Monday, March 9, 2020

First Church: #1 Missional Acts 1:8, 13:1-3

First Church #1: Missional

Text: Acts 1:8

Introduction: Letter from a mission board to Paul the local church missionary

Rev. Saul (Apostle) Paul
Independent Missionary
Corinth, Greece

Dear Mr. Paul

We recently received an application from you for service under our Board. It is our policy to be as frank and open-mined as possible with all of our applicants. We have made and exhaustive survey of your case. To be plain, we are surprised that you have been able to "pass" as a bonafide missionary.  First, we are told that you are afflicted with severe eye trouble. This is certain to be an insuperable handicap to an effective ministry. We require 20-20 vision.

Do you think it seemly for a missionary to do part-time secular work? We heard that you are making tents on the side. In a letter to the Church at Philippi you admitted that they were the only church supporting you. We have to wonder why?

Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren report that you did two years’ time at Caesarea and were imprisoned at Rome.

You made so much trouble for the businessmen at Ephesus that they refer to you as "The man who turned the world upside down." Sensationalism has no place in missions! We also deplore the lurid over-the-wall episode at Damascus. We are appalled at your obvious lack of conciliatory behavior.  Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever suspected that gentler words might gain you more friends? I enclose a copy of Dalius Carnagus' book, "How to Win Jews and Influence Greeks."

In one of your letters you refer to yourself as Paul the Aged. Our mission policy does not allow for elderly on the mission field. You have written many letters to churches where you have formerly been pastor. In one of these letters, you accused a church member of living with his father's wife, and you caused the whole church to feel badly and the poor fellow was expelled. 

Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking about a wild-goose chase to Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one's powers. You cannot win the whole world by yourself! You are just one little missionary, Paul. In a recent sermon you said, "god forbid that I should glory in anything save the Cross of Christ." It seems to us that you if are to ever be supported through a missions board you also ought to glory in our history, our cooperative missions program and the unified budget.

Your sermons are much too long for modern hearers. At one place you talked until after midnight and a young man was so sleepy that he fell out of the window and broke his neck. Paul, wake up!  Nobody is saved after the first 20 minutes. "Stand up, speak up, and then shut up is good preaching advice.

It hurts me to tell you this, brother Paul, but in all of the 25 years of my experience, I have never met a man so opposite to the requirements of our Foreign Missions board. If we accepted you, we would break every rule of modern missionary practice.

Most Sincerely yours, Felix Flavius, Sec Foreign Missions Board.

The People of Bible Missions - Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

You Shall be

This is the 2nd person plural of (you) esesthe in Greek. It means all of you or in Texas, we just say ya'll.So who is the ya’ll Christ was speaking to? Who are these people assembled to see Christ ascend to heaven? Well you don’t have to be a Bible detective to know that those folks gathered that day on top of Mt. Olivet were the first church of Jesus Christ. Acts 1:15 tells us the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty. It would be a valid assumption to think that those same people on the Day of Pentecost were the same ones that Jesus during his ascension, told to remain in Jerusalem until they received power and were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

(A Side Note) notice that they are baptized with the Holy Spirit, not by the Holy Spirit. By definition, to be baptized is to be immersed. Scripturally speaking, Jesus baptized the church in or with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to show this was His house of witness, just at God filled the tabernacle and the temple with the Shekinah glory, the fire of God, in the Old Testament showing those were His House of Witness.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred once and that was to the church as a body. As individuals we are convicted of our sin and need for Christ by the Holy Spirit, receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, we are guided to truth by the Holy Spirit, are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption, and we should strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but we are not baptized by the Holy Spirit. Jesus only baptized one time and that was His church on the Day of Pentecost and He immersed them in the Holy Spirit.

How do we know they were already a church? What scripturally constitutes a church?
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that he would build his church. The word he used was ekklesia in the Greek. It is a compound word that comes from ek which means out of and kaleo which means to call. Together it means a called out assembly.

Today, we would say that the church is a group of baptized believers, called out by Christ and covenanted together, to preach carry out the Great Commission.

These 120 certainly meet that definition. Even more than that we can see it was a fully functioning church because…
It had the Ordinances John 3, Luke 22:14
It had the guidance of the Holy Spirit, though not His power John 20:22
It had a ministry to the poor John 13:29
It had missions in Samaria and in the Gentile land of Caesarea Philippi John 4
It had a youth program Mark 10:13-14
Only thing they didn't have was a gymnasium, a lady’s fellowship room and a youth room with an air hockey table.
So the people of Bible Missions was the church of Jesus Christ in the book of Acts.

Who are “You” Today?

Well it’s the same answer. It the people of the Lord's church today. The same church that Jesus promised he would empower and perpetuate. Promising that not even the gates of Hell would overcome it. This should be understood in three ways.

First individually, each one of us is personally responsible to witness for Jesus Christ to be a part of Jesus plan for Biblical missions.

