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When Stephen was stoned to death, many of the other disciples were persecuted causing them to travel as far as Antioch. As faithful witnesses to Christ and obeying the great commission, they preached the gospel.
Acts 11:21 “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.”
Many people in Antioch came to Christ, and it was there that the name “Christian” was first given to them. Acts 11:26b “… the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
”The Church in Jerusalem heard the good news and endeavoured to send Barnabas to encourage, teach and disciple them. Acts 11:22 “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”
When Barnabas arrived he saw the hand/grace of God at work in the lives of people and rejoiced. Acts 11:23 “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad,”
It is a wonderful and exciting to see God at Work and to be a part of His work. Praise the Lord!
1, Barnabas’ MESSAGE to the SAINTS
Acts 11:23 “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
He exhorted them to be faithful to the Lord. Purpose of Heart = to be fixed, firm, steadfast, unmovable and committed in their decision and not wavering. To cleave unto the Lord = to be one with, stuck on, inseparable, to remain following the Lord whole-heartedly. (Joshua 22:5)
2. Barnabas' MINISTRY to the SINNERS
Acts 11:24 “…much people was added unto the Lord.”
As Barnabas ministered to the saints, he also would have witnessed to other sinners that knew not the Lord. He was soul sensitive, because he was Spirit filled.
3. Barnabas MADE by the SPIRIT
Acts 11:24 “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith:”
It is amazing to me how the Holy Spirit stops here to make a comment on the character of Barnabas. God would have all of His servants to be thus.
4. Barnabas’ MINDSET
Acts 11:25-26 “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: (26) And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.”
Barnabas’ main concern was for the work of the Lord and to see people go on for the Lord. He had a co-labouring Spirit and sought after Paul. He did not care for a man centred ministry. AMEN and AMEN!
(Luke 10:1-2) “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. vs 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
In the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry He gathered the twelve disciples together to teach, train, and to give them opportunities to reach others for Christ. As well as the twelve we see Jesus appoint seventy labourers for a specific task. The work of the ministry is certainly not limited to only twelve.
1. The Mission
(Luke 10:1-2) “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also…”
The seventy that were sent out would be instrumental to prepare the way for the Lord in that particular city. As the Lord has given us the great commission, we are to prepare the way for the gospel by being witnesses for Christ. The message we carry is the precious Gospel – the good news that Jesus Saves. The Ministry is about the Lord, and not us. Luke 10:16
2. The Method
Luke 10:1“…and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place…”
Like the twelve disciples, the Lord sends them out two by two. The Lord knows that certain places can be dangerous. However, having a partner go out witnessing with you is practical, encouraging, and rewarding.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9) “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.”
3. The Man
Luke 10:2 “…pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is looking for Labourers. Before Jesus sends the seventy out, He gives them clear and sober instructions describing a true labourer.
a. Selfless, Sacrifices, and Suffers. – Luke 9:57-58
b. Separated to the Gospel – Luke 9:59-60
c. Single-minded and Steadfast – Luke 9:61-62
4. The Mission Field
The mission field consists not only of labour intensive work, but it is also a battlefield. We are told to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but it is a place where there are savages, animals that wish to tear apart the work of God, the souls of men, and the Gospel seed-sower.
(Luke 10:3) “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.”
There are 3 kinds of people on the mission field.
a. Wolves (God haters) – Luke 10:3
b. Wasters (God rejecters) – Luke 10:10-11
c. Worshippers (God receivers) – Luke 10:5-7
We are not to waste time with people who disrespect and vehemently reject the Gospel. Certainly contending for the faith has its place. However, we are to seek to reach people that are willing to hear the Gospel and not tread all over it like a pig that treads on precious pearls.
(Matthew 7:6) "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The great commission is a command given to the church and presents the greatest cause any person can be a part of. As the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ we are to give our fullest attention to the final instruction to the church. Think about it, we are by-products of the great commission. God uses His people to help fulfill His purpose. What a privilege.
1. The Mandate = Go
“Go ye therefore…”
The great commission is a command not an option. We are to go in the power of God’s might.
Oswald J. Smith once said “The church that does not evangelize will fossilize.”
2. The Message = Gospel
“…and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
Baptism is a picture of the Gospel –Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The message we are to teach others is that which points them to Christ and Him crucified.
3. The Model = Generate Disciples
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:”
Discipleship is a big part of the great commission. Once a person is saved, we are to nurture them in the Word of God and help them grow in obedience to the Lord in all things. Making disciples is how a church is started.
4. The Mission = Globe
“…and teach all nations
Worldwide missions is the focus of the Church. It is a great responsibility, but not impossible. God enables His people to reach others; He will provide them with power, and protection. “And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Hudson Taylor once said “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little and they always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence to be with them."He goes on to say"God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies."
5. The Motivation = God’s Love
Matthew 28:16-17 “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”
We can either doubt God’s ways, or we can love God and worship Him by doing that which pleases Him for His Glory!
2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
God’s grace is complete and perfect, and God works best in our lives when we are humbled, weak, and insufficient. The truth is our sufficiency is of God alone.
2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;”
We must let go, and let God. Our prayer must be, “O Lord I can’t, but you can”. Trials in our lives may certainly help us reach to a point of weakness. There isn’t anything impossible or too hard for the Lord. The grace that is greater than our sin, is also complete and perfect to see us through the darkest nights, the highest mountains, and our deepest struggles. God’s grace is greater than all our problems. What is impossible with man is possible with God.
1. God’s Grace helps us to Give Benevolently
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”
This giving was amazing… it is without a doubt a sacrificial and miraculous way of giving. The only explanation one can give to this kind of giving is the grace of God.
2. God’s Grace helps us to Labour
1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
3. God’s Grace to Witness with every God-given opportunity
Colossians 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
4. God’s Grace to Forgive others as we have been Forgiven
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
5. God’s Grace to Endure Hardness and be Faithful to Please God
2 Timothy 2:1-3 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
6. God’s Grace Strengthens us in Christ Alone
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
I thank my God who enables us through Christ to do what pleases Him. It is only by God's grace we can do all that He wants us to do, but we must be very careful not to blame the grace of God for our unfaithfulness, because God is able. We must have faith in His saving Grace and sanctifying Grace.
Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”