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Welcome

Psalm 57:9 ESV
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
Psalm 57:11 ESV
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Good Morning! I’m Pastor Wayne and I’d like to welcome you all to the gathering of Ephesus Baptist Church.
The verses I quoted suggest that we are to be a people who worship and exalt our God among the nations in order that His glory may be spread over all the earth!
If you are visiting with us this morning, we want you to know that Ephesus is an worshipful community on mission with Jesus.
Here at Ephesus, we are one people giving our all to love God, love others, proclaim Jesus, and make disciples in our generation.
We have a connect card in the pew in front of you. I invite you to take one and fill it out! If you have prayer needs, you can let us know about those as well.
I promise, our prayer team will lift you up soon. You can place those cards in the offering plate when it comes around.

Scripture Memory

Luke 9:51 ESV
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
John 3:17 ESV
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Opening Scripture

Psalm 98:1–9 ESV
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord! 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
Prayer

Introduction

We have been working our way through a sermon series titled: Mission 3:16 | Possible. So far in our series, we have discovered that...
God, before the foundations of the world were laid, had planned a rescue mission to save every sinner who would believe in the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Concerning this mission:
God was all in. He was completely invested.
Jesus accepted his role to be the lamb of God. He, too, was all in.
Jesus greatly amplified that mission on Palm Sunday as he revealed himself as the rightful King who was bringing redemption and restoration to humanity.
Easter Sunday, we witnessed anew as Jesus glorified the Father, validated his claims, and accomplished his mission.
Now, today we are going to that the mission he finished on our behalf is now being passed on to us to acknowledge and spread.
In our passage, Jesus commissions his followers to advance the mission and bring the finished message of reconciliation to others who are far from God. Join me in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 1:4-14
Acts 1:4–14 ESV
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
I am going to go ahead and tip my hand by giving you the main idea of the whole passage first.
One unifying central theme that runs throughout the Bible is the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom. From Genesis to Revelation – from beginning to end –one thing is at focus: God’s glory through advancing God’s Kingdom.
To advance means to move or to bring forward; to accelerate; to further something; or to simply change position from one point to another point.
God is calling us to advance the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth, thereby advancing the Kingdom of God and bringing him great glory!
Today, I want to share with you three principles for advancing the mission of God in our world today that are found in our text.
How Christians and congregations interpret Jesus’ commission (and others like it in the Gospels) will determine how we see our roles in the world and how our church’s ministry will advance.

1. Enlightened by the Father’s authority, we are to advance the mission of God that He has fixed for us as we trust in His Sovereign will. (1:6-7)

Following Jesus’ earlier comments about the coming of the Father’s promised gift of the Holy Spirit (v.5), the disciples concluded that the coming of the Kingdom of God was drawing near.
They saw this as Israel’s final salvation. They interpreted this event in nationalistic terms, expecting to see Israel restored to its former glory days under the rule of David and Solomon. They assumed the kingdom would belong to Israel.
Acts 1:6 ESV
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The question had to do with the time of the kingdom’s realization. The kingdom had already come in a spiritual sense, but not in the political sense that they thought it would.
Jesus did not reject the notion of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Rather...
Acts 1:7 ESV
7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
Remember, Jesus had already taught the disciples in Matthew 24:36 that no one other than His Father knew the time of His Second Coming.
Matthew 24:36 ESV
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Jesus’ objective here is not to reprove or to rebuke, but rather to teach his disciples what it means to trust in the Father’s sovereign authority and will.
Jesus is reminding us, that the mission will not be advanced by guessing at future events on the calendar, but only as men and women empowered by the Holy Spirit bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
If we are focused on God’s will and not our own personal desires, then we will be individuals who are passionate about the Gospel and our church will be viewed by all as a Gospel-centered church.
Avoid any preacher, teacher, or writer who sets dates for the coming of the Lord. Don’t dwell on the issues that are out of your hand. Trust in the sovereignty of God the Father. Allow Him set up His Kingdom in His own way and in His own time!
Also, notice that Jesus says “the Father” and not “my Father.” He is teaching us that we can call God our Father. He is the Father of those who are in Christ.
Union with Christ allows us to be the sons and daughters of God Almighty, reassuring us that he is in complete control of all of his Creation.
When we are enlightened by the Father’s authority, we are free to advance the mission of God that He has fixed for us as we trust in His Sovereign will.

2. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are to advance the mission of God as witnesses of God’s Salvation to the ends of the earth. (1:8)

