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You Are Sent

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2023 9:00 am

You Are Sent

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 30, 2023 9:00 am

Did you know that every single worship service at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, where Pastor J.D. pastors, ends with the same three words? Those words are: “You are sent.” We love gathering to worship God together every weekend, but we always want to remind ourselves that once we leave the church service, the real work begins… because we’re all missionaries being “sent out” into our mission field!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Sent people understand that they are in their profession or in their neighborhood or on this particular hall or on this particular team or sitting next to this particular person in this particular class for a reason. And because of that, sent people always have their radar on for where God is at work around them. God has me here because He's doing stuff around me and I just want to be aware when it happens. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. Did you know that every single worship service at the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham where Pastor J.D. serves ends with the same three words? Those words are, you are sent. I mean, we love gathering to worship God together every weekend, but we always want to remind ourselves that once we leave the church service, the real work begins. Because in reality, we're all missionaries being sent out into our own personal mission field. Today and tomorrow on Summit Life, we'll hear Pastor J.D.

preach a special message on what it means to live sent. So grab your Bible and let's join Pastor J.D. now in the book of John.

Here we go. John chapter 20 verse 19, if you've got your Bibles. On the evening of that day, the resurrection day, the first day of the week, Sunday, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them.

He just physically apparated right there in their midst. And he said to them, peace be with you. And when he showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. And then he said, underline this, if you underline stuff in your Bible, underline this phrase, as the father has sent me, even so I am sending you. Jesus then follows that up with a couple of statements, which are kind of confusing to be honest, but they're really important and which we will unpack here in a minute. Here they are, verse 22, the first one, he breathed on them and he said to them, receive the Holy spirit. And then maybe even more confusing verse 23, if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.

If you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. Right now, let's look at that statement as the father has sent me, even so says Jesus to you, I am sending you. That is an extremely significant statement coming at the end of John's gospel because Jesus's primary identity throughout the gospel of John has been the sent one. And repeatedly throughout the gospel of John, his primary designation for God has been the father who sent me. In fact, next time you're reading through the gospel of John, circle the word sent, anytime it appears in the gospel, you will find it is in there more than 60 times. Now, in these final conversations that Jesus has with his disciples, Jesus is going to pass on his primary identity, the sent one. He is going to pass that on to us, to all of us. Everything else that we do as followers of Jesus is going to flow out of that baseline identity.

And see, if you don't know who you are, then you're not going to know what to do. There's a famous story about Albert Einstein. I read this in his biography.

It's a true story. In his old age, even the brilliant Dr. Einstein began to have some, shall we call them, senior moments. And maybe this will encourage some of you, even somebody that brilliant had these senior moments. And he began to forget things a lot. And the story was that he was on a train one day. And in those days, the conductor would come through the box car and he would take up your tickets and make sure you had it. And so he comes through and he says, where's your ticket? And Dr. Einstein stands up and he begins to look through all of his jacket and his pockets and his bag.

And he just kind of frantically looking for it. And finally, the conductor says, Dr. Einstein, don't worry about it. I know who you are. And the story, Albert Einstein looks back at him and says, young man, I know who I am. I just cannot remember where I'm going. So who you are and where you're going are going to be intertwined.

And if you forget who you are, you can't really know where you're going. As a follower of Jesus, you are sent like Jesus was sent. And that means that regardless of whatever else you do in life, whatever your profession is, whatever your personality is, whatever your spiritual gifts are or where you live and what you do, you are sent. Those are Jesus's words to you. In Luke's account of the great commission, which he records in the book of Acts, Jesus says, you're going to receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you're going to be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.

Think about this for a minute. Of all the things Jesus could have said right there, he could have said, you will be my worshipers. You will be my prayer warriors. You will be my Bible studiers. You will be my justice advocates.

All of those things would have been true. But he chose to say in that moment, in that final moment with his disciples, you will be my witnesses. Witness is another way of saying sent one. That's your primary identity. And that means that everything else we do, that's who we are.

That's our identity. Now, maybe you hear that and that's kind of intimidating to you. You're like, witness sent one. I don't even know how to do that.

I wouldn't even know where to start. But here's Jesus's promise. Follow me, he said, and I will make you a fisher of men. He didn't say follow me and make yourself into a fisher of men. He said, if you follow me, then that's going to be my responsibility.

I will do this in you. Or consider the promise that Jesus made in the gospel of John right before he gave them the I'm sending you promise. He said, John 15, 16. He said, I've chosen you and I appointed you that you should go and bring forth fruit. If you are a follower of Jesus, I have very, very good news for you this morning. God has appointed you to be fruitful.

