Published July 5, 2007
Acts 13:1-3; 14:1-7, 21-23
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, July 22
We learned last week in Acts 10 that God desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Also we observed how faith can be in no other. No other message can save a person from his or her sin than the message of the cross.
If God desires all people to be saved, it follows that God desires the gospel preached to all people in all places on the globe. Since 1845, when the Southern Baptist Convention was conceived, Baptists have been on mission to take the gospel to the earth’s end. Knowing there still remains unreached people groups means we dare not slow our pace. Rather we continue going, evangelizing, and strengthening disciples by building new churches.
Going - Acts 13:1-3
The church at Antioch remains for us a model in displaying properly the heartbeat of Jesus when He said “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses…” (Acts 1:8).
As the church was worshipping, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. And understand, this is not unusual. Some of the greatest moments of direction we personally receive are not in our quiet times alone before God. However, that can and does happen for sure.
Nevertheless, scripture here suggests they heard God’s prophet voice through His choice servants. Luke records there were “prophets and teachers” in the Antioch church (13:1). He notes that as “they worshipped and fasted, the Holy Spirit spoke ....” It seems we may safely assume that the Spirit spoke through the prophets and teachers he’d just described. Among the many undoubtedly there, two were explicitly identified as called by the Holy Spirit: Barnabas and Saul (13:2).
We may be sure that every believer possesses a special work to which God calls them to perform. And His calling guarantees His anointing to get the job done.
It is worth noting that John Mark accompanied Barnabas and Saul (13:5). Yet he apparently was neither equipped nor called to the task. When the going got rough — the missionaries met up with a demonized person — John Mark skedaddled back to Jerusalem (13:13). Not any one of us may survive the tiring service God has without His specific calling or His special enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
Evangelize - Acts 14:1-7
Upon entering a city, the mission team’s custom was to seek out the local synagogue and wait for an invitation to speak a word. Not only did Jews attend the synagogue but also many Greeks (14:1). The response was usually mixed (14:4). Yet God valued the gospel message with apostolic signs and wonders (14:3).
Sometimes the response became hostile and the missionaries experienced serious consequences (14:9). Their vision was divinely given, however, the persecution would not stop evangelism. In fact, when Paul was beaten and dragged out of Lystra for dead he went right back into the town where the men beat him and resumed preaching to them again (14:2).
“No fear” was their bumper-sticker philosophy. Could it be said of the Church today that she possesses the same, unshakable commitment to evangelizing? What about you in your daily walk with God? Each person has his/her own mission field. Is your passion as was Paul’s – to witness for Christ no matter the cost?
Strength - Acts 14:21-23
When Paul and Barnabus completed their first mission trip, they briefly stopped off again in the towns they had evangelized to “strengthen the believers” (v.22). It is never enough just to share the good news of Jesus Christ. We must, in the words of Jesus Himself, “make disciples” (Mt. 28:19).
One way to assume the new converts would be disciples was to organize the new churches and appoint leaders to oversee the assembly. Therefore, “Paul and Barnabus also appointed elders in each church” (v.23). The term “elder” in the New Testament means “overseer” and is synonymous with the term “bishop” (Acts 20:28). We usually employ the term “pastor” rather than either term to describe God’s appointed “overseers” in our churches.
No church can function well and grow with out elders. The elders Paul appointed would be charged with teaching, preaching, and breaking bread from house to house.
The care of converts’ life would be entrusted to them. Strong churches always possess strong pastors – God’s elders who oversee God’s church.
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