BONUS BLOG

Bonus Blog: Mattie Bryant Sunday Teaching

By Mattie Bryant 
I know Jesus – but can I truly live for Him if I don’t become a foreign missionary? 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS ROUND 1
  • What defines a disciple?
    • A person attempting to live in loving obedience to Jesus and His commands
    • Yup, simple as that but came from a person much smarter than me (Pam Arland, PhD)
  • What defines an apostle? Is there a difference between a disciple and an apostle?
    • Greek word “apostolos” = “person sent”
    • Chosen by God >> John 17:6 the twelve disciples, Acts 1:26 – 2:2 Matthias, Acts 9:15 Paul
    • Sent one >> Acts 26:17 – 18 Paul’s commission
    • Eyewitness of the risen Christ >> Acts 1:21 – 23 new apostles after Judas, Acts 9:3 – 5 Paul on the Damascus Road
    • Possessed God-given gifts to perform signs and wonders >> Luke 9:1 – 2, Mark 16: 15 – 18 twelve disciples given authority and healing power
Yes, there is a difference.  But also as disciples, we are chosen by God and sent to share the Gospel in the world.  Since nobody today really fits the definition of an “apostle,” a more fitting title would be an “ambassador.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20 >> “… we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.  We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.””
    •  We are living representatives of Christ and are totally qualified because the Holy Spirit lives in us!
  • What defines a missionary?
    • Latin word “missionem” = “act of sending” translated to English as “missionary”
    • The first missionaries were the apostles
    • Key attribute is willingness to adapt to new cultures = “cross-cultural” like Paul
      • 1 Corinthians 9:22 – 23 >> “… I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.  Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.”  He does not conform in sinful ways but in relational, cultural ways:  slaves, free, Jews, Gentiles, weak, etc.
Today, the term “missionary” is commonly used to refer specifically to people who take the Gospel overseas to a foreign, unreached people (don’t have access to hearing the Gospel).  According to the previous definition, all Christians are missionaries, but we are all not called to go overseas all the time.  This would be impossible.  Instead, we can break up the tangible roles into “goers” and “senders.”  Both are equally necessary to advancing the kingdom of God and sharing the Gospel with all nations.  Goers must be supplied resources (finances, prayer, training, equipment, care packages, etc) and senders must have people to train, pray for, equip, and prepare.  Senders hold the rope for the person going down into a well to save a child.

Christians today tend put more importance on the “goer” role, but hopefully we can recognize this isn’t accurate.  1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.”  This should challenge us to examine our hearts and motives over our actions and deeds.  John Piper comments, “Don’t assume that a change of location or a change of vocation will mean that you are more devoted to Christ.  In other words, there is no necessary correlation between where you work and what your assigned task is, on the one hand, and your wholehearted devotion to Christ or the fruitfulness of his kingdom, on the other hand.”

Some iconic “senders” in the Bible plus two of my favs not in Scripture:
  • Lydia, a businesswoman (Acts 16) – her and her household believed in Christ and were baptized, then she opened her house for Paul to stay
  • The Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5 – 10) – had faith that Jesus could heal his servant without coming in his house and recognized that he was not worthy; Jesus comments on that this is great faith
  • Jesus himself (Mark 6:3) – was a carpenter before he began his public ministry
  • Annie Armstrong – started the Lottie Moon (went to China) and tons more, look her up
  • C.S. Lewis – if you haven’t heard of him, look him up too

We see this separation of roles further supported in the “body of Christ” analogy; the role of each part is equal, yet different.  My car is made of many different parts, and ~even though I don’t know much about cars~ I’m pretty sure each part has to be functioning properly for him to run.  I had my tire slashed a few weeks ago and can confirm, my car did not serve its purpose.  Same thing goes for a faulty engine or radiator or whatever.  Every part is necessary for the car to drive and get to its destination.