He chose you for that purpose. You might feel this morning like you don't have much potential, like you are spiritually incompetent, like you will never make that much of an impact, but Jesus has declared a better, a more definitive word over you, and that is, I have appointed you to go and bring forth fruit. And the same power that opened the eyes of the blind and the same power that walked on water and multiplied the loaves and the fishes, that is the same power that will perfect that promise in you. And so this weekend, what I want to do is I want to unpack for you what it means to live a sent life. We're going to give Jesus a chance, so to speak, to fulfill that promise in us. Most of the insights that I'm going to share with you come right out of this passage in John, but I also want to introduce you to a book that has helped me out a lot recently, one that I have spent some time in. It's called Sent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus, written by a lady named Dr. Heather Holliman. This is a book that she co-wrote with her husband. It's got a lot of really good, fresh insights on how to live like this that have been helpful for me to think through over the last few weeks.

Here we go. Number one, if you're taking notes, write this down. Sent people recognize both God's role and their role in the Great Commission. Sent people understand that God has a role and I have a role, and both are indispensable. Dr. Holliman says that there are three convictions that undergird the sent life.

Write these down as A, B, and C if you're taking notes. A, conviction is God is always at work around me. He's always at work drawing people to himself. Here's the good news.

You ready? Bringing others to Jesus is not on you. Only God can do that.

More good news. Jesus says, John 5, 17, the Father is always at work around you doing that very thing. The Father is the one who draws. He's the one that creates interest. He's the one that convinces.

I cannot tell you what a huge relief that is to me. I'm not responsible for producing spiritual life in others. I don't bear the weight of creating interest in them. I don't even bear the weight of convincing them. That is all God's work.

Conviction number two, or letter B. God uses people to lead others to Jesus. It is true that God is the one doing the work in them, but at the same time, you and I have an indispensable role.

That's why we are sent. Faith comes only by hearing, the Bible says, and hearing by the word of God. We're the only ones that can sow the word into people so that the word can do the work. God produces the fruit, but I sow the word into people's hearts that God then uses to bring the fruit, which leads to conviction number three, or letter C. God continually invites us into his saving work. Just like Jesus said that he was sent to join in what the father was doing around him, so we are sent to do the same. God is always at work around us, always drawing people to himself, and he invites us into his saving work. God has a role.

I have a role, which leads us to that startling thing that Jesus said in verse 23 of our passage. I read it a moment ago, where Jesus said, if you forgive the sins of any, they're forgiven them. If you withhold forgiveness, then it is withheld. This can be a pretty difficult verse because doesn't it make it sound almost like Jesus is saying that we have the authority to forgive sins? But y'all, that can't be true.

Think about it this way. If anybody in history would ever have had the authority to forgive sins, it would have been Peter. Peter was standing there in that original group.

He heard those words. He was recognized as one of the main leaders, if not the main leader of the early church, and some indeed today do claim that Peter and his successors have the authority to forgive sins. You go and the priest says, I forgive your sins, and that's what they're basing it on, but y'all listen, not one time, not one time in the Bible do you ever find Peter taking upon himself the authority to grant forgiveness.

Not once. In fact, Acts chapter 10, Peter's preaching the gospel to a group of Gentiles. Gentiles means non-Jews, people that didn't grow up believing in God, and he says to them, notice this, Acts 10 43, just let me read it to you. Acts 10 43, he says, to him, Jesus, all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Now y'all, look, Peter didn't say, hey, I forgive your sins.

He said, no, the Bible says if you believe in Jesus, you will receive forgiveness of sins, and I'm just here to tell you about it. So if this phrase doesn't mean that we have the authority to forgive sins, well then what does it mean? That expression in verse 23, if you forgive someone's sins, they are forgiven, that is written in the perfect tense verb in Greek, which means that you could translate that phrase as they have already been forgiven.

In other words, you could really read that statement like this. If you forgive anybody's sins, they have already been forgiven. In other words, Jesus was saying that Peter and the apostles, look at this, were given the ability to recognize when God had saved someone and the authority to validate their acceptance of the gospel, and they could assure those new Gentile believers when they believed that they were indeed fully included in the family of God. Maybe even more importantly though, it was, Jesus said this, because it was through the apostles preaching that others would hear the message and believe. God would forgive the sins of anybody who believed, but it's like Paul said, how could they possibly believe when they haven't even heard about it? And how can they hear unless we preach to them? We hold in our hands, we possess in our mouths the power to share the only message by which people can be forgiven. Jesus died to forgive the sins of everybody, but y'all that death does not do anybody any good unless they hear about it.

It's like Martin Luther always says, a quote I give to you a lot where Jesus said, it wouldn't matter if Jesus died a thousand times if nobody ever there's nobody ever heard about it. So some people recognize that God has a role and we have a role in the great commission. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We'll get back to today's teaching in just a moment, but first I'm excited to introduce you to a brand new resource that we are offering our listeners for the next month. It's a book called Sent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman. This husband and wife duo have written an incredibly helpful book about how God is always at work around us, drawing people to himself. This book will walk you through some practical ways to be on the lookout for doors that God is opening to have gospel conversations in your life, including the four best questions you can use to start a gospel conversation. It's time to begin to partake in the joys, not the obligations of evangelism. And this book is a great start.

