Paul Continues His Mission:
“Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antiochin Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.” (Acts 13:13-14).
When Paul and Barnabas arrived in this new city, they went to the synagogue where the Jews had gathered together. If you’re going to be a fisher of men (one of Jesus’ favorite metaphors for being a witness), you need to go where the fish are. Go where the people are. “After the usual readings from the books of Moses and from the Prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message: “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for us, come and give it!” (Acts 13:15, nlt). Of course, being a preacher, Paul was ready and jumped at the opportunity to share a message with the people who had gathered there.
For twenty-one verses (Acts 13:16-37), Paul preached about the death and resurrection of Jesus to the Jews. In the climax of his message, he declared, “Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God – something the Jewish law could never do.” (verse 38-39). He said, “Jesus can change and transform your life today!”
It’s interesting that every recorded sermon in Acts has one resounding theme: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Paul said over and over again:
- “We preach Christ crucified.” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
- “We preach Christ Jesus the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
- “Christ in you the hope of glory. Him we preach.” (Colossians 1:26-27).
Too many churches today have wandered away from preaching Jesus Christ. Preacher, stop dulling your people to sleep with the latest pop fads that are going around, and just give them Jesus.
As soon as that church service was over, the people asked Paul and Barnabas to return the following week to preach about Jesus again. I get excited when I read about what happened next: “The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord!” (verse 44, nlt). Hallelujah! There was something about the simple preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that attracted crowds of people. As Paul preached the Good News, they responded with faith and joy. “But when the Jewish leaders saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said.” (verse 45, nlt). Here we see again that whenever the Gospel is preached in power, people will oppose it.
There are people who get upset when I boldly declare that I believe Jesus still heals people today. It amazes me that people will get angry when they hear a preacher say that God is good. I shouldn’t be surprised, however, because the same thing happened in the ministry of Jesus.
“Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. Would he heal the man’s hand on the Sabbath? If he did, they planned to condemn him.” (Mark 3:1-2, nlt).
Look at how Jesus responded to his critics:
“Jesus said to the man, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Is it legal to do good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing harm? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.” (Mark 3:3-4, nlt).
Jesus wouldn’t compromise His message of the Father’s goodness, or His willingness to heal sick people just because people were offended by that truth.
“He looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Reach out your hand.” The man reached out his hand, and it became normal again!” (Mark 3:5, nlt).
As soon as Jesus performed this miracle of healing, the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to discuss plans for killing Jesus. Unbelievable! Jesus helped a man who had a problem, he healed a disease, and they got upset with him. I can understand why Jesus got so angry with these Pharisees. Let’s go back to the story of our missionaries and see what happened next:
“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.” Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:46-52).
What was the response of the people when they heard true Biblical preaching? They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Joy comes when people hear the Good News of the Bible! Pay close attention to the main theme in Paul’s preaching here: Jesus came to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. This is the heart of our loving Heavenly Father, who wants people to be saved.
Becoming a missionary Christian:
God has called us to be missionary Christians – people who focus on reaching others with the love of Christ. Being a missionary Christian doesn’t mean we have to go on a mission trip to Africa or India or China. Some people have a limited concept of missions that focuses only on overseas ministry. Being a missionary Christian simply means that we have an outward focus, where we care for all of those around us. In other words, “A missionary is not someone who crosses the sea, but someone who sees the Cross.”
To see the Cross means you understand what Jesus did for you through His sacrificial death. The most familiar Scripture in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). You don’t have to cross the sea to be a missionary. Maybe you just cross your street and share God’s love with your neighbor. Maybe it means sharing God’s love with a family member, a schoolmate, or a coworker.
Here are three things the Lord is calling us to do to become missionary Christians.
1. All Christians have been given the Great Commission:
Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
When Jesus told us to “Go!” he used the imperative tense of that verb. To go and make disciples isn’t a mere suggestion – it is a commandment from the Lord Jesus! If you are a Christian, you have a responsibility to share the Good News with others. This doesn’t mean you have to stand up on a stage with a microphone in your hand. It can be as simple as sitting down with a friend at your local Tim Horton’s and saying, “Let me share with you what Jesus did for me in my life.” Evangelism, witnessing, sharing the love of Jesus with others, or being a missionary Christian: Whatever words you use to describe it, we are all called to go.
2. All Christians need to be moved with compassion for the lost:
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38).
When Jesus walked the Earth 2,000 years ago and saw lost and broken people, something inside of Him compelled Him to do something. “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14).
Jesus wants you to reach people with His love. We need to lift up our eyes and see the harvest.
3. All Christians are called to do good deeds to bless people:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
If you know Jesus, then you have the answer the world is looking for. They might not even realize that what they need is God, but they know they’re missing something in their lives. As we look for opportunities to do good deeds to people – random acts of kindness – God will be glorified. God has blessed us to be a blessing.
Practical Application Points:
Here are just a few simple suggestions for things you can do to be a missionary Christian today.
- Invite your friends to your church. Sometimes all it takes is an invitation to get them in the door of the church, where they can hear the Gospel message and be saved.
- Get involved in your church’s local outreach. Hopefully your church has one or more different ministries that are focused on reaching out to people in your community. Get involved, volunteer your time and help out there.
- Show love to people in real practical and tangible ways. We have a Christian living across the street from us and he gets out his snow-blower in the winter to clean off other people’s driveways. A simple act of service like that will minister God’s love to people.
- Never pass up an opportunity to pray for someone. If you’re at work, at school, or even at the mall, and you see someone who’s having a bad day – they’re sick, sad, discouraged, lonely, whatever – ask them if you can pray for them. A simple prayer can powerfully minister God’s love to someone. Pray, “Lord Jesus, would you show this person how special they are to you. Please reveal Your love to them, and help them with whatever they’re going through. In Jesus’ name, amen.” Prayer changes things – that’s true – but even the simple act of having someone pray for them is an act of blessing in itself.
- Finally, welcome people into your home and share a meal with them. As you build relationships with people, you will have an open door to minister into their lives.
God has called us to be missionary Christians – people who focus on reaching others with the love of Christ. Share God’s love with someone today!
Pastor Chris Jordan