Introduction: Theological Vision and Identity.
This Christmas my oldest little girl got some new dolls—one of Elsa and the other Anna from the movie Frozen. When she opened this present so almost did not know what to say because she had so much joy. All the other presents she received that day went to the background of her affections. The Elsa and Anna dolls became her greatest affections. She played all day with these dolls, but wanted everyone around her to come play with her. Essentially she was saying come join in my joy. Her delight was so good she wanted others to share in it with her. As I was thinking about what it means to be a Christian missionary this is it. It is a declaration to come share in our greatest affections. God placed this attribute in humanity. When we truly delight in something we share it. We want others to come enjoy it with us. Our joy increases in the joy of others.
As we prepared for Advent this year, we have also been preparing for 2016. We have been asking ourselves what does it really mean to have our identity in Jesus instead of ourselves? Where are identity lies is where our joy and happiness lies. So far we have seen Jesus is a worshipper, learner, family member, and servant. Our last identity will be Jesus as missionary or witness. Let’s stand and read our text we have been focusing on these past 3 weeks—READ Acts 2.42-47.
Theme: Every true Christian wants others to experience the joy in God they are regularly experiencing.
1. We were made to witnesses.
The FIRST Westminster Catechism says, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Where do they get this from? They come from verses like these:
I give thanks to you, O LORD my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.—Psalm 86.12
You make know to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.—Psalm 16.11
We were made to glorify God FOREVER. We were made in the image of God to glorify God and ENJOY God forever. This is what we were made for. To deny this truth is a life full of misery. The great Christian write C.S. Lewis explains it this way:
“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”—CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory
There is the problem friends—our affections are “too easily pleased”.
The point I am trying to make here is when you enjoy something you become its witness. You talk about it. You glorify it. When you enjoy a movie, a TV show, a new restaurant, a new artist, or anything else you glorify it. So what is preventing us from being witnesses is our affections—our desires. The desires that are “far too easily pleased”.
How did we get like this? The simplest answer is SIN. This is what the essence of sin is—seeking ultimate satisfaction in everything but God. This is generational spiritual poverty. Have you ever met a poor person who is satisfied with their addictions? Trust me they exist. You know there is something better for them if they would just start taking the right steps. Something is screaming in our souls, “Can’t you see there is a better life available! I am here to help you!” But they don’t know anything better friends. Now before we to weak to start thinking about them and their failures this is us friends. God is screaming that there is a better life available, and He sends Jesus to help us. But we are poor and don’t know anything better—we are satisfied with mud pies.
2. Jesus was a God glorifying witness.
Jesus comes into the world showing us a better life is available and declaring this is available to everyone who will trust Him. Jesus is the perfect witness for God, because He is God. Jesus has been witnessing the splendor of God the Father and God the Spirit for eternity. What person to declare to the world how satisfying God is but God. John Piper says this:
“The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. The reason this may sound strange is that...when we do ask about God’s design, we are too prone to describe it with ourselves at the center of God’s affections. We may say, for example, that His design is to redeem the world....Redemption, salvation, and restoration are not God’s ultimate goal. These He performs for the sake of something greater: namely, the enjoyment He has in glorifying Himself.”—John Piper, Desiring God
Jesus comes to demonstrate this to us perfectly. In John 17.4 Jesus says, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
Now before you are tempted to say, “Well that’s easy for Jesus because He is God”, let’s not forget that He was fully God, but He was also fully man. Jesus got tired in John 4.6, thirsty in John 19.28, hungry in Matthew 4.2, physically weak in Luke 23.26, and died in Luke 23.46. Jesus fully accepted the task His Father gave Him. He took on flesh, and freely chose to live like us to satisfy the desires of His Father.
So what we see in Jesus is that is possible for humanity to be fully satisfied in God. We have all these desires running wild, but having one overarching desire can tame all the others. Some of you grew up in broken families or lower income families, and said, “I don’t want that.” So what did you do? You went to college, worked hard, and made choices that would prevent you from pursuing things that would lead to what you despised growing up. This is how Jesus lived, but not to get a better job, or a better retirement plan, or a better environment for His kids. No, Jesus’ ultimate desire was to please God. Why? Because He knew infinite desires can only satisfied by an infinite being. If we all keep running around looking to be satisfied in another person, job, house, car, or anything else we will continue to kill ourselves.
So Jesus comes as a missionary. He said in John 17.4 that this was work that was assigned to Him. This is what a missionary is. If you are a missionary then you carry a message, you have an assignment, you have a desire to see someone live a better life. I have friends who are vegetarians, and truly believe being a vegetarian will create a better world. What are they? Vegetarian missionaries. Everyone who lives for something they become a missionary for it. You believe it is what is best for human flourishing. You cannot run from this truth. We were made for it, so that is why we will always do it. But what if the thing you are living for, the thing you believe will bring about true joy and happiness will actually lead to death? Would you still live for it? I hope not.
3. We have been remade to witnesses.
If anyone here has chosen to trust Jesus as their example, their source of joy, their Savior, their God, then you are now like Him. Or you are at least striving to be like Him. You are a missionary. You are His witness. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5.20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Where do we see this in our original text? We can this all throughout some of the language in our text. The first is, “they devoted themselves”. We devote ourselves to what we believe will bring us delight. The second, “awe came upon every soul”. If you have ever had strong affections for someone you marvel at them—awe comes upon your soul. Finally they are “praising God”. Many of the people they are coming into contact with experience this joy filled community and want to become a part of it—“And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
The early church knew they were not called by God to keep this joy to themselves. The joy of Christ was to be made available to all people. Psalm 67.4 tells us, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy”. Psalm 96.3 says, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples”. You see friends if God only wanted to save you, then He would have just taken you up as soon as you accepted His salvation. Someone brought the message of Christ to you so would not be in the misery of searching for infinite joy. Some of you might still be searching, and please hear me that you do not have continue searching. Joy in God is available to all people today because of Jesus Christ. Others of you have accepted this, but you are lacking joy in God a lot lately. How can you find joy again? While would love to encourage you to go share your faith I have propensity to skip steps. First you need to do some heart probing here. What are you tempted to seek your delight in above God? You will need to confess that God and others. I John 1 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” James 5 tells us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Second, it is not enough to confess our sins, but we must repent of our sins. Repentance means if you had a chance to do it all over you would do it different. There are many things we need to repent here today friends, but let’s focus on this concept we have been concentrating today—being witness. Is it a sin to remain silent about proclaiming the Gospel? YES! We are commanded in Matthew 28 to go make disciples of all nations. In II Corinthians 5 we were told that we were called to be God’s ambassadors today. II Corinthians 5 also tells we are new creations, no longer regarding people according to the flesh. If you have any desire to care for people, then their greatest need is your greatest need—to be satisfied in God. Why would you deny them that when someone did not deny you? How long has it been since you have shared this truth with someone? If you are not regularly sharing it, then you need to begin asking yourself if this is truly your new identity? If we are truly finding ultimate joy and delight in God, then this should not be difficult. We love Him—He is where find our greatest joy and delight. Is that true for you today friend? If not, repent, and enjoy the pleasures of God forevermore.