Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. So here's an important question for you as we look ahead to a new year. How do you discern God's call on your life? It's important to remember that when you're trying to hear His voice, don't just look for where the Spirit is moving in your life, but also how He's at work in the world.
Because even more important than what the Spirit says to you, is what the Word of God says to everybody. And today pastor J.D. walks us through how to figure out what God is doing in the world, and then in turn, how we conform our life to His mission.
If you've missed any of the previous messages this week, I encourage you to catch up free of charge at jdgreer.com. Now here's pastor J.D. with the second part of his message titled, What Has God Called Me To? Paul says, God's main purpose in the world from cover to cover in His Bible and then repeated by Jesus and the Great Commission as the marching orders for all of His disciples is that people who have never heard the gospel need a chance to hear. The Joshua Project, which is a missions research agency, reports that today there are 7,398, what they call unreached people groups, that make up 3.2 billion people on our planet.
The vast majority of these unreached people groups live in what we call the 10-40 window, which is between the 10th and the 40th parallels, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East. I want you to get this, less than 10% of missionary work is done among those people groups. 90% of our efforts are focused on places where there are churches on literally every corner. Now, for sure, we have needs here, but I want you to think for a minute of all the ways somebody this morning can access the gospel. This morning, you have to come to this church. You can hear it on podcasts.
You can hear it on radio stations, TV programs, books, magazines. You don't like this church. There are literally churches on every corner.
There's likely another Christian living in your neighborhood and those unreached people groups, none of that exists. I hear a lot of people today object to international missions because, oh, there's just so much work here. What business have we got going over there when there's so much to do here?
And I agree, there's a lot of work left to do here. But I want you to remember that Paul looked at this huge swath of people from Jerusalem to Illyricum with over half a million population and less than 500 believers with half a dozen brand new churches and said, the work here is done. I got to take Christ where he's never been named. That has got to be the church's priority. Some of you are like, well, JD, why are you still here?
I don't want to contradict what I said before. I know that God has not called every single one of us to focus our lives on this, but surely in a church this size with what we hear and experience week by week, surely God is moving on some of you for this. Listen, I'm so grateful for every one of you who feels called to engage in ministries around here, to reach people in your profession. I'm grateful for every single one of you who steps forward to help us plant a new campus or to go on one of our new North American church plants.
I am so grateful for that. But why, why are there so few that are willing to go where Christ has never been named and to preach his gospel in those places? Why are there so few that step forward to go to the hard places, the unreached places? Why would God leave so many of us here in a place of so much access to the gospel when there are so many over there with no access at all? If we were really listening to God, would he be doing what we are experiencing?
Would he leave so many of us here? Is God that bad at math to leave so many where there is so much when there are so few where there is nothing at all? Why are there so few men?
Women still outnumber men going to these places four to one. Listen, I know it's not easy, and that's probably the big reasons. It's sometimes lonely. It's often hard. A lot of times it's dangerous.
I know that from experience. For many of the places you go, people don't even want you there. Why would you do that with your life?
Why would you go take the gospel to a place where people aren't really receptive to it? Here's why. Life is short. You and I are going to blink, and life is going to be over. We're going to be standing in eternity wondering what we did with our lives. Life is not about 70 or 80 years of finding your perfect life and your dreams and the places you've always wanted to live. Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.
That's why. You say, the work sounds impossible. I don't know how to persuade. I don't try to persuade people to turn to Jesus. I can barely function in my own culture, much less go in somebody else's. Yeah, I get that.
Again, I feel that from experience. What you will find is that the Word of God does the work. All you do is sow it. It's amazing to sit back and watch the Word do the work. I heard an illustration of this. A pastor friend of mine told this story a few weeks ago that I thought illustrated this better than I'd ever heard. He shared with me that there was a missionary from his church that had gone to a city in Central Asia, and that missionary had given out New Testaments in that city. He handed one to a guy on the street who commented when he got the New Testament on how amazing the paper was in this New Testament and how it would be just perfect for rolling cigarettes. He said, could I have a copy? The missionary at first said, well, no, because he knew what the guy was going to use it for. He just told him. But then he said, I'll tell you what.