You can give today by giving us a call at 866-335-5220 or visiting us online at Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Number two, sent people have a rich theology of place.

Now this is a really good one, and this is one I actually borrowed her phrasing here from this book Sent. In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul says that God has determined the allotted boundaries of the nations, their dwelling places, so that they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Now what Paul is saying there, follow this, is that God has sovereignly arranged the location and the borders of nations so that different nations can hear the gospel. Now Paul is talking about whole nations, but surely what he says here would apply to our own personal borders too. God is sovereign in our own personal borders, and he's appointed our allotted places of dwelling and the times that we are living in and the location we're living in and the jobs that we have so that others can hear about God through us and seek him.

You follow that? Sent people understand that they are in their profession or in their neighborhood or on this particular hall or on this particular team or sitting next to this particular person in this particular class for a reason. And because of that, sent people always have their radar on for where God is at work around them. That's a theology of place. I'm not here on accident. God has me here because he's doing stuff around me, and I just want to be aware when it happens.

The authors of this book work a lot with a ministry called CRU, and they've started this national initiative I really like. It's called What Do You See? It's just a question designed to make you open your eyes to where God might be at work around you. What people do you see? What needs do you see? If the Father is always at work around you, where is it happening in front of you? Who do you see?

Open your eyes. It reminds me of many years ago when we as a church first embraced this theology of place that God had put us in the triangle for a purpose. This wasn't just a good place with a lot of people where we could grow a church. To be honest, that was kind of how I thought about the triangle up to that point. It's got a lot of people.

It's a cool place. We can grow a church here. But we realized that God had put us here because he wanted to make us responsible for the triangle because he was working in the triangle, and he was calling us to join him in it. We began to realize that the triangle's brokenness was our brokenness.

Its needs were our needs. That realization first happened, for me at least, maybe you were way ahead of me for some of you at the round back then, but it happened for me as I was preaching through the book of Acts back in the early 2000s. I got to Acts chapter 8, and it says that the guy named Philip was doing ministry in Samaria. Because of the message he preached and the good works that he did, there was much joy in the city. I asked our congregation, which was much smaller at the time, I said, do y'all feel like there's much joy in the city as a result of our being here?

After we talked about it for a while, not in the service, but if we talked about it, we were like, I don't think that's true. I don't think there's any joy in the city. Then Acts 9, the next week, get to Acts 9, and it talks about a disciple named Tabitha, whose nickname was Dorcas, by the way. Should have stuck with Tabitha. But Tabitha made coach for people. That was her ministry.

When she died, the whole community, or representatives of the community, gathered at her bedside and wept because she was so good to them. So I asked our congregation, I'm like, y'all feel like if the Summit Church died, y'all feel like anybody in our community would weep? We felt like the answer to that was no. That they'd be like, well, that's one less piece of tax exempt property we get to have back, make revenue on. That's one less mail out we got to deal with in the mailbox at Easter time. I don't know if we have so gotten into where the needs are around us that they would weep if we were gone.

So now we just begin to change things as a church. I remember I scheduled a meeting with the mayor and mayor of Durham, and I asked him what the city's biggest needs were. I'll never forget.

I remember him rattling off. He said, the homeless, the orphan, the prisoner, the unwed mother, and the high school dropout. Those are the biggest needs right now in the city of Durham. I jotted those down. I noticed they spelled Hope HUD, which is not a word, but it helped me remember it. So over the years, y'all, that is what we have pursued here in the city. We've changed the language over the years, but those essential pegs have been in place. God has called us to join him in those areas.

We have experienced so many outpourings of his power when we just joined God and what he was doing because we opened our eyes to what we could see. For example, back in 2008, Eastway Elementary, a downtown Durham elementary school was doing so poorly. It was months away from being closed. We got involved. We got involved renovating and serving teachers and tutoring kids. For several years, we loaded up the teachers with supplies at the beginning of the year, and we adopted classrooms. We assigned prayer partners to classrooms. We even did a joint Christmas program with the school several years. The school experienced this huge turnaround, huge turnaround. It went from being about to be shut to being one of the best, maybe the best performing elementary school in the Durham County public system. The principal said in the Durham Herald Sun, and I quote, this is from the city newspaper, she said, a lot of people aren't a credit for this, but I feel like I have to start by thanking God and the people of the Summit Church who poured out his kindness to us and made all this possible. Since then, we have had principles of new schools opening in the triangle.

