Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Have You Been Sent? - Sermon Manuscript and Audio

Recently, I was given the honor and privilege of serving as one of the speakers of the JeremiahCry Herald Society, in Milton, FL, which was hosted by First Baptist Church of Milton. I preached two sermons: "A Defense of the Public Proclamation of the Gospel" and "Have You Been Sent?"

What follows is the original manuscript of my sermon "Have You Been Sent?" Below the manuscript, you will find the audio for the sermon. It's important to note that the below manuscript is not a transcript. In other words, I try to preach from the heart, as the Lord leads, and according to what I believe are the needs of the moment. Therefore, what you read will differ in some ways (additions/deletions) from what you hear.

I pray the Lord uses this sermon for His glory. I pray in doing so, He will also choose to bring about what I believe are necessary course corrections within the Body of Christ, in the area of open-air preaching.


Scripture Reading: Romans 10


Some pastors present this hour may take offense to what I will say in this message. I am all but certain some street preachers present this hour, or some of those who will listen to the audio of this sermon at a later time, will take offense to what I will say in this message. While I would rather these things didn’t happen, I love Christ and each of you too much to worry about it. I want everyone who hears this message to be both edified and/or dropped to their knees in repentance. I want Christ, His church, and His gospel to be lifted up.

I want to give everyone present, here, now, the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that there are not any nomadic street preachers, here. I want to believe that every street preacher, here, is serving as a herald under the biblical authority of the leaders in their churches. And I want to believe that every pastor present is here either because he supports the biblical practice of open-air preaching, or he is here to investigate open-air preaching honestly, through the lens of Scripture.

With that, let me get right to the point.

If you are a street preacher and you refuse to submit yourself to both the authority of and examination by the elders of a local church, if you insist on living a spiritually nomadic existence, you are in sin. You must repent.

Have you been sent?

If you are an elder/pastor and you are not discipling men, developing men, equipping men, raising up men to go and die to self and die for Jesus on the wicked streets of this world, you are in sin. You must repent.

If your own sinful fear of man, and your sinful adaptation of American Evangelicalism’s Christ-less, evangelistic traditions and methodologies, is keeping you from lovingly preparing men to serve as modern-day Lollards, you are in sin. You must repent.

If you have welcomed American Evangelicalism’s Christ-less and powerless traditions into the Lord’s house, into your flock—traditions like friendship evangelism (as it is most commonly practiced), the sinner’s prayer, any other form of synergism, confusing service with evangelism, or sending “vacationaries” around the world who intentionally do not share the gospel—and if you do this while marginalizing, mocking, and mischaracterizing one of the oldest forms of ministry found in Scripture—open-air preaching, you are in sin. You must repent.

Who and where are the men you are sending?

And why is this issue so important? It’s important because nomadic tribes of Christians led by self-appointed, de facto, open-air preaching “pastors,” are growing in number. There are far too many men (and women) on the streets engaged in open-air preaching who have neither the moral character nor the spiritual qualifications, including the ability to rightly divide the Word, to do so.

This subject, this issue is important because there are too many men on the streets propping up themselves as God’s heralds who simply have not been called by God to serve Him in that capacity.

Now before we look at our text, Romans 10:14-15, I am obligated to give credit where credit is due. At the end of last month, while taking a walk, I listened to a sermon from this text, by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The sermon’s title: “Called to Preach (Part 1).” As soon as the sermon ended, I sent a text to Brother Jeff Rose, telling him (almost begging him), I needed to preach the message I am bringing you now. Whether you see it as a strength or weakness in his character, Brother Jeff trusted my judgment, and so here we are.

Much of what I will share with you from this text is influenced by the teaching of “The Good Doctor.” So, while I may not quote him per se, rest assured there is nothing new under the sun and what I’m bringing to you I’ve learned from others—including Lloyd-Jones.

Before we answer the two primary questions I ask in this sermon—have you been sent; and who are you sending—there is another question we must address first. Is there no distinction between the Christian and the Christian herald? Is everyone sent?