I'll make you a deal. I will give you a copy of this New Testament, even knowing that you are going to use it, tear out the pages, and use the pages to roll cigarettes. But you got to promise me one thing before I give it to you. The guy said, all right, what's that? He said, you got to promise that before you use a page to roll a cigarette that you're going to read what's written on that page. And the guy said, you would actually give it to me then? And the missionary said, well, yeah, I'll do that, but you got to promise me that.
So the guy makes a promise. The missionary gives him the Bible. The missionary said he came back a month or so later and saw that same guy.
So he goes up to him and asked him, he said, have you kept your promise? And the guy said, well, I smoked my way through the Gospel of Matthew. He said, then I smoked my way through the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke. And I started to smoke my way through the Gospel of John. He said, but then I came to chapter three and read verse 16 and it all just made sense. For God so loved the world, he loved me. There was a God who was seeking me. And so I stopped smoking the Bible, but kept reading it.
And he said, if you'll help me, I want to, I want to know more about him and I want to give him my life. Now, for the record, I would not advocate that method of evangelism. That's not the takeaway here. I'm just telling you that the word of God has power. God doesn't need your ability in a hostile world.
He just needs your availability. The word does the work. So I will say it again.
Is there anybody listening to me who feels your heart stir when we talk about those who've never heard? To our college students, I often say, one of the greatest things about your generation, and I mean this, one of the greatest things about your generation is that you are a cause driven generation. You know, it's not just about money. You want to eradicate poverty. You want to extend human rights. You want to end global warming.
You want to save the turtles from plastic straws. And many of those things are good and worthy causes. And I commend you.
I genuinely do. But you understand that for the follower of Jesus who actually believes the Bible, one cause supersedes all of them. And that cause is advocated on every page of every genre of this book. And that is the Lord is not willing that any should perish. He wants all to come to repentance, and he wants people who have never heard to have the chance to hear and respond. It's like John Piper says, relieving any type of suffering is a good and worthy goal. And Christians of Jesus should care about all of them. But the worst kind of suffering, the kind that deserves our most earnest attention is eternal suffering.
That is the greatest and most pressing of all the causes. Is there anybody here who senses I am supposed to take him where he's never been named? I need you to understand that the Spirit of God has given the Summit Church a unique calling to take Christ to unreached places. It's clear that God has given us that call. He's called all churches to this, of course.
But you heard last weekend that God has written this into our story from the beginning, which is not true of every church. That started with Sam James, who stood on the stage with me last weekend, who is 90 years old this year, who planted this church that we're a part of, he planted it en route to Vietnam in 1962. I want you to think for a minute about Vietnam in 1962.
I know most of you were not alive then, but in 1962, Vietnam was one of the most unreached, arguably the most dangerous place in the world for an American. And that is where our founding pastor went. He preached only one message I told you at our church after it was organized Isaiah 54, 2, and 3, and told that church that God had called them to expand their borders to bring in the nations. That was a word of prophecy.
And then he left that afternoon and served in Vietnam for 54 years. That is the legacy you and I have received. Then there is my own calling. I often say that my calling to ministry did not begin as a call to the pastorate. My calling to ministry started as a call to the mission field. And here's the thing, God never released his call on me to the unreached mission field.
He just redirected it. He showed me that how I'm supposed to fulfill that is as one who sins. So I want you to realize that what we've experienced here in this area goes so, so far beyond just good leadership.
You get that right? Currently, we have 300 of our members serving in 65 different cities around the world outside of the United States. We have six times the number of missionaries as the International Mission Board's second partner. For the last five years, we have averaged sending 25 long-term missionaries, which means for us two years or more that you commit to, 25 long-term missionaries every year.
I need you to understand that a healthy sending church would be ecstatic to see 25 people go in their lifetime. I do not share those things with you to congratulate you or to pull off some kind of humble brag about our great leadership accomplishments. I know it's not about our great leadership.
You know how I know that? Because I've had some other amazing ideas that I've tried to lead in the same ways, and you all haven't gone along with it. So I am safe to say it's not my great leadership.
Same leadership, different results. The only explanation for our success in this area is that God has called us to it. And faithful is he who called it, who also has done it.
All your promises are yes and amen. Also share this with you because I want you to recognize this as a legitimate gifting of God. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift that was in him to the laying on of hands. This is clearly a gift that we have received.
That means we have to stir it up. You understand this is one of the most important principles of the Christian life. The Christian life is not figuring out what needs there are in the world and coming up with a plan and asking God to bless it. The Christian ministry is figuring out what God is doing and then joining him in it. When we look at what God is doing in the summit church, this is clearly something special that God is doing here.
