A Mission Minded Church

A Mission Minded Church

Young Henry Martin studied at Cambridge University to become a lawyer. By his senior year, he had been recognized as the university at its best mathematician. Upon graduation Henry Martin abandoned his intentions to go into law. For the Glory of God in missions, God had captured his heart and led by God’s Spirit, he traveled then to India as a missionary there in 1806. Sailing from England, Henry left his family, his friends, his homeland; he even left Lydia, the woman whom he had grown in love with, who had arrested his affections. And, as he set sail, tears streamed down his face. He would later relate, “I thought of the roaring seas which would soon be rolling between me and all that is dear to me on earth. My feelings were as those of a man who should suddenly be told that, ‘Every friend he had in the world was dead.’ It was only by prayer for them that I should be comforted and this was indeed a refreshment to my soul because by meeting them, at the Throne of Grace, I seem to be again in their society.” Well, Henry Martin would only live six more years, but he compressed a lifetime of labor into that short span. Among his accomplishments, he translated the New Testament into both Hindi and Persian for the people in that region. And, Henry Martin died on the mission field at the tender age of thirty-one.

We ask certain questions in thinking of Henry Martin’s life. Why would a brilliant young man abandon a prosperous career to work without much pay; without much earthly esteem? Why would a young man who loves his homeland, loves his family and friends, travel to live in an uncomfortable place where he would not be able to see those whom he loves? And, what would motivate a young man who is in love with a girl, to give up that future relationship to translate the Bible for people he had never met?

In Henry Martin’s journal, one of the comments he makes is this, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. And, the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.”

Of course, this does not mean that we all are to set sail for India, but it means people who are passionate about God become passionate about missions. People who love God deeply get deeply involved in world missions. We see this truth in the life of Henry Martin. We see this all through the Book of Acts as we have been studying it. You see something is profoundly deficient in a Christianity that has lost her zeal for advancing the honor of Jesus’ name by proclaiming the Gospel all throughout the whole world.
In Acts 13, a new stage of advancing the Gospel message begins in the history of the early church. You recall the words of Jesus, in the beginning of our study, in Acts, Chapter 1 and Verse 8, when Jesus says,

“You will be my witnesses Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world.”

This verse, this statement by Jesus, provides for us and organizational outline for the Book of Acts. As we have studied, we have observed that Chapters 1 through 7 of Acts have to do with the preaching of the Gospel in Jerusalem; where the theological and devotional foundation of the church is laid. And then, we have studied Chapters 8 through 12, and these chapters tell us of the spread of the Gospel throughout, not just Jerusalem, but Judea, and in fact all of Samaria. And beginning in Chapter 13, and all the way to the end of this record in Chapter 28, the focus is on the advance of Jesus’ name throughout the entire Roman Empire. Some commentators refer to this chapter as the “beginning of the missionary era.” And, if Bethany Baptist Church, or any local church, is to connect herself to this church in the Book of Acts, we will embrace the very same mission; namely, to send people by God’s Spirit into areas of the world where the name of Jesus is not known and where God is not worshipped.

Our Bibles are opened to Acts 13, and if you are taking notes you can open up your bulletin and find an outline printed for you. Through these twelve verses we will discover four encouragements that God gives us for world missions.

The first encouragement is this – God chose the local church to deliver the Gospel to the world.

The narrative that describes the exciting beginnings of world missions begins this way. This is something that, up to this point, had never happened before and now it begins here, and, yet, as Luke begins the record of world missions, he begins it this way in Verse 1 of Chapter 13,

In the church at Antioch…

God wants us to understand that the local church is central to His plan for delivering the Good News of His Son to the whole world.
In Verse 2, we read,

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting…

And, then, in Verse 3,

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

I believe this “they” refers to the local church. I believe this so, first, because it is the church, and then several members of that church, are listed but it is not just defining those five men as people who “were worshiping the Lord and fasting,” or who were “laying hands,” but it is defining the church along with these men who are worshiping the Lord, who are fasting, who are laying hands on. If it referred only to the five men, we would have five men laying hands on themselves, right; two of them.

Furthermore, if we look ahead in Acts, Chapter 14, Verse 26 and 27, Barnabas and, now, Paul, are going to return from this missionary endeavor. And it says, that

…they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

So, they sensed the necessity of gathering the whole church, not just the other prophets and teachers, but that the whole church was a part of this sending operation of beginning world missions. God chose the local church to deliver the Gospel to the world.

