One Who is Sent

‘The Messenger Running in Hurry’ Lecture Series 1

“except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Acts 20:23-24 NKJV

People told Paul that when he goes to Jerusalem, he will face tribulations and warned him not to go. But Paul went. Despite the warning of things that could happen to him, he went. Who’s warning was that? It was the Holy Spirit’s warning. Though many prophets and people told him of the words of the Holy Spirit, he still went to Jerusalem. Why? Because he had a calling. He went because he was called by the Lord. He said, “I must finish the race and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” What is that ministry? The work of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God. He did not cease the work halfway through but instead said he does not count his life dear when it comes to finishing this work. He did not hold his life dearly.

Here is the word “Sa-Myung(使命),” ministry (διακονια). In Korean, if we break down the word “Sa-Myung,” “Sa(使)” carries the meaning to use. “Myung(命)” can be divided into two meanings: “command” and “life.” Thus, this can be interpreted as “using one’s life.” So, ministry can be understood as work that requires the dedication of one’s life not sparing one’s life for this mission. However, this is only a literal interpretation, originally, it means that one who is called to ministry is a messenger who is charged with a command. The servant, that is, the messenger receives a command and follows it according to the commands.

This is ministry. This can also be called duty, responsibility, or commission. Some Bible versions call it “task.” So, what is the important thing about ministry? The first thing to note is that a person called to ministry is one who is sent. He is sent. This is very important.

From yesterday at the Chinese worship service, I started preaching with the topic of “The Messenger Running in Hurry Series.” I do not know how many weeks I will be preaching on this topic but the first key point is this. “Being sent.” One who is called to ministry is sent. Before even devoting his life, he is sent. A person who is sent. In that sense, what is an Apostle? We say that we have apostolic power, right? Believers of Jesus are all at different levels. The word we have truly enables us to possess apostolic power. It does not merely make us believe; the Berean teaching leads us to have apostolic authority to work like the Apostles. Therefore, we heal the sick, drive out demons, and lead souls. If we have apostolic authority, this in other words means that we have been sent. Jesus appointed the twelve and then finally sent them out. He told them to make disciples. Teach others to keep everything I have taught you. The word “Apostle” originally has the meaning of being sent, and this does not only apply to those twelve apostles but to all believers.

Of course, not every believer is receiving this as the word given to them. However, faith is not limited to any particular person. Ever since Jesus Christ came, anyone who received the Holy Spirit, anyone who is called can receive the command and be called to ministry. Hence, a true disciple is one who is called to ministry. Not only are certain pastors called to ministry but anyone who is a true disciple.

There is a Korean song called “Sa-Myung,” calling. The song has the plaintive sound of a minor key. I see people carried away by the music and shedding tears. These reactions show that people misunderstand the concept of ‘mission’ as a sad and extreme journey.

Recently, some people visited from China and they insisted that they have to visit Pastor Lee’s home. And I told them, “We won’t have time to do that. You won’t be able to come.” Yet, they kept insisting. Every day when I met them in the morning, lunchtime, and evening, they nagged me to let them visit my home. So, I had no choice but to let them. It was on the last Lord’s Day of their visit that we had time. Even on that day, they came to me asking if they could visit my home. Since it was not only once or twice they asked but persistently to the end, I thought I should give them a chance and brought them to my place. When they came and saw my place, they were about to cry. I did not know why they were getting teary. They said, “How do you live like this?” Our bed frame legs were broken, so we put the mattress on the floor in the living room. And when they saw that they were in tears saying, “How can you be living like this?” I was quite surprised at the reaction. Is it that bad? Because we do not really mind it. And although I told them not to take photos, they did. They must have shown that photo to someone when they went back to China because they sent me a photo of a sister crying while looking at their photos. I was so embarrassed. Perhaps to them, it looked that bad. I never thought of it like that, but they probably were feeling sorry for me. In this way, it may appear sad to others and they might perceive it as a life of hardship, but the people affected do not feel like that at all. Although it is a little inconvenient we are not bothered so much by the inconvenience.

When people think of the path of calling, they immediately think of the path of suffering at which they weep. However, what a joyful path it is, a glorious path that not just anyone is able to follow. Hence, one should take pride in it. It is not something to mourn about and cry. Furthermore, nobody forces anyone to take that road. The simple fact that one is sent brings great pride. Because who is it that sent them? It is the King of heaven. Since they are sent by the King of heaven, they will have great pride in the path they are walking. For this reason, it is imperative that one has the faith to believe that he is sent, regardless of what work he is doing and how he is doing it.

Who was among those who had a mission? It was Jesus Christ. Every time He spoke, He said, “I did not come to do My will but the will of Him who sent Me.” The One who sent Me. John paid careful attention to those words of Jesus and wrote them down. Hence, the phrase “The Father who sent Me” appears dozens of times in the Gospel of John. It is because we do not look closely but He does say that dozens of times. Also, whenever Jesus speaks of the Father, He refers to Him as “Holy Father.” But the most frequent phrase is “the Father who sent Me.”

Let us have a look. John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Here it says that God sent His Son to the world. Let’s look at another one. “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God.”