Is Everyone Sent?

Paul writes:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news’” (Romans 10:14-15).
Once again, we meet the herald’s friend—the Greek word κηρύσσο. I think in my last message we established a biblical and working definition for the word κηρύσσο. For the purpose of review, here again is the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon definition of the word:
“To be a herald, to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald; always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed; to publish, proclaim openly something which has been done; used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers.”
But there is another word in the New Testament, another word often used for proclaiming or announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ, which makes a clear distinction between two different kinds of gospel proclamation, as well as a clear distinction between one Christian and another. The word is εὐαγγελίζω.

Strong’s Concordance defines the word this way:
“I bring good news, preach good tidings, with or without an object, expressing either the persons who receive the good news or the good news itself (the good news being sometimes expressed as a person).”
We are fortunate in that not only do the New Testament writers provide us with numerous uses of both words, but they also provide us with more than one instance when both words are used in the same verse or passage.

A wonderful example is found in Acts 8:4-5.
“Now those who were scattered went about preaching [a form of the verb εὐαγγελίζω] the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed [a form of the verb κηρύσσο] to them the Christ.”
The Diaspora, the scattering of the Jews throughout the Roman Empire during a time of great persecution, included most of the Christian Church, which, to that point, was comprised almost entirely of Jews. These faithful and bold believers, whose hope was now in Christ, did not stop giving a defense for the hope that was in them. These relatively new Christians did not stop sharing the gospel with their neighbors, their masters, their employers, their persecutors, their jailers, and (for some) their executioners. They “went about preaching” (εὐαγγελιζόμενοι).

But they did not preach as Philip preached. Whereas the bulk of the Christian Church proclaimed the good news of the gospel, bringing to lost people the glad tidings of the word, in whatever life context God had placed them, Philip went to the city of Samaria on a mission, on assignment, with a particular task to accomplish. Philip went to Samaria to preach Christ and Him crucified, to make the name of Jesus known, to serve as one of God’s heralds.

While Philip most certainly engaged people in conversation (we see this come to fruition in his encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch), his primary mission was not to engage in conversations, but rather to make declarations. Philip went to Samaria to preach to the people of the city the crucified and risen Savior, and to do so with more than just an air of authority.

Philip preached with sobriety, solemnity, and gravitas. He preached in such a way as to not only command listening ears, but also to command response. We can draw this conclusion, not by forcing anything upon the text, but by simply taking Luke at his word with his word choice. And as was the case with Paul in Athens, I’m sure during Philip’s time in Samaria some responded by mocking; others responded by wanting to hear more; and some responded by repenting, believing, and following.

As Martyn Lloyd-Jones studies these two important Greek words, he discovered that there is not a single instance in the New Testament when the word κηρύσσο is used in reference to a man who had not been called to the specific role or task of a gospel herald.

We see the word κηρύσσο applied to men like John the Baptist; Peter, Paul, Philip, Timothy, Titus and the God-Man Jesus. But no such application is made to the women who found the empty tomb, or the woman at the well, or Phoebe, or Priscilla—all women I once pointed to in order to wrongly justify my errant support of women preaching in the open-air. And again, we never see the word applied to a man who was not first commissioned, who was not first sent.

In this short but significant passage, Acts 8:4-5, we see that all Christians were engaged in evangelism, while some were designated to serve Christ and His Bride as heralds. While God has given the mandate of evangelism to every Christian, He has not called every Christian to serve as a herald.

The gospel is a message that is only communicated with words—verbal or written. And it is a message every Christian is commanded to communicate, but not every Christian is tasked with communicating it the same way.

Some of you just breathed a sigh of relief. Some of you may have just become angry. Some of you think you were just given an excuse to remain nestled uncomfortably in your sinful fear. Maybe others of you were just exposed—the reality that you have not been called to be an open-air preacher laid bare before your eyes and ears.

Most and maybe all of you are listening. Some of you, sadly, might not be listening. Some of you might still be looking for excuses. Some of you may have just come to the realization that you have none.

