1. By Dr. John R. Bisagno

What Would It Be Like Without People?
By Dr. John R. Bisagno

There are churches overseas who have won to Christ and baptized more people than we did here in the United States. God is alive and well and His work is prospering across the globe.
The last words that anyone says are important. History records those words of famous people and studies them with great importance, but no one ever spoke any last words with the importance that did the Lord Jesus. When He left and went back to His father and said to His people, "Remember I want you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Now, what Jesus said and did was so important and happened so fast that no one person could get it all down. So the Holy Spirit sent four reporters on the campaign trail of Jesus and each one of them recorded something different. Not contradictory. But different in that they recorded a part of what Jesus said. One might have a heard the first of the speech, another the last, another might have been watching what was going on in the crowd over here and recorded that, another focused only on the message and recorded that. So, it is only as you put all of the accounts of the Great Commission together that you see a full picture of what Jesus Christ said.
Now we are going to look this morning in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then Acts. We will see what different men said that Jesus said. Now I want you to get one thing very firmly fixed in your mind. Each of these gospel writers were coming from somewhere. They had a background. If Jesus said anything about fishing, and they were fishermen, they really latched on to that. If he said something about planting crops or reaping, and they happened to be farmers, they'd write that down. See, when you put it all together and understand that these men spoke out of a frame of reference of what registered with them because it was important to them because of who they were, you get a full picture of what Jesus said. And the church will never be effective in the world in winning the world to Christ until it has a full comprehension of what our Lord said. So let's get right to it. Matthew chapter 28, verse 18. Then Jesus came to them and said, and I'm reading from the NIV, "All authority in heaven and on earth has— been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe, to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age, or until the end of the world."
Now in each one of these, I want you to just play a little game with me, and when we read the text I want you to answer the question, "What jumps off the page to you?" If you had to sum up everything that this account was saying in one succinct sentence, what would it be? What's the main impact, the main theme, of that particular account? You know what I think it is here? It is this; Matthew hears Jesus saying, "Don't let anybody be over looked." Don't let anybody be overlooked. All the earth, all nations, all the world. That doesn't just mean all the lands of the world. It means the cultures and the tribes and the vocations and the classes of the people that live there. Don't miss anybody. Don't let anybody be overlooked. Why would that be important to Matthew? Well, Matthew, as you know, was a tax collector. He was a CPA, an accountant, a meticulous recorder of events and circumstances and details. Jots and tittles, pennies and dollars, denarii and decimals were extremely important to him. He meticulously would record precisely what Jesus had in mind, and Jesus had this in mind; don't miss anybody. Don't miss anybody. The whole world must be witnessed to. And I'm happy to tell you that by the time you get to Revelation chapter five, and see a picture of what's going on in heaven at the end of time, that there are people around the throne in heaven from every island, and every nation, and every culture, and every language, and every class, and every tribe in the world. So we've done it. We are successful. We will permeate the world with the Gospel before Jesus Christ comes back. And that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Now it is imperative that we understand that He is not just talking about language groups and nations. He is talking about cultures and individuals. There are in Indonesia, in India, in Nigeria, hundreds and hundreds, as there are in Houston, of entities and groups that we have got to be bold and creative in trying to reach.
I know a man who is a missionary to the 250,000 people who live in the garbage dumps in Calcutta who have gone in the refuse and hollowed out little caves and live in there. Some of you have heard me say that our son went to Western Europe four years ago. He and some other mission kids got a band and started taking the Christian message through the medium of rock and roll into nightclubs, theaters, rock concerts, brothels, and allies, anywhere they could be salt and light. Incidentally, there are about 100 bands like that over the world. In Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, we went into the jungles with Carolyn Robertson. Her ministry is well baby clinics. Every day back in the bush these little mamas with their babies on their backs come up there for shots, diagnosis, analysis, treatment, and medication. While they were dealing with the mamas and the babies, we were outside preaching to the papas. We had about 25-50 people saved every hour- every time the crowd turned over because of what we were doing in the name of Jesus for them.
