideas, great truths, sometimes called doctrines.

Hear it again. People, events, great truths, or great ideas. Wherever you open the scriptures, you're dealing with a person or people, you're reading of an event or events, and you're learning about a great idea or a great truth, a great doctrine. Now when it comes to people, the main character of the Bible is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'll give you another tip. When you're in the Old Testament, and I will stand here to illustrate it, everyone in the Old Testament is looking forward to his coming, because all through the Old Testament, he is not present. They are anticipating his arrival. So everything in the Old Testament looks forward to his coming. When you get to the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, everyone is looking at Jesus. His birth, his boyhood, the brief story of his growing up years, his ministry, his suffering, passion, death, and resurrection, and finally his ascension. It's all about Jesus who is present among the people, the ones who are writing the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Old Testament looking forward, Gospels looking at. Then you get to the letters of the New Testament all the way to Revelation. Everything is looking back at Jesus.

He has already been here, so he is now history. They're looking back on what he did, what he said, what he meant, how he did what he did, and why he did it, and on and on we could go. All of that is in the letters which make them so vital to the Christian life because it links the life to Jesus who has lived his life and now empowers us to live the same life today. As one man put it, the life that he lived qualified him for the death that he died and the death that he died qualifies us for the life that he lived.

Now if you pay close attention you've noticed I've left out a book. Between the Gospels and the letters there is a bridge, a literary bridge called Acts written by one of the men who wrote a Gospel, Dr. Luke. So Luke is the most prolific of the four Gospel writers. All of the Gospel and then he takes up his pen and writes a bridge book that covers the transition after Jesus left the earth all the way through the story of the Church being born, missions getting underway, into the life and ultimately the death of Paul the Apostle.

It ends in fact with Paul reaching the sine qua non of his life as he comes to Rome, albeit under house arrest, and here he lives hopefully to stand before the Emperor and present his Savior to the one who is the Emperor of the Empire, the Roman Empire. But I get ahead of myself. The book of Acts is a transitional book.

Please remember that. Because that's true, be careful about establishing any major doctrine based on a transitional book. Be very careful when you study the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts that you don't establish a lot of information in your mind thinking that it applies to the era of the letters when in fact it applies to the bridge. For the writer is taking us over a bridge and getting us into the truth of the letters. I love this book.

It's a wonderful book to cover information about Jesus when in fact it really begins with his leaving all this information to those who had been his disciples and were now being chosen as his apostles. That's not the same term. Chances are you've never heard the two defined for you. We mix them up and therefore we misunderstand. A disciple is the word mathetes in the Greek and it means a learner.

Listen carefully. One who engages in learning through instruction from another. So there are still disciples. You are a disciple if you are in a Bible class, perhaps a home Bible class, a class at the church, a class that you're involved in outside the church and you're learning from teachers. You are a mathetes in the sense that you are sitting rather passively and learning, absorbing, perhaps taking notes, asking questions. You're like the disciples while Jesus walked among them for those three, three and a half years.

You're a learner. An apostle is not the same as a disciple. The word itself, apostolos, means, listen to this, one sent forth with authority for the achievement of a specific objective. One sent forth with authority for the achievement of a specific objective.

Doesn't sound like a mere learner to me. An apostle has been handed the baton of the teacher and now carries the baton into his generation. There are no more apostles. There are many disciples, but the apostolic man died off in that first century when these original eleven, twelve apostles died off. They passed the baton on to those they discipled and they became what we call apostolic delegates, not apostles. Timothy was not an apostle. Titus was not an apostle.

And on and on we could go. No matter what you read or who you listen to, they are not apostles. They are learners just as I am a learner. Some are teachers just as I'm a teacher. Some are preachers as I'm a preacher. Some are evangelists. Some are engaged in other of the spiritual gifts.

But the apostolic gift ended with that first century. These men who took the baton from Jesus and carried it to their beginning of their generation and on into it till their death, most of them by martyrdom, they carried the role of apostle. When you get to the book of Acts, you begin to read of apostles because they are the ones on the bridge carrying the message of the gospel to the people of the world. We do a work of evangelism as we take the message of Christ and spread it abroad. We do it under the authority of Christ but not with any special authority within ourselves. The apostles had authority within themselves, the authority to work miracles, the authority to establish churches, the authority to discern evil. These were apostolic gifts that were given to those men but not passed on down through the generations.

