Greear at Gateway Seminary: All are called to the task of missions
ONTARIO, Calif. -- Accepting the call to follow Jesus is accepting the call to missions, said J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, during chapel Feb. 12 at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, Calif.
"I think the Christian community in large part has bought into a dangerous myth about calling ... that it is an experience reserved for a sacred few people," Greear said.
"The calling to leverage your life for the Great Commission was included in the call to follow Jesus."
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus told the first disciples to follow him and that he will make them fishers of men. "The question is no longer if you are called. The question now is only where and how you are called," Greear said.
Greear used the account of Stephen in Acts 6-8 to illustrate the convictions that led an ordinary person, called by God, and filled with the Holy Spirit, to be the catalyst for the gospel expanding outside Jerusalem. "The whole plot of Acts develops in chapter six with the story of Stephen," Greear said.
Stephen was selected as a deacon and his commitment to his work in the church caught the attention of the local community. Many people came to faith in Jesus Christ including a number of Jewish priests. "That of course got the attention of the Sanhedrin who began to try to discredit Stephen," Greear said. Stephen was taken before the Jewish council where he delivered a sermon detailing the history of Israel and showing how the Old Testament points to Jesus.
After his sermon, Stephen was cast out of the city and martyred. As the stones began to strike Stephen, he saw the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Scholars point out Jesus standing here is odd because everywhere else that Jesus is at the right hand of God we see him sitting," he said.
"[The book of] Hebrews says that having sat down, he was signifying salvation was done," he said. "Why is he standing at this moment? I think there is only one possible answer: he is standing to receive home his son." Stephen had made his choice: Jesus was worth it.
"At some point, if you are really going to follow Jesus, obedience is going to take you 180 degrees opposite of where you think you want to go. In that moment the only thing that will compel you forward is the belief that Jesus is worth it," Greear said.
Following Stephen's martyrdom, increased persecution in Jerusalem caused the church, except the apostles, to scatter into Judea and Samaria where the scattered members preached the gospel. Greear pointed out that this was the first time the gospel had left Jerusalem and none of the apostles were involved. "I believe the story of Stephen is given to us as an example of how the gospel is supposed to expand globally," he said.
Greear asked the listeners to consider if God returning the church to the simple convictions that impelled the early church forward "when a bunch of blue-collar people, without money or power, or any representatives in Congress, or T.V. stations, or podcasts, or organized leadership strategies turned the world upside down."
"What if everything that is happening now -- loss of cultural influence, loss of funding -- was designed by God to take us back to the things that propelled this movement in the first century when the church was an unstoppable force?" he said. "It wasn't mega churches and stadium revivals that grew the church. It was members committed to the Great Commission.
"Historically, ordinary believers have always been the tip of the gospel spear," Greear said. There are currently around 40,000 evangelical missionaries serving in the 10/40 window, an area between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator in which nearly two-thirds of the world's population lives. Throughout this predominantly non-Christian area there are two million U.S. citizens working in secular employment Greear said. He estimated that one-tenth of that group could be committed Christians. "If they understood that their primary commission in life was to be a disciple-making disciple, the mission force in the 10/40 window would go from 40,000 to 240,000 and it wouldn't cost the church another dime," Greear said.
"The only way people develop the courage to go is the conviction that Jesus is worth it." Preaching a Savior glorious enough to joyfully die for won't grow an audience, but it will start a movement he said.
"Every church should multiply. Every person ought to think of themselves as on mission. Everybody is responsible for the gospel. These are the convictions of people who shape the world."
To watch Greear's chapel message go to gs.edu/greear.