We have missionaries that live in leper colonies. There are 66 Texas A&M University graduates serving as Southern Baptist foreign missionaries who are teaching the peoples of the poor countries of the world how to farm, how to do irrigation, how to do crop rotation, how to feed themselves, but most important of all, they are telling and giving them the Seed of life, the Bread of life, the Word of God. Anything you see on TV, whether it is a seminary or buying food for a poor child, anything you see that somebody is doing in the name of Jesus to try to get the Gospel through every crack and to every culture in every country in the world, somewhere in this world Southern Baptists are doing it. That's why when you give money, a percentage of everything you put in the offering every Sunday goes to feed the poor in Indonesia, goes to train seminary students in Calcutta, goes to take care of babies and preach the gospel in Ethiopia. And so, as Christians, we are trying to work together to do what Jesus said.

One of the newest things that our International Missions Board is doing is sports evangelism. Sports are crazy big all over the world, as you know. Two years ago Scott Case played in the super bowl with the Dallas Cowboys. Today Scott Case is a Southern Baptist missionary. Two months ago in France he met with 38 super-athletes who are interested in really getting professional football going in France in a big way. For a whole week in that clinic he trained them and taught them about the ins and outs of football and the ins and outs of life and when the week was over he won 17 of the 38 to Christ. Sports evangelism, music evangelism, medicine evangelism, TV evangelism, church planting, church building, digging water wells in Africa. Several of our people went to do that with Living Waters last year. All of these things are the response of the people of God to the commission of Jesus Christ when He said, " Don't let anybody be overlooked."
All right, turn to Mark. Mark's account is quite different from Matthew's. In fact, it may blow your mind. Mark 16 verse 15. Here is what Mark heard Jesus say, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation. Whosoever believeth and is baptized will be saved, but whosoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe." Now stop there. This word "accompany" means to create an atmosphere, to engulf. In other words he says, here are the signs to confirm the Gospel that will be encompassing you. This is the atmosphere I will create for you, one in which people will be saved. For one thing he says you will drive out demons, speak in new tongues or languages, pick up snakes or drink deadly things and it will not hurt you, and place your hands on the sick and they will get well. Why in the world did only Mark write that down? Well, probably because he needed some assurance. Then Jesus told him the second thing, don't let anybody be afraid to go. Why would Mark be interested in making sure that he wrote down Jesus said, "Don't be afraid to go?" Because Mark was probably afraid to go. Mark was an older teenager, 18 or 19 or at least at the most, a young adult of 20, 21, or 22. Maybe he was going to be married. Maybe he thought about having little kids. I've been serving in an ambassadorial role for our International Mission Board for sometime. I go out and do speaking engagements to help raise money and call out the called. One of the ­great joys is to participate in the commissioning of some of our missionaries. Fully half of them are in their late twenties and early thirties. Young couples. Little babies in their arms, toddlers by their sides. And I am petrified. They are going into Sumatra, Borneo, and the jungles. They must be scared to death.
Well, what did Jesus say? I think there are four primary fears a young missionary would have. One is a fear of invading demonic territory. When you go in the bush, when you go in the jungles, when you go in pagan countries, you're meeting the devil in his own den. He says, "Don't worry. I give you power over the devil and the demons." Then there is the language problem. We have 26 characters in our language. In Cantonese there are 26,000. I only know one word in Swahili - inteba. I like that word but it is the only one I know. And in some languages the same word means four different things depending on the tone, in how you say it. Imagine the fear. He says, "I will be even with your mouth in a powerful way." Then there is the problem of invading hostile territory with snakes and mosquitoes and the like. He says, "Don't worry." You know the missionaries have a slogan, they go out in the bush out in the jungle, and you have to eat what they give you and drink what they set before you if you are going to witness to them because much of the witnessing is around the fellowship of the meal. Missionaries say they have a prayer every time they eat out in the bush, "Lord, I'll put it down, you keep it down." He said, " Don't worry." A snake won't kill you. Fire won't kill you. The devil won't kill you. Be courageous. I’ll go with you.
Then a young missionary would be petrified about the diseases. I attended a missionary orientation in Callaway Gardens, and they were training 80 young missionaries how to analyze themselves when they are in the bush where there is no doctor. They listed 17 major world diseases you are likely to get and the symptoms, so you could tell what you have. I was like "Oh, my soul- how would you know what you’ve got?” He said, "Don't worry." You lay hands on the sick. Pray for each other. You'll recover. You'll live. Here is a young man scared to death and this is what he writes down, Jesus said, "All your fears, don't worry, I'm going with you."