I emphasize this point for two reasons. First, many falsely believe that world missions can be effective apart from a strong connection to the local church. We live in a very individualistic age, a very much of an age of independence, and so, the emphasis shines often on individual missionaries, or the emphasis shines on para-church mission agencies. But missions requires the efforts of the whole church; the local church. The whole church must be actively involved in connections in order to follow God’s plan; His strategy. God does not begin this story in Acts 13 of the inception of world missions by talking, first, about Paul and Barnabas, does He? Rather, He begins this story by talking about the church; the church at Antioch.

Now, Paul and Barnabas are very important people. Don’t get me wrong. But, they are connected to this local church. They are sent out by this local church. That is why the church is so important. Furthermore, Paul and Barnabas are not sent out by CIM, that’s Cyprus Island Missions. Nor are they sent out by their new name: Island Venture. Rather, Paul and Barnabas are sent out by the Holy Spirit, but underneath the agency of what – underneath the agency of the local church. And, so it is with all missionaries who follow in their path.

Now I am most grateful for individual missionaries. I am most grateful for the work of mission agencies like Campus Crusade and World Venture and HCJB and ABWE and a host of others. They assist the local church wonderfully and necessarily, I believe, but let us not forget that God’s plan for world missions is through the local church.

Saul and Barnabas did not become missionaries on the basis of their own decision. It was on the basis of the calling of the Holy Spirit and how was that Holy Spirit call made known? It was made known through the local church. I believe this is the Biblical process of the calling to vocational ministry. God does lead individuals, of course, by His Holy Spirit, but not apart from the local church. This is our protection so that we don’t just go wild-eyed in our imagination, our own wants, our own desires to carry us wherever we would will, but that we trust that God leads through the local church. He leads individuals through the local church in this way.

Well, the second reason why I emphasize this point is that many falsely believe that missions, world missions, should not be a primary concern of the local church. I was talking with a pastor friend about a year ago and asked him how things were going, and he had just gotten out of a meeting with his church board. And he asked the church board, during that meeting, if their church wouldn’t begin to consider being involved in world missions. That church didn’t support any missionaries; it hadn’t really been involved in world missions, and one of the elders said this, “We have enough to concern us right here at home.” Such sentiments run so contrary to the Gospel. Such thoughts run so contrary to the heart of Jesus that one has to wonder whether the person who thinks in such a way is truly born again, truly regenerate.

Former pastor of Moody Church, Harry Ironside, used to tell a story about a meeting in which a missionary offering was taken and when the collection plate was handed to a wealthy man, he brushed it aside and he said, “I do not believe in missions.” The usher responded, “Well, take something out them. This offering is for the heathen.”

Everyone of us, as believers in Jesus Christ, are fashioned and become members of a body called the local church, and as such, we are all to be involved in missions because missions is the work of the Body of Christ.

Pastor Horace Bushnell, who was a pastor in the 19th Century, wrote these words, “The following are excused from giving or from going: those who believe the world is not lost and does not need a Savior, those who wish that missionaries had never come to our ancestors while we, ourselves, were still heathens, those who believe it is ‘every man for himself’ in this world and who will, with Cain ask, ‘Am I my brothers keeper,’ those who believe they are not accountable to God for the money entrusted to them, and those who are prepared to accept the final sentence, ‘In as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it unto Me.’”

So, we have to ask ourselves the question, “What am I doing to advance the name of Jesus to the whole world?” It is everyone of our responsibility and it is the responsibility of this local church. We are excited to be a part of that.

The second encouragement that God gives to us in His Word, in this story, is that churches must by healthy in order to fulfill God’s commission to reach the world. Churches have to be healthy in order to fulfill God’s commission. This church in Antioch is able to give birth to the missionary era precisely because it is healthy.

Well, we ask the question, “Well, how was it healthy,” and here we observe four characteristics that are essential to healthy churches. Only churches that own these characteristics are able to be effective in advancing the name of Jesus, and Jesus’ honor, to all the peoples of the world.

The first characteristic is this – healthy churches are grounded in the Truth of God’s Word. Again, we look at Verse 1, and the first thing that Luke observes about this church in Antioch is that “there were prophets and teachers.” That is interesting, isn’t it; that in describing the church at Antioch and sharing how they were involved in world missions, he says, “I want you to notice some things about this church. In the church in Antioch there were prophets and teachers. There were people who taught the Word of God here and grounded this group of people in the doctrines, in the understanding in the ways and the will of God through the revelation of God.” Prophets and teachers, of course, both of these offices focus on instructing and exhorting Christians in God’s Word.

