Ambassadors of the Good News Mystery

Ephesians 6:10-20 Nov.19/06

  1. "Must be Jesus' grandmother"
    1. A little boy came home from Sunday School and told his family that the Sunday School teacher must be Jesus' grandmother. What made him think that, they wondered. He explained she had to be Jesus' grandmother because she spent a whole hour just talking about how wonderful He was and showing them a lot of pictures of Him!
      1. She wasn't His grandmother, but was definitely being an 'ambassador' - like He calls each one of us to be!
  2. Ambassadors: Sent to Represent
    1. Governors General on a Mission
      1. Clarkson / Jean: different styles, same intent
        1. NDP MP (critical in past) GG undertakes "state visits on behalf of Canada"; Harper - official purpose of the trip is to "reinforce the image and understanding of Canada abroad"; CUSO exec director - there is a 'strong symbolic value' in Canada's GG visiting Africa
        2. Gary Cobb asked ambassador their role: "My job is to make friends in a foreign land."
    2. Eph 6:19-20: declaring / making known a message
      1. "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
    3. 2Cor 5:20: making appeal, imploring
      1. "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."
    4. Ac 26:17: sent to spark a revolution and reception
      1. "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"
  3. What's This Mystery?
    1. The 'Mystery' of Cody's Magic Trick
      1. made a paper ball disappear; when repeated, secret revealed
    2. Col 1:27 "...God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
    3. Col 2:2-3: full of hidden treasures (as gift to be unwrapped at appropriate time)
      1. "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
    4. Col 4:3: to be proclaimed / broadcast
      1. "And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains."
        1. What, then, does our role as Christ's Ambassadors involve? (P's)
  4. The Ambassador's PERSPECTIVE
    1. requires an ability to see the invisible, ie supernatural spiritual contest taking place around us
      1. V12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
      2. What did Jesus see when He looked at people? Their heart-needs and eternal state
        1. Mt 9:36 "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
        2. Lk 19:41-42 "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-- but now it is hidden from your eyes." Those who were lost and rejected Him didn't grasp the significance of what was happening before their very eyes.
      3. What's really going on 'behind the scenes': 2Cor 4:4 "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Note the importance of prayer: we can't come to faith on our own, we need God's enlightenment, removing the veil.
      4. People won't be motivated to be Christ's witnesses until we see the gravity of the situation - and our responsibility
        1. Ron Hutchcraft's wife walking by ocean one evening heard woman cry for help: realized if went for a lifeguard, would be too late. "There are few things as scarey as the ocean at night. But what was worse was listening to that woman cry for help, and knowing she might drown if I didn't act."
          1. everyone has some stretch of beach assigned to them by Jesus!
  5. The Ambassador's POWER
    1. authorized to act on behalf of the state that sent him/her: grant refuge, enact trade deals, etc.
    2. V10: our strength must come from God, not our own wisdom or abilities
      1. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power."
    3. Resurrection-power: Proof - Rom 1:4
      1. Jesus "...through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead..."
    4. Early church learned to tap into God's power for witnessing: Acts 4:28-30
      1. "They [Herod, Pilate, Jewish leaders] did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."" ...and meeting place was shaken
    5. power not our own, not Superman: story about Muhammad Ali (heavyweight boxer not know for his humility): turbulence, stewardess told to buckle up; "Superman doesn't need a seat belt." Reply: "Superman doesn't need an airplane - do up your seat belt!" He did. / We are not Superman, need God's strength.
  6. The Ambassador's PERMANENCE
      1. Vv 13-14: stand your ground, anchored in God's truth
        1. " that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..."
      2. Apostles were eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, so certain as to die rather than lie
        1. Paul: 1Cor.15:3-4 "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"
        2. John: 1Jn 5:6-8,11-13 [water=baptism, blood=certain death] "This is the one who came by water and blood-- Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
  7. The Ambassador's PROTECTION
    1. Vv 11,13 "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." "Therefore put on the full armor of God..."
      1. Roman outfit Paul familiar with because closely guarded: Belt, breastplate, iron-toed shoes, 4.5 foot shield, helmet. Gk 'PANOPLY' = full kit: eg Brenda timing David putting on Firefighter's gear in living-room
    2. Need Protection because Precarious / Peculiar: stick out like a sore thumb
      1. if we just 'blend in' with those who aren't centred on Jesus, something's drastically wrong: SHOULD stand out like a lightning rod
        1. asking for attack: v16 "all the flaming arrows of the evil one"
      2. Christ's cross makes enemies of those who are this-world centred: Php 3:19-20 "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach [what else is there to live for but one's appetites?], and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..."
        1. Bill Howson's experience of Billy Graham crusade years ago at Maple Leaf Gardens: light bulb exploded overhead, Billy dove for cover - explained that is trained to because of danger: target
  8. The Ambassador's PRAYER (hotline to home)
    1. essential for embassies to remain in close communication with home country; may be recalled, given new direction
      1. former GovGen Adrienne Clarkson, defending her expensive trip: "the Governor General never travels except under advice from the government"
    2. Vv 18-20: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me...Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
    3. Col 4:2-3 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message..."
  9. The Ambassador's PRESENTATION
    1. job is to build relationships and speak for home country in language others will understand
      1. Vv15,19-20: "and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.... that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel...Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
      2. some translation required: visiting Darcie's health / epidemiology workplace: 'Solange' from Rwanda 'uhuh' but understood little until started speaking French
      3. Col 4:5-6: start where the person is at; discern the opportunity, rather than coming on like a Mack truck.
        1. "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
      4. Ron Hutchcraft, "Every Believer a Rescuer"
        1. It has to be 'show and tell': Mt 5:16 "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
        2. Love them in their language: Ask yourself, "What need does this person have in their life that would be a language in which they could experience God's love?"
        3. Show them a difference they will notice: eg relinquishing overstuffed chair; doctors offering free health clinic in US for those without health insurance.
        4. Tell your person hope-story: Jn 9:25 Blind man
          1. "He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"" Nobody can argue with your personal hope-story.
          2. Complete the sentence: "If it weren't for Jesus..."
        5. Pray the 3-open prayer: "Lord, open a door...Lord, open their heart...Lord, open my mouth."
  10. More Memorable than the Presidency
    1. Ronald Reagan, Alzheimers 10 yrs
      1. forgot - movie star; governor; president; but until right before the end, knew what picture of river represented - place where he was a lifeguard and saved 77 lives