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Romans 15:18-21


Intro: We have already seen from this chapter that Paul was a soul winner. He had a heart for the lost and did all he could to reach them for Jesus. In ths passage, Paul portrays himself as a missionary. There is a sense in which these words are interchangeable. However, there is another sense in which they are not. In this second sense, a soul winner is someone who reaches out to the lost where he lives, in his community, in his family, at his place of work. A missionary, on the other hand, is someone who has been sent by the Lord to another place or another country to share the Gospel message.

Now, for a church to be considered a real, New Testament church, that church must be engaged in the business of carrying out the Great Commission. This involves our witnessing where we are and from there, reaching out into the whole world. We are to have a program of evangelism where we are, and we are to have a plan that encompasses the entire world in its scope. This is the mandate of the Lord Jesus, Acts 1:8.

So, whether we are at home, at work, or on the foreign field, we are to be soul winner/missionaries all the time. This was Paul's heart and it is the heart that should be within each of our bosoms this evening. I want to take a few minutes to look at this passage and tell you How To Recognize A Missionary. Paul tells us the traits by which a genuine New Testament missionary is recognized. May we all examine our hearts and see if these traits are true of us as well.


(A missionary is Fruitful!)

A. Confirmed By A Heavenly Walk - Paul says that his purpose was to "make the Gentiles obedient." That is, he was preaching a message that had the power to change those who accepted it and create within them obedience to God. This has been somewhat of a theme of Paul's in Romans. Notice Romans 1:5; 16:26. Both of those verses speak of "obedience to the faith." This is a term that refers to the evidence of a changed life. Paul is saying, "I have proof that my ministry is real. Everywhere I go, I leave a trail of obedient, new believers."

You see, the only way to see whether our labors as Christian missionaries have been successful is to look at the lives of those we have introduced to Jesus. It is not enough to get me to make a confession of faith. Anyone can do that! What we are looking for is the proof of a changed life. A life that is wholly given over to the Lord God. God will confirm His missionary/soul winners through the people they lead to Him!

(Note: In case you didn't know it, not everyone who comes to an altar and makes a profession of faith gets saved. The acid test is to look follow up on that person in one year, five years, ten years, and see where they are living. If what they got was real, there will be a changed life and a love for Jesus Christ! When those things are missing, there is a question about the validity of their experience!)

B. Confirmed By A Heavenly Work - Paul's next statement is that what he has been allowed to witness was a work of God in and around him. He says that he can take no credit for the souls saved, the churches founded or the lives changed. All glory, says Paul, belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ!

There was no padding of the results with Paul. There were no attempts to impress men with the number of people he had won to the Lord. He knew that he was a mere vessel in the Master's hand. His duty was to proclaim the Gospel. Christ's duty was to give the increase as He saw fit, 1 Cor. 3:6.

(Note: Would to God that churches and church people would get out of the competition business! Our job here is not to produce a list of heads that can be counted to win favor with men. Our duty is to come to the place where we understand that nothing of an eternal nature will ever be done but through th power of the Lord Jesus Christ, John 15:5! When we get there, we won't care about numbers! We won't care about the head count. All we will care about is that Jesus gets all the glory for everything that He does through us, to us a for us! Would to God that we could die to self and not care what others thought about us and the work in this church. Would to God that we could learn that this is His work and His business to take care of! Real missionaries do not care who gets the credit. Real missionaries was Jesus to get all the glory!)

C. Confirmed By Heavenly Wonders - Paul makes three statements is verses 18 and 19 that must be considered this evening. He tells us that his ministry was confirmed by:

1. Word and Deed - That is, a life that matched the message preached! That is essential for success and is the product of God's faithful work in a person's life. This is a requirement for effective ministry, 1 John 3:18; Col. 3:17.

2. Mighty Signs and Wonders - These were the common, ordinary experience of the early church, 2 Cor. 2:12; Heb. 2:3-4. When the early church ministered in the power of the Holy Ghost, He confirmed His Word with "signs and wonders." Guess what, that is missing in our day! But, men need to see God working in the midst of His people! Our God is a miracle working God! He is always doing the great and the unexplainable! When we preach His Gospel, we should ask Him to accompany the proclamation of the truth with miracles and wonders! It will speak to the hearts of the lost and draw them to Jesus!

(Note: This past week, W.A. Criswell went to be with the Lord. He was 92 years old! When he had pastored First Baptist Church of Dallas for 34 years, he said that there had never been a time, up until then, that he had preached the word from that pulpit and there had not been souls saved. He claimed that God had always honored the preaching of the Gospel with the miraculous salvation of sinners! Would to God we could say the same thing!)

3. By The Power Of The Spirit Of God - Paul tells us that when he preached, his message was accompanied by the power of God! Friends, that is what gets the job done! It isn't our fancy buildings, our programs, our perfectly crafted messages, it is the power of God! Only the power of God can convict the sinner! Only the power of God can transform the sinner. Only the power of God move in the churches, communities and hearts of our world to bring men to Jesus! May we determine this evening that we have operated too long in the power of our flesh! May we determine that we will settle for nothing less than having God's power on our lives, our sermons and our services. Would to God there we a few who were will to sell out completely to God so that His power might rest upon them.


(A missionary is Faithful!)

(Note: There are too many quitters in our day and not enough people that are whole heartedly sold out to being Christ's missionary to a lost world! By the way, that's exactly what we are! (Ill. 2 Cor. 5:20!)

