Summary: This sermon draws material from Chapters 10 and 11 in Charles Swindoll's book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit. This sermon draws lessons for our lives and ministry from the first part of Paul's first missionary journey.
A. Preaching, ministry and missionary work are very interesting and challenging adventures.
1. I read about one preacher who gave a very unusual sermon one day – He used a peanut to make several important points about the wisdom of God displayed in nature.
2. After the service, one of the members greeted the preacher at the door and said, “That was a very interesting sermon. I never expected to learn so much from a nut.”
3. Well, today, I won’t be using a peanut as an illustration, but I still hope you will learn a lot from a nut.
B. In 1793, missions pioneer, William Carey, was refused permission to enter India by the British East India Company, which thought that missionaries would be bad for business.
1. Carey asked John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace,” what he should do since he was not allowed to enter India.
2. Newton told him, “Then conclude that your Lord has nothing there for you to accomplish. But if God has something for you to accomplish, then no power on earth can hinder you.”
3. Well, Carey believed that God did have something for him to accomplish in India.
4. So, Carey sailed to India on a Danish ship and was put ashore in Calcutta by a fishing boat.
5. So, in a sense, Newton was right: no power on earth was able to keep William Carey from bringing the gospel to India.
C. Let me ask you: Do you sense that kind of calling from the Lord? Do you have that kind of passion to bring the good news of Jesus to the lost?
1. I must admit that sometimes my passion for the lost gets lost in the chaos of my life. You know what I mean?
2. David Livingstone put it very simply: “God had only Son, and He was a Missionary and Physician,” and so David Livingstone became a missionary physician.
3. A contemporary of Livingstone was Henry Martin, another pioneer preacher in India. Martin wrote: “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we must become.”
4. Is it true that the closer we get to Christ, the more Christ-like we become? Indeed.
a. And if we become like Christ, then we must become mission minded, for he came to seek and save what was lost. Right?
5. Paul Harvey said in an interview in 1995, “We need more missionaries in the Market Place. The church has overshot the target. We send missionaries to Pago Pago when we should be sending them to the south side of Chicago.”
6. Obviously, we need missionaries in Pago Pago, and everywhere else in the world, but we don’t have to go elsewhere to be a missionary. We can be one right where we are.
7. As a matter of fact, each one of us is right where God wants us to be at the moment, and we are to be God’s missionaries right where we are.
D. In today’s text, Saul and Barnabas begin what we refer to as Paul’s first missionary journey.
1. Incidentally, from this point on in the story of the Apostle Paul, he is no longer called Saul.
a. Perhaps the reason is because, like many of the apostles, they had a Hebrew name and a Greek name.
b. Paul probably used both names throughout his life, depending on whether he was in a Jewish or Gentile environment.
c. So, in the book of Acts, the use of his Greek name, Paul, begins when Paul enters the Greek world on his first missionary journey.
2. Today, I want us to look at the experiences of Paul and Barnabas as the first missionary journey begins, and I want to encourage us to follow their examples as we grow in our obedience as God’s special agents in the world.
I. The Story
A. You might remember back when Paul was commissioned on the road to Damascus, he was told about three things that would happen to him: (1) He was to be an instrument to carry the name of Jesus, (2) he would carry the message before Gentiles and Kings, (3) he would be shown how much he must suffer for Christ.
1. As this mission begins, we see the dramatic confirmation of his commission.
B. This section of Paul’s story begins in a way that we have come to expect in Acts - nothing begins without the initiation of the Holy Spirit.
1. As we saw last week, Barnabas and Paul were “set apart” for a new work by the Holy Spirit.
2. As usual, they are not “free agents” moving at their own initiative, rather they are identified by the Spirit, and confirmed by the church through prayer, fasting, and the laying on of hands.