Faithful Participants in God’s Mission – 2 LSB #’s 869, 835, 662
Text – 1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
WE ARE GOD’S FELLOW WORKERS
In week two of the sermon series, “Faithful Participants in God’s Mission,” we’re talking about being God’s fellow workers. As His fellow workers, you may be wondering about your job description.
We have the operations manual so we’ll look into God’s Word & structure today’s message in the form of a job description – the what & the how. We’ll look at opportunities for continuing education, the work environment, & benefits.
As God’s fellow workers, we are called by Christ Himself to a life according to the well-known words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:
“And Jesus came & said to them, ‘All authority in heaven & on earth has been given to me. Go therefore & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (28:18-20 ESV)
No surprises there. As you go, make disciples. Baptize & teach. Be Kingdom bringers! But what can we expect as we seek to follow Jesus? Here’s where we can’t be sure. The Parable of the Sower shows that we are to go & share the Gospel all over the place, with the knowledge that saving faith may take root, & it may not.
Jesus often taught in stories that were ambiguous. The outcomes were not clear. The disciples often were left wondering. It’s the same for us. The work God calls us to enter into with Him can be messy, uncomfortable, strange & scary. We may not see the results in this life. Or we may see results that are not what we want. Still, we share God’s love & His Gospel. By His grace & by His power, we do the work. God encourages us through the Apostle Paul to keep on keepin’ on: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
God’s job description for us also has a lot of information on the HOW. The way we go about bringing the Kingdom into this world is really, really important.
SLIDE: THE “HOW” BULLET LIST:
We have confidence & peaceful trust because the Son of God is with us. And because we are not alone, we are receiving resources from the Holy Spirit as His fellow workers. We receive continuing education as we work with God.
In many places, God reminds us that we are strengthened for our work in this world through constant communication with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says very simply, “Pray without ceasing.” He calls us to meet together for worship, to receive the Lord’s supper, to build each other up, as Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another & build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Throughout Scripture, God calls us to be in His Word consistently, constantly, steadfastly, so that we increase in knowledge about Him. Colossians 1:10, gives a summary of how that looks: “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work & increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Dwelling in God’s Word gives assurance of our place in His Kingdom. He promised salvation through the Messiah, & He delivered. We are saved. That is the launching-off point for the work God calls us to do. It’s a firm, immovable foundation for our working environment, which is important given the somewhat ambiguous outcome of our endeavors.
Here’s a couple other things you need to know. At Matthew 10:22, Jesus warns us: “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Jesus expands upon that in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Hatred & trouble. In our country it has gotten more hostile in recent years, yet, the world has never been friendly to followers of Jesus. So He gives us a promise.
Jesus assures us that He’s already won the war, & we are saved by the gift of faith. In the midst of all the trouble, we have assurance, & with that assurance comes peace in spite of our fears. So we’ve covered the basic work, continuing education, the challenging work environment. Lastly, we look at the benefits we receive in this job.
There are many benefits, of course, one of the greatest being the possibility that we will actually witness people moving from Satan’s grip into the arms of Jesus. Human beings moving from death to life. And even if we don’t see that transformation in this life, we can be assured that one day, when we are together in heaven, we will know in full how God used us to bring His Kingdom into the lives of others. If that’s not enough, we also look at a promise our Heavenly Father makes to us through the letter Paul wrote to Philemon:
“As you share the faith you have in common with others, I pray that you may come to have a complete knowledge of every blessing we have in Christ.” (God’s Word translation) Look at the absolute words Paul uses as he describes the benefit of sharing our faith. COMPLETE knowledge of EVERY blessing we have in Christ.
This makes it clear that there is a whole new level of blessing which God gives to us when we share our faith. We are already blessed enough by our salvation through Christ. Yet God, in His glorious love, chooses to give even more when we partner with Him in Great Commission work. Don’t we all love to get bonuses? Here’s a heavenly one.
So that’s the job description, & all the promises that go with it. Except for why? WHY do we do the work? I can give you quite a list. We do the work only because God freely gives His grace & power, allowing us to dwell with peace in His promises. We do the work to praise God, giving Him all glory & honor for the sacrifice He made for us at Golgotha.
We do the work to keep that message alive, to bring this hope to others who do not know the good news. We do the work with hope & prayer, but never the guarantee that the seed we plant grows into saving faith.
We do the work so that in the midst of the struggles & fears of this life, God’s otherworldly peace is always present, always greater. We do the work of passing on this legacy through our children & their children, so they are equipped to share the truth of God’s hope with future generations.
Yet, ultimately the answer to why is love. Why does God invite us into the work He could so easily do on His own? The answer is love. He loves us so much that He wants you & me to experience the power, the majesty, the glory, of His Kingdom spreading on earth. Dear brothers & sisters in Christ, can you believe we get to do this, to be fellow workers with the God of heaven & earth? Amen.
On Galilee’s high mountain Christ gave the great command in words of strength & promise which all can understand: “All power to me is given to do what I shall choose; therefore I send My children, their witness I will use.” The Lord who, born of Mary, came down as man & died, who preached to all who listened, for us was crucified – this Lord, our living brother, in power at God’s right hand, has chosen us to carry His truth to every land. Amen. LSB 835:1-2.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet