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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Facing the Unfinished Task

Charles Stanley - Facing the Unfinished Task

Charles Stanley - Facing the Unfinished Task

Everything that Jesus said while He was on earth was very important. You never hear Him or read about Him saying, "I think so; maybe; it could be; I'm not sure; I'll have to think about it; I was wrong". You don't ever hear Him saying those kind of things. When He spoke, He spoke with purpose. He spoke in clear direction, and He always spoke the truth. And you will hear Him issuing invitations, "Come unto Me". Instruction, "It has been said, but I say unto you". Commandments, "Go ye". And then you will hear Him issuing words of encouragement, "I'll be with you". Words of assurance, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more". Words that meant something very special to people of His day. Words, for example, of healing, "Rise and walk". Sometimes a word of warning, "They shall come saying I am the Christ. Be not deceived". Everything He said was very important.

One of those very important things He said is our text for this message. Because He made a statement not only to His disciples, His apostles, but He made a statement to them that also applies to every single one of us because He intended for them to hand down to every succeeding generation those simple words. And I want you to turn, if you will, to the twentieth chapter of John. And this is the theme of our missions conference, and that is, "Facing the Unfinished Task". And Jesus was in probably the same upper room that they had met at before, maybe at some times. They were afraid because of the crucifixion, and now Jesus has risen from the grave.

And the scripture says in the nineteenth verse of this twentieth chapter, "So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' And when He had said this to them, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'" Listen to that. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"

Now, when Jesus ascended to the heavens, He had finished His part of the overall task. It was not the finishing of the task, but it was finishing His part. Because you see, He had a part and then He delegated to those disciples their part. And they delegated to the generations that have followed our part in that particular command. So, what I want us to look at is I want us to look at this whole issue of the unfinished task. And sometimes one of the reasons that people don't get involved in things as they should or don't understand exactly what's going on, they don't get the clear picture. They don't understand exactly what this is all about.

So, I want us to understand fully: What is this unfinished task that we have as a church? Not just our church, but as the whole church, the whole body of Christ. And why do we call it an unfinished task and why is it unfinished? So, I want us to look at it and view it properly for a few moments and think about it in the way our Heavenly Father thinks about it because this task falls in the category of several things. First of all, it is a divine task. Notice what He says. He says, "As the Father sent Me, so send I you".

Now, let's clarify what the task is. The task is sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the task. That is the responsibility. It is a divine task. And if you'll think for a moment why Jesus came. The scripture says that he came, first of all, to reveal the Father. Secondly, He came to die a sacrificial atoning death at Calvary to pay for our sins. Thirdly, He came to seek and to save that which is lost. And fourthly, He came, the scripture says, to give us an abundant life. So He came for very specific reasons, the ultimate most important one, of course, was to die on the cross.

So this task that we have is a task that Jesus certainly has done His part. In fact, He did what we could not do. He finished His task. He came to reveal the Father, die on the cross for our sins, seek and to save that which is lost, and then to give us an abundant life. It is also, and very evident, a redemptive task so that all of us who become involved in this task become involved in God's redemptive plan for mankind. But He also came to reveal the Father. He also came to seek out the people of His day. And He also came to give us this awesome sense of life, whereby you and I could enjoy our relationship to Him. A redemptive task, which means that every single one of us who become involved, become involved with Him in the very purpose for which He came.

But it is also a task that demands far more than you and I have to give. It is a task that is supernatural in its very nature. Because you and I don't have the wisdom nor the strength nor the knowledge nor the understanding to carry out the task He's given us apart from the Holy Spirit. And this is why He said to his disciples, He said, "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, till you are endued with power from on high," why? Because He knew that you and I, for example, we can't open blind eyes. We can't convict people of sin. We cannot forgive them of their sin. We cannot save them, but we can share the truth. But even that is to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. So what has He done? He came with a divine task, a redemptive task, a task that demands supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit. But He also gave us a task that is a shared task.

Now, think about it for a moment. One of the first things that Jesus did, now remember who He is. This is God walking among men. He didn't need anyone. He didn't have to have anyone. But here's what He did. One of the first things He did was to share the task that the Father had given Him with twelve others. Well, if He were God, could not He have done the whole thing Himself? Well, it's possible, but He chose to share that task with others. And so our task is a task that is to be shared. There are no "Lone Rangers" in the preaching and the proclamation of the gospel. There are no "Lone Rangers" in the church. It is what we do together, interdependently upon each other, and dependent upon the Holy Spirit. But it is also an unfinished task.

