2018-09-23 – Acts 13.1-12 – The Mission Begins
2018-09-23 – Acts 13:1-12 – The Mission Begins
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
While sports fishing off the Florida coast, Roger here one day capsized his boat.
He could swim, but his fear of alligators kept him clinging to the overturned craft.
He then spotted and old codger standing on the shore, Roger shouted, “Are there any gators around here?!" "Naw," the man hollered back, "they ain't been any gators around for years!" So feeling safe now, Roger started swimming leisurely toward the shore. About halfway there he asked the guy, "How'd you get rid of the gators?" to which he responded "We didn't do nothin'," the sharks got 'em."
That’s where the phrase “Roger Dodger” came from. Everyone say “Poor Roger”
In our Bible verses today we are going to see a couple missionaries that find themselves swimming with gators and sharks of sorts.
Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 13:1 (pg 813 of the Pew Bibles), which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.
However let us start today with prayer.
Today’s message is entitled The Mission Begins. This book of Acts documents well the missionary journeys of the early church. Specifically Paul’s journeys to spread the Gospel to the known nations, to the gentiles, and to start new churches.
In our New Testament here, the letters that follow this book of Acts: Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians were subsequently written to address issues in those new church plants, to coach them on how to be good Christian churches.
Our first verses this morning show how they were preparing for the mission field:
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
The church in Antioch and Syria were what could be called missionary churches. Many of the church planting emanated from this church. Barnabas and Saul were leaders in that church. The church was maturing in their mission and carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus. They were at a point where they knew it was time to expand their mission. There is a normal maturing process that a church goes through that is similar in scope to how a person grows and matures in their faith.
Generally a new church or new believer goes through the phases of maturity:
I, WE, and THEY. In the I phase, it is normal for a new believer or church to first be absorbing all the knowledge they can, building themselves up for ministry. Everything is about learning more, understanding who they are in Christ and what they should be doing. But eventually they should progress to the WE phase.
In the WE phase the church members learn to enjoy working together for a common goal. They are building their relationships and learning how to work with each other. They are enjoying fellowship while becoming strong in the Lord.
Then the last step is the THEY phase. In the THEY phase the individual and the church starts serving their neighbors, they start carrying out the Great Commission and become more evangelistic in their practice. We all should want to mature to the THEY stage. The early church in our verses this morning, was now moving into the THEY phase, they were interested in taking Godly risk and going outside the confines of their own church walls to start new churches. They were preparing to start carrying out the Great Commission in making new disciples wherever and to whomever the Holy Spirit guides them.
Our text here says they were worshiping and fasting. If we as a church, or you individually as a Christian are searching for God’s direction, or dwelling on what to do next, then fasting and prayer is a great place to start. That’s what they did, they came together as a church, focused on the situation at hand, then fasted and prayed. And then, “the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Now Barnabus and Saul were leaders in the Antioch church. So it wasn’t like they were taking two members that were looking for jobs, this was a big deal I am sure.
The term “set apart” is the definition for the word Holy or Holy ones, and is the same Greek word that is used for saint. You might be surprised to know the word Christian only appears a couple times in the New Testament, but the word saint is used many times. Christians were more commonly referred to as saints back then. This is different than what the Roman Catholic church practices, but if you are Christians then you are really saints, holy ones and set apart. Now before anyone gets a big head, you should know we are only considered holy because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin. God sees us as His Holy Ones and saints because of what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus paid for our sin. So we should be truly humble saints.
I remember being called a saint for the first time when I was in the Army.. (elaborate) It knocked my socks off. Me, a saint?????
Barnabas and Saul are being “set apart” as missionaries and church planters in our text here. This is like an ordination, or a missionary sending off service.
It is something special when the church family comes together to bless an individual for Christian service. Every year our Illinois Baptist State headquarters has a sending off service for missionaries. That is an awesome service which I would recommend any of you all to attend someday. It might even change your life by just seeing it and feeling the Holy Spirit in the room during one of those sending off services. As Southern Baptists, we currently have 3,692 missionaries in the field overseas, and hundreds of North American Missionaries as well.
4 So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant.
The map here shows the three missionary journeys of Paul. The ones in RED are the first missionary journey. You might be able to see that they started on the lower right at Antioch and went to Cyprus. These trips were not like todays travel. They were in small boats and did a lot of walking as well. Paul was on mission, and it wasn’t an easy traveled one.