And then, Luke goes on to record five of these prophets and teachers by name. Now, we are not told that this is an exhaustive list. In fact, I imagine that this is not exhaustive, that there are others, but these were five primary prophets and teachers in this church. Effective churches always have not just one, but many, capable men and women who devote themselves to teaching the Doctrines, the Truths, that God through His Apostles and now this has been captured for us in the Scripture, in the Word of God, in the Bible.

This emphasis on the necessity of a church well-taught is found all through the Book of Acts. In fact, it can’t be missed. Let’s just take a look brief overview of what we have studied in the past. Let’s look at Chapter 2 of Acts, Verse 42. The church has begun and it says, we will look through these verses very quickly; these aren’t the only verses that reflect the emphasis upon being a well-taught church, but, Verse 42, the first church, it says,

They devoted themselves to (What?) the apostles’ teaching…

That was essential to health.

In Chapter 5, now, Verse 42, we read that, the Apostles,

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and (also) proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Chapter 6, Verse 2, again there is a problem because there is a physical need that arises within the church, but it says,

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.’

“Yes, someone needs to address the physical needs here, but it wouldn’t be right because what the church needs more than even mercy, the church needs the teaching of the Word of God. Apart from teaching the Word of God, there can be no proper mercy, and all would fall away and crumble.”

Chapter 8, Verse 4,

Those who had been scattered (through the persecution) preached the word wherever they went.

Chapter 11, Verse 25,

…Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.

You see, this was Antioch, that Barnabas was there from the beginning of that church, but Barnabas recognized, “This church needs teachers in order to become healthy,” and he went out and recruited Saul.

And then Verse 24 (Chapter 12),

And the word of God continued to increase and spread.

And that leads us to Chapter 13. Now at the beginning of the missionary era, Luke notes a strong teaching of the Bible that is central to this church’s life and ministry. The teaching of the Word must be a priority in the thinking of the healthy church. A well-taught church is not the only characteristic that marks a church health, but it is an essential one. That is to say, without having a priority upon the teaching the Word in the church, that church, any church, cannot be healthy. That is one of the essential, characteristic marks of a healthy church.

So, by way of application, if you have the gift of teaching, please understand that God gave you this gift to benefit the church and it is important that you use it to the Glory of God and the church, and for all of us to pursue the instruction in the Word of God, to value it, to hold it dear. Our maturity, our vitality, as believers in the church together depends upon it.

The second characteristic of a healthy church is that healthy churches are united in love, and such union transcends all other human boundaries or barriers to keep us from being united in love because we are brought together in Jesus Christ.

In the church in Antioch there were huge racial and cultural differences that existed within this church. Antioch was a cosmopolitan city; it had many races and people from all different economic backgrounds, and yet, while the people in the community didn’t integrate, they didn’t come together as one in the community, there were still these huge walls that separated them, in the church these walls were broken down. In the church there was one body. You ask the question, “How do we know that this church was integrated of people from all different races from all different economic and social backgrounds? How do we know that?” Well, just look at the names of the five people listed as leaders in the church. That is how we know that.

Let’s look at them briefly. First, there is Barnabas. “Now who is Barnabas?” We know he is a Jewish man; he is a Levite and that he came from Cyprus, that is to say, that he grew up in a Gentile environment. He was well versed in Greek culture.

And then, we have this guy by the name of “Simeon called Niger.” Now Niger means “black,” and probably this man came from Africa. Most likely, he was very, very dark skinned. That is why they called him “Niger,” because his skin was black.

Then we have Lucius of Cyrene. Now Lucius is a Latin name and so he was probably brought up in Roman culture and he is from Cyrene, a place in Northern Africa.

Then we have this guy by the name of Manaen, who it says was “brought up with Herod the tetrarch;” that’s Herod Antipas, that’s the man who had John the Baptist beheaded. He was the one who oversaw one of the trials of Jesus before His crucifixion. And, this man, Manaen, grew up with him. He may have been, even that word there that says he was “brought up with him” or was, either, a close childhood friend or, actually, a step-brother to Herod Antipas. Now this name Manaen is a Greek form of a Hebrew name so he was probably Jewish but he was raised in a Greek culture, a boyhood friend of Herod’s, so undoubtedly he was, either, a part of that family or he was from a high-society, rich, wealthy, influential family. That is how he could have such a close association with such an important person.