Somebody says, "Well, what I want to know is when's He gonna get finished? When is He gonna get finished"? Well, you know what? That's not a good question. The reason I know it's not a good question is because Jesus said to His disciples on one occasion when they were asking Him, "Now when are these things gonna come about"? He was talking about His return and all the things that were gonna happen, and they said, "Well, when is this gonna happen"? He said, "It's not for you to know the times or the seasons". He says, "But what you're to do is you're to do what I've called you to do". So people sometimes will say to me, they'll say as if they thought I knew, and God knows I don't know. They'll say, "Well now, Dr. Stanley, will you tell us, do you think Jesus is coming soon"? And my answer is, they expect me to say, "Yes"! And my answer is, "I don't know. I don't know when He's coming. It's none of my business when He comes. My business is to teach the Word of God, proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit until He does come or until He calls me home".

And so the idea of when is not the issue. The issue is it is an unfinished task. He finished His part, our part isn't finished. Somebody says, "Well, when will it be finished"? When He says so. When He says so, it'll be finished. Until then, you and I have a responsibility, a divine responsibility, a redemptive responsibility. Listen, an impossible responsibility apart from the Holy Spirit. A responsibility that is to be shared with each other and everywhere all over this world. Unfinished at the moment, but at some point out there in history it's gonna be finished. At some point out there, the last person will receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. This is a very important thing that God's called us to do. And if we don't understand what it is, and if we don't understand that we have a responsibility, we have a share in this, what we'll do, we'll try to shirk our responsibility.

Now, here's what happens. Many people go to church Sunday after Sunday after Sunday and they are hearers. Watch this now. They are hearers but they are detached hearers. They listen as long as they hear something that will help them maybe be a little better or help them in some situation, some circumstance in life. But when it comes to responsibility, when it comes to commitment, all of a sudden they become detached. And it's easy to listen to the gospel and become detached not even realizing that's what you're doing, becoming detached when it requires something of you.

Now, you think about this. On the one-hand, while you want to be detached from the responsibility, you need to see it from God's perspective. This is an awesome privilege. This is a, listen, this is an awesome privilege. This is a wonderful opportunity that you and I have. To do what? To join with the person of Jesus Christ in helping change people's eternal destiny. That's what we're doing. We trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and we share the gospel with someone else. What we're doing, we're not only doing what He said. We're not only sharing the gospel, but something is happening to people. Their eternal destiny is being changed.

So let me ask you a question. Are you an involved hearer? Do you say to Him, "Show me the truth. Speak to my heart today, God. I want to hear from You. Whatever You need to say to me today, let me hear it. I want to hear all You have to say to me". Or do you come and do you sit and listen? Or do you watch? And you watch as a detached listener. You're interested in what will help you, but not what will challenge you. Listen, you and I have the privilege, I want to repeat this, the privilege and the opportunity as well as the obligation to join in, to share, hold hands with, join arms with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill the mission the Father sent Him to accomplish on this earth. And that is to get the good news of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to this entire world.

Now, that's what it's all about. That's what the church is all about. That is the primary responsibility of the church, second only to one thing, and that is worship. If the worship isn't right, the going and the message won't be right. When the worship is right and we obey God, then the message we have is gonna make, listen, an eternal difference in people's lives. So what you have to ask is this. Am I an involved, interested, integrated listener? Do I hear because I want the Lord to change my life? Do I want God to change me so He can use me to impact other people's lives, or do I just want to remain detached? So let's look for a moment how people respond to this unfinished task. We say it's a divine task. It's a redemptive task. Listen, it's a supernatural task. It is a shared task, but it's unfinished. Jesus's part's finished. Our part is unfinished.

Now, this is the moment in most sermons where you detach. So I'm asking you for God's sake and your sake and the people whom you love and people you don't love yet because you don't know 'em. Don't get detached right now. Because you see, if I understand what the mission is and I understand the nature of the task, which we've explained very clearly, there are four questions I have to face and you have to face. Now, I'm gonna say them three or four times, so listen carefully. Don't even write 'em down the first time. I just want you to look at me and think about this question. What can I do? What should I do? What is God telling me to do? And what am I willing to do? Now you oughta write 'em down. What can I do? The task is very simple. I'm to share the gospel. What can I do? What should I do? What is God telling me to do? What am I willing to do?

