Paul Washer ministered as a missionary to Peru for 10 years, during which time he founded the HeartCry Missionary Society to support Peruvian church planters. HeartCry’s work now supports indigenous missionaries in Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. An itinerant preacher, Paul also teaches in the internship program at his home church, First Baptist Muscle Shoals. He is the author of The One True God: A Biblical Study of the Doctrine of God.
Text: Malachi 1:6-11
Having worked in a third world country for many years, I feel like I can share some things with you that are unique to me, and it is this: I remember people telling me, “If must be difficult to work in Peru, to live in a tent, to be in a country with bombs going off.” I said, “No. It is not difficult at all. It’s not hard to serve Christ there. Do you want to know what’s hard. It’s when you leave that jungle or warring city and you arrive back in the U.S. and get on a plane in Miami and sit down beside normal people (lawyers, account) and everything starts getting foggy.” You see when you have nothing but Christ and bathe in a river and go down to preach, no entertainment, no hobby, no house, no nothing, it is so simple to live for Christ. And when you come back here it is like getting punched in the face with a 4400 lb. sponge of water and someone has entered into your nervous system and you cannot understand things anymore and are asking, “What are you doing?”
Everyone once and a while you wake up, almost like a man from a foggy, terrible dream, in the middle of the night because you have been trapped, thinking, “Oh my God! Am I wasting my wife? What am I doing?!” The only thing that matters is Christ and His kingdom. Now I know we live in a world and we have responsibilities, and I know there are extremes on both sides. But I do not think it is out of place to mention that we as Americans in all our wealth (you are wealthy in light of the rest of the world), we are in need of constant mourning because we are missing the big picture. I want to touch on that today, and a bigger thing–the sovereignty of God in missions.
God says, “If I am a master, where is my respect?” You see, to whom much is given, much is required. In the OT, the priests were given the greatest privilege to minister before God; therefore, they should give themselves completely and wholly to the things of God. We are a privilege people, and much is required of us. You are priests; you have more than any levitical priest every dreamt. Angels long to look into the very things given to you. Prophets who prophesied years ago hope to see the day which you have seen. How should we then live?
It is a joy to say, “Take my life and let it be; wholly consecrated unto Thee.” My life comes from God, and I must give it back to God.
“How have we despised your name?” There have been times when people have pointed out sin in my life, and I said, “No way! I am not that way!” Then the admonition comes from other people and realize what they say is true. When we compare ourselves by ourselves, we are not wise. You compare yourself to Scripture. What does it mean to be devoted to God? Look into the mirror of God’s Word. It should be a humbling thing and act as a corrective measure to turn us to greater devotion to Christ.
“How have we done this?” There is a thing that speaks louder than speech; it’s action, it’s attitude; it’s what you do. When someone looks at my life, would they say, “Oh right. Yeah, you’ve given it all to Jesus. Okay, sure seems like you’ve kept a lot for yourself there.” There is a balance, and the struggle is to find it.
I don’t want to start with the mission field because it is propped up. We must speak first of the local church. If you serve your employer like you serve your God, would he be pleased with you? Are you looking at life and saying, “It is but a moment I am here; tomorrow I will die.” Are you considering that your life is a vapor, and the only one who will remain is the one who will do the will of God. Jesus said, “If you will lose your life, you will gain it.” You will gain it here with joy unspeakable; to give your energies for the cause of Christ is a great joy. The great sin of the Church is not that it has too much passion but that is has no passion. Do you not understand that we stand on the precipice of opportunity? God desires to use us more than we have ever dreamed, and he desire to use us not because we are great but because we are the runt of the litter! It is not in greatness but in our weakness and brokenness and even our foolishness. God chooses such things to bring Him glory. There are not great men of God; there are only weak men who believe in a great God. We need to realize that we have been given much, and much is required of us, not only as individuals but as a community of faith.
All of this apart from a heart devoted to God is a sickening mess in the sight of God, who does not look on the outward part of man, but the heart. You have to be careful, because throughout history, great talent have led men down the wrong path. However, on the other side, there is a spiritual pride and false humility where we can brag in our debaseness and “suffering”. I say, “Do everything for Him. Do it all for His glory. Recognize that everything we are looking at will one day turn to dust. The only thing that will last for eternity is God, His Word, and the souls of men. We must give everything to that.” We have have all the glitz, and glamour, and the niceties, and God could be standing outside, having stopped knocking, and asking, “Would someone shut the door and lock it up?”
Our problem is that we don’t want to fix the local church but want to do missions. Our missions spreads the contamination.
I want you to know our dear Jehovah God, Lord of all Creation, is not as some would have you to think. He is not some impotent deity with a tin, pretend crown on His head, wringing His hands, “I want to change the world, but I can’t make it happen.” It is rubbish and on the brink of blasphemy! It is God who says, “People I have called you; people I have invited you to be His ambassadors, and if you don’t participate, I will get my work done without you.”
The Samaritan woman meets Christ, and not only did her relationship with God change, those men later on said, “There she is. There’s the woman who told us about Christ. She brought Him here.” The world is passing away. Why do you want to have a high category with it? When you walk into a room, they need to say, “There’s the one who told me about Jesus. There’s that person who gave me the gospel, and because of them, the sovereign God saved my soul.” What kind of reputation do you want to have?
When you have been given an invitation, and you don’t show up, it is an offense if you show up; it is an even greater offense depending on the person who gave it and the degree of importance to what you have been invited. God’s invitation? “All authority has been given to me.” There is not greater invitation in the world than what God Almighty, Lord of Heaven has given to us to join Him in bringing glory to His name by seeing people from every tribe and tongue come to know and worship Jesus Christ.
Mission has two categories; those who go down into the well and those who hold the rope (goers and senders). The cost is the same; you both should have scars on your hands. What has it cost you? You will not be what you give away; you will judge with what you have left over.
God is going to make His name great among nations. God is still going to get glory for Himself. Do not close your ears to the fact that maybe this very day through this ragged, tagged bumbling preacher God is inviting you to enter in to His Great Commission much more than you have ever dreamed. It is not a prison sentence; it is a privilege.
I want to talk to you about passion. This is important. “Have you ever passed a sleepless night in prayer, pacing back and forth, because of the people group you want to reach?” Most missionaries I know say, “Yes, brother Paul.” Let me ask you, “Have you ever spent a sleepless night in prayer because of the people in your world do not worship God?” The great motivation of missions is not the needs of man. The greatest motivation for doing missions is not the worth or the needs of people but the glory of Almighty God. When you start caring for, praying for, and getting involved in missions and things get difficult, you are going to need more than the motivation to meet the needs of man. You need to know that the battle has been won, and it is all for the glory of God.
Israel had this very closed idea that they were it, that they were all that God cared about and loved. They were the only bucket in which the grace of God was to be poured. No. If you could only see what my eyes of seen! Don’t ever come talking to me about the glory of God if you don’t care about the souls of men! That kind of Reformed thinking makes me puke. God is love, and men are perishing! The man who believes in the sovereign grace of God can go into the hell-ridden world knowing that some are coming out. I am going after family. I go into the jungle because I know I am going to bring some brothers out. That is the way sovereign grace missions do it. We are going to get family. I will go to hell or high water to do it. Whatever necessary, I’m going to bring God’s children home.
Will you do that? What will you do?
I did not preach this to challenge you. I preached this to change you.
What will you do?