Summary: The Word of God under the illumination of the Holy Spirit gives us guidelines for nurturing, organizing and training those who are responding to the high calling of missionary work.
Turn your Bibles to Acts 13:1-3
Title: Biblically Sent
Theme: Enjoying the Protection of Healthy Oversight
Series: Laboring Together With God
Listen as I read Acts 13:1-3, “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While 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.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3) Let us pray!
Introduction: The Body of Christ as represented in the local church can be a great assistance to foreign missions. There is a great difference of opinion in how missions should be overseen, but all deep studiers of the Word of God agree that Acts 13 is a valid starting point for consideration of how to Biblically oversee foreign missions. To me foreign mission is any ministry that is sacrificially operated outside the local Body of Christ. The Word of God under the illumination of the Holy Spirit gives us guidelines for nurturing, organizing and training those who are responding to the high calling of missionary work. “The procedure of evangelizing found in the [Word of God] is reproducible and should be reproduced.” (Mark C. Vowels, Director of Missions at Bob Jones University)
Interrogative Sentence: Just how can the truths known and lived out in the first century be reproduced in our lifetime in regards to missions?
Proposition: I would propose to you that the Word of God gives at least five key truths for the enjoyment of foreign missions. Understanding these truths enables us to 1.) Embrace the Source. 2.) Be Submitted to the Separation. 3.) Participate in the Sending. 4.) Give Healthy Supervision. 5.) Biblically Support Our Missionaries.
Transitional Sentence: The first step to enjoying a healthy missionary ministry is to embrace the source. Matthew 9:35 – 38 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’" (Matthew 9:35) The Winston Dictionary for Schools tells us “to embrace is to adopt; turn to; as, the heathen embrace Christianity.”
To embrace Christianity is to become a disciple of Christ. The New International Dictionary of the Bible tells us that a “Disciple, (mathetes) is a pupil of some teacher. [The personal application] is the acceptance in mind and life the teacher. The heart of the “Great Commission’ is to make “‘disciples’ (matheteuo) or followers of the doctrine [of Christ].” (The Complete Dictionary of the Bible)
The spiritual heartbeat of this first division is to have compassion on those to whom the Lord is sending missionaries. Those whom we should partner with regarding missions are to have the same compassion as that of Christ.
The missionary we should partner with has a heart that sees the people they will serve as souls like sheep without a shepherd to teach them about Christ and the Word of God. They grieve in their hearts because they know that those they are sent to reach are unprotected from the wolves of the flesh, the world and the devil. All true missionaries have the heart of the Apostle Paul whom the Holy Spirit led to make this great plea, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
We see God’s heart for reaching the wicked in the story of Jonah, the reluctant Hebrew Prophet. (Book of Jonah) God’s call for repentance is so clearly seen in the work He did through John the Baptist, the great Nazarite New Testament Evangelist and forerunner of Christ. (Matthew 3:1-6) Through Phillip, one of the original seven deacons, who led the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ we see God’s work in reaching out to those who are hungry to hear the preaching of God’s Word. (Acts 8:5; 21:8; 8:26-38) God’s heart in making disciples is clearly seen in His sending Apollos, a powerful teacher from Alexandria to Ephesus. (Acts 18:24-28) We see God making the way for true shepherds for the flock in the appointing of Titus to oversee the church in Crete. (Titus 1:5) God’s heart and enabling for the work of missions is found in and through the life of the Apostle Paul who was a missionary and evangelist. God used him to write most of the New Testament. (Acts 13-28; 1 Timothy 1:12) Epaphras, an evangelist from Colosse was trained by the Apostle Paul. (Colossians 1:7; 4:12-13)