It’s of no consequence that I don’t know which person you are. I’m not your conscience. Although, it might be easier to blame me for what might be going on inside you right now instead of dealing with and facing the conscience God has given you.

With the above in mind, I will once again ask my first question. Have you been sent?

Have You Been Sent?

Again to our passage:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news’” (Romans 10:14-15).
“And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

Sadly, it is likely that most open-air preachers on the streets today are not sent out to do so. They have examined themselves. They have qualified themselves. They have called themselves. They have sent themselves.

Worse still, some of them have been examined, qualified, called, and sent by other open-air preachers. Other self-made preachers unbiblically sending out other self-made preachers. There are men, even women, on the streets today that I had a part in sending. I was not their pastor. I was an over-zealous street preacher who thought it good to put as many Christians as possible on the street to herald the gospel. I was wrong. And I’ve done my best to repent of that wrong, at the loss of not a few friends.

There were many reasons why, by God’s grace, I was brought to the realization of my error—not the least of which is this one. There is not a shred of biblical support, in neither narrative nor instructional form, of a Christian man sending himself out to the field to serve as one of God’s heralds.

To make such an assertion is to certainly bring a bold biblical character to the minds of those who want to disagree. And his name would be Apollos. In Acts 18:26, we read:
“He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
Apollos is a wonderful example of boldness. Apollos is a man to whom every Christian, man or woman, young or old, should look as a role model for bold, biblical witnessing. But he was not a herald.

Apollos, according to the Greek text, was frank in utterance and spoke with a boldness of speech that was evidence of a confident spirit. Yet there is no Scriptural indication that he was an open-air preacher, or that he was ever called by a local church to serve the church as a preacher.

Apollos wasn’t sent. On the other hand, John the Baptist was sent by God. In Luke 3:1-6, we read:
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
God the Son was sent by God the Father to serve, in part, as the perfect herald. We are told this in Luke 4:16-21:
And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus sent the apostles out to herald the good news. In Matthew 10:1-7, we read:
"And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

"These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’"
The apostle Paul was called and sent by Christ. In Acts 26:15-18, we read:
"And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen in me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’"
And in Romans 1:1-6, we read:
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ."
So, how is it that a man is sent to herald the gospel?

First, a man is called to serve Christ as a herald. And this is a two-part call. First, there is an inner call, a desire, a sense that serving Christ in this unique, unpopular, misunderstood, difficult to fund, frightening-to-other-Christians way is what God would have you do.

I have met many, many men and women who believe with all their hearts that God has called them to be open-air preachers. Among the men in this lot, I have met many who, I believe, truly have been called to this noble work. But it is not for me, their friend, or even if I happen to be someone they look up to, to affirm their call to be an open-air preacher. Oh, I can tell them that I think they are a good preacher, or that they have potential to be a good preacher. But it is not my place to legitimize what they believe is a call from God to preach.

I’ve desired to do many things in my life. In some cases, the desire has been so deep within me, so palatable, so seemingly spiritual, that I assumed the desire must be a call from God. There have been many times when I have been wrong—times when I simply convinced myself that my desires were God’s calls in my life.

So, how can a man know if what he believes is a call of God on his life is, in fact, an authentic call?

This is where the second element of the call comes in—the church element.

Since its earliest days, the church has been organized. While the church is not a structure, it most certainly is structured. In Acts 6:1-6, we read:
“Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.”
The calling of men to ministry not only included the laying on of hands, but appointment by the apostles/elders to specific roles and tasks. In Acts 13:1-3, we read:
“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
Even the leaders of each church were men who were examined and then appointed to the role. In Acts 14:23, we read:
“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
While all church members are to give a defense for the hope that is in them, not all church members are not meant to preach in the sense of a herald. In the early Church, this was confined to the prophets, apostles, elders, and evangelists. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “We must not have the notion that every member, every man, is to be a preacher. [The idea of being] 'sent' always has a limiting connotation.”