You see, nowhere does it say that you are to save anybody or forgive them of their sins. You can forgive people who wrong you, but forgiveness of sin between them and God, you can't do that. Here's what you can do. You can share your faith. You can say to someone else, "I know you're going through a difficult time. I've been through difficult times in my life and I want to tell ya what made the difference. I trusted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and that made all the difference in the world in my life. And if you'll let me, I'd like to share with you how that happened in my life". I'm here to tell you people are more open to hear you explain what Jesus has done in your life than they have ever been.

Listen, this nation is wide open, and many other parts of the world, wide open to the truth of the gospel. What can you do? You can tell it like God has worked it into your life. What should you do? On the basis of the fact that people without Christ are gonna die and be lost and eternally separated from Him for all eternity, what should you do? Should you pass by people that you know are lost and never mention Jesus? There's not a single one of us who would say, "Well, just walk right on by 'em. Just let somebody else tell 'em". You know that you should not do that. What is God telling you to do? Is God telling you, "Don't tell anybody"? "Religion and politics are not to be discussed".

I've heard that so many times and I want to say, "Religion and politics, maybe so. But Jesus is to be shouted. Jesus is to be talked about everywhere we go". What is God telling you to do? I can tell you exactly what He's telling you to do. Stop keeping quiet about the most important thing in all of life. About, listen, about the message that changes peoples' eternal destiny, about the message that keeps them out of Hell and gets them into Heaven, about the message that will absolutely transform their life. You cannot afford to keep quiet. He would never tell you to keep quiet. He would never tell you, "Don't say anything else about that". What are you willing to do? Are you willing to share the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to tell somebody else?

You say, "Well, what will they think"? Did Jesus ever say, "Now, check their attitude". He didn't say that. It's not a matter of what they think. You know what happens? If you and I share the gospel with somebody and they don't like it, mark this down, the day will come when they will wish to God they had heard you, listened to you, and done exactly what you told them they needed to do. That day will come. So you know what? We plant the seed. Maybe they listen at that time, maybe they don't. Maybe they believe, maybe they don't. That's not our responsibility. Your responsibility is to tell it. Your responsibility is to share it.

So, let's think about this. Four questions. Now, I want you to get 'em in your mind because I want you to tell 'em back to me. Now, listen carefully. If you're sitting beside somebody and they don't open their mouth... Question number two: What should I do? Question number three: What is God telling me to do? And question number four: What am I willing to do? So I want you to give them back to me. Question number one? What can I do? Question number two? What should I do? Question number three? What is God telling me to do? And the question number four? You know what, you cannot escape those four questions. You know why? You heard them from me three times and then you got 'em down so well, you told 'em back to me. God heard every bit of that.

Now, here's the big question. What are you willing to do? You can't say, "Well, I didn't know what to do. Nobody ever told me what to do". You can't say, "I shouldn't obey God". What you have to ask is this: What is God telling you to do? Now, listen carefully. I would never tell someone exactly what they're to do in a given situation. I can say here's what God says. But you have to make the choice. I can tell you this, according to this Word, you and I are to share the truth of the gospel to people around us. And He, listen, He will give you a sense of spirit. He will move you, He will stir your heart, especially when He wants you to deal with some specific person. Or here's what I've learned. And I had to learn this by mistake. I had to learn it by my own failure, so I want to share it with you.

I remember one night going to the church, another church where I was a pastor. And when I walked in, I had this feeling I should talk to this gentleman. I walked right by him. I was busy. I came by him a second time and it's like I don't have to tell you something in your spirit, we know it's the Holy Spirit, said, "Speak to him". I was in a hurry. That night he died carrying out his duty. And you know what? Do you think God was interested in how busy I was? No, He wasn't. Do you think I've ever forgotten that? No, I have not. And I know that if you and I walk obediently before God, He's gonna speak to us. And what we have to ask is: Am I willing to do what He says do? Not when it's convenient, but when He says do it.