In Chapter 5 verse 24, “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life.” Receiving eternal life is the most important but what do you have to believe to attain it? You have to believe that there is One who sent Jesus.

Verses 36 and 37, “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish – the very works that I do – bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.”

In Chapter 6:38, “For I have come down to from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of him who sent Me.”

In Chapter 6 verse 44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Verse 57, “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”

So, throughout the entire Gospel of John, Jesus is saying that the Father sent Him. In Chapter 12 verse 49, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.”

In Chapter 13:20, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

In Chapter 14:24, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”

In Chapter 15:21, “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

In Chapter 16:5, “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?'”

In Chapter 17:25, “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.”

In this way, this is what the gospel is about. Jesus is the One sent by God. Thus, Jesus’ life was a life of testifying that God sent Him. That was His work. So, what did He say was His food in John chapter 4? Chapter 4:32, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” And verse 34 says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

He said His food is to do the will of Him who sent Him. Therefore, He certainly knew who sent Him. Also, He did not work according to His own will but according to the will of Him who sent Him. Although He Himself did not want to carry the cross, since it is the will of Him who sent Him, He prayed that the Father’s will should be done.

What would have happened if He kept the whole Law and fulfilled the whole Law but the One who sent Him did not acknowledge Him? It would be meaningless. Hence, He did everything in accordance with the will of Him who sent Him. And it is because He carried out that ministry, that we came to know God. Even if He had done good works, if they were not done according to the will of the One who sent Him and if He had never revealed that to us, we would not be able to know God. But in everything He said and did, He did in accordance to the will of the One who sent Him. And He said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you also.” He said, “I send you out, as the Father sent Me.” So what shall we do? We should have the same attitude as Jesus – that we have One who sent us.

Therefore, whenever we heal the sick, what must we disclose? That we heal them by the power of the One who sent us. Hence, we do not get paid after healing the sick, do we? Why is that? Because the One who sent us healed them. When miracles and wonders are done, we have to remember that the One who sent us has done them. We have to keep this rule. There is One who sent me. This is the rule in the spiritual realm. The devil does not uphold this rule. The glorious was the devil? When Luciel was serving God in heaven, he was the most splendid and magnificent angel. But he lost sight of the fact that he was sent. He was very clever and magnificent. But because he thought he could do better, which is why he left his position and decided to do something that was irrelevant to the will of the One who sent Him. He wanted to do better. In his eyes, the angel of Jehovah did not seem smart enough. So, he decided he should help him out. And the moment he left his position of duty, that became corruption. The moment he did not acknowledge the One who sent him, he fell. From his point of view, he was only trying to do better. However, when he despised the One who sent him and forgot that he was sent, he became corrupted.

People who are deceived by that devil will do the same work in the church. They act out without being sent. Some people go out of the church. But they are not leaving the church because they were sent. If they are going to leave the church, it should be by being sent out. I am not saying that leaving a church is altogether wrong. One may leave. One might plant his own church. One might leave to try to live a better faith life. But when they do go, they should be sent to go out. In many cases, however, people cut off the roots themselves and leave. It is like cutting off the umbilical cord and leaving. Such a person is not sent. Whatever we do, wherever we go, whether you are in the US or in China, if you are sent, you will stay connected. And because you are connected, you can survive.

We must never forget that we have been sent. I have been sent. When zeal goes too far, you could lose sight of the fact that you were sent and work out of your own zeal. People who are working in mission areas particularly have that tendency. In many cases, people who are from mission areas feel uncomfortable when they come into the church. In the mission fields, every moment is pressing and fast-paced. But they feel frustrated in Korea because everything is slow. The process of organizing support for the mission takes time. So, those who are in the mission fields get frustrated and decide to act in their own ways or ignore the procedure. And when they go ahead of the church like that, they end up being disconnected from the roots and left alone.

At first, they start off in Berea, but in the end, they decide not to have any relations with Sungrak Church and do their own thing. There were some people with such tendencies and most of them came to similar ends. They do that out of impatience. King Saul needed to offer sacrifices and the people pressed him to. The war was about to start. He was waiting for Prophet Samuel to come quickly and offer the sacrifices but Samuel did not come yet. He could not contact Samuel, they did not have mobile phones either. He had no idea as to when Samuel would arrive. If he was told the whereabouts of Samuel, he would at least wait, but there was no way for him to find out. So, he went ahead and offered the sacrifices himself. That was seen as a profane act in God’s eyes and he was forsaken. Likewise, in the mission areas, they feel impatient. “We’re not able to do holy communion at our church and souls are leaving. We have to do holy communion.” Some people are only lay Christians and yet they insist they must administer baptism because souls are going to leave for another church. So, we tell them to wait just a few more months, but they cannot wait and start doing holy communion and even administer baptism. By doing so, they sever themselves from their roots and leave Berea. From then on, they cannot be reached. Some of them are completely disconnected from Berea.

