Commissioned by community of believers

Published 12:36 pm Monday, October 27, 2008

Scripture: Acts 13:1-52

Aim: To help the pupil understand the call and process, which the Lord uses to put men into “missionary” service for Him in His New Community, the Church of Jesus Christ.

Golden Text: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

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This week’s lesson focuses on the expansion of the New Community through specially called individuals who are sent forth by the members of the community (church) to carry out the mission set forth by Jehovah God through Jesus Christ. We call them “missionaries” today.

A “missionary” is one who carries out a particular mission. There are many kinds of missionaries in the world. They are persons who carry out a mission that has been set before them.

The first missionaries are Jehovah God and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, whom He sent to die and pay for the sins of mankind. The mission was set up by Jehovah. Its object was, and is, to save men from their sins and the impending judgment and punishment which they are under.

Jesus Christ came into this world, died and rose again to pay for the sins of men, then sent the Holy Spirit to apply the salvation, which He had purchased with His own blood. He established the Church, the New Community in the world, and commissioned the members to carry His message of salvation to all others everywhere (the great commission to preach the Gospel to every creature). This makes every believer (member of the Church) a member of God’s mission (missionary) team to reach every person with the message of salvation through faith in Christ. God is a “Missioner.” Christ is a “Missioner.” Every believer is a “missioner.”

The members of the New Community are normally divided into two groups of “missionaries” today. They are people who are called to special work at home, and those who are called to go to a foreign land to carry God’s message. These are “Home Missionaries” and “Foreign Missionaries.” Actually though, there are three groups of missionaries. The above two plus all those in the church who recognize the call of those who go out. This last group is vital to the work. They are the supporters and helpers of those who become “professional missionaries.”

I. Saul and Barnabas were sent out as missionaries from Antioch (Acts 13:1-2). Six men were laboring in the ministry at Antioch in some special way (vs. 1). The Lord called Saul and Barnabas to go out as special missionaries for Him (vs. 2). The members of the church recognized the call of God upon these men. They agreed that they should go as missioners—carry out God’s mission. They fasted, prayed, laid hands of anointing upon them, and sent them to preach (vs. 2).

II. Saul and Barnabas went on their first missionary journey into Asia Minor (Acts 13:4-58). They first went to Cyprus, the home island of Barnabas, where the deputy of the country received their message and became a believer (vs. 7-12). Here Saul’s name was changed to “Paul” (vs. 9).

III. The next stop was on the Asian continent (Acts 13:13-58). At Antioch in Pisidia they preached in the synagogue. Many believed, but some opposed the message that Jesus Christ is the Messiah promised by the Old Testament prophets. Opposition became very strong (vs. 44-45).

Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles and preached to them. They were glad to hear the message of salvation through the work of Christ at the cross (vs. 46-49). Persecution ensued from the Jews against the missionaries, who moved on and carried the message to Iconium (vs. 50-51). The mission was successful. Many were converted and rejoiced in the Holy Ghost of God (vs. 52). Paul and Barnabas later reported back to the church at Antioch. They all rejoiced together.

Howard Tillery is the pastor of New Ochlocknee Baptist Church in Grady County. He lives in Cairo.