1 Corinthians 16:05-09 – “Mission Mobilization”

Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 31 Jan 2010


5. Now, I will come to y’all whenever I go through Macedonia –

                        for I am going through Macedonia,

            6. but for y’all maybe I will stick around

            or even spend the winter,

                        in order that y’all might send me forward wherever I’m going,

                                    7. for I do not merely want to see y’all along the way,

                                    for I am hoping to remain some time with y’all – if the Lord makes it turn out.

8. Now I will stay on in Ephesus until the Pentecost,

            9. for a door has opened up to me that is huge and momentous, yet there are many opponents.


I have 5 points that follow the order of the alphabet beginning at M, skipping Q.

  1. Make Plans
  2. Know God’s Will (O.K. this actually starts with a K, but it has the N sound)
  3. Opportunities should be evaluated
  4. Persevere despite Difficulties
  5. Recognize the Sovereignty of God

1. Make Plans Strategically

Joke: To My Loving Wife (From www.basicjokes.com)

            A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida for a long weekend to thaw out during one particularly icy winter. Because both had jobs, they had difficulty coordinating their travel schedules. It was decided that the husband would fly to Fla. on a Thurs., and his wife would follow him the next day.

            Upon arriving as planned, the husband checked into the hotel. There he decided to use the hotel computer to send his wife an e-mail back in Minneapolis. However, he accidentally left off one letter in her address.

            In Houston, a widow had just returned from her husband's funeral. He was a minister of many years who had been 'called home to glory' following a heart attack. The widow checked her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. Upon reading the first message, she fainted and fell to the floor. The computer screen read:

To my loving wife,

I've just arrived and have checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

(P.S. Sure is hot down here!)


Paul’s Strategic Plan

·         Where you go when you die is very important, and as we look at this passage from 1 Cor 16, we see that Paul was making his daily and annual plans based upon the importance of sharing the gospel with the lost and building up the communities of believers he had evangelized earlier.

·         Paul was not haphazard in his life direction. He had received a call from God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, and that is what he wrapped his life around. He did not sit back and figure that if God is sovereign God won’t need to use him. No, Paul proactively made plans for how to accomplish his life goal of evangelizing the gentile world (Act 19:21). Here he lays out a plan for the coming year.

·         In 1 Cor 5:7-8, Paul wrote that “Christ, our Passover has been sacrificed” and here in 16:8, he wrote that he would stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, so at the time Paul wrote 1 Cor, it was probably sometime between Passover and Pentecost – perhaps the month of May.

·         As we can see from Acts 19, Paul is on his 3rd missionary journey, and this is his first time in Ephesus, so he’s doing evangelistic work among the gentiles there.

·         However, he knows that the church in Corinth that he had planted on his previous missionary journey is in bad shape, as we’ve seen from the issues he addressed in 1 Cor, so he wants to return and disciple them more in the ways of Christ. He had already stated this in 1 Cor 11:34 and 4:19, “I will come to you soon…”

·         As you can see from the map, Ephesus and Corinth are major port cities right across the Aegean Sea from each other, so it would be relatively easy to sail right on over; that would be the easiest route to take.

·         However, Paul has other churches he wants to visit further north of Corinth, up in Macedonia – including the churches of Phillipi, Thessalonica, and Berea. He mentions them in v.5. They too needed pastoring, but apparently not as intensively as the Corinthians needed it.

·         So Paul lays out his plan for the next year that he will finish up planting the church in Ephesus, then travel north to briefly visit the churches in Macedonia (2Co 1:15-17), then travel south from there (v.6) to spend a while in Corinth – perhaps even spend the winter.

·         But there is a missional purpose as well in Paul’s visit to Corinth: At the end of v.6, he writes, “I will stay or even winter with you IN ORDER THAT you might send me forward.” What does that mean? It means that Paul is visiting this church not only to straighten them out but also to give them an opportunity to give him the means to travel on and minister to other people! Paul is mobilizing this church in Corinth to support foreign mission work through him. This all ties back into his life purpose of establishing churches among the Gentiles.

·         Anyway, the book of Acts chapter 20 traces how it all panned out as he ended up in Corinth, Greece, for 3 months, then made his way eventually back to Jerusalem from there with the money collected from the churches in Macedonia and Corinth.

