Missions Lesson 10
SCHOOL of the BIBLE
Instructor: J. VandenHurk
Missions Quote of the Week:
“Behind every victory for the Word of God there must be a victory in prayer. When calling on a certain college president years ago, I asked how things were going. His reply was, ‘We are going forward on our knees.’ That was the right answer. In the Lord’s work, progress made when we are not on our knees does not amount to much. It must be progress in prayer.”
– John Woolvoord
Forming a Missionary Team
The book of Acts is not a story of missionary failure. It is a story of missionary success and how they worked together as a team. At the beginning of the book we learn about a movement that had very small beginnings. The early chapters of Acts show us the amazing growth that took place in a very short time. Consider the following:
120 Disciples (Acts 1:15) + About 3000 (Acts 2:41) + More Every Day (Acts 2:47) + about 5000 men, not counting women and children (Acts 4:4) Notice also Acts 5:14 .
Within only 40 years New Testament Christianity had spread throughout the Roman empire with churches established in most of the major cities and with thousands and thousands of believers.
Before He returned to heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ gave to His disciples this important command: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Did the early Christians take these words seriously? Were they obedient to the Lord’s command? Notice what Paul said in Colossians 1:5-6, 23.
(Romans 1:8; 10:18; I Thessalonians 1:8)
These verses along with the book of Acts show us that in the first century the gospel message was greatly ADVANCING, and the church as a whole was very missionary minded.
The United Churches
The local churches of the first century had a UNITED testimony. If you were to visit the church in Jerusalem or Antioch (Acts 11:22-30; 13:1-4) or Rome (Romans 1:8) or Thessalonica (I Thess. 1:7-9) what would you find? You would find four churches pointing to the same Christ, proclaiming the same gospel and practicing the same truth. You would not find four individual churches each “doing their own thing.” The Churches were in different locations but they had the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, the same Holy Scriptures and the same burning desire to do God’s will and obey Christ’s commands.
- They had the SAME TEACHING (1 Corinthians 4:17).
- They had the SAME PRACTICE (1 Corinthians 7:17).
- They had the SAME CUSTOM (1 Corinthians 11:16).
- They had the SAME ORDER (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Do we find this same UNITED VOICE today? Something has FAILED!
How do we get it back? 1) TRUTH, 2) FRIENDSHIP, 3) WORLD EVANGELISM
We mustn’t make the first only goal cooperation without truth or it will be a repeat of the Tower of Babel.
“There is a toleration which is treachery. There is a peace which issues in paralysis. There are hours when the church must say NO to those who should ask communion with her, in the doing of her work, upon the basis of compromise. Such standing aloof may produce ostracism and persecution; but it will maintain power and influence. If the Church of God in the cities of today were aloof from the maxims of the age, separated from the materialistic philosophies of the schools, bearing her witness alone to the all-sufficiency of Christ, and the perfection of His salvation, even though persecuted and ostracized and bruised, it would be to her that men would look in the hour of their heartbreak and sorrow and national need. The reason why men do not look to the Church today is that she has destroyed her own influence by compromise.” –Dr. G. Campbell Morgan
What does the Bible teach concerning cooperation with those not sound in the faith?
- Avoid them (Romans 16:17).
- Reject (Titus 3:10).
- Receive him not (2 John 10).
- From such turn away (2 Tim. 3:5; and compare Rom. 1:16 and 1 Cor. 1:24).
- Let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).
The following three paragraphs were written by a pastor in 1985:
“WHY I AM NOT ASSISTING OR ATTENDING THE BILLY GRAHAM CRUSADE”
A REFUSAL TO PRACTICE BIBLICAL SEPARATION.
In such crusades there is a yoking together with unbelievers and religious apostates and called “cooperation.” – There is the yoking together of believers with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Professing believers join hands with liberal churchmen and all sorts and shades of Christ-deniers. The clear line of demarcation between Bible-believing fundamentalism and Bible-denying modernism is terribly blurred.
- The Apostle Paul put a curse on every man who preaches a different and false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). But today we enlist such people to help in our crusade and to counsel and follow-up our new converts.
- The enemies of the cross are treated as friends and fellow-workers, instead of being exposed for the wolves they really are (Acts 20:28-31).