Pay attention to the transitional time or you will be forever confused and you will misuse words and that will not be a matter of using a big word but of misusing words that have no business being a part of your vocabulary. Now when we get to Acts chapter 1, Jesus has not yet left the earth. He's about to leave and when we get to verse 9 that's exactly what occurs but until then he has a few last words to say to his men who are now beginning to fill the role of apostles.

You will read the word three or four times right here in this first chapter and you'll read it frequently as you read through the book of Acts. Now observe verse 6. So when the apostles were with Jesus they kept asking him, Lord has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom. They are still hung up on that kingdom rule of Christ.

You know why? Because they wanted to reign with him. They want to be a part of his rulership. They will be in the future when he returns to this earth but not now. And in fact the Lord is going to tell them will you please get past the concern about the time of the kingdom. Look at what he says. The father alone, verse 7, the father alone has the authority to set those dates and times and they are not for you to know.

See it? I'm not making it up. It's right there at the end of verse 7, Acts 1.

Please hear my warning. If you are under the teaching of an individual who sets dates, you're under a false teacher. If you are reading books by those who are setting dates and telling you the era in which Christ will return, you are reading the book written by a false teacher. He will never tell you that or she will never tell you that but they are because Jesus says it's not for you to know. It's always been remarkable to me that we get so interested in the very things Jesus tells us is none of our business.

Isn't that amazing? It's not for you to know. He is going to return just as he said and I think we are. I got to be careful here. I'm not sure how close but we're close and every evil day that passes we're getting closer because he said in the last days savage times will come and men and women we are in savage times. Most would agree that the intensity of the conflict is escalating and it appears the end is drawing near. You're listening to a message from Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll. He titled today's talk Kickstarting a Plan to Reach the World. This is Insight for Living.

Chuck will share a closing comment in just a moment so please stay with us. To learn more about the ministry of Insight for Living please visit us online at Right now I'd like to take a moment to remind you that Insight for Living produces a wide variety of resources perfectly suited for any occasion. So please take a few minutes to browse through our online store where you'll find a vast array of books such as the Swindoll Study Bible. In addition you'll have access to the beautiful coffee table books on topics such as Christmas, Easter, and even the journeys of Paul.

For a more unique gift idea you might consider our selection of whole bean coffees from around the world. All this and more is found at slash store. Many people have been asking about Chuck's series in the Gospel of Matthew and you'd be pleased to know that Chuck has written an in-depth commentary on Matthew that comes in two hardbound volumes.

You'll find all the details for requesting a copy at slash store. Chuck, throughout our study in Matthew's Gospel we had occasion to witness the behavior of the legalist. These religious extremists had a dismissive way of shaming people and driving them away from God rather than to God. Well you're right Dave. Anyone who's been verbally dressed down by a legalist knows the ugly feeling of shame that follows. Have you ever been there? I sure have. Let me paint a picture for you. You've made a foolish mistake. You're at your lowest moment.

You need someone to guide you to safety but instead the legalist kicks into judge-and-jury mode, drags your most embarrassing flaws into public view, and then celebrates your failures like a rabid dog with a juicy bone satisfying his craving for self-validation, slobbering his way to the next victim and the next and the next. Look, I'm not going to preach a sermon here only to say that Jesus reserved his greatest expressions of anger for the self-righteous Pharisees who prayed upon weakness. But with the same intensity and even more Jesus opened his arms to the broken-hearted, the marginalized, the lonely, and embraced them with grace. My friend, more than ever Insight for Living Ministries is determined to serve as a lavish garden for people all around the world who long to smell the aroma of God's matchless grace.

A safe place where imperfect, sinful people are forgiven, taught the truth, and redeemed. In this emotionally charged era where shouting matches are commonplace, where people feel voiceless and overlooked and even condemned, would you be among those who give generously so that we can spread the fragrance of God's grace to those desperate for a second chance? Today our Needs at Insight for Living Ministries are urgent. As we wrap up another year, your special year-end donation will make all the difference. Please don't delay in your response. Together let's introduce people to the God who says, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 9, my grace is all you need.

My power works best in weakness. Well here's how to respond to Chuck Swindoll. Give us a call right now if you're listening in the United States dial 1-800-772-8888 or if you prefer it may be quicker and more efficient to give online at slash donate. I'm Dave Spiker inviting you to join us again Tuesday when Chuck Swindoll talks about kick-starting a plan to reach the world right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message kick-starting a plan to reach the world and the sound recording were copyrighted in 2018 by Charles R Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-16 15:08:43 / 2023-07-16 15:16:18 / 8

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