It says here that they first proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues. Here they were addressing mostly Jewish converts that already knew about Jehovah God. The way you talk to people and words you use to spread the Good News is dependent on the audience. In the synagogue, these people knew also about Moses and Abraham and the Law, so they didn’t have to explain any of that either. According to the Old Testament Torah, they were expecting a Messiah, and Paul and Barnabas was introducing Jesus as being that Messiah they were waiting for. The same dynamic goes for us. When we speak of the Gospel, we need to assess who are the people we are addressing. Can we start a conversation with a basic understanding of Jesus, or do we have to go back to explaining who God is and what Creation and Sin are. It makes a big difference, and most importantly, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, to give you His words to speak to your situation. Then take a faithful step to speak out and spread the Good News Gospel, as Jesus is commands us to be doing.
6 When they had traveled the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (that is the meaning of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
The sorcerer here worked for the proconsul. A Proconsul is like a governor or military commander of an ancient Roman province. He has a lot of administrative power and influence.
The sorcerer’s name Bar-Jesus means “son of Joshua” or “son of the Savior.” He is also called Elymas, which means “magician” or “sorcerer.” It was not uncommon for Jews to have more than one name, and Luke thought it was important to include both in the account.
While Barnabas and Paul were visiting with the Proconsul Sergius Paulus, they encountered this sorcerer, who most likely feared losing his job with the proconsul, so he began to openly oppose the gospel message being shared by Barnabas and Paul and tried to turn the governor from the faith. I love what happened next according to scripture, verse 9 says:
9 But Saul—also called Paul—filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at Elymas 10 and said, “You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery, you son of the devil and enemy of all that is right. Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?
Paul came down on that sorcerer. He looked him strait in the eyes, Paul was bold in the face of adversity. They were just starting out in their blessed journey and they run into this very harsh situation right off the bat. We would like to think that missionary work, spreading the Gospel would be all rose colored and fun, but that is not the case many times. Paul later says himself that we must equip ourselves for the battle. We need to put on the whole armor of God before we go out. So if you are doing God’s work, then you can be guaranteed that you will run into the “son of the devil” at times. That is also why most always the disciples go out in twos. To be an encourager along the path, a defender in the foxhole, a witness and friend when things get tough. There are a lot of good lessons in these verses and we should all take heed. Especially for those who are willing to do the work of the Great Commission, which by the way was commanded by Christ for all Christians to be doing. So take heed dear Christian, this lesson today is for you. But God is on your side, and heaven is waiting for you. You have nothing to fear, but fear itself J In our last verses today, Paul said to the sorcerer:
11 Now, look, the Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time.” Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
12 Then, when he saw what happened, the proconsul believed, because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Paul told the sorcerer what God was going to do to him, and it happened exactly the way Paul said it would. I find it interesting that what happened to the sorcerer is exactly what happened to Paul himself earlier at his conversion. You might recall that before Paul was a Christian, he was killing Christians. That is until he was confronted by Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus. Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why does thou persecute me so”. And right after that Paul was struck blind and humbled and needed somebody to lead him by the hand too for a while.
How does that old saying go, “The bigger they are the harder they fall”. Just like Paul himself, this son of the devil sorcerer was brought down that day. Our scripture never says what happened to Bar-Jesus after that. But he got a big correction to his character.
Again this Bible sermon lesson today is called The Mission Begins. Over the next few months, we are going to see how this mission and the next two missionary journeys unfold. It will be exciting, and we will learn a lot about what it means to be a Christian that is actively carrying out the Great Commission for Christ in our world.
In summary we have three great lessons to leave with today.
- We should be growing and maturing as Christ followers and as a church from the different phases of I, to WE, to THEY.
- We should be supporting and encouraging and anointing and praying for our brothers and sisters for the call to ministry and the Great Commission.
- And like Paul and Barnabus, we should be stepping out in faith, even knowing that we will run into situations and “gators and sharks” like Bar-Jesus, but we need to have no fear, as God is with us.
We here in First Baptist Orion, just like Barnabas and Saul in our verses today have a new mission. Although we are not going out to the far reaches of the world just yet, we are going to go beyond these walls here to spread the Good News Gospel to our neighbors, maybe like it has never been done before.
I need your help, I cannot do this by myself. This means that I need you to talk to your friends and neighbors, and get me names of people that would like to talk and maybe learn about Jesus. It will mean that you will have to get out of your comfort zone maybe, but that is something that will be a mighty blessing for you and for others going forward to the glory of God.
Adeline Read to you from Romans 8:31 this morning that complement our lesson today. Let us read that again.
More Than Conquerors (Romans 8:31)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This block of verses in my bible is entitled More than Conquerors, additionally, the song that was played during our offering this morning is also called More than Conquerors. I don’t know if you caught the words in the song refrain, but they are also scripture verses and very inspirational, it says:
We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror
Are you willing to take this new missionary journey here in Orion with me?
It all needs to start with prayer and a blessing. And I need you all to be part of that here and now.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation and prayer.