The customary or usual way in which preaching happened, both in the first century church and throughout post-apostolic history is that a man senses a call to preach. The elders then examine the man to see if he is in fact called and qualified to preach. And then the elders, through public affirmation, such as the laying on of hands, calls the man to preach.

Once the Church came into being, not even the apostles acted independently of the Church. Even the apostle Paul, called and commissioned, in person, by the Lord Jesus Christ, submitted to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. He subjected himself to their examination and he was sent by them to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles.

In post-apostolic history:

Most men have been called by the church, often times before he even senses an inner call. Sometimes, of course, it is the other way around.

The church is at times so apostate when she doesn't recognize the preachers in her midst. There are examples, like Howell Harris, men who preached without the calling of the church.

Many times men “run, but are not sent” (and see Matthew 7:21-23).

The great and noteworthy men of God throughout history approached such a call with fear and trembling. There is no greater confirmation of a man’s call to preach than his humility and sense of unworthiness for the task.

“Preaching is the most important thing under the sun. Nothing is more important than to herald the gospel” (Lloyd-Jones).

Great care must be exercised to determine if a man is competent to herald the gospel. Is the man’s doctrine right? If he’s sent by the church, it can be determined. If he is not, then it cannot be determined. And if the man goes doctrinally astray, who, if not the elders of the local church will discipline him? His fellow open-air preachers? Cults are forming as a result of that practice.

It is utterly unscriptural for a man to set himself up as a preacher. There is no example in either testament, except for the false prophets and teachers. A man does not send himself.

It is equally wrong for one man to appoint another. If there is no action of on the part of the church, even if it is simply an affirmation, then there is not commissioning. And the commissioning of and by a local church is the difference between simply going on your own and being sent.

Every man did that which was right in his own eyes…..Far easier in America. Para-church ministries, quasi-churches, etc.

Spurgeon: “The Lord has told me to preach here next Thursday night.” “Well, he hasn't told me yet.”

We should never be content with our own feelings on the matter. If you are really called of God, the church will call you.

What about times of apostasy? GO FIND A CHURCH!

The open-air preacher, the public herald of the gospel, should be sent by his local church. Now, I know there are men in this room and who will listen to this message, who are in weak churches where the gospel is preached, but there is an element of the fear of man and the acquiescence to unbiblical traditions in the area of evangelism. And yes, as I've already said, there have been times throughout church history when the church was so unbiblical, when the gospel was an unwelcome message within the four walls of the church, that biblical preachers were forced out of the building and literally into the fields and graveyards outside the churches.

But I also believe that there are unqualified men, determined to open-air preacher whether or not they are biblically qualified to do so, who use the “there are no good churches” excuse to justify their sin of refusing to submit themselves to the authority of the local church.

Some men are so proud, so arrogant, so haughty that they refuse to even consider that, for biblical reasons—reasons of character, maturity, and ability—they should not be on the streets heralding the gospel. And these men quickly expose themselves as unqualified, even unscrupulous men, through their errant theology, poor behavior, and nomadic lifestyle.

Who Are You Sending?

As planned, I've spent the bulk of this session asking and answering the first of two questions: Have you been sent? In what little time we have remaining, I want to ask the second question: Who are you sending?

Again, we look to our text:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news’” (Romans 10:14-15).
“And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

Pastors, there are many legitimate reasons for you to be skeptical of open-air preachers, especially men you do not know. But pastors, you have no biblical warrant, none, to be skeptical of open-air preaching.

Pastors, with love and respect for you as men of God and for your positions of authority in the Body of Christ—His Church—I submit to you that every reason you have (if, indeed, you have any) for not supporting the public heralding of the gospel might be philosophical. They might be cultural. But they have never been, and they never will be, biblical.

And I believe—and again, I say this with love and respect—I believe I will find in every reason you present to me for not supporting the public proclamation of the gospel either a fear of man, a love of self, or both. And I fear I will also find a certain level of unintended treachery—unintended acts of treason against the King of kings as you ignore the commands of the King and instead make the King’s enemies the ones who determine when the King’s evangelistic commands will be obeyed and how His commands will be obeyed.

