Summary: The CRITICAL nature of the mission DEMANDS that we give our best to see it accomplished.

We Have Lift Off!

Acts 13:1-12

Growing up in central Florida provided a unique opportunity. As a child and even in to my teen years I have fond memories of taking the 2 hour car ride on Interstate 4 from Tampa on the west coast of Florida to Cape Canaveral on the East Coast of Florida to visit the NASA Space Center. I was fascinated with everything that had to do with space travel. Seeing the space suits, moon buggy, space capsules and even the meal packs the astronauts ate - it all captivated my imagination. Each time I went I would come home with a souvenir model that I would painstakingly glue together and apply the stickers to.

Countless times back at home I can remember watching this fascinating event happen live on TV. After watching the shuttle blast off on TV, I would run outside into our front yard and look almost due east into the clear blue Florida sky. After a few moments I would see in the distance a trail of smoke ascending into the sky. The astronauts were launched off on their mission.

Well this morning we're going to consider another mission that was launched, a mission that carried a more valuable cargo than any NASA mission that has ever been launched. The contents of the payload had the potential to save the entire human race - it was the very gospel of Jesus Christ. What we will study today is when the very first missionaries were commissioned and were launched out by the church - the church in Antioch.

1Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2While 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.” 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

We have lift off! The mission is launched by the church in Antioch. This is the first time the church has proactively been on mission to spread the gospel to all nations. Previously, the church's spread from Jerusalem outward into those Acts 1:8 concentric circles Jesus described was REactive. They were reacting to persecution. It was the ravaging of the church in Jerusalem following Stephen's martyrdom that forced many Christians to flee. But they didn't go quietly, they went preaching the gospel. Luke even noted in Acts 11:19 that this church in Antioch was planted as a direct result of the Jerusalem persecution. But here, for the first time, we see the church being proactive. They are taking the initiative to purposefully commission missionaries from their midst.

This morning as we zero in on this text we will notice three characteristics about those who go on mission; three characteristics about these missionaries. Now this text is not comprehensive in it's scope of missionary sending and going - we're not going to say EVERYTHING there is to say about sending missionaries, but we do learn some foundational principles for a church on mission and the missionaries they commission. Three characteristics we notice in these missionaries. First.

I. SENT By The Church

they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

As I said before, this is the first instance of planned overseas missions carried out by representatives of a specific church begun by a deliberate church decision. We've seen people go forward on mission, we've seen people even go cross-cultural, going from one place to another. Here is the first example of a church by deliberate choice setting aside missionaries. This is a missionary-sending church. But from the text we notice a few characteristics of this missionary sending church. First, there was a...

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