- Biblical separation is not practiced (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
A POOR CONCEPT OF THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY OF BELIEVERS
There is a naive tendency to regard all churches within “Christendom” as acceptable and to accept all clergymen as brothers and fellow-laborers and to be pleased when people become members of these churches even though they may not be sound in the faith. The Biblical concept of the church is that the local assembly is made up of BELIEVERS–those who honor the Word of God and who have been eternally saved by putting their trust in the Person and work of the crucified and risen Son of God.
Those who advance the cause of ecumenical evangelism are reluctant to be critical of any church and they seem unwilling to expose any false teacher. One begins to wonder if there is such a thing as a false teacher within the organized churches of Christendom. The church at Ephesus could not bear those who were evil and they clearly exposed them (Rev. 2:2). This is certainly not the attitude of the ecumenical evangelists. They do not share Christ’s hatred of false doctrine (Rev. 2:15). They do not share Paul’s abhorrence towards those who teach a false gospel (Gal. 1:8-9). They seem totally ignorant of the fact that the devil, who himself appears as an angel of light, has his own ministers who transform themselves into the ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14-15). They seem like respectable clergymen, but in reality they are serving the cause of Satan and doing the devil’s work by leading multitudes astray.
A common practice of the ecumenical evangelists is to send new converts back into “the church of their choice.” If new believers need anything they need to be protected from church leaders who profess to be “Christian” but who deny the fundamental truths of the Word of God. How can a newborn babe in Christ be helped and stabilized in a liberal church environment? How can the little lambs be ruthlessly thrown to the wolves? This is the most unloving thing that can be done to a new believer.
Instead of being recommended to these churches, they need to be seriously warned about these churches. We need to send converts to the “CHURCH OF GOD’S CHOICE.” We need to carefully direct new believers to churches that are Bible-believing, Bible-teaching and Bible-practicing, but how often do you hear the evangelist give this kind of specific direction?
A PROMOTION OF THE “SOULS AT ANY COST” PHILOSOPHY
Though we ought to be willing to sacrifice our very lives for the salvation of the lost, this must never be our supreme motivation. Rather it should be this: “Faithfulness to God and Obedience to His Word at Any Cost.” Souls at the cost of disobedience to the written Word of God is far too great a price to pay. The Jesuit philosophy that the end justifies the means is an abomination to the Lord (cf. Rom. 3:8; 6:1-2). The Christian athlete must follow the rule book if he is to be crowned (2 Timothy 2:5). May our evangelism be Godcentered, may our gospel be Christ crucified, may our power be God the Holy Spirit, and may the Lord of the harvest be pleased to call out a people for His Name and for His glory.
2) FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP
FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP FROM OTHER MISSIONARIES
- Solomon says we are better together than we are on our own (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
- Nehemiah (in Nehemiah 4) reorganised the work into teams when the people had gotten discouraged. Half would stand guard with their spears and swords while the other half worked, then alternated positions. He posted everyone by groups and families, so they could encourage and support each other.
- The Lord Jesus sent out His disciples into the ministry in twos. He did not expect them to minister alone (Mark 6:7)
- Paul went on his first missionary journey with Barnabas and his nephew John Mark (Acts 13:2-5). He was joined on his second journey by Silas (Acts 15-18) and Luke (Acts 16:10) and later Timothy (Acts 17:14). On his third journey in Acts 24, he specifically mentions seven people who were part of his ministry team. Altogether, Paul mentions at least 35 helpers, including 19 travel companions, as well as other colabourers, fellow-prisoners, and supporters. Whatever he did, Paul brought others along, not only to train them, but also to keep himself encouraged.
FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
Local churches working together around the world is referred to as “the household of faith” in Galatians 6:10 and “the family of God” in Ephesians 3:15. But other than that, we see in the New Testament a great cooperation of missionaries and members within the local church.
- Missionaries Begin in the Local Church
- Missionaries are to be actively involved in their local church, Acts 13:1
- Missionaries are gifted with recognised abilities, Acts 13:1
- Missionaries are sent out from their own church, Acts 13:2
- Missionaries are aided by mission personnel from local churches, Acts 13:5. They had the personnel support of John Mark. It helps the church to have a core of example Christians. It probably also increased the burden of the sending church for the mission.
