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Beyond Ourselves

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Beyond Ourselves

September 17, 2000


Scripture: Acts 12:25-13:12


          Have you ever been beside yourself?

          That is an expression we use to say that you are frustrated.

          It is as if there were two of you standing side by side arguing some particular point or question.

          Like, shall I go to church this morning like I know I should, or stay home in bed because I'm tired from staying up too late watching TV last night?

          I'm sure we've all been there as we have argued with ourselves about what we know we should do verses what we want to do.

          We are like Siamese twins that just can't escape the inevitable conflict.

          But there is another expression similar to this one which most people may not be aware of.

          It is another aspect of self-reality, and here it is.

          Have you ever been beyond yourself?

          This is an expression that relates to being stretched.

          Some situation or need has prompted you to consider trying something new, to branch out into unfamiliar territory; you are drawn out beyond your immediate experience and surroundings to discover new usefulness, ability, and accomplishment.   

          Actually, the two sayings relate quite well to each other.

          There may be times when we are beside ourselves that we discover we need to go beyond ourselves.

          We may be beside ourselves in a quandary or dilemma about whether to move or take a new job for instance, only to find that the answer is to go beyond ourselves – to be stretched into unfamiliar territory.

          But it is not only individuals that can be called to go beyond themselves.

          It can happen with cities too.

          You know about the constantly nagging concern the city has with the congestion at O'Hare airport.

          Questions and proposed solutions and objections have been bantered around for years.

          The city is beside itself on the issue.

          The Chicago Tribune reported on Friday about the results of a Senate hearing regarding the congestion.

          You see, the problem is big enough for national concern.

          And Senator McCain, in his typical style, bluntly called the question.

          He scolded that all our fussing around here in Chicago is hampering the travel of people in the entire nation since almost everybody on a plane these days travels through Chicago as a major transcontinental hub of air traffic.

          He chided that all of our ingrown concern about noise, air pollution, traffic patterns, political agendas, eminent domain, and airline labor disputes are shutting down the entire nation on air travel.

          In short, we here in the Chicago area are impeding national progress.

          We are being called to go beyond ourselves to add more runways at O'Hare airport, construct a new airport, or both – or else.


          As we continue on in our message series on the book of Acts, we have been following the growth of the early church.

          As we have looked at the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church, we see that the Holy Spirit desires to work the same way in our church.

          The culture may change, but people the world-over have not changed in their need for faith in the truth of an unchanging God.

          We have seen the beginnings of missionary involvement so far in the early church with certain individuals like Philip and Peter.

          We have seen the establishment of a church plant among the Gentiles in Antioch by a handful of believers from Cyprus and Cyrene with Barnabas being sent by the home church in Jerusalem and his later addition of Saul to form a leadership team.

          But we will now see the beginnings of missionary involvement with the church itself.

          This church plant in Antioch will become the first sending church and the world missions movement of the church of Jesus Christ will have begun.

          As with individuals and even cities, the church is being called to go beyond itself.

          And with the church, this is in an even greater sense than with a world-class city such as ours.

          You see, just as the whole world travels through Chicago as a main hub of airline traffic to get where it wants to go, the whole world must come through Jesus Christ to find its way to God.

          Christianity is the only world-class religion, and those who call themselves Christians are called beyond themselves to reach the world.

          The church is called to go beyond its temptation with ingrown concern with mere survival or maintenance.

          We cannot be content to be merely beside ourselves in our concern for missions – we must go beyond ourselves.

          We must let God stretch us – indeed, in our race to reach the world, we are in the last stretch.

          But in order to know how we must finish the race, let us first look in Acts 12:25-13:12 to see how it began.

          What principles can we learn about missions from the early church?

          What did they do that we must still be doing – until Jesus comes?

Big Question:

In other words, "What is the mission of the church?"

          Now, I have heard it said that the mission of the church is to edify believers.

          What that means is that the church must equip believers to live the Christian life – bringing them past spiritual infancy to maturity.

          (Should Sunday morning services be primarily evangelistic?)

But the next step of reasoning is to ask why we must edify believers.

          And that answer is so believers might have the faith and ability to win the world for Christ.

          It is not just for ourselves – it is for all who will come.

          So ultimately we must ask, "What is God's mission for the church –what is God's mission for us?"

          In our question of the mission of the church, then, we will consider that it is whatever is beyond ourselves rather than just our own edification.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 12:25-13:3)

          B.      Implication

          The mission of the church is to send those whom the Holy Spirit calls to go.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

          Those whom the Holy Spirit calls into missions are an extension of the local church.

          The aim of the church is to be more than mere survival or maintenance.

          This brings together the themes of personal call and congregational affirmation.

          Five words characterize the missionary program of the church: prayer, fasting, guidance, release, and commissioning.

          An earnestness to know and obey God's will allows the Holy Spirit to be the key in superintending the whole process of missions.

          Urgent prayer that arises from a desire for all that God wishes makes us receptive to him and inspires great leaps forward in the program of the church, both historically as well as today.

          Livingstone said, "God had only one son and he was a missionary."

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 13:4-8)

          B.      Implication

          The mission of the church is to evangelize those whom the Holy Spirit calls to come.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three (vv. 13:9-12)

          A.      Narrative

          B.      Implication

          The mission of the church is to confront those whom the Holy Spirit calls to judgment.

          C.      Illustration

          If I smell a fire, do I say that I think I'll sleep on it?

          D.      Application

          Confronting evil goes hand in hand with proclaiming truth.

          Sometimes the evil must be disabled for righteousness to do its work.

          Confronting evil confirms truth.

          Both deeds and works are involved in evangelism.

          See Jude 3 & 23.


Big Answer:

          What is the mission of the church?

The mission of the church is to send those whom the Holy Spirit calls to go.

          The mission of the church is to evangelize those whom the Holy Spirit calls to come.

          The mission of the church is to confront those whom the Holy Spirit calls to judgment.

Timeless Truth:

          The mission of the church is to go beyond itself in the power of the Holy Spirit to reach the world and establish the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

          Notice how each of these steps were in the direction of the Holy Spirit.

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