Commissioned

Commissioned

Pastor Don Carpenter

The Gospel On Tour / Acts 13:1–5

In Discipleship Journal author and editor Kevin Miller writes:

Jesus had a specific, narrowly defined ministry. He didn’t try to do everything.… Jesus poured Himself out for people, but within the limits of the calling God the Father had given Him. He focused.…

Let me share how this works in my life.… One thing I know: God has called me to be a husband. That means He’s not going to call me to something that destroys my ability to lovingly care for my wife and my children.

For example, a few years ago, I was invited to join the board of a Christian organization. I really believed in the work, and I wanted to help. To me, even being asked felt like a dream come true. I was ready to start the day before yesterday.

But as I talked with my wife, Karen, she pointed out all the Saturday meetings and the evening phone calls that would come with the position. With her in graduate school, the family already felt stretched, and time for just the two of us was at a premium. She didn’t think I should join the board.

I did not want to hear that. I grumped at her and felt irritable inside. How could I say no to something that would please God and perfectly match my interests? For three days, I went back and forth between yes and no, not sure what to do.

What helped me finally make this grueling decision was to pray, “God, what specific things have You called me to do?” One answer was, “Love your wife and children. Support them and help develop their gifts.” If I joined the board, I realized, I couldn’t fulfill that very well. As much as it hurt to say no, I had to turn the opportunity down. My specific calling as a husband became a protective boundary.

Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 45–46.

We have all felt it. A missionary comes in and shows his pictures of the great need of the field and our hearts are moved. We want to help, but are we burdened for the field or called to the field?

Tonight we are launching an exciting study of the first missionaries and their adventures. It is a great blessing to know and answer God’s specific calling in your life. Tonight we start at the beginning. We will discover a Biblical pattern for how a missionary is called and how that calling is recognized and answered.  

God Calls Folks Who Are Already Actively Ministering In the Local Church.

Matthew 16:18 KJV

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Acts 13:1 KJV

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

1 Corinthians 16:15–16 KJV

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 

That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

Key Points Antioch

• Third largest city of the Roman Empire in the first centuries bc and ad

• Strategic location between western and eastern geo-political entities

• Greco-Roman ideals and worldview deeply embedded in cultural fabric

• Early Christian community in Antioch was at the forefront of the move to include gentiles

1 Elaine A. Phillips, “The Geographic Importance of Antioch on the Orontes (Acts 6:5; 11:19–30; 13:1–3; 14:26–28; 15:1–3,22–35; 18:22–23),” in Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation, ed. Barry J. Beitzel, Jessica Parks, and Doug Mangum, Lexham Geographic Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019), 269.

It has been pointed out that this list of prophets is symbolic of the universal appeal of the gospel. Barnabas was a Jew from Cyprus; Lucius came from Cyrene in North Africa; Simeon was also a Jew, but his other name Niger is given and, since this is a Roman name, it shows that he must have moved in Roman circles; Manaen was a man with aristocratic connections; and Paul himself was a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia and a trained Rabbi. That little group is an example of the unifying in?uence of Christianity. Individuals from many lands and many backgrounds had discovered the secret of ‘togetherness’ because they had discovered the secret of Christ.

One extremely interesting speculation has been made. Simeon not improbably came from Africa, for Niger is also an African name. It has been suggested that he is the Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:26). It would be a most wonderful thing if the man whose ?rst contact with Jesus was the carrying of the cross—a task which he must have bitterly resented—was one of those directly responsible for sending out the story of the cross to all the world.1

1 William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 115.

 • Crossing the ocean does not make you a soul winner if you are not one at home.

 • Crossing the ocean does not make you a Godly servant if you are not one at home.

 • Crossing the ocean does not give you a Godly work ethic if you do not have one at home.

 • Crossing the ocean does not make you a Bible scholar or teacher if you are not one at home.

 • The local church is the training ground and proving ground God uses to call servants into full time ministry.

God Called Folks Who Were Actively Seeking His Face Through Prayer and Fasting.

Acts 13:2 KJV

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

Jewish people fasted to mourn or repent, and some fasted to seek revelations; special fasts for prayer related to mourning were called in the face of great crises such as droughts. Here they are probably simply seeking God in prayer. The Holy Spirit was especially known as the Spirit of prophecy, so “the Holy Spirit said” probably means that one of the prophets prophesied. For the laying on of hands see comment on 6:6.1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 13:2–3.

Separate. The Greek adds ??, now, which is not rendered by A. V. or Rev. It gives precision and emphasis to the command, implying that it is for a special purpose, and to be obeyed at the time.1

1 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 514.

Jonathan Edwards was a man used by God in the First Great Awakening. I have read that he preached in a weak, squeaking, monotone voice and held his tiny manuscript so close to his face that people could not see his expressions. When he preached, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” in his weak, squeaking, monotone, people had to strain to hear him. It is said that he preached powerfully without the energy, eloquence, or theatrics some modern “evangelists” depend on. Strong men gripped pews and pillars as if they felt themselves falling into hell. Judgment day had dawned and they were desperately holding on to life until the altar call.

For three days before he first preached that sermon, he did not eat or sleep. Claiming New England for Christ was the only thing that mattered to him. Prayer was important to him. Food and sleep were not. Nothing distracted him. I am certain he did not intend it, but people passing his room heard his weak, squeaking voice as he sobbed, “God, give me New England! Give me New England!”

He finally rose from his knees and made his way to the pulpit. He was so weak, he could barely prop himself up. Before he opened his mouth, great conviction had already fallen on the congregation.

God’s Calling Was Communicated to All the Church Leadership, Not Just Privately to The Missionary.

Acts 13:3 KJV

And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Placing ones hands on another as a symbol of blessing, or as a symbol of commission and authority. Also: “Imposition of Hands” and “Laying of Hands.”

They laid their hands on these two missionaries they were sending out. We still do that today to our missionaries. Why? Is it that we are imparting something to them? I’m afraid all that we can impart to someone by laying our hands on them is whatever disease germ we have on our hands. The laying on of hands is a means of identifying, of declaring that we are partners with that one. So the Christians in Antioch are indicating by placing their hands on them that they are in a partnership with Paul and Barnabas in the enterprise of getting out the Word of God. They are sending these men out as their representatives. They will minister at home while Paul and Barnabas go to the regions beyond.1

1 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Church History (Acts 1-14), electronic ed., vol. 40 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 147–148.

The First Missionaries Did Not Leave the Protection and Authority of their Church Until God’s Calling Was Evident.

Acts 13:4–5 KJV

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

Conclusion:

 • Your ministry at EBC is a sacred calling.  

 • Not only are we to surrender to our current calling, but we are to diligently seek God’s face for further direction and power.  

 • When God calls someone, it is evident to the church, not just the individual. 

 • It may be wise to be a bit suspicious of the missionary who was not genuinely sent from his local church. 

 • As we continue to follow the story of these first missionaries, we will discover that they will need to know that God was with them and they have indeed been commissioned.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:14 PM June 26, 2021.

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