Therefore, it is important that we do not become spiritual orphans like them by fully acknowledging that we are sent. The works which we are doing currently is not done because we have zeal. When zeal goes too far, we can make these mistakes as I just mentioned. We have to always recognize our position. That is how we can be used for a long time and the work we do can continue in order to follow the greater flow. In the sea, the waves move and they splash towards the land. But still, there is a great flow in the sea as well, and the water keeps flowing according to that current. The ocean water does not get mixed anyhow but there is a path, a current that moves around the Pacific and then somewhere else and then to the North Pole and around. There is a path it follows. So, even if radioactive materials leaked from nuclear power plants, they do not disperse in the water, they follow the current. So, although we are right next to where the leak happened, it has to make a full round trip to get to us, which means we are not as polluted as other areas. Likewise, there is a great flow. There is a great flow in the work of God. Now, am I going to stay moving up and down like the waves of the sea, or do I want to move along with the big current? The person who follows his desires will be like the waves. The current is flowing that way but the waves come in this way. The waves go in the opposite direction. Waves splash only a short time; it cannot become a great current. We definitely have been sent to follow the great flow of God’s work.

There is a certain pastor working in China who goes around the mission areas. He is able to call it his own ministry, but he always says that he was sent to do the work, that he was sent by Seoul Sungrak Church. So what happens? A person from China called us last time saying he wanted to give offerings. We do not even know who he is. We were wondering why the stranger wanted to offer such a large amount of money. So we asked, “Who are you?” And he said he received grace. What grace did he receive? Apparently, a pastor came to his area and led a crusade. He was a Berean pastor and this person received grace at this crusade that he wanted to give offerings. So, we asked why he did not give the offerings there and instead wanted to send the offerings to us. And the person answered that the pastor said he was sent to work by Seoul Sungrak Church so that if anyone wanted to give offerings, he should contact Seoul Sungrak Church about it. Hence, this person contacted us. How noble is this pastor that he said this in his mission fields? Wherever this pastor works, the people there become closer to Sungrak Church so that they take after Sungrak Church and their church ultimately grows. In this way, it is very important to work with the mindset of the one who is sent.

Some people perceive this negatively and speak ill about it. They say that this pastor goes around telling people that he is a representative of Sungrak Church. You can see how different it is depending on the angle of speech. These people perceive him as someone who claims to be a representative of Sungrak Church. These are what haters say. You will be able to know from his good fruits.

When I was working in China, if I had not thought of myself as one who was sent, I would have come back to Korea much earlier. It was very difficult at one point that I wanted to return to Korea. I was really having doubts about the work when I was in Shanghai. The living standards of the people in Shanghai are higher than us Koreans. The average living standard in Shanghai is much higher than that of people in Shingil-dong. When Koreans were just starting to have mobile phones, people there already had them. I did not have one at that time. The way they dress is ahead of us. They all speak English too. A lot of people work in foreign companies there and everyone speaks English and even have English names. I had only interacted with Chinese people by their Chinese names. So, when they used English names and spoke to me in English, I started to lose confidence. They gave us clothes they used to wear saying we looked too shabby. I felt like I was a loser and that was the time I had doubts about being there. If I did not have the sense of calling that I was sent in those moments, I would have been very miserable. I would have been heavy with the idea that I was a loser.

Although I had those moments, I had such definite testimonies that I was sent. And having those testimonies is vital. Otherwise, you start to question yourself. I had many testimonies but one of them was that when I decided to go to China, I wondered what would happen to my family and parents. Who is going to preach to my unbelieving parents? But in a month, they all believed. Things like these were the testimonies I had so I could go to China. My heart was lightened and it spurred up my calling. There were many miracles and signs like them. So, the assurance that there was One who sent me and that I was sent was very helpful in pushing me to advance forward without stopping.

Later, when I returned to Seoul Sungrak Church and worked as a lay pastor while attending the seminary, I was again in distress because of the financial hardship we faced. Again, I felt like a loser. I do not know why I felt like that. Because I did not have anything and I kept comparing myself to others, I felt like a loser. If I did not have the sense of calling, I would have fallen in those moments. There is One who sent me. I am going through ordeals right now, but God sent me and He knows everything. I have got to endure it. I have to get through it. Because of my faith in the One who sent me, I was able to keep going without giving up. Moreover, while I was working in the church, I was not being commended for doing a good job. Rather, I was under attack and persecuted by others while doing the work. But I believed there was One who sent me, which held me to the end. We have to have that. We need to overcome with the faith that there is One who sent us. Otherwise, if it is the work you started yourself, you will give it up anytime.

That is how you know if you have been called to ministry or not. If you are ready to give up, it proves you were not called, regardless of how hard you worked in the past, because you are doing whatever you want. However, we do not give up when we feel like it. Each of us needs to have the faith that we have been given the mission. Others will not know whether you have the calling or not. How will they know? Only you will know. It is a promise between you and God. We have to make sure that in the end we are proven to be those called to ministry. People can work for thirty years and never have the calling. Some people said as a habit, “I have been a disciple of Semuon for thirty years.” But after those thirty years, they left the church on their own without being sent. This proves that they were not called to the ministry. Even thirty years worth of work cannot fool God. We have to be those called to ministry. We must be sent, therefore. “Lord, have You sent me? If so, help me to have the faith, determination, and resolution of One who has been sent!” Let us pray.

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center