·         In these five little verses, we see a master strategist in action who is attuned to the will of God. Paul sets an example for us to be people to make plans according to what is most important.

2. KNow God’s Will

How do you know God’s will? God has given us information in the Bible about His agenda for history.

o       In Genesis 12, He told Abraham, “all the families of the earth will be blessed,”

o       Then in 26:4, he told Isaac, “through your seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed,”

o       This was repeated many times by the prophets, for instance, Isaiah 56:7 “my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples,”

o       Habakkuk 2:14, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”

o       Then Jesus comes on the scene, and what does He say? Mark 16:15 Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation”

o       Matthew 28:19a “Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…”

o       Acts 1:8 “…You shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth…”

o       Then the end of history is revealed in Rev. 5:9 as the saints praise Jesus saying, “…You were slain, and purchased unto God with your blood some of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation…”

o       Do you get the picture? This is God’s agenda: to save people in every family, ethnic group, & nation.


Strategic Planning in Missions Today

As we look at the task before us in the 21st Century, there are many ways to strategize, for instance:

o       The PCA denomination has focused strategy on urban areas. Half of the world’s population is in large cities. Large cities are easier to do mission work in because they are easier to get to, the people live closer together, and urban people tend to be more open to new ideas. What’s more, there are still relationship ties between people in the big cities and their extended families back in the rural areas, so the gospel can spread to the rural areas from urban converts. So strategies are laid to establish missionary teams in every major city. Our presbytery has started with church planting in Kansas City, and now they are hoping to plant churches in all the larger cities in our state. Currently there are two churches in Wichita, ours developing in Manhattan, and next we want to plant churches in Topeka, Lawrence, and Salina, and go on from there to smaller towns.

o       Another way to look at the world is in terms of the number of different kinds of people there are. We often post blurbs from Joshua Project in the back of our bulletins. Joshua Project is an attempt to catalogue all the different ethnic groups in the world and track which ones have missionaries or churches and which do not. According to their website, there are 16,352 different people groups in the world, 41% of which are unreached, in other words, 6,650 ethnic groups in the world have no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their people group. So many mission agencies like People International (represented by the Acells last summer) and Pioneers (represented by the Bob Reader family) focus on fielding missionaries only to these hitherto unreached people groups.

o       We heard from Al and Shelle Wilkenson recently from Wycliffe Bible Translators. Bible Translation is another strategic paradigm, and Wycliffe has been intentional about surveying all the languages of the world, compiling them in their Registry of Peoples and Languages (ROPAL), training translators, and sending them out to translate the Bible into all the languages of the world. Several years ago they realized that at the rate they were going, it would be hundreds of years before they could get the Bible into every language, so they decided to shift from training Bible translators to training trainers of Bible translators and field staff who would focus on training Bible translators in the various countries where they work. They hope to have at least some scripture verses translated into every language of the world by the year 2025, if I recall correctly!

o       Meanwhile, various Christian media agencies such as HCJB and Trans-World Radio and SAT-Seven are focusing on exposing the entire population of the world to Christian broadcasting while the makers of the Jesus Film have been trying to show the Jesus Film to everybody in the world. They’re not doing a bad job. So far, they estimate that several billion people have seen the movie and 225 million people have indicated decisions to follow Jesus as a result! Wow!

o       Other strategies focus on saturating local areas with Bibles or Bible studies, including Every Home for Christ, or some of the agencies in the Indian Missions Association which have systematically been fielding evangelists to every zip code in India. I would love to see some kind of strategic plan to canvas every home in Manhattan with a personal gospel presentation and cooperate with other local churches to do it. If any of you have ideas, bring ‘em to the drawing board!

o       As they say, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it 100% of the time. We need to be a strategic people, purposefully Making plans to fulfill the calling that we Know God has placed on our lives and our households. What strategic plans should you engage with?

3. Evaluate the Opportunities

When you plan a vacation, you want to find out ahead of time what the tourist attractions are at your destination, decide which ones you want to go to, and take advantage of the opportunities. People don’t always understand the opportunities before them, however:


Joke: Australian Travel Agent Stories: These questions were posted on an Australian Tourism website and the answers are the actual responses by the website's official. Their travel agencies obviously have a sense of humour.

