There is no Bench or Second String in Missions
by Cooper Abrams
Here in the Book of Acts God tells us how missions was started. This passage tells us that those which were scattered abroad because of the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem at the hand of the Jews....these believers fled and as they traveled they preached the Gospel of the resurrected Christ. I think that this is an amazing thing and should set a precedent and example to us all.
I. QUESTION? Who were the first missionaries in the New Testament who went to other areas and preached the Gospel?
A. ANSWER: I am sure that many of you thought it was the Apostle Paul whose record of his missionary journeys take up most of the New Testament. No, it was not Paul, nor was it any Apostle or anyone we know by name. The first missionaries were Christians fleeing persecution in Jerusalem. They were men who had received Christ...men who had experience the wonderful saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ and had their lives changed. These were the first missionaries who told men about the Lord Jesus Christ outside of Jerusalem...fleeing for their very lives they preached the Good News wherever they went.
You see for the dear folks, getting saved got them in trouble....they had to flee Jerusalem for their lives.
There is a message here....
1. Picture in your minds the circumstances?
HOW does this compare with our modern idea that every thing must be in perfect harmony or the spreading of the Gospel is hindered.
2. READ the BOOK of ACTS. READ it over and over. Take a pen and write down the times all was going well....at the same time record when there was persecution and difficulties. You will find most of the time...there was great opposition to the Gospel. You will find that the Gospel was spread in great difficulty and oppression.
Note with me what God said in 2 Tim. 3:12. "Yea, all that WILL live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Lets STOP her for a moment:
God is saying that believers who live godly lives WILL suffer persecution.
Lets make sure that:
(1) You are not the cause!
(2) Regardless of what is done to you must keep a sweet spirit.
(3) You are the Messenger, not the avenger..
(4) You keep on your knees, keep in the Word!!!
They were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who first preached Christ to the Grecians who lived in Antioch a city located about 300 miles north of Jerusalem.
These men and maybe women believed God.
3. Note V21. Just like Christ said in Matt 28:19-20, "I am with you, ALWAYS." The result of obeying the Lord in telling others about Christ was "The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." That is what happens when we obey the Lord.
4. Their belief in the promises of God was their faith....and their trusting in the promise of Salvation to all who would believe in the Lord Jesus made them share it with others, even gentiles, when they were driven out of Jerusalem.
B. Let us STOP again for a moment:
Can I share a personal incite with you! IF you obey the Lord, if you go and where he says and do what he directs you to do there will often be lonesome and difficult times. At preacher's fellowship I once attended in Western North Carolina one of the speakers preached a very emotional message. The preachers who were there I am sure had their spirits and emotions lifted high. They were encouraged by the message and challenged and it was good to be with other men whom shared their common bond in preaching the Gospel. They knew first hand of the trials of the ministry. This was a great time for these preachers ....but most of the time God's preacher and God's faithful children will be alone! It will be you and GOD! You must understand that the only thing that will keep you going is your commitment to Him and feeding on His Word!
You must learn to take your strength and encouragement from the Savior you serve.
You must learn to learn to take your strength and encouragement from the Word you live by and preach!
You must learn to take your strength and encouragement from being filled by the Holy Spirit.
You must learn to take your strength and encouragement from the assurance of your call.
You must learn to take your strength and encouragement from your faithfulness to that call.
You must learn to take you strength and encouragement from your faith and trust in the promises of God.
II. Who was the second missionary?
A. It was Barnabas! When the church in Jerusalem heard of the Greeks being saved in Antioch, Syria they sent Barnabas. God's plan is that a church have a pastor to lead it.
V24 says Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of FAITH!
1. Paul was the third missionary. V25 says Barnabas went to Tarsus and got Paul and they both returned to Antioch and preached and taught there for on whole year.
2. These men preached and went to other areas to preach the Gospel having the full and absolute confidence that God was sending them and He was with them every step of the way.
3. This was NO leap into the dark....THEY WALKED A PATH THEY KNEW GOD HAD PREPARED FOR THEM. Wherever it lead it would be all right...because they had the promise of God.
B. True BIBLICAL FAITH KNOWS THE OUTCOME OF THE STEP OF FAITH!
Its God's work...we are only workmen...He will do it. Our task is to be Faithful!!!
III. OUR MARCHING ORDERS: Matt. 28:18-20 The Great Commission.
A. There is but one command in the Great Commission: That is to "Teach" (V19), or make "disciples of all nations." That is the verb of action.
B. The "going" V19, "baptizing," and "teaching" of V20 are all participles. A participle is a form of a verb that has the qualities of both a verb and an also an adjective. It describes the action of the verb.
C. Making disciples means telling and teaching people about the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Making disciples is the function of the local assembly of believers...the local church.
2. God's program to evangelized the world is through a local congregation of born-again believers in a particular geographical area. At Acts 2:47, after 3000 souls were saved on the day of Pentecost...God added believers to the church.
Why, because that is God's program. Eph. 5:25, says that Christ Jesus loved the assembly and gave his life for it.
Eph. 1:22 "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,"
Eph 4:15, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Eph 5:23, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body."
Col 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
B. Clearly, Christ is head of the local church. His program is sending the Gospel into the World through the ministry of the local church.
1. Who then is the Great Commission given to?
2. You and I, working in our local congregation. It is the responsibility of each of us in the local church.
3. The pastor follows the leading of the Holy Spirit the congregation follows, the Sunday School, youth workers all teach. Those who do not have teaching ability...bring them in. Everyone personally witnesses in their homes, jobs and communities.
