“If only I may finish my course” (Acts 20:24)

Sermon preached at CrossWay Bible Church (sermon begins at 28:41)

I had the privilege of preaching this message at our home church, CrossWay Bible Church, Blue Springs, MO, on June 11, 2023. May Jesus receive all the glory. Click above to listen to the full sermon or read below for a few of the high points.

Paul’s priority was to finish his assignment by advancing the Gospel. He took seriously the final words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, “… Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” This is our task, too, the mission that our Lord has left us, to teach all nations, and in Paul’s words from Acts 20:24, to complete “the ministry that [we] received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

So, how are we doing in carrying out this task? Let’s ask that first globally and then personally.

Globally, there is still a lot of work to do. Of the 7.9 billion people in the world today, 42% (3.35 billion) are reached and 58% (4.55 billion) are still unreached. I’m using the term “unreached” with the following definition: “A people group is considered unreached when the percentage of evangelical Christians is less than two percent and there is no indigenous community of believers able to engage the group with church planting.” More than half of the world’s population is part of people groups that are 98% non-Christian and that have no local group of believers strong enough to plant churches among them.

What about personally? How are you doing? Looking back over your day, week, month, year, or the last decade, can you say that your priority has been getting the Gospel to the unreached? Can you say that your motto has been: “if only I may finish … the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

As well as the need for church planting among the unreached, another massive need is global Bible translation.

Today, 1.4 billion people, speaking 4,600 languages, still do not have a complete Bible in their first language. Shouldn’t that move us? Shouldn’t we make it our aim to advance the Gospel by giving the Word of God to those who need it. This slide lists the number of languages in the world that have the whole Bible (purple) and those that do not (the rest).

And on this slide, instead of showing the number of languages, it shows the world population that has the whole Bible in their language (purple) and the population of those that do not (all the rest).

We praise God that 5.9 billion people, 80% of the world’s population, have the full Bible in their mother tongue. Yet our hearts should remain broken for the 1.4 billion, 20% of the inhabitants of the world, who do not.

Thankfully, progress is being made like never before. More Bible translation is being done today than in any other time in history. Look at the chart above. If you back up to the year 1800, only a few new languages were getting a Bible translation each year. But look how the numbers on the chart have grown. Currently Scripture is being published at a rate of two new languages almost every week.

And you are a part of it. Our teams recently published the Gospel of Luke and 50 chronological Bible stories in five Roma languages (pictured below). These are languages spoke by Roma (Gypsies) in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Praise God and thank you for being our partners in this effort.

Paul wanted to finish the course. The Lord Jesus had assigned him a race to run, and with all his might he wanted to run it to the end, not deviating to the right or the left, and not stopping until he had finished.

Why are we drawing breath? Why are we alive today? To proclaim the Gospel of the grace of God and to teach all nations. If you are living for any other reason, you are being duped. You are wasting your life.

Please, don’t waste your life. Invest it. Have the same priorities that Paul had. He did not cling to his life to keep it for himself at all costs. Rather, he spent it for the purpose of proclaiming the grace of Christ.

May God make us passionate about getting the Gospel to the unreached and getting a full Bible to those who don’t have it. May you and I live our lives, from this day forward, as Paul declared in Acts 20:24. May we able to say, joyfully, with our whole hearts, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.”

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