I want to encourage all of us to ask God which role we can serve in to love Him more, love others more, and bring Him glory.  There is no wrong choice.  But you will know if you’re being called to one over the other for a certain time (because these aren’t permanent roles) when you pray about it.  For a while, I felt guilty about not being “called” as a goer.  I prayed about that quite a bit as well as that I was surrendering everything in my being to Christ.  I talked to people about going overseas after I graduate and started looking up trips for this summer and never had peace about it.  If anything, I had more unrest (feelin like an #exemplarysinner).  As uncomfortable as this wrestling was, I did have peace about how I could learn to be an effective sender for the time being – because maybe one day, I will have the opportunity to be a goer.  And if not, that’s cool too.  Whatever the case, our lives must be fully surrendered to God to be able to do His will.
 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS ROUND #2
What are we commanded to do as disciples / ambassadors?  Why are we commanded to do these things?  Summarize these commands as simply as possible in a bullet point list.  **Bonus points for Scripture references**
**The Two Greatest Commandments:  Matthew 22:36 – 40
  • “Love the LORD your God ~with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind~”
  • “Love your neighbor ~as yourself~”

**The Great Commission:  Matthew 28:18 – 20 
  • Acknowledge “all authority has been given to me (Jesus) ~in heaven and on earth~”
  • “make disciples ~of all nations~”
    • I’ve heard it said that we must be concerned with making “disciple-makers,” not just disciples.  I lowkey have beef with this statement because it implies that the definition of a “disciple” doesn’t include making disciples.  That’s all
  • “baptizing them ~in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit~” >>> #TRINITY
  • “teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you”
  • “remember, I am ~with you always, to the end of the age~”

Summarized in 7 basic commands:
  • Repent (and believe)
  • Be baptized
  • Break bread (have communion, be in fellowship)
  • Love (forgive)
  • Pray (in the name of Jesus)
  • Give
  • Go and make disciples

**Note:  reading Scripture is not on the list.  The Bible is a tool for us to know God and be able to love Him deeper, and it’s even fair to be considered a spiritual discipline for Christians who have access to the Bible.  But, it is not necessary because not all Christians have the ability to read the Bible everyday, or even to read at all.  Every Christian everywhere can do the other 7 commands.  For those of us who do have access to reading and comprehending God’s Word at any given time, this should hopefully highlight the importance of actually doing just that and memorizing Scripture.  Christians who can’t read the Bible prioritize Scripture memorization because that may be their only source of hearing God’s Word daily.
 
In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.”

In John 14:31, Jesus says, “On the contrary, so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do as the Father commanded me.”  He commands us to follow in His footsteps.
  • Jesus doesn’t say, “If you love me, you will… feel super enthusiastic about being in the Word this morning… or feel like forgiving your enemy” – the statement “you will keep my commands” supports faith over feeling through discipline.  This doesn’t mean our hearts, thoughts, and attitudes will be exactly aligned in obedience every moment.  Everyday we wake up, we’re not going to live perfectly for Christ.  Going back to the definition of a disciple, God desires our sincere attempts.
  • Acts 2:42 – 47
    • 42, 46 – “devoted” = “very loving or loyal” >> essentially were faithful
    • 47 – Faithful in the daily elements of worship, and “every day, the LORD added to their number those who were being saved"
    • Never says these people were living in perfect obedience, but faithful
    • It was the LORD who added to their numbers everyday – we can plant the seeds, but the LORD brings growth and the harvest >> 1 Corinthians 3:7

Nowhere on this list is every believer commanded to be a foreign missionary, or a “goer”.  The “go and make disciples” does not specify a location.  Here’s a list of roles that all Christians are called to be, a:  **RJ’s fav verse alert** 
  • Chosen race
  • Royal priesthood
  • Holy nation
  • People for his possession

“SO THAT… you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” – 1 Peter 2:9

Now, we’re going to take camp out on this “so that” phrase – this implies that there is purpose behind why Jesus has redeemed us to own these positions.  We actually (kinda) see it multiple times throughout Scripture, like in the 5 big covenants… apparently to create the names, somebody just added “-ic” to the end of whoever God was talking to and just called the last covenant “new” because that’s very original.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS ROUND #3
Split up the five covenants among discussion tables:
  • What does God promise?
  • Is the covenant conditional or unconditional for man?  If so, what is the stipulation?  **Hint:  look for “if” statements
  • Why does God promise this?  **Hint:  look for “so that” statements or results of the promise
  • Any cool observations?
            **The Noahic Covenant:  Genesis 9:1 – 7
  • “so that… the earth will filled with life”
    • Unconditional – no stipulations

**The Abrahamic Covenant:  Genesis 12:1 – 3
  • “so that… all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you”
  • First conditional – Abraham gotta pack up and go, obey God
  • POWER PLAY:  Genesis 15
    • 17 – God walks through the binding covenant sacrifice twice, once as a “smoking fire pot” and once as a “flaming torch”… geez wonder who that could be, not very discreet >>> this means He promised to fulfill what would’ve been Abraham’s part of the covenant !!!!! **spoiler alert
  • Unfortunately, Abraham was asleep for this lol