It is interesting, isn’t it, how two boys, raised so closely together as friends, could have such wildly opposite spiritual outcomes. It reminds us to pray; to pray for our little ones, doesn’t it? Right along side a Herod there is a Manaen. We must pray, pray.

And then, and lastly, there is Saul who is a former Pharisee; a persecutor of the church.

Now, notice it is not just the members who are diverse, but it is the leadership. And that is important; that churches come together as one, not just homogenous culture, but together in the midst of all different, diverse backgrounds, races, economic statuses, all of these things, what, because all of these things disappear. They make no difference when we surround ourselves and root ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This church demonstrated the full unity of all peoples in Jesus Christ when situated in the wealth of world missions. They go to Cyprus and the person from Cyprus says, “Well, how do you know this Gospel is for me?” Paul and Barnabas were able to say, “Because that is the way in our church. If you come back to the church in Antioch, you will see it is for all races because we find all these different kinds of people right in our church in Antioch. That is why we know it is for all people. It is not just rooted in some specific nation or culture but it is for everyone and that is reflected in the life of this local church.”

I ask you to pray for Bethany in this regard that God’s Glory might be seen in the rich diversity and unity of members of Christ, not just in the membership but in the leadership and the at the future of Bethany would be rich in that regard.

Well, the third characteristic of a healthy church, not only are they well taught and not only do they show unity and love, but healthy churches are what, they are devoted to prayer. There can be no zeal for world missions apart from corporate prayer. There can’t be.

And in Verse 2, we see that,

…they were worshiping the Lord and they were fasting…

and, it was as they were fasting and praying that the Holy Spirit met that church and communicated. We don’t know how the Holy Spirit communicated. But it was very clear to this church what they were to do. It says,

“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

God blesses and directs His people as they pray to Him. The idea here is not just of individual prayer but is of corporate prayer; that these folks, here in the church of Antioch, said that “We are committed to praying together.”

Beloved, this is not just a minor note in the composition of this great story, but this is, again, a major theme. Again, we will just take a brief perusal through what we have already studied in Acts.

Acts, Chapter 1, Verse 14. It says,

They all joined together constantly in prayer…

and it was on the basis of that prayer meeting that the next Apostle was going to be made known by the Lord; the one who would replace Judas Iscariot.

In Chapter 2, Verse 42, again, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to (What?) to prayer…” the Scripture says.

In Chapter 4, Verse 31,

After they prayed…

and, again, this is corporate prayer,

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken…

the Scripture says.

And, then again, and we are not looking at all the references to prayer, Chapter 12, right before this event takes place in Chapter 13, the event we are studying, Verse 5, it tells us that,

…Peter was kept in prison, but the church (the church, together) was earnestly praying to God for him.

The point again is that God blesses His people when they pray. God directs His people when they pray; that prayer is essential to us completing, and being effective, and bringing the Glory to the name of Jesus, the honor of the name of Jesus, to this world. I cannot emphasize enough in the importance of your participation in the commitment of God’s people to pray. Prayer is the first work of the church. Without the work of prayer no other work of the church is effective; not preaching, not evangelism, not ministries of mercy, not missions, not teaching, not anything. This is a pattern set by God, followed by the church, for effective ministry.

Turn forward to Acts, Chapter 14, Verse 23, Paul and Barnabas while they are out on the mission field, they didn’t stop praying.

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord…

Guidance and power in ministry comes from God alone. It is not because we are smart. It is not because we are resourceful. It is not because we are able and skilled and talented. Resourcefulness in ministry begins, and is always rooted in utter dependence upon God, calling upon God in prayer. It is the work of the church. Remember it was in a prayer meeting that the Holy Spirit told the church “Set apart for me Saul and Barnabas.”

This did not come about because the mission’s team of that church got together and said, “We need a strategic plan for how we are going to reach the world for Jesus Christ. Let’s think about this. Let’s put up all our charts and all the past studies that we have done, and then we are able, after doing all of that, to discover what we should do next.”

Now there is nothing wrong with strategic planning, don’t get me wrong, but so often strategic planning takes the place of prayer and that is disastrous for the church; for we cannot lead ourselves, and we cannot empower ourselves, and we cannot think clearly enough in order to be effective at God’s work. But God, by His Spirit, through our utter dependence upon Him in prayer, graciously reveals Himself to us; graciously empowers us. This is the pattern of Christ’s church.

