Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Church & Missions

The first missionary journey originated at Antioch. Luke describes how it came about in Acts 13: "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" (vs. 1-3). 

Let us look at this account through the eyes of a reporter. We will attempt to answer who, how, where, what and why. First of all, who was involved? The names of five men are given -- three are people we know little of and there was also Barnabas and Saul. Together these men were the Church's preachers and teachers. Note that the most experienced were called and sent.

Secondly, how did the first missionary trip come about? During a worship service, they were directed by the Holy Spirit to go. The Lord Jesus Christ had given the Great Commission to his disciples. Now the Spirit was prompting the Church into action. The Church, after praying and fasting, ordained and released them to this new service. 

Thirdly, where did they go? The missionaries first departed to the Island of Cyprus (in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea). In Acts 4:36 we are told that Cyprus was the home of Barnabas. A natural place for anyone to begin sharing the Gospel is his home or former home. The missionaries arrived on the eastern end of the island and traveled across the whole island to the western side. They went from one large city, Salamis, to the capital city of Paphos. They spoke in synagogues (places of worship and instruction) and in the center of government. 

Fourthly, what did they do? Barnabas and Paul "proclaimed the Word of God." Our message today is the same that they preached. Whether they were speaking in a Jewish synagogue or before the Proconsul (Government), they presented "the Word of God." When they were doing this, they encountered opposition from a Jewish sorcerer who was an attendant to the Proconsul. The Apostle Paul spoke very directly to the sorcerer and he became temporarily blinded (see vs. 9-11). It is interesting that something similar had occurred to Saul himself on the road to Damascus. Saul, of course, became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, but nothing is recorded of Elymas, the sorcerer, beyond the blinding. When the Proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching of the Lord (v. 12).

Lastly, we might ask why the missionaries went on this trip. Why did they leave an established church that was experiencing rapid growth to go somewhere with no churches at all? They were called and sent for that precise reason -- so that those who had never heard would have the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. The message of salvation from self and sin unto eternal life is for all people. (See Matt. 28:19 & 20; Mark 16:15). Those who have heard are obligated to those who have never heard (see Romans 1:14). Some are called to go and others should send them with prayer and financial support.

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