Faithlife Sermons

Taking the Gospel to a Fallen World

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How do you preach the truth when you know that it offends the world? I’ll tell you how. We do it one verse at a time. Let me invite all of you to join me today as we continue our study of Matthew 10 where Jesus trains and prepares His disciples for the task of Christian Missions. No, this task was not handed down to missionaries in remote parts of the world, it was handed down to the church, and we are the church, all of us. The call of the Gospel Mission is to all of us.
And last week, we saw how Jesus trained the apostles in the kind of attitude they must have in approaching the ministry of the Gospel. And although some of these may seem to be only fitting in their circumstance at that time (like going to the Jews and not the Gentiles), they still speak much to us on how we are to position ourselves as we step out to serve the Lord.
And so, here are some of the things that we learnt last week,
Jesus is our head, our Master. He decides where we must go and the specifics of what we must do. Neither our dreams nor our zeal must be masters of our faith, but the Lord Jesus Christ alone must have that place.
I say this especially to young men and women, God does not need your counsel or your wisdom on what is appropriate or reasonable in any given circumstance. Belief in the sovereignty of God is to know our lowly place before the Almighty.
Romans 9:20–21 ESV
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Acts 17:24–25 ESV
24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
We do not please the Lord by becoming heroes. We please Him by submitting, by becoming less that He might become more.
Here’s a prayer I hold in my heart in every service I render to the Lord,
Isaiah 30:20–21 ESV
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
We carry the message of the Gospel, the kingdom of God is at hand. For the King of Heaven has come to redeem us, and none can stay His hand.
He was put to death not by the will of man, but by the will of God, that by His death our sins may be purged once and for all. On the third day He rose from the grave, not by the will of man, but by the will of God, that by His resurrection we may be renewed in the newness of life, from death to life. And He ascended into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father, all authority in heaven and on earth given to this Lamb who was slain, the undefeated Lion of Judah, not by the will of man, but by the will of God, so that we who have been renewed in Him might be preserved unto eternal life throughout which God pours out to us His immeasurable riches in kindness toward us.
Galatians 1:6–8 ESV
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
We are called not only to take the message of the Gospel but to carry the power of this Kingdom that is also at work in our lives in healing, redeeming and restoring a broken world. What we received without paying, we give without pay.
We always love to put a price on our efforts, our time spent in serving, money that we have to put from our own hands. Yet beloved, let us remember that when Jesus says that we received without paying, it doesn’t mean that no payment was made. It just means that we didn’t make the payment. For the sake of our lives, Jesus paid the price.
As ambassadors to such a grace, it must not surprise us when the free blessings that God chooses to bring in other people’s lives costs us.
Matthew 16:25 ESV
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
The labourer deserves his wages, especially those who devote their entire lives to the welfare of God’s church. Yet no part of the mission is meant to be a path of money making, and no part of the mission is dependant upon money as the facilitator but God alone who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Money is not the starting point or the final word. It is only a tool that is well used in the hands of godly men and women.
Matthew 6:24 ESV
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
1 Timothy 6:9 ESV
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
These sum up the attitude of Christians toward the mission as we learnt them last week, but much of the remaining part of this chapter from here on focusses on those whom we are trying to reach as part of our mission. There’s so much to learn from these texts and what I hope to bring to your attention today is the fundamental theology in taking the Gospel to a fallen world.