It's happened at least twice that I know of, who have called us to see if we wanted to use their auditorium on Sunday. And we say, why? And they say, because we've heard from other principals what a blessing you are to the communities that you go into.

We have foster care workers from Durham and Wake County who have said to us how often people getting involved in the foster care and adoption system, how often they're connected to the Summit Church, and how often they mention the vision of their church as one of the primary reasons they are getting involved. So I mean, this is who we are. It's our identity. We are sent.

Listen to me. God has determined your place. He has determined where you live, your neighborhood, your career, even random encounters. Sent people are always asking, what do I see? One of the verses that I love related to this, Paul says, 2 Corinthians 2 14, God has put us in certain places to be the aroma of Christ there. We're just there to stink up the place for Jesus, in a good way, smell up the place for Jesus.

And when you live that way, there's no telling what's going to happen because God will just open the nose of somebody. About a year and a half ago, there was a young lady standing in my kitchen. I'd never met her.

At least I thought that I hadn't. She was one of my daughters, new small group leaders at the time. And they were at our house for a small group event. So I introduced myself to her and she smiled. And she said, we've actually met before.

You obviously don't remember this, but a couple of years ago, we were both at the RDU airport waiting for a 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta. She said, you sat down near me. And as we waited to board the plane, you noticed I was reading a book by Richard Dawkins. And you said something to me like, well, that's a lot of heavy reading this early in the morning. And then you followed it up with something like, are you trying to figure out if God is really there or not? And she said, I can't even remember what I said, but you used that opportunity to share your story of how you came to know Jesus. So she said, I just sat there and I listened and I thought, well, this is all a little random. She said, but you know, I had been thinking about if God was there and that's why I was reading the book to figure out, is he there?

And if so, how can I know him? And she said, so I thought this was all curious as this was happening. She said, we went to get on the plane and she said, I just happened to sit two rows behind you. She said, I was bummed because I opened my bag and realized I'd forgotten my headphones. She said, and then somehow you struck up a conversation with the guy next to you and you shared the same story of how you came to know Jesus with that guy. She said, at this point, I'm gonna be honest, I was totally annoyed because I just wanted to sleep on the flight, but I had no choice but to sit there and listen to you. She said, finally, we landed in Atlanta and my only thought was I cannot wait to get to Atlanta Bread Company and get a bagel. And I get in line and I hear somebody talking ahead of me and I look up and I can't believe it.

It's you again. She said, but the lady in front of you had two, three kids and she was having the hardest time finding her money to pay. And you just said to her, you said, hey, don't worry about it.

I'll take care of yours. She said, okay, fast forward six months. I'm sharing some of my questions, she said, about God with a coworker at Duke. And I brought up to my friend that I'd met this random guy at the gate area and I brought up some of the stuff you'd said. She keeps telling me, she's praying for me and keeps inviting me to her church. She says, eventually I came. I mainly came so that she would stop inviting me. And we sat down and she says, out on stage walked you.

She said, my jaw hit the floor. I said to my friend, that's him. That's the guy.

That's the guy. I fast forward another six months. She's been coming regularly and she receives Christ here at our church and she gets baptized. Then a few months later, she jumps into the high school ministry team.

Now I'm telling you, I know what you're thinking. None of this happens because I'm a pastor. I'm just aware that God is always at work around me. And my job is to spread the aroma, to meet needs where I can, to ask questions, to share my story, to take whatever opportunities I have to point people to Jesus.

And then I just see what surfaces. A powerful reminder to live sent here on Summit Life. J.D., in today's message, you unpacked what we hear at the Summit Church every single weekend. As we leave, you say, you are sent.

Tell me more. Why do we say that? We close our services that way, really because that's Jesus's last words to his disciples.

And on one of the last conversations he had with him, he said, as the Father sent me, so I am sending you. So we want every week at the Summit Church, we want people to feel that commissioning. They've gathered for just a little bit of time, an hour or so, to be sent out as missionaries into the community. A lot of times we'll say that coming to church ought to feel like getting caught up in a spiritual cyclone. You get pulled in for a little bit just to be thrust back out. And so, Molly, to expand on that and what you heard today on the program, help answer the question of what does it mean for you to be sent, we got a great resource we want to recommend.

It's called Scent. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus. It's written by a couple of great authors that I've had a chance recently to get more acquainted with their ministry.

It comes with very practical instructions about what to do and how you can discover the unique gifting that God has given you and how you can be a person who fulfills your role in being set. We'd love for you to grab a copy today. As always, if you will just head over to, you can grab your copy today. Thanks, Pastor JD. We'd love to send you our brand new resource, a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman with your gift of $35 or more. To give, just call us at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220 or visit I'm Molly Vidovitch. Don't forget to catch the conclusion of today's teaching called You Are Scent, Wednesday right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-30 10:41:54 / 2023-05-30 10:52:49 / 11

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