Q (from USA): Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street when I visit Australia?
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q (UK.): I have never seen it rain on the TV shows about Australia; how do the plants grow?
A: We import all plants fully-grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q (Sweden): I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks?
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles; take lots of water.

Q (USA): Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia?
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle-shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross.

Q (USA): Which direction is North in Australia?
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get there and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q (USA): Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule?
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races.

From http://www.guy-sports.com/humor/jokes/jokes_travel_agent.htm


·         Paul was evaluating his opportunities with a bit more understanding:
In v.9 he saw a “door” of opportunity that was “great/wide” and “effective”

·         What was going on at Ephesus? We read in Acts 19 that Paul taught there “10 for… two years; so that all they who resided in Asia [Minor] heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God did special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 insomuch that handkerchiefs or aprons carried away from his body to the sick caused the evil spirits to go out… 18 Many also of them that had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. 19 And not a few of them that practised magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed.” This was indeed a great opportunity as Satan was being confronted head-on and all Asia was hearing about it.

·         Why stay until Pentecost? Calvin suggests that there would be more people to preach to on a holiday like this!

·         “Wise men are on the watch for and avail themselves of opportunity” (JFB)

·         What opportunities has God opened before you?

o       God does not hide what He wants you to do in some obscure way that takes super-spiritual discernment to figure out.

o       His will is usually the things we enjoy most and the things most readily available to us,

o       for instance, if you have children in your house, and you’re wondering who God wants you to disciple, there’s kind-of a no-brainer. Start with your children!

o       Often it’s our own unwillingness to accept the opportunities God lays before us that is the problem!

That said, I don’t want to give you the impression that it will be easy to take advantage of the strategic opportunities God gives you.

4. Persevere Despite Adversity

Paul gives an intriguing reason for staying on in Ephesus; his last reason for staying is, “because…there are many adversaries/lying opposed/lined up against me”

So Paul’s example in this passage encourages us to Make strategic plans according to God’s will, taking advantage of the opportunities God puts in front of us, and persevering despite adversity. One more principle is important to finish off this briefing on strategic planning:

5. Recognize the Sovereignty of God

Joke: We Can’t Do That

A student was heading home for the holidays. When she got to the airline counter, she presented her ticket to New York. As she gave the agent her luggage, she made the remark, "I'd like you to send my green suitcase to Hawaii, and my red suitcase to London."

            The confused agent said, "I'm sorry, we can't do that."

"Really??? I am so relieved to hear you say that because that's exactly what you did to my luggage last year!"


·         Sometimes our plans don’t turn out like we wanted. Sometimes the luggage doesn’t show up.

·         As Christians we must recognize that unexpected developments are part of God’s sovereign plan. We must recognize that we humans are not in total control; we cannot usurp God’s role of controlling everything.

·         That is why Paul says at the end of v.7, “If the Lord permits.”

·         The Greek word behind the English word “permits” is literally “makes it turn out/turns it over to you” – If God turns over the opportunity to do so, I will step into that opportunity.

o       The same word is used of the denial to women in 14:34 of the authority to speak in the churches – this is not the responsibility that God has turned over to women in the church assembly. The picture is that of an all-powerful God who hands over responsibilities to particular people, delegating them to do certain things that He wants done.

o       We also see this word in Heb 6:3, as the writer outlines his plan of what he wants to teach in the rest of the book and then says, “This will we do, if God permit/if God turns it over to us.” The author of Hebrews made a plan, but recognized that he could only do it if God wanted him to; God has sovereign veto power.

·         This is consistent with what is taught throughout scripture:


So it is good to make plans, and it is good to make plans based on the Knowledge of God’s purposes and the opportunities He has provided, and it is good to persevere in those plans, but, in all your planning and strategizing, don’t ever slip into thinking that you are able to control everything to turn out the way you want it to happen. Let God be God: make reasonable plans, but leave the outcome to Him. I look forward to seeing what God will do through each one of you and through us as a church body as we forge strategic plans together to:

·         Exalt our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus in worship

·         Equip the saints with Bible teaching

·         Evangelize the world

·         and Encourage Godly Households!