This might sound strange to you, but one of the greatest tragedies of the evangelical world today is that we have forgotten in our evangelism that God is the one who saves. We put all our efforts in convincing men to come to Christ, and all the while forget that it is God who draws men to Christ.
John 6:44 ESV
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
This was Jesus response to a crowd who rejected Him. Therefore, knowing this truth goes a long way in informing our efforts to preach the Gospel to a fallen world.
Let me read through our portion for today before we dive deeper into it.
Matthew 10:11–16 ESV
11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Now, the natural order of things dictate that you do not send a sheep into the mindst of wolves, cause you’re going to lose your sheep. But the point of this whole chapter is anchored in the reality that God does not choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen. Jesus chose 12 misfits for the task that we here see Him preparing them for.
Therefore, seeing ourselves as sheep amongst wolves severely dislodges any misplaced self confidence that we may have in our abilities. We need Jesus.
John 15:5 ESV
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Matthew 10:11 ESV
11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.
‘whatever city or village’ - I’ve been part of several church planting discussions where many of us, including myself, felt that reaching out to the young middle class crowd in an urban setting was ideal for the maximum spread of the Gospel. Because this is the influence crowd and what they believe will affect the culture as a whole.
However, this excellent strategy does not appear anywhere in Jesus’ instruction. Instead, what we see is Jesus instructing them to hear the voice of God, who might lead them into cities or villages. Wherever, it doesn’t matter, as long as the Lord is leading you. We must always recognise that our strategies might be as worldly as they can be. The point is not to become better strategists, but better sheep.
‘inquire who is worthy in it’ - does not refer to wealth or prosperity, but to moral character and spiritual standing in the community. A worthy person would be willing to host them.
‘stay at his house until you leave that city’ - and when such a worthy person hosted them, they were to honour his hospitality by staying there the entire time they ministered in that city. Even if greater comfort or if others were to invite them to stay their place, they were to refuse.
Matthew 10:12 ESV
12 As you enter the house, greet it.
The customary Jewish greeting was ‘Shalom’ which means ‘peace’, and they were to give this greeting whenever they entered the house of their host. As we see in the next verse, this isn’t merely a customary thing.
Matthew 10:13 ESV
13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
Again we have the use of the word ‘worthy’. A man who is ‘worthy’ in a man who is of good moral and spiritual standing in the community. And such a man benefits the blessing of peace. So, when the apostles were to greet such a man, that greeting would be the means that God uses to let that peace come upon that household.
Acts 16:14–15 ESV
14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
But if they are unworthy, because they have rejected these messengers of God, God would withdraw peace from that home.
And then we read,
Matthew 10:14 ESV
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
Rejecting the message of salvation heralded by these messengers were not meant to be rejected. Some didn’t receive them at all. Others welcomed them but not their message. And if such resistance rejects the Gospel messenger, they were to leave by shaking the dust off their feet.
This was a huge deal when Jesus said this. You see, the Jewish custom whenever they exited a Gentile town or village, was to shake and beat the dust off their feet as a symbol of uncleaness and not belonging. The Gentiles had no place among the Jews who considered themselves to be holy.
But beloved, consider what it means when Jesus now asks the apostles to do that to the Jews.
To reject God’s word and His messengers means that you are now an outcast, not belonging to those who are called God’s children.
Matthew 10:15 (ESV)
15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
It is a great sin to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One that brings greater judgment than if you were one of the vile sinners of the cities that God burned down by fire for their sinfulness.
‘in that day of judgment’ - Jesus here alludes to a coming judgment. The fiery end of Sodom and Gomorrah was not the final judgment. What awaits them at the end is more terrible than what ended their lives on this planet. Yet, it is worse for those who reject Jesus.


Now, we will learn siginificantly more, in the coming days, about the nature of this fallen world and their reaction to the Gospel. But the fundamental reality is that we are being sent into hostile territory. There will be those who welcome our message, and those who resist it.
Romans 8:6–7 ESV
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
And the key differentiator between those who accept our message and those who reject our message is not the wisdom or the circumstance of the people, it is the mercy of God as we saw in John 6:44 in drawing a people unto Himself.
Knowing this is crucial because our response to hostility otherwise will be ill informed. Often times when we do things in hopes to extinguish such hostility to the Gospel message, we run the risk of watering down the Gospel truth in order to get more people into our movement.
But what we must recognise is that the fundamental rejection by the worldly person is a rejection of the truth of the Gospel Message. And whatever gimmicks you try, you will feel that if you could somehow reduce the imact of this message that causes such hostility or cover-up for God in someway, then people will be more receptive.
People, God doesn’t need your cover-up. He doesn’t need you to try alternate means that compromise the fidelity of the Gospel message.
You see, it is this kind of thinking, that we call seeker-sensitive, where churches and ministries are more concerned about how to hype and interest a fallen world into liking Christianity. And so they pomp it up with lights and effects and concerts and drama, to keep the people interested.
Such is a broken ministry with a broken theology, and what they need is more than what they can give. For such ministries have turned themselves into mission fields where now God is sending His messengers into such communities that they may actually hear the true Gospel.
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