One more thing I want to say on this. If we got 300 of our people who are living in nations across the globe, that requires something of us in terms of care. We who sinned have a responsibility to care for those who were sent.
Here I often use the example of William Carey who told the English Baptist churches that sent him out mid 18th century. He said to them, I will dangle for you on the end of that rope for you in India. But you got to promise to hold securely to the other end. There are some of us that are called to dangle on the end of this rope in one of these places and a bunch of others of us are called to hold this end securely.
And those who stand on this end of the rope have to be every bit as committed as those who dangle on the other end. You're listening to summit life with pastor JD Greer and we'll return to our message titled what has God called me to in just a moment. Thank you so much to everyone who supported us in 2022. We couldn't do it without you. And we're so excited for everything God's going to do through this ministry in the new year. You've helped us shine the light of the gospel and the darkest corners of the world because of your financial support and most importantly, your prayers.
We have seen God multiply our efforts like only he can do. And for your gift today, we'd like to send you our most popular resource, the 2023 summit life planner. We've included a Bible reading plan to help you maintain that most important spiritual discipline this next year. And the scripture we are reading together aligns with the teaching you'll hear here on summit life in 2023. Receive this planner as our thanks for your gift to the ministry right now. And this is the final week to reserve your copy.
So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching on summit life. Here's pastor JD.
All right. The spirit of God is moving. What's the word of God saying? Here's my question. What should we, the people of the summit church therefore be doing?
You've just a couple three things here. Number one, we need to be devoting ourselves to prayer. If you are not called to go over there yourself, you're called to hold this end of the rope, to stay and support those who do. Most of all, that means praying.
I think it was Andrew Murray, at least I always give him credit for this quote. He said something like this, the man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history. I'm gonna also mention here an app I use every day by the Joshua Project called the unreached people of the day app. Every day it gives me an unreached people group to pray for. You know why I do this every day? Because my heart like yours is wired to forget the nations. I need to keep what God says is on his heart.
I need to keep it in front of mine. So we need to be devoting ourselves to prayer. Number two, letter B, we need to be making ourselves available. Some of you just need to take a step to get involved, maybe even to explore a calling. So we should be devoting ourselves to prayer, making ourselves available. Here's the last thing. Most of all, we should be listening.
I'm gonna say it again. Surely in a church this size, God is gonna move on some of you to go. Christianity has never been about one kind of people, one culture.
Paul was sent out by a multi-ethnic church to reach people of ethnicities different from his own. Over Christmas, I had our staff read the biography of Adoniram Judson. It's called To the Golden Shore, written by a guy named Courtney Anderson. It's far and away my favorite book I've ever read, except for the Bible, other than that.
Some of the reasons that I love this book are personal to me, but I would recommend it to all of you. I also had our team listen to a message that John Piper did about Adoniram Judson. Adoniram Judson is regarded by many to be the first board appointed missionary who left from America. Technically, George Lyle preceded him, but Judson was the first board appointed missionary. In the 1700s, Adoniram Judson left this new nation of America to take the gospel to Burma. Judson was driven by Paul's words in Romans 15.
I don't want to build on somebody else's foundation. I want to preach Christ where he's never been heard of. There was plenty of need in the United States. There was plenty of need in the American hemisphere, but Judson was captivated by a vision of those that had never heard. Places that didn't want missionaries, places that were hostile to his presence, that threatened to imprison him and his family, or worse, if they didn't leave. When Adoniram Judson first got to Asia, he landed first in India, where he spent time with William Carey, the father of modern missions. Even William Carey told Judson not to go to Burma. He said all previous attempts had ended in martyrdom or disaster.
Listen to this, and I'm mostly quoting from Dr. Piper here. When Adoniram Judson entered Burma in July of 1813, it was a hostile and utterly unreached place. Today, it would have been considered a closed country with despotism and fierce war with its neighbors and social unrest and zero religious toleration. All the previous missionaries had either died or fled, but Adoniram Judson went there with his 23-year-old wife of 17 months, where he worked for 38 years until his death at age 61, making only one trip home to New England during that entire time. The price Judson paid was immense. His beloved wife died there after a decade of disease. So did his next two after that.
