Bible on world map November 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Acts 13, 14

Taking the Gospel to the World

What is world missions? Most of us will see advertisements at Thanksgiving for World Relief or Missions Agencies. Indeed, missions has changed a lot since it began, but we can learn a lot about missions from the Apostle Paul's missionary journey's. Today we learn about his first missionary journey.

If you have been following our daily chronological Bible studies in the book of Acts, you will recognize that the gospel (the good news that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, who could give them forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life) was first given to the Jews in Jerusalem. After 5,000 people were saved, God allowed persecution to disperse most of them into Judea and Samaria to bring the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles (a new idea, for sure, and not at first readily received by the Jewish Christians). In today's Bible study, God begins to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. Christians, we remain a part of that effort, and the commission given to the early disciples of Jesus is also our commission. Jesus said,

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

Some may say, but I am not an evangelist or missionary. I do not have those gifts. Who should be a missionary (meaning a career or at least short-term)? What all is involved in being a missionary? We can answer these questions in this Bible study. Perhaps after reading the book of Acts, God will call some of you to be missionaries.

Who should be a missionary? In our recent Bible readings from Acts we observe that God called Christians who were already faithful, committed and zealous to be missionaries. Paul and Barnabas were already faithfully sharing the word of God and bringing hope and encouragement to people. They had already been entrusted with responsibilities. They were tested and found faithful (more...). Are you interested in being a missionary? This should also be true of you.

Missionaries were commissioned by their local church for the work God was sending them. Because of this, the local church was at least invested in prayer for them and possibly some financial resources. The missionaries were likewise responsible to their local church. Knowing that they were accountable kept them focused and industrious. The same principles are true with many churches and missionaries today.

Missionaries were strategic. Paul and Silas visited notable Roman cities to evangelize so that the gospel could be spread more effectively in order to reach the greatest amount of people (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.386-393). As Jesus instructed, they ministered to the Jews first, but when their message was rejected, they focused on the ministry to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people, more...). Because of God's grace, all we Gentiles are offered salvation today (more...).

Missions were cultural. When Paul and Barnabas met with the Jews in the synagogue, they reviewed the history of the Jewish people and taught that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants, and the one whom the prophets foretold (more...). When they ministered to other groups besides the Jews, their approach changed but the gospel always stayed the same (more...).

Missionary work was compassionate and God granted Paul miraculous powers to heal (more...). He and Barnabas did what they could to alleviate suffering, which missionaries should do, but that is not all it was; they shared God's Word wherever they went. It was sometimes fruitful, sometimes dangerous, disappointing at times (John Mark, their helper in the ministry, left them) and joyous at other times. Many were won to Christ, but Satan actively opposed them and they were persecuted. Are you compassionate? Are you willing to share the gospel and endure adversity and possible persecution? Can you endure disappointment and being misunderstood as well as the joys of serving Jesus? This is the life of a missionary.

The missionaries established works and set up spiritual leadership in the churches so that the work might continue after they left the area. Then, the missionaries gave support to the work by re-visiting the established congregations, discipling them, and later sending them letters to help them with their struggles (more...).

Paul and Barnabas returned from their missionary journey to give a report of what God was doing. This was a part of their accountability. Their report probably encouraged others to be fervent in their prayers and witness, even if they were not called to be missionaries.

Christians, we may not all be called to be career or even short-term missionaries, but in some way we should be involved in world missions. If you want to know how you can help, contact the missionaries your church supports. In the meantime, we are all commissioned to reach the people in our own sphere of influence.

Lessons to live by:

  • Do you want to be a missionary? God calls Christians who are fully committed, faithful, active in serving, and zealous in good works.
  • The life of a missionary can be exciting but it will also be challenging.
  • Because of God's grace, all we Gentiles (non-Jewish people) are offered salvation today (more...).
  • Even if we are not career or short-term missionaries, Christians are called to share the gospel and disciple others in their own spheres of influence.

Additional resources: you may wish to read downloadable articles from The Changing Face of Missions

Today’s Bible memory verses:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. " (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

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