**Mosaic Covenant (Israel):  Deuteronomy 28:9 – 12
  • “so that… all the peoples of the earth will see that you bear that LORD’s name, and they will stand in awe of you”
  • Conditional – Israel gotta obey God’s commands / walk in His ways

**Davidic Covenant:  2 Samuel 7:10 – 17, 22 – 29
  • 26 – “so that… your name will be exalted forever, when it is said, “The LORD of Armies is God over Israel”
  • 29 – “bless your servant’s house so that… it will continue before you forever”
  • Conditional – obey God’s commands
  • POWER PLAY:  2 Samuel 7:13 – 16
    • God will establish His Kingdom through us – we won’t build it for Him >>> ultimately fulfilled by Jesus **spoiler alert

**The New Covenant:  Jeremiah 31:31 – 34, Ezekiel 36:22 – 32
  • “so that… the nations will know that I am the LORD – this is the declaration of the LORD God – when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight” (Ezk 23)
  • “so that… they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them – this is the LORD’s declaration”
  • Unconditional (full circle!!) – thank God bc his people stayed breaking the covenant and were actually profaning His name among the nations
  • POWER PLAY:  Ezekiel 22:24 - 30
    • God will cleanse his people, give them a new heart, place His Spirit in us to obey His commands, and save us from our own uncleanness >>> JESUS

Hopefully, we’re beginning to see a trend – God blesses His people (Jews) with the purpose of all people (Gentiles) of the world knowing Him.  In Perspectives, Brad (?) called this pattern “Top line and bottom line.”  The top line refers to what God does, and bottom line refers to why God does it.  It’s super cool because essentially the entire Bible can be read this way.  This highlights a key element of God’s redemption plan in its entirety – it’s for ALL people.  Jesus didn’t just drop the Great Commission on His disciples as an “oh, by the way” thing right before He ascended to heaven.  God has desired for all nations and peoples of the world to know Him from the very beginning and will desire this to the very end.  And this isn’t just something that may happen but is guaranteed to – we will be worshipping the LORD forever with our brothers and sisters from across the globe.
**Revelation 7:9 – 10
  • “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” (9a)

What are some practical ways we can live this out strategically? 
  • Talk to your Christian friends and non-Christian friends the same way – on that note, find some non-Christian friends.  Jesus hung out with sinners on the reg and didn’t sin.  You can be friends with people who don’t know Jesus and not conform to sinful things.  If anything, saying no to these things is a great opportunity to share the Gospel.  Pray for your friends!!
  • Pray for the nations!!! Engage in their peoples that are here!!  There are loads of international students here.  Growth is an uncomfortable process, so if we want to see the kingdom expand, let’s get out of our comfort zones!  We can befriend these students (like actually be there friend, not just share Jesus with them and dip), and when they believe, they can take the Gospel back to their home countries and families.  These people have learned English and live in our towns, shop at our stores, and go to our school.  We can share our faith and the love of God with the nations without going across the world!
  • Invite somebody to study the Bible with you, like a new believer, non-Christian friend or family member, or international student.  If they say no, not a problem.  Keep being their friend!  Pray for their hearts to be softened and for them to seek truth and find Jesus.
  • Be strategic about your “next steps.”  Graduation may be closer for some compared to others, but it’s never too early to intentionally pray about life after college.  If you don’t have a deep passion for a certain job, pray for clarity.  Broaden your prayers to include willingness to live somewhere that you never thought you would – not just overseas, but big cities in the U.S. like LA, NYC, Portland.  And do your homework on where international people live in the U.S. and/or which city you want to live in!!!! There are SO MANY.  
  • If you start to feel a passion for unreached people, pray about it!!  Being a “goer” doesn’t mean dropping out of college or leaving your job dreams behind.  Christians who work “regular jobs” will even have more access into foreign countries who are hostile to Christianity over Christians who get a visa as a “missionary.”  

I’ll end us with another John Piper quote, “Keep in mind that aiming to be a martyr is turning a God-decided result of faithfulness into a self-decided definition of faithfulness… God’s calling on our life is obedience and faithfulness and love and zeal. How it ends is his business, not ours.”

May God help us to be faithful, glorify Him in our work, and be content where He has called us to serve Him.

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