I was preaching on missions in Pasadena in east Houston a few years ago. I talked about the power and authority of the fear of God taking the fear out of us as we go out to witness. And a lady came up to me and said, " Pastor, right across the street is a high rise ghetto. I've never visited in there on Monday nights to witness door to door because I'm scared. But I'm a U.S. letter carrier and I deliver mail there five days a week and I'm not scared because I have the authority of the United States government behind me." She said, "I'm going over there Monday nights because I've got the authority of the Kingdom of God behind me." Don't be afraid. Don't anybody be afraid to go. Now some of you here would go, but you are afraid. Remember what He said to Mark.
Turn to Luke chapter 24. Now before I read this, I want to tell you about Luke. Let's go ahead and tell you what the point is. Don't let anybody be left out. That is what Luke says. There is something all of you, all of us, right here, right now can do. None of you have to be left out. Now who was Luke? Luke was physician. He was a doctor. Luke was a body man. Now folks, there's nothing about snakes in here, nothing about baptism in here. He's got a whole different perspective. Eleven times Dr. Luke uses the collective "you, all of you, they, them," - eleven times. See, Luke picks up on Jesus saying "A ha - I know how we are going to do this. All these bodies are going to get together. We’ve got to join hands. We’ve got to lock arms. We’ve got to do what we do together." Now see the eleven times He says that. Let's start in Luke 24 verse 45. "Then He opened their minds, so they could understand the Scripture, and then He told them this is what is written - Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance for forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations beginning in Jerusalem. You, all of you, are witnesses of these things. I'm going to send all of you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. And He led them out to the vicinity of Bethany. And He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken into heaven. Then they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the Temple praising God.”
There are over 3,000 mission organizations in the world. Somebody asked which of them are the best. They are all the best. They are all good. It’s like Phil who asked his buddy, "What's the best way to kiss a girl?" His friend replied, "There ain't no bad way." What's the best way to go out and tell somebody about Jesus? There ain't no bad way. Just go. From Campus Crusade, to Navigators, to Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Sudan Interior Mission, all these organizations and denominations - they are all doing good. Let me tell you something very special about Southern Baptists. You are a part of a church that is a part of 40,000 other churches who are a part of the Southern Baptist Convention. With nearly 17 million members, this makes it the largest Protestant denomination in the history of the world. And in every group in the world that sends out missionaries, the mission folks have to spend an awful lot of time at home raising their support and the rest of their time on the field doing the job. I believe Southern Baptists are the only group in the world of these 3,000 mission agencies whose missionaries can stay on the field all the time. Because we, all of us, you, collectively put our mission dollars in one fund and send out nearly 10,000 missionaries across America and across the world. There is something you can do. You can give a dollar and a prayer. And somewhere in this world while you are sitting here, you are making an impact. I want to make a statement that I made before and I can back up. There's nothing you can think of, no ministry you see on TV, that anybody is doing anywhere in the world, that in some place Southern Baptist aren't already doing it. And so when we work together, and when you understand that your money is important and your prayer is important and that your going is important and your involvement is important, we are collectively responding to what Luke heard Jesus say, "Don't let anybody be left out." He needs all of us. You say, well, I'm for music, or I'm for Sunday School, or I'm for missions, or I'm for sports. No, we're for all of it. What would it be without people? He says all you people go to all those people, together. Without people there is no Great Commission. Without people the world never comes to Christ.
A boy was lost in the swamps of the Everglades. After two days they couldn't find him. His mother said instead of just going here and there, let's lock arms and make a big chain. They made a two-mile long chain, went across that swamp, and found him in an hour and a half. Too late. Too late.
One other word. Turn to Acts chapter one. Now this is still written by Luke. But after several years of traveling with Paul, he has become more than a physician. He is now a missionologist. A mission strategist. Now listen to what Luke says here in chapter one, verse eight, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth."
