Bible on world map November 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 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. Missions has changed a lot since it began, but we can learn a great deal about this special field of Christian service from the Apostle Paul's missionary journey's. Today we learn about his first missionary journey.

If you have been following our Bible studies in the book of Acts, you will recognize that the gospel (the good news that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, who can give 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, not readily received by the Jewish Christians).

In today's Bible reading, God begins to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. Christians, we are a part of that continuing effort; the commission given to the early disciples of Jesus is also our commission. Jesus says,

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 career or short-term missionary? What 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 calls Christians who are already faithful, committed and zealous to be missionaries. Paul and Barnabas were faithfully sharing the word of God and bringing hope and encouragement to people. They had 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.

As seen in today's Bible reading, missionaries are commissioned by their local church for the work to which God is sending them. Because of this, the local church needs to be invested in prayer for them, and if possible, helping with financial resources. The missionaries are responsible to their local church(es) to use the resources wisely. Knowing they are accountable keeps them focused and industrious.

Missionaries are strategic. Paul and Silas visit notable Roman cities to share the gospel so the message will 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 minister to the Jews first, but when their message is rejected, they focus on the ministry to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people, more...). Because of God's grace, all we Gentiles are offered salvation today (more...).

Missions are cultural. When Paul and Barnabas meet with the Jews in the synagogue, they review the history of the Jewish people and teach that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants, and the one whom the prophets foretold (more...). When they minister to other groups besides the Jews, their approach changes but the gospel always remains the same (more...).

Missionary work is compassionate. God grants Paul miraculous powers to heal (more...), and he and Barnabas do what they can to alleviate suffering. Then they share the life giving message of God's Word wherever they travel.

The results of their efforts are sometimes fruitful and other times dangerous. It is disappointing at times (John Mark, their helper in the ministry, leaves them) and joyous at other times. Many are won to Christ, but Satan actively opposes them and they are persecuted. Are you compassionate? Are you willing to share the gospel and endure adversity and possible persecution? Can you handle disappointment and being misunderstood, as well as the joys of serving Jesus? This is the life of a missionary.

The first missionaries establish ministries and set up spiritual leadership in the churches so the work will continue after they leave the area. Then, the missionaries give 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 return from their missionary journey to give a report of what God is doing. This is part of their accountability. Their report encourages others to be fervent in their prayers and witness, even if they are 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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A Look Ahead: The early Jewish church had difficulty with changes and sought to impose some restrictions on non-Jewish churches. Is Christianity–Rules or a Relationship? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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