Notice, also, that fasting is included. Fasting in the Bible means to forego food for a time in order to focus and concentrate upon God and upon our neediness before Him, to seek His provision, to seek His direction. Fasting, is assumed in the Scripture, is exemplified by the Apostles and it is assumed by Jesus in His teaching. Now I wonder if fasting is lost all connection to the life of the modern Christian. And, if that is so, I have to ask the question, “Why?” Is it because we have lost our sense of dependence? Is it because we have lost our sense of the importance of prayer; concentrated, focused prayer? Christian, I urge you to commit yourself to praying together, with other Christians, in the church. It is a mistake to think that churches committed to corporate prayer will rise above your, each one of you, and me, my, personal commitment to prayer. It won’t. And if you begin to become committed to prayer, corporate prayer, then the church will be strengthened. It is not enough to say, “My church is strong in its belief on corporate prayer.” You will either make that commitment strong or you will make it weaker, beloved. And that is why it is vital because we, together, are the church. It is not one who are a son or daughter of God through Jesus Christ are outside of that realm.

The fourth characteristic that we look at here is the healthy churches are willing to give their best to reach the world with the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit said, “Set apart Saul and Barnabas,” and they set apart Saul and Barnabas. These are two guys who are incredibly active in ministry already. You can imagine the church saying, “Well, God wants us to send someone to Cyprus. Who should we send? Well, let’s send Johnnie or Suzie or let’s send one of these guys. They are not doing much here and maybe they will do something over there.”

Sometimes we kind of have that mindset. But that is not the mindset of the early church. They said, “You know what, we love the Glory of God’s name so much throughout the world, we aren’t going to send Johnnie or Suzie who aren’t doing much around here. We really wouldn’t miss them in their work. We are going to send someone who is going to leave this huge hole in our church because we don’t know how we are going to replace these two guys. These two guys are the linchpin and the cornerstone of the teaching of this church. We are going to send them. Why, because we love to honor God’s name throughout the whole world. And we can’t wait to see Jesus being praised in a country that we can’t go to. But, we can send someone.” And so, they were willing, in their passion, to send their two all stars to another team in order to accomplish the Word of God in their midst.

Beloved, just by way of a mission’s principle, we shouldn’t send people out to the mission field who have not been valuable in local ministry. That is not healthy for world missions. It is not healthy for that individual. Those who are not value in local ministry will not be value in world missions. And, so God calls us to be willing to sacrifice even the very best from among us.

That is a healthy church.

Well, we have been looking at these four encouragements: God chose the local church to deliver the Gospel to the world; churches must be healthy in order to fulfill God’s commission, God’s plan, and God’s strategy; the third encouragement we see is the work of delivering the Gospel to the world will meet with opposition. We are just going to look briefly at this opposition that takes place so,

The two of them (were) sent on their way…

Verse 4 says. The Holy Spirit goes with them. They are not just sent out by the Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit is with them.

Verse 5,

When they arrived at Salamis…

a port city some sixteen miles away from Antioch, “they proclaim the word of God” there in the synagogues, and John Mark is taken along “as their helper.” Then they travel from, excuse me, from Seleucia, which is a port city, they travel from there to Cyprus, about another one hundred and thirty miles away, and this island is a beautiful island. It is kind of like our Hawaii; it became known as a vacation spot.

How would you like to go to missions in Hawaii?

But, that is where they were first sent, led by God’s Spirit.

It is appropriate to go to Hawaii if that is where God leads you.

It is a very dark and pagan island; they worshipped the god of Venus with all the immoral practices that went along with that kind of worship there. And yet, in this dark spot the Light of the Gospel begins to shine.

And Verse 6, tells us,

They traveled through the whole island until the came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus.

Please understand that the Devil will not allow the Gospel to advance without opposition. And here is a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus to oppose Saul and Barnabas’ work on this island.
Friends, please understand that when you commit yourself to serving Jesus Christ, to advancing His name in this world, you cannot expect everything to go smoothly for you. That is not true of the early church. It won’t be true of the modern church. It won’t be true of us. Let’s not loose heart though, just because things are going really roughly for us. We all think, “Well, did God really call me to this work?” No, there will be oppositions to the Gospel’s advance. If you are led by God’s Spirit, as you serve God, God will not abandon you. He didn’t abandon Saul and Barnabas. He won’t abandon you.

Verse 7, it says there was this

…Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus.