A. A Commitment To Christ's Mission - As Paul carried out the Lord's call upon his life, he took the commission seriously! He did exactly what he had been told to do, Acts 1:8. He began where he was and then carried the Gospel to the whole world. Ill. Illyricum is in modern day Yugoslavia. If you trace the journeys of Paul, you will see that he traveled over 1,500 miles on foot and by sea. This is a staggering feat, considering the way men traveled in the First Century.

This is the biblical pattern for ministry. We are to begin with our Jerusalem and expand our outreach in ever expanding circles until the whole world is encompassed in our hearts, our prayers, our giving and our burden. My friends, our field is the whole world!

(Ill. When I first became a Pastor, a deacon told me that our church field extended from Canal Bridge to Linville River Bridge. He told me that people outside that area were for someone else to reach for Jesus. Well, he was wrong! Wherever we can find a lost soul, there is our church field! May we do our best to begin where we are and reach out until all have a chance to hear!)

(Note: Sir William MacGregor, a missionary to Africa was once asked why Islam was spreading far mor rapidly than Islam in that part of the world. His response still speaks volumes to day. He said, "It's just this: every Muslim regards himself as a missionary; the majority of Christians think it is another man's work.")

B. A Commitment To Christ's Message - Paul had a message to preach and he gave his life doing just that! When a believer has the precious message of the Gospel and he does not preach it to a lost and dying world, he is like the lepers in 2 Kings 7. A Christian who does not witness is either a counterfeit or a contradiction! May we be able to leave this live and echo the words of the great Apostle, "I have fully preached the Gospel."

May we not fall into the trap so many have fallen into today. The trap of watering down the Gospel to make it more appealing to men must be avoided at all costs! Let us boldly hold before them the righteous claims of the Lord Jesus and trust Him to honor His message to the saving of souls!

(Note: Heaven's missionaries are faithful to some things! Are we faithful to them this evening? Is Gilead Baptist "fully preaching" the Gospel at our Jerusalem and to the whole world? If not, let's renew our commitment to Him tonight and get about the business of telling a lost world about a saving Lord.)


(A missionary is Focused!)

(Note: Often, we think of people going to be missionaries as people who are doomed to a life of dullness and deadness. Well, the world thinks the same things about you and me this evening! Let me tell you, there is nothing drab or dull about a life lived full out for the Lord Jesus Christ! Think about Paul for a minute - 2 Cor. 11:24-28. Paul's ministry was fresh because he was focused on some things. He shares them with us in this passage.)

A. Concentrated On New Frontiers - Paul was interested in going to places where people had never heard the Gospel. He wanted people to have the chance to hear the good news. Would to God that our eyes would open to the fact that all around us there are people who have never heard the Gospel message. They need to hear. You meet people every day that have never heard a clear, biblical presentation of the Gospel. May we make it our mission to take the Word of God to them!

B. Concentrated On New Foundations - everywhere Paul went, he was in the business of starting new works for God. He didn't try to build his church on the work of others. He would go to a town, preach the Word and start a church. Later, he would leave that town and go to another, doing the same thing over and over again! When he would return to those places years later, he would find them thriving in the work of the Lord! In other words, he went there, won souls, taught them how to win souls and he moved on.

For us, this reminds us that our business here is not to build this work on proselytes from other churches. Now, don't misunderstand me, I am thankful for every person who has felt led of the Lord to move to Gilead. I mean, we aren't in the business of actively seeking to steal sheep, but I want you to know the gate's open! If they want to run in, then they are welcome! Our God-given duty, however, is to reach out to a lost world in the name of Jesus and to actively seek to bring men to Him. We are to help me to come to know Him!

C. Concentrated On New Faces - God had burned his message and lost men into the heart of the Apostle Paul. The message being Isa. 52:15, and the men being the lost who had never heard the life changing Gospel of grace. As a result, Paul felt compelled to tell men about Jesus. He felt compelled to reach out and to win men to God.

May the Lord birth the same determination in your heart and mine this evening. May we get beyond our ineffectual prayers and our weak giving. May we realize that God has called each us to mission work here in our own Jerusalem and that He has called some to go to the regions beyond with the message of life.

Conc: I want to close this message with a challenge. I challenge every person in this room to search his or her heart this evening and to answer the following questions honestly. Are you doing everything in your power to reach the lost in this, your Jerusalem? Are you doing everything in your power to help those who are carrying the true Gospel to the ends of the earth? Oh, we could all do more! The questions is, will we? Ill. Through the quiet streets of a fishing village that lay at the mouth of a turbulent river, a cry rang out, "Boy overboard!" Quickly a crowd gathered, and anxious eyes looked out over the rushing water to the figure of the drowning boy. Each anxious mother's heart was asking, "Is he my boy?"

A rope was brought, and the strongest swimmer in the village volunteered to rescue the drowning lad. Tying one end of the rope to his waist, he threw the other among the crowd, and plunged in. Eagerly they watched him breast the tide with strong, sure strokes, and a cheer went up when he reaching the boy and grasped him safely in his powerful arms. "Pull in the rope!" he shouted over the swirling waters.

The villagers looked from one to another "Who is holding the rope?" they asked. But no one was holding the rope! In the excitement of watching the rescue, the end of the rope had slipped into the water. Powerless to help, they watched two precious lives go down because no one had made it his business to hold the shore end of the rope. Must millions be left to perish because there is no one to hold the shore end of the rope?

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