4. No one is excluded. Everything that makes this church a place where the Word of God is preached...is important.
Ushers, those that keep the church building and grounds clean and nice looking, all who tithe and give their offering to the Lord.
Those who faithfully attend each service are supporting and upholding the work the God.
Those who are always in prayer lifting up the pastor, teachers and brothers and sisters in Christ.
5. Without all this people work...the church has no missions program. Do you see....all this is a vital part of the missions program of a church.
C. You see saved child of God is a missionary...nor are excluded. We all in various ways have the privilege of doing missions work....meaning of disciplining others in the Lord. Before believers were called Christians they were called disciples. At times I think we have the idea that the Christian is not a disciple and being a child of God is only a part time affair or reserved only for the pastor or leaders in a church. Becoming a disciple is the action of one who is deeply committed to another and it is not normal for a believer to be any thing else.
Once a person receives the Lord Jesus they become followers....disciples of Christ. A vital part of being saved is that God will change your life.
ILLUS: My dear wife worked as a checker at K-Mart when we were in Price to help us with expenses. They assigned a lady to train her in all the procedures of being a check out clerk. She was attentive and committed to doing a good job and she learned what they taught her. She was being discipled in being as a checker. After she learned the job she was asked to teach others what she had learned. In time she became their main trainer for newly hired checkers. That what God is commissioning us to do....to be committed ourselves and to learn the task and then present what we learned to others.
D. Thus, a follower of Christ is a disciple who believes God and seeks to make disciples of all nations:
He starts at home in his own home, and church and through the church does this by:
(3) Teaching them.
E. ACTS 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
1. Note the last part of V20. "I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."
2. Folks, the Command to win folks to Christ is hinged to a promise. That promise is that Christ Himself is with us.
He enables, directs, protects, empowers, strengthens, and encourages us.
3. Thus, the heart of the Great Commission is an act of faith. It is carried out be those who believe God, it is doing what God says do.
We by faith teach people about the Lord Jesus Christ. God honors our faith and the word of God works in some hearts and some are saved.
Who said he would be with us? Is God able to do what He says? Is God trustworthy? If he says He is with us then can we trust Him?
4. IF the answer is YES, then the result of our faith, of our believing God is that we will do what he says.
IV. Will the task be easy? Will we encounter problems?
A. The answer is again "yes." God says there will be difficulties and trials as we live our lives for the Lord.
B. I think it is worth noting that the first Book of the New Testament that was written was the Book of James.
1. Read the first four verses with me.
2. Do you see something here that is very important? The very first words the Lord recorded in His word...after four hundred years of silence....was:
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1 :2-4)
The word temptations means..."trials" or difficulties.
C. However, too many professing Christians are setting on the side lines. Too many are warming a pew instead of warming hearts with the saving message of the Gospel.
ILLUS: About two years after starting the church in Price, one of our members asked me to go with him to visit his friend who had been attending a church that was not preaching the Gospel. His friend and his family had dropped out of church and were not attending anywhere. He wanted his friend to attend our church where the Bible was preached and the Lord honored. We had a nice visit and a week or so later I asked Sam had his friend said anything more about visiting our church. Sam said his friend had decided to start attending another church in town. This church was unbiblical in doctrine, and practice. It was a larger church than our beginning mission work. When Sam ask him why he had chose to attend that church he replied...."I just want a place to attend on Sunday and not be called on to do anything." Well, the church he chose was the right one for what he wanted to do...and ours was certainly not one to attend if he wanted to set back and do nothing. He clearly also did not love the Lord and certainly not his lost neighbors and those in his community. His actions showed he did not care for the lost.
Sadly, many folks are the same way.....they feel they have the option to set back and do little more than attend. Folks, God has not given the child of God that option! The Great Commission was for everyone who believes and God saves.
It is a poor attitude to have to have received forgiveness for sin and been saved from the eternal torrents of hell and not for any reason share with others the Good News that will save them from their sins and hell.
I hope this message from God's word as helped each of us to take see the great responsibility and privilege we have in carrying the greatest most wonderful news the world can hear.
Jesus Christ, our Creator and God, died for our sins, and by repenting of our sins, recognizing that we are sinners, we by faith in His sure promise can ask God to forgive us and save us from our sins.
The promise comes with a 100% guarantee from God, that all who believe will be saved and given eternal life.
That is God's promise to you today who have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
2. To the Christian....this is God's promise also to you...that the Gospel you carry...will save to the uttermost...all who will believe.
3. Christian, church member. Has God given you a new and flesh vision today of your's and my task in spreading the Gospel. Do you see your part and the vital important part in the ministry of this church that you have.
4. See how important each one is to this ministry...May I ask you....have you been faithful to God's great commission ? Are you faithfully doing your part.
By your faithful attendance, giving God His tithe and your thanksgiving offerings to Him, giving Him your time, making Christ and your service to Him the most important thing in your life. Evidence of your true commitment or the lack commitment is seen in our faithfulness to Him who is the Head of the church.
Attendance, working in what ever job that is available, tithing and giving our thanksgiving offerings, praying.
If you see now a greater vision of your task as a part of God's program to evangelize the world, maybe you would like to publicly rededicate yourself to this great task we have by coming forward...and saying...with God's help...I want to be better used of the God...I commit myself to Him to be the disciple He has instructed and given me the privilege to be.