You won’t know the times or days when the kingdom will be restored, but you will receive power from on high in order to advance the mission.
Acts 1:8 ESV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus is saying, once you learn that the power for advancing the mission resides in me and not in you; then, you will be Spirit-driven.
Here we are given the promise of Pentecost. This will be the day in which the Holy Spirit will proceed from the Father and the Son, to indwell the lives of those who trust in Christ. Jesus had taught in...
John 15:26 ESV
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
John 15:26 implies that the Holy Spirit is not a magical force like the Jedi’s used in Star Wars, rather He is the third person of the Trinity.
He is the Counselor, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth himself. The endowment of power by the Holy Spirit is the equipping and empowering of believers for our mission.
“he will bear witness about me.”
A church that is truly Spirit-Driven is more concerned with making Christ known than with its own comfort and protection. To be Spirit-Driven is to be equipped and actively involved in the advancement of the mission.
Why did Jesus tell the disciples that they would receive this power? They received power so that, they would be His witnesses throughout the world.
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus wants us to talk about HIM, not his Church. He wants us to be Christ-Centered and Christ-Honoring in all of our ministries.
In fact, L.E. Keck has observed that, “the less Jesus is the core of witness, the less power we have.”
Jesus wants His Church to understand her Mission.
A church that is God-Focused, Spirit-Driven, and Christ-Centered will be a church that understands her mission.
Jesus wants us to understand that, as the restored Israel, we are to do what unfaithful Israel failed to do, bring the nations to worship God and the salvation He offers.
Isaiah 49:6, may well lie behind Jesus’ thoughts in Acts 1:8.
“I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Jesus made sure to drive home how he wanted the church to be that light. He said you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem (1-7), and in all Judea and Samaria( 8-12), and to the end of the earth (13-28).
Our mission is to make disciples of all the nations. Too many bible teachers and preachers have focused too much attention upon the geographical expansion of Christianity according to these designations.
It is obviously correct to see the correlation of geography to the expansion of the Church, but this preoccupation may cause us to miss an even greater point of the passage.
Frank Stagg has observed that, “The boundaries most difficult to cross – then as now- were religious, national, and racial, not geographical.” He goes on to say that, “It is easier today to send missionaries to Africa than to have fellowship across racial lines at home.”
We have our mission. When the church departs from this mission, she becomes ineffective in the world.
Many well meaning Christians have accepted the idea that the church is irrelevant in our world today. Hogwash! Don’t you believe that lie straight from the pit of Hell.
The church is the greatest organization in the world, greater that the USA, NATO, and the United Nations. Whatever happens in the world today is a result of what the church is doing – or what she is failing to do!
It is not an easy mission, but it is a necessary one. So let’s do what Jesus wants and advance that mission to the ends of the earth empowered by God’s Spirit!

3. Encouraged by the ascension and the imminent return of Jesus, we are unified and prayerfully driven to advance the mission of God together. (1:9-14)

Oh church! The Ascension of Christ is one of the most beautiful and powerful declarations Christ ever made to His bride.
In the ascension, we know that Christ is preparing a place for us, while simultaneously sustaining us by the power of his Word. In the ascension, we also have a reminder that he is coming back again!
Acts 1:9–11 ESV
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Church, why do we stand, or sit looking up? This same Jesus, will come in the same way as the disciples saw him go up into heaven.
There is so much great stuff involved in the ascension. I will have to preach a sermon on it in the future, but for now understand the hope that is provided in this account. Be encouraged that He is coming again!
How did the disciples respond to all of this?
Acts 1:12–14 ESV
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
They found comfort and peace in the commission of Jesus. They discovered a sense of purpose and unity they had never known before. Rather than jumping into the advancement of the mission, they did what Jesus told them to do.
They waited and prayed together until the promised gift of the Father empowered them to advance together in power and unity to become the force God had envisioned them to be from before the foundations of the earth.
We have the opportunity to continue in their footsteps.
Conclusion:
Because of Christ’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we can be effective witnesses in our communities, around our own state, throughout our country, and around the world.
Dr. W. A. Criswell, told a story once about a Louisiana farmer who caught a wild duck and tied it to a stake by his pond.
Throughout the summer the duck seemed content. With plenty to eat he showed no desire to wander beyond the boundaries of his newly confined territory.
Then fall came, and wild ducks began migrating to the marshes. As they flew over the farmer’s pond and called, the domesticated ducks paid no attention whatsoever. They had no interest in flying off to the marshes; the pond was their home.
Not so with the wild mallard. Every time the ducks flew over the pond, he would strain at the cord which tied him to his alien home. Finally, he broke the cord and rose upward to join his own kind and fly off to the marshes.
This story reminds us that the second coming holds no appeal for unbelievers. For Christians, however, the awareness of Christ’s soon return enhances enthusiasm for the mission. Not only that, but it should increase our efforts and discipline at godly living.
The Early Christians understood the huge difference between going to church and being the church. They understood the absolute necessity of praying and serving together.
They understood how important it was (and is) to obey the Lord even if it meant waiting at a time when they thought they should rush out and do something. They understood how the sovereignty of God transcends all human efforts, and they trusted him completely.
God makes this kind of maturity available to us through the Holy Spirit. Yes, now we are like wild ducks tied to the stake of an alien society.
We look in horror at some of the things in our culture. We recoil in fear at the cruelty and violence which dominate our streets. Jesus told us this world is no friend to him nor to his people.
So as we live our lives around the pond, we keep one eye on heaven and one eye on the mission. Soon that same Jesus will come just as the apostles saw him go.
By his power we can break the cord and fly off with him to our eternal home. Our mission completed! But until that day that we eagerly await, let’s be about the mission God has assigned us to advance!
One way you can do that is through “Who’s Your One?”
Another way we get to proclaim the gospel of our coming King is through partaking of Communion together. Today, we have the privilege of doing just that!
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