Now, I want you to think about it. He's already brought somebody to your mind while I've been talking. I know He has. Somebody that you know is not a Christian. Somebody you know, they're unsaved. They may be rough and haughty or they may be very gentle and very nice and very kind. You know they're not saved. What can you do? What should you do? What's God telling you to do? What are you willing to do? And here's what's gonna happen. The way you and I respond to those four questions is gonna reveal something about us. That we can all make mistakes and we can all falter at times and miss our opportunities, but we should absolutely repent before Almighty God.

Now listen, it's one thing to make a mistake that has to do with money or material things. It's something else entirely different to make a mistake, to overlook, to disobey something that causes someone else to miss out on what God has for them. The way I answer those questions will reveal four things about me and about you. Number one, it'll reveal whether I love Him, Jesus my Lord, or if I just pay Him lip service. It'll reveal whether I am walking in the Spirit or in the flesh. It'll reveal whether I am a true servant of His, a genuine servant, or if I just pay lip service to it, just talk about it. Am I a doer? Am I servant or just a hearer?

It'll also reveal something about whether I'm living for myself or I'm living for Him. It will also reveal if I'm a true follower of Jesus or just simply a name-dropper. I'm a Christian. He's not looking for name-droppers. He's looking for people who are willing to ask the question: What can I do? What should I do? Lord, what are You telling me to do? And Lord, whatever it is, I'm willing to do it. We claim Him as our Lord. You know what the Lord is? The Lord means He's our boss. Now, if He's the boss, He has a right to tell me what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. And one thing I know for certain, He doesn't want me listening disconnected. He doesn't want me hearing and disobeying. He doesn't want me hearing and ignoring. He doesn't want me hearing and rationalizing. He doesn't want me hearing and shifting responsibility. He wants me to hear and to obey.

Now, let me ask you a question. You've heard the four questions. You gave 'em back to me. At this point in your life as a believer, knowing according to the scripture that each one of us has a personal responsibility to share our faith, what can you do? You can share it. What should you do? Share it. What's He telling you to do? Share it. What are you willing to do? That is the big question. If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you're asking the question maybe what can I do? Listen very carefully. Here's what you can do. You can listen to the message of the gospel. I'm gonna give it to you in a capsule, but it's enough. Here's the gospel. God the Father so loved you and me that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, His sinless, virgin-born Son, into this world to reveal the truth about the Father, to seek and to save those who are lost, to give us an abundant life, but primarily to go to Calvary and die on the cross.

When He went to the cross, He took all of your sin-debt, all of your disobedience and rebellion, and placed it upon Him. And then He, listen, He died as your substitute in your place and paid your sin-debt in full. And what can you do? You can accept the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is His crucifixion, for your salvation. You can ask Him to forgive you of your sins. You can place your faith in Him, to trust Him as your personal Savior. What should you do? Exactly that. Lord Jesus, I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins, not based on my conduct or my good works, but based on Your death at Calvary and Your promise to pardon me of my sin. What is God telling you to do? To be saved. When is He telling you to do it? Today is the day of salvation, is what He says.

What are you willing to do? I hope before God you're willing to say to Him right now, "That's what I want," and that You will pray this simple prayer with me, not to me but to Him, but pray this simple prayer. Lord Jesus, I have sinned against You. I've rebelled against You. I wanted it my way. I do believe that You went to the cross and took my place and paid my penalty. I am asking You to forgive me of my sins. I'm placing my trust in You as my personal Savior. I'm accepting Your forgiveness and I give You my life to live for You all the days of my life by Your help and your strength, in Jesus's name.

My friend, It's time to let Jesus get on the inside of you and you become, listen, not just a follower, but an obedient servant of the Living God. What can I do? What should I do? What is He telling me to do? What am I willing to do? You answer those questions honestly and you know what'll happen? Your life's gonna take on a whole new meaning. And the people around you are going to know something has happened to you that is very good.

Father, how grateful we are for this wonderful privilege of joining arm and arm with You in seeing people's lives change, people saved, transformed, living the abundant life. Thank You for the privilege of sharing the simple truth. And we ask today in Jesus's name, in Your precious name, Lord, that every single one of us, not an exception, would face those questions and answer the last one, "Yes! Yes to whatever You want me to do, Lord". And this I pray in Jesus's name, amen.

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