Acts 13 begins with the Holy Spirit sending Barnabas and Saul on a disciplemaking mission. Verse 4 says, “being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from their they sailed to Cyprus.”
The Father sent the Son on mission, the Father and Son send the Spirit, and together the Father, the Son and the Spirit send the church on mission. The church is on mission because God is on mission!
David Bosch writes, “There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.” (Transforming Mission)
God is a missionary God and He has sent the Church to participate in His mission of reconciling the world to Himself. That mission is the purpose of the Church on this earth, and the message is the good news of the kingdom.
Jesus was a missionary. This application of the term missionary may sound strange, but Jesus exemplifies in the truest sense what it means to be a missionary. Most Christians understand that a missionary is one who has been sent with the gospel to a foreign people to lead them to faith in Christ and among other things, multiply disciples, and establish churches. Jesus was sent to earth by the Father with the gospel. He was not sent “to condemn the world, bur rather that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). He proclaimed the gospel, He made disciples, and He established His Church.
Then, He sent His followers as missionaries with the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). He commanded them to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach all that He commanded (Matt 28:19–20). Jesus initiated a missionary movement! Every follower of Jesus instantly became a missionary—sent with the gospel message.
So in Acts 13:5 we see Barnabas and Saul in action – “and when they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the world of God in the synagogues of the Jesus…”
Throughout chapter 13, Paul and Barnabas are proclaiming the gospel and people are believing in the risen Christ. And verses 48-49 tell us, “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.”
In Acts 14, they begin to meet opposition – so violent was this opposition that we read in v 19 – “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he arose and entered the city.” Miracle!
Now wait – how did the other disciples of Jesus show up here in Lystra? Oh that’s right – these weren’t the twelve disciples that Jesus had started with – these were disciples of Jesus that Paul and Barnabas had made. You see – they did what Jesus sent them to do! They made disciples.
So then they head to Derbe. Verse 21 continues – “And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.”
I love this – they preached the good news of the risen Christ. They made disciples. Then they encouraged them to keep following Jesus!
This is disciplemaking!
Today’s Missional Challenge
Follow the example of Paul and Barnabas in Acts – make disciples who make disciples!
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