So, beloved pastors, God’s appointed leaders of His Church, assigned undershepherds of the Great Shepherd’s flocks, who are you sending? Who are your Lollards—your men who, like the brave young men discipled by John Wycliffe who, upon their appointment as preachers, were given their first English bibles and sent out to die?

Pastor, who are you sending? How will the world hear without preachers? And how will the preachers preach unless they are sent? When will your pulpit resemble John Calvin’s “School of Death?” John Calvin who sent out from under his teaching and discipleship more than 90 missionaries—men who would take their bibles, preach wherever they found listening ears, and die martyrs’ deaths—yes, this lesser known, lesser talked about John Calvin.

Pastor, who are you sending? How will the world hear without preachers? And how will the preachers preach unless they are sent? Pastor, who are you sending? Where are your young men who, like Spurgeon’s students at his Pastor’s College, were required to preach the gospel in the open-air for upward of two years before they began their pulpit ministries?

Pastor, are there men, is there even a single man in your church who, by night, weeps bitter tears, waiting for you and the rest of the elders of your church to pace his courage, match his resolve, share his heart? Is there one man in your church of hundreds who comes to you on a regular basis and says, “Pastor, I've heard your call from the pulpit to reach the lost with the gospel?” But when you find out he wants to herald the gospel in the open-air, do you find a way to discourage or even ignore him? Are you frustrated with your pews being filled with people depravedly indifferent to the eternal plight of the lost while, at the same time, you ignore the one man in your church who says, “Here I am, pastor, please send me?”

Pastor, is it that you won’t send men in your church to take their bibles, go to the public square, and, if need be die a martyrs’ death, because you are afraid to do so yourself? Pastor, if this is you, it is time for you to repent and to stop allowing your fear of man to be a stumbling block to the man or men in your church who are genuinely called of God to serve as His heralds on the streets.

Pastor, you might be thinking, “I would send such a man, if I had even one such man in my church.” Pastor, if you don’t have such a man in your church, it’s your fault. I love you pastor, but it’s your fault. The reason you have no such men in your church is because you are not training your men to take their bibles, go to the highways and byways, die to themselves and, if need be, die for Christ’s sake, for the sake of His gospel, and for the sake of the lost.

Remember, pastor, many men throughout history who served Christ as heralds were discipled and called by the church, before they ever sensed an internal call from God to go and preach. Pastor, I ask again (and I hope the question rings in your ears until you take action), who are you sending?

Who are you sending?

Pastor, just as there is no excuse for nomads to roam the countryside, and city streets, and college campuses to ply their self-examined, self-appointed, self-anointed ministry wares and bring a reproach upon the great name of Jesus in the process, there is no excuse for you not to be actively, prayerfully, passionately, and sacrificially engaged in raising up this generation’s Lollards.

How many more times will a man in your church, with trembling voice and a tear in his eye, plead, “Here I am, pastor, please send me?” How many more times will such a plea fall on deaf ears? How long, pastor, will the Lord of the Harvest allow you to keep one of His lampstands in your church, as you snuff out candle after candle in the hearts of men who are willing to be burned at stakes to preach the gospel in the streets?

Pastor, I know of what I speak. I was such a man—a man who spent 18 months being examined by the elders of his church. At the end of that time of deep, probing, thoughtful examination, the elders, to a man, said, “We affirm that God has called you to preach the gospel in the open-air.” And with the next breath they said, “But we think you should do it somewhere else. We think you should go find a church that supports that kind of evangelistic ministry.”

And so, with a broken heart, that’s what I did. I found such a church—the church my family and I call home, today. And I’m happy to say that several other churches, learning of my former church’s decision, said, “Come, Tony. Serve, here. We will send you out.”

Who will you be, pastor. Will you be the man who sends the herald onto the streets? Or will you be the pastor who simply sends the herald away?

Who are you sending, pastor? Who will you send?


Yes, the open-air preacher must be a sent man. Yes, the local church must send the men to open-air preach. This is biblical. And that is enough.

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