Here's the fourth point. Don't let anybody be stepped over here, on the way over there. He said, "Beginning in Jerusalem." What is the significance of that? That is where they were. They were standing in Jerusalem and Jesus said start right here. Judea was the county and Samaria was the next country over. Then go to the ends of the earth. World evangelism starts in your Jerusalem. We have taken 900 people over the world on various mission trips-maybe more on that. And you know what we do when we get over there, and I am as guilty as our people, we preach on the streets, we button hole everybody, we are bold, we are fired up, we are trained, we witness face to face in the airport, in the streets, in the markets to thousands of people and never witness to the ticket agent in Houston getting on that PanAm plane to leave. He said, "You start here." Missionary witness for two weeks in a glamorous country somewhere is hypocrisy if we never open our mouth to witness for Jesus here. If you are going to take a trip to the West Indies you've got to witness in West Houston. If you are going to go to Calcutta you've got to witness in Conroe. He said, "Don't let anybody be stepped over here, on the way over there.” It's very glamorous to go “over there." He said, "You start right here in Jerusalem." The only authentic witness given in Russia is that which has first been given consistently in Houston, Texas. Are we doing anything here?
Twelve years ago we started a work with poor, declining, inner city, missionary churches. I first got convicted when I went down to three different Mexican border towns to preach crusades for the Texas Department Evangelism in the seventies. And God started to say to me, "Hey, half of Mexico is here in Houston." And so we started working with these inner city churches that were declining that had Hispanics, Asians, and people by the thousands moving in right here. So now we have started a great mission ministry in this town begun by Brother Kneizer and continued so brilliantly by William Taylor. Every Saturday they distribute a ton of bread and a ton of rice door to door with a witness for Christ. Probably 25 tons of food and furniture and clothes are given out in the name of Jesus. Every week they teach seven hundred people from South America to speak English. Oh by the way, they teach them by using the New Testament. And most of them come to Jesus Christ. We have kids clubs, we have teen clubs, things all through our mission ministries that need workers. I want to ask you at some point before this month is over to stop outside this lobby, pick up a handful of brochures and see what is available.
A man came to our church to give his testimony a couple years ago. I'll just refresh your memory and tell you what has happened since. Down in NASA there are six teams of flight medical surgeons. Brilliant doctors who take care of those astronauts. One of them was named Larry Pepper. That is right Dr. Pepper. God convicted him that something was more important than going just to the moon and that was going to Africa. Something more important than men walking around in space, Jesus walking around in the hearts of men right here on Earth. And God started calling that brilliant fine young Christian doctor to be a missionary. And he gave his testimony from this pulpit about two and a half years ago the last Sunday before he left for Uganda, the place to which God called him. He responded because Uganda has the highest incidents of AIDS in the world. He knew he was placing his wife, children, and himself in jeopardy, in peril of their life. But he went. After two and a half years he has personally ministered to the medical needs of 110,000 men, women, and children. He has led five to ten people every day to faith in Jesus Christ with a simple, “let me tell you why I am here.”
Whomever you are, whatever your age, whatever your talents, whatever your physical and financial treasure, whatever time you have to give in prayer, somewhere in this city, somewhere in this world there is a place for you, a need you can meet. May God stir our hearts for the needs of a lost world. A great church, in a strategic spot, in a wonderful world city, may we never lose our heartbeat and our passion for missions.
I want to ask you four questions. One, how many of you will say pastor, I don't know for dead sure if God is calling me to be a missionary or something, but for a long time I've been sensing maybe He is. And if He is, if He will make it clear to me, I'll respond, “Here am I.” Would you stand? Any like that? I've been thinking for some time God may be calling me to some kind of Christian service, and if He is, if He'll just make it clear, I'll respond. Would you stand? Just remain standing. Thank you. Let's add to this group. How many will say, preacher, God's stirring in my heart, maybe just today, maybe in recent months, that I need to do something in missions and service here in Houston. And some time this month I will pick up some literature, and I'll explore what God wants me to do right here. Will you stand? How many will say if God will help me and make it possible, I want to commit to Him that some time before the end of the year I will make a generous, even sacrificial, gift to this blue and white envelope to world missions. Will you stand? And some would say, pastor, God is not calling me to go and I don't have much to give - but I can pray. How many will join this group and say I want to promise the Lord that with His help every day in the month of November I will pray five minutes each day for God to open the hearts of lost people all over the world to whom our missionaries will be witnessing. Will you stand? Father, you see the hearts of your people. Use their prayers, their dollars, their service, their willingness, to bring help bring about an answer to the prayer of Jesus when He taught us to pray, " Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." You want your Kingdom to come on earth. And you told us to join you in prayer for that. Our response here today is to work, to go, to give, to respond, and to pray. We want it too Lord. Bless us and make possible the open doors and financial provision for us to do what you have prompted us to do this moment. In Jesus' name.

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