- Missionaries are accountable to God and their local church alone, Acts 14:26-27
- Missionaries Are Sent Out To Establish Churches As Their Primary Task
- They are sent out to do “the work” they are called to do, Acts 13:2
- They knew what “the work” of God was, Acts 14:26. (If we could know what their work was between Acts 13:1 and 14:26… They had left behind churches, Acts 14:23).
- They reproduced what they came out of (you see how the church in Antioch began in Acts 11:19-22)
- They planted autonomous churches, not “mother” or “daughter” churches.
- We see here that churches are established without a huge amount of money or resources, but a lot of prayer and support.
This is well illustrated from the events of World War II. All Englishmen and women were mobilized for the war effort. Housewives collected frying-pan oil, metals were collected from cellars and garages, everybody grew ‘victory gardens,’ housewives went to work in factories for the first time. Everybody was mobilized to win the war against the Axis powers. But not everybody could go into the Armed Services, and not even all of them could go to the front and personally be in the fight. The same kind of distinction should be made in the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. The total resources of the Christian church should be thrown into the battle for the souls of men on a global scale, and every member of that church should regard himself as being involved in the total mobilization required by such an operation. But not every church member is a missionary.
FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP IN WORK
AQUILA AND PRISCILLA AS AN EXAMPLE
Priscilla and her husband Aquila both had a great zeal for the Lord. They were saved under Paul’s ministry (Acts 18) and Paul taught them the Word of God. At every opportunity they would share the good news with others. In Acts 18:24-26 we learn how Priscilla and Aquila met with a man named Apollos and helped him to understand the way of God more perfectly. They helped to save Paul’s life (Romans 16:4); We are not told any of the details, but apparently Priscilla and her husband risked and hazarded their lives for Paul’s sake (compare 1 John 3:16). They were brave soldiers in the army of Christ.
- Aquila and Priscilla were industrious. They were diligent tentmakers (Acts 18:2-3). Aquila was a Jew (Acts 18:2) . Although Paul first met these two believers in Corinth, they were originally from Rome (Acts 18:2).
- They were hospitable (Acts 18:3). They opened their hearts and home to Paul who was also a tentmaker.
- They were teachable. Aquila and Priscilla were probably converted under Paul’s ministry. We have no record that they were saved prior to their encounter with Paul in Acts 18. They not only received Paul into their home but they received Paul’s Christ into their hearts and became disciples and helpers of Paul.
- They were Bible orientated (Acts 18:24-26). Not only were they teachable, but they were able to teach others also. Apollos was a great preacher who was mighty in the O.T. Scriptures, but he was ignorant of the essential facts of the gospel (and weak on dispensational truth). With a godly concern for this man, Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. This husband and wife team was well grounded in God’s truth and able to minister that truth to others.
- They were local church orientated (1 Cor. 16:19 and Rom. 16:5). Both of these passages speak of the church that was in their house (both in Rome and in Ephesus) as a place to assemble, worship, and serve.
- They were a husband and wife team. Priscilla’s name is mentioned six times in the N.T. and in each place her husband’s name is found as well, always mentioned with him. This implies there was a harmony in their relationship and unity of purpose. They functioned as a team in the service of the King.
- They were rightly orientated to God’s gifted man (Rom. 16:3). In this verse they are described as Paul’s “helpers” (literally “fellow workers”). Can your pastor say the same thing about you? What kind of relationship do you have with God’s man (compare Eph. 4:11)? Paul certainly considered this husband and wife team to be a great PLUS to his ministry and service for Christ.
- They were courageous (Rom. 16:4). Apparently Paul owed his life to this brave husband-wife team. We are not told any of the details, but they somehow risked and hazarded their lives for Paul’s sake. They laid down their own necks in order to save Paul’s life, and as a result Paul and all the churches of the Gentiles owed them a debt of thanks. Whatever incident Paul was referring to, it is possible that Priscilla played the more significant role in light of the fact that her name is mentioned first in Romans 16:3.