Now this guy was a very intelligent man, this proconsul, and he sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the Word of God. It doesn’t tell us that a lot of people were responding to the Message on Cyprus but it tells us about one guy who was just waiting to hear. And, what would have happened if the church at Antioch had not sent Saul and Barnabas, this man would have never heard. It tells us something, God’s people, that as God begins to work, He is working in hearts ahead of us and we can trust that. That is not to say He is working in everyone’s heart ahead of us. There was Bar-Jesus and Bar-Jesus was not about to accept the Gospel. He was opposed to the Gospel. But, here was this dear leader, this dear ruler, by the name of Sergius Paulus, who God was preparing his heart, and he wanted to know more about God’s revelation, but no one was there to tell him. He hears that Saul and Barnabas are in town and he calls and he says, “I want to hear God’s Word.”

Verses 8 through 10,

But Elymas the sorcerer…opposed them and tried to turn he proconsul from the faith.

He did everything in his power to convince Sergius Paulus that this Gospel was false.

Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you.

He thought, “Wow, I don’t know if that sounds very Christian. Was Saul speaking in the flesh here?” No, it tells us that he was full of the Holy Spirit, right? And yet, notice what he says, “You are a child of the devil.” You say, “Well, boy, that doesn’t sound like something Jesus would say.” You know something, if you think that, it is because you don’t know what Jesus said.

In Acts (John), Chapter 8, Verse 44, Jesus, Himself, looked at the false teachers throughout Israel and He said,

“You belong to your father, the devil.”

We have to be careful. Our flesh can get the best of us and we can say things in anger that are wrong and mean-spirited. But, on the other hand, we live in a culture of “niceness,” where spirituality and religiosity is tested on the basis of whether we are nice or not. And, sometimes, in doing the work of God in proclaiming these truths; that people who hear us won’t think we are nice, and will wonder, “Well, is that is the kind of thing a Christian would say?” Now, again, we have to cautious that our flesh doesn’t get in the way and cause us to say things that are wrong. But, in proclaiming the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is unbending, it is uncompromising, and it must stand against those who would oppose it, sometimes strongly so, and that is exactly what Paul does.

This man Bar-Jesus, his name means “son of salvation,” Bar-Jesus. Saul says, “You are a son of the Devil. You are not a Son of Salvation.” And he says, “You are going to go blind for awhile,” and that is exactly what happened.

The last encouragement that I want to give you today is this – God’s Gospel triumphs in the face of opposition.

Verse 11 through 12,

Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

It is appropriate that one in such spiritual darkness should have this as a physical sign of what is taking place in his spiritual heart. And, it says,

When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed…

Now some might say, “The reason why he believed is because this guy went blind.” No, read the rest of the verse. It says this,

…he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

Bar-Jesus’ blindness got his attention but it was the teaching of the Lord that caused (whoosh). The content of the message caused Sergius Paulus to marvel. God gave Sergius Paulus something to believe in, something true and solid to build his life upon.

It is Doctrinal Teaching that is the basis of our faith. Some say, “Well, I witness by my life,” or some search and say, “We witness by the way we love people,” but morality and love are not able to capture saving faith. We also, must, along with our morality, along with out love, teach people of the Doctrines of the Gospel, that we are sinful, desperately wicked as we stand before God, but, God is righteous and He is Holy and He is Sovereign; that God, in His great and tender mercy, sent His Son to die upon a Cross, not just as an example of His love for us, but as an atoning sacrifice for sin so that my sin was nailed to that Cross and that if I repent of my sin and believe in Jesus, who bore my sin on my behalf, I could be made new. I could have a whole new life. I could be free from the power and penalty of sin over my life; that I can grow into a right relationship with God and have the hope of Heaven and that I would anticipate the soon coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ, who would come back to rule and to reign. These Doctrines, and all the others, caused Sergius Paulus to stand back and say, “Wow, what Truth!”, and, he fell down on his face and he worshiped God, and he believed.

Let me ask you a question, “How about you, have you ever fallen before God and marveled at the teaching of the Gospel?” God calls you to repent and God calls you to believe.

I want to give you a couple of action steps. First, pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into the world. Pray for those laborers who are already sent. Pray. Be active in world missions. People who are passionate about God are passionate about world missions. Pray.

Second, get to know a missionary personally; write a letter, make a phone call, send an e-mail, but make your mission to find a missionary, somebody who is working on the field of the world, and really get to know them, their lives, their families, their needs, and their work.

Third, plan to go on a short-term mission trip. Go!

Fourth, give above your tithe to missions.

Finally, share the Gospel here, at home, and serve Jesus Christ. People who are passionate about God are passionate about world missions.