So did one of his kids. He was imprisoned and tortured. Adoniram Judson was the seed Jesus talked about in John 12 that fell into the ground and died. His suffering was immense. I do not want to sugarcoat that at all, but the fruit that God gave from that suffering seed was also immense. The Burma Baptist Convention, or today it's the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which is Burma's new name, contains 3,700 congregations and over two million believers.
The fruit of this dead but now living seed, the astonishing fruit in Burma today, grew in the soil of the suffering and the death of Adoniram Judson. John Piper says, listen, my question is this. If Christ delays his return another 200 years, which of you, which of us, will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those remaining 7,300 people groups who are today in the same condition that Judson's Burma was in 1813, who will today labor perseveringly so that in 200 years there's going to be two million Christians among people who are today held captive by Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or communism, who are going to give their lives so that some who are today lost with no chance to hear the gospel are going to be counted, are going to be counted in that vast throng around the throne that we see in Revelation 5, proclaiming in all languages and all tongues together, worthy are you, O Jesus, because you were slain for us, and by your blood you ransomed us for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Summit, where are those? Where are those in our midst who are moved to take Christ to these hard places, to the impossible places, to those places where Christ has never been heard of? Because if that's not happening here, we should close up shop, because our chapter is over. God will take his hand from us, and we'll have to watch as he moves it over to those faithful believers in Korea or South America or underground in China who praise God are taking the Great Commission seriously. Now, friend, I don't want his hand to leave us.
I don't want his hand to leave us. So here's what I want you to do. I want everybody at all of our campuses to stand. Stand with me if you would. Stand right now. I'm going to ask you where you are to bow your heads, and if you're comfortable with it, just open your hands.
Just bow your heads and open your hands. I want you right now to pray two things. Lord, will you raise up people from our midst who will go? Will you raise up people from our midst who will go?
Then you're ready for this? In sincerity, I want you to say, Lord, is it me? Is it me? Acts 13, 2 tells us it was in a prayer time, maybe like this one, that God revealed to Paul he was supposed to be a missionary.
God said to the church, raise up Paul. I want to send him out. I'm not saying that's going to happen today or somebody's going to walk up to you and say, you're the guy, but I want you to ask and say, Lord, is it me? Is it me? Will you put your yes on the table right now and say, God, if you tell me to go, I'll go?
Hey, by the way, just because you're not a college student anymore doesn't mean you stop asking this. Paul was 60 when he wrote this. At 60 he was ready for his new assignment. You heard Sam James last weekend, didn't you?
90 years old and just wish that he could go back to being young and do it all over again. So ask God right now, are you calling me? Lord, is it me?
Is it me? You are listening to Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian JD Greer. We are in a brand new, never before aired teaching series celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
And if you happen to join us late today, or if you'd like to catch up on previous messages in this new study, visit us at jdgreer.com. Last month, we asked our listeners to really take a step of faith and get involved in supporting this ministry financially. JD, why don't you share a little about what they're giving accomplished?
Molly, like we said in December, the end of the year is a critical time financially for ministries like Summit Life. And I just want to say to all of you who stepped up and joined with us, how thankful I am. Thank you for the faith and the sacrifice and the generosity. We're able to give crucial support to a brand new church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We've been able to expand our presence on air so that more people can listen.
And we've been busy, busy creating more content for you. So again, we just really want to say thank you. Thank you to everybody who supported us. We would not be here without you. And we would not really have a lot to look forward to in the future if it weren't for your generosity, opening up these doors. So thank you. And we're excited as we go forward together, join with you in faith, exploring the opportunities God is putting in front of us in the new year. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your partnership .
We wouldn't be here without you. And you know, it's never too late to join us in our mission to bring gospel centered Bible teaching to the radio and web. Consider becoming a monthly gospel partner or give a single gift of $35 or more. And when you do, we'll say thanks by sending you an exclusive resource, the 2023 Summit Life Planner.
It's got plenty of room to keep track of your schedule. And we've also included Bible verses and a Bible reading plan. Grab this resource today so you can start the year off right with God at the center. Ask for the Summit Life Planner when you give today by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give and request the planner online at JDcareer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Pastor JD dives into a new teaching series called Start. Whether you're a new believer trying to figure out this whole Christianity thing, or if you've been following Christ for years but want to get back to the basics, this teaching is for you. Join us Friday for Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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