- Priscilla was submissive but she was not suppressed. In the six New Testament references where this husband/wife team is mentioned, Priscilla’s name comes first in three of these places. Since it was customary to list the husband’s name first, why did Priscilla’s name come first in these passages? We can only surmise, but perhaps she was the more energetic of the two, or perhaps of stronger character or had more zeal or ability. We don’t know exactly why, but she was not suppressed. She seemed to have special gifts or abilities or a unique devotion to Christ which enabled her in some areas to surpass her husband in such a way as to merit special recognition from Paul. She was submissive. In the six places where she is mentioned in the New Testament (by Luke and Paul), it is never implied that she was out of line in any way. She is never rebuked but only commended. She is always mentioned in connection with her husband. She was a submissive wife.
- They were faithful and consistent to the very end (2 Timothy 4:19). This is Paul’s last letter, written about 14 years after he had first met Aquila and Prisca (Priscilla). They were faithful believers. Nothing negative is said about these two believers in any of the writings of Paul or Luke. As far as the record shows, between Paul and Aquila/Priscilla there was always harmony. Paul never had to say of them what he said of Demas (2 Tim. 4:10). May we also not leave our first love and may we not lose the joy of our salvation.
FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP IN PRAYER
- Habakkuk’s Prayer Request for Revival of God’s Work (Hab. 3:2)
- The Lord Jesus’ Missionary Prayer Request in Matthew 9:8 for Labourers in the Harvest
- The Apostle Paul’s Prayer Requests
- That they would be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)
- That they would speak the Word of God boldly and clear (Eph. 6:18-20)
- That the Word of God might have free course (2 Thess. 3:1):
Here, in Paul’s closing words to the Thessalonians, in his second letter to them, he gives them a very specific prayer request that is highly instructive and can gain great insight into the mind and heart and desire of our God for His people and for His program today.
Every believer can be involved in God’s program of missions. Paul writes these instructions not just to the leadership of the Thessalonica assembly but to all the believers, so that they might participate with him in the outworking of God’s program for God’s glory.
- PRAY FOR US
Prayer is coming to God in utter dependence upon Him, realizing and recognizing WHO HE IS in all the greatness of His Person. Paul asked these believers to come into God’s throne room on behalf of him and his co-workers (Silvanus, Timothy—see 1:1).
- THAT THE WORD OF THE LORD
The MESSAGE is of utmost importance, and here Paul recognizes the urgency of THE WORD OF THE LORD going forth to those far and near.
- MAY HAVE FREE COURSE
Literally Paul was saying, “Pray for us that the Word of the Lord MAY RUN!” The phrase was often used of runners in a race (1 Cor. 9:24). It is used of Peter and John running to the empty tomb (John 20:4). It is used of the father of the prodigal who ran to welcome back his repentant son (Luke 15:16). The Christian life is depicted as a race that the believer is to run (Heb. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:7; 1 Cor. 9:24-26; Phil. 2:16). Here it is used figuratively of the Word of the Lord running (that is, spreading rapidly, proceeding quickly). Often heralds who carried the king’s message would run to their destination so that the message could be delivered without delay (compare our word “courier” which literally a runner). (Psalm 147:15)
- AND BE GLORIFIED
How can God’s Word be glorified? The verb “be glorified” is used most often of glorifying and magnifying God, but is here used about the Word of God: (Acts 13:48). These Gentiles rejoiced that the gospel message was not just for the Jews, but was for all men everywhere, and they magnified God’s Word. God’s Word is glorified and magnified when men receive it gladly and believe its message and their lives are transformed.
- EVEN AS IT IS WITH YOU…
Paul told them to pray for others for what had already happened to them. The way it happened to the Thessalonians was a pattern of how it should happen everywhere:
- God’s Word ran to them and came to them in great power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance (1 Thess. 1:5).
- They received the Word gladly (“with joy of the Holy Spirit”) – even though they suffered greatly as a result (1 Thess. 1:6).
- And because of their welcome reception of the truth, the Word of the Lord sounded out and “ran” to many other parts of the world (1 Thess. 1:8).
- Their lives were transformed because these people had turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven with joyful and eager anticipation (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
- May we never forget how the Thessalonians received God’s Word (2 Thess. 2:13).
3) WORLD EVANGELISM
“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:”
– Colossians 1:5–6
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”
– Colossians 1:23