Quote: The special person called to do missionary work is every person who is a member of the church of Christ. The call does not come to a chosen few, it is to every one of us. - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

Secondly Corporately, Act 1 verse 8 also means all of us corporately as the body of Christ, together we as a church are responsible for missions. We must be a missional church, a church that supports missionaries in the work of carrying out the Great Commission and a church that if possible sends missionaries from our own church family.

Finally Cooperatively, We as a church working together with other local churches to send, receive and support missions, but only directly with other local churches, never through a board, a fellowship, or a clearinghouse. Those are never seen in scripture. This is what we find in scripture…
Scripture Philippians 4:14-19 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

What were they doing? Supporting Paul as a missionary sent out by the church in Antioch with their offerings.

Illustration: Shackleton’s Expedition to Antarctica  

The following advertisement appeared in London newspapers in 1900: MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. Ernest Shackleton. Sir Ernest Shackleton had placed this ad to recruit men for the National Antarctic Expedition and was overwhelmed by the tremendous response that it generated. "It seemed, " he later said, "as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany me.” - Wm Bennett, The Book of Virtues (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1993), p. 493.

When we read the book of Acts, we remember the great commission given to us by Jesus Christ the founder and sustainer of our church, we should be just as excited as those men were to go with Shackleton, to respond to the monumental task of being a mission minded, missionary loving church.

So the people of Biblical missions is we, the church. Next let’s see what it is that we are supposed to do. What is the Action of Bible Missions. Read again Acts 1:8

The Action of Bible Missions -Act 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth

Witnesses of Me

Jesus said Ye are to be witnesses unto me. The action that is undertaken for the Lord is to be a witness. So what is a witness? What exactly are we, the church, supposed to do?
The word, interestingly enough, comes from the Greek work martus. It means one who can testify or tell what they have seen, heard or know.

This is also the word transliterated into English from which we get the word Martyr. The word still means to testify but it adds that that testimony is sealed and proven by the willing death of the one who testifies.

Am I A Witness?

If we are to fulfill the New Testament ideal of being a missional church, a mission minded, mission supporting church then we must answer the question, Are we witnesses for Jesus Christ? Are our words, testimony and even our life if necessary, giving evidence of who Jesus is and what he has done personally for me?

Didn’t there used to be a Christian bumper sticker that asked, If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
This action is our primary duty after loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We must not ignore it, forget it or get it wrong.

Understand what it means to be a witness. It is much more than just the words we say, it is actually who you are. You don’t just witness, you are the witness. Jesus said, You shall be witnesses of me.
You were a lost sinner who has now been saved by the grace of God are you showing it?
You are a now a child of God, on your way to heaven, are you joying in it?
You are a Christian indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit are you flowing in it?
You are today a product of the love of God reaching down to this world through the cross of Jesus Christ, are others knowing it after meeting you?

Be what you, be what Jesus told us to be, a witness of Jesus Christ. Share with your words, your actions and your life, your own personal knowledge of what Jesus has done in, through and for you. You are the expert witness on who Jesus is to you. Make sure the world sees and hears you as His witness.


Let me give you a couple of examples. There is the story of a missionary doctor in India, who come to a very remote village and found a man who was blind, but the blindness was caused by inflammation and easily cured with a salve he carried with him. He applied the medicine and in just a few days the blind man could see. He was so grateful to the doctor when his sight returned but then the next morning he was gone with a goodbye. The missionary thought this was strange but put it down to a culturally response. A few days after that the same blind man came back into the medical compound holding rope which was leading 48 blind people back to the doctor that cured him. When asked where he had gone, he replied, “When I could see again. I knew I must find others and tell them of the man who have me back my sight.” That man was just being a witness.
Let me give you one other example, when Harry Truman visited the Vatican, he signed in the Vatican guest book like this, "Harry Truman, Baptist." You may say what you want to about Harry Truman but one thing you can’t deny we was not ashamed to be a witness that he was a member of a Baptist church even in the heart of the Catholic Kingdom. That’s the kind of witnesses we are called to be.

There is one last consideration for us to understand in Acts 1:8 and that is the place for Biblical Missions.

The Place of Bible Missions - Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth

Where They Went

Jesus said they were to be witnesses of him both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, in Samaria and to the then to the uttermost.

Jerusalem was where the first church was located. If you walked down the street where the upper room was found you would have seen a sign that said, “1st Independent Baptist Church of Jerusalem.” You only think I’m kidding about that. We know they were Baptist because they immersed in water and we know they were independent because they were the only ones around. The Lord founded a church not an association, convention or denomination.

So the 1st Independent Baptist Church was in Jerusalem, that was their starting point, where their church was when Jesus ascended, but he told them to also at the same time go throughout Judea. This was their state or region inside the Roman Empire.

They were also to go to Samaria. The was the country to the north, a place the Jews avoided because they didn’t like the people who lived there.

And just in case they didn’t fully understand what Jesus envisioned, he told them, you shall be my witnesses to the uttermost part of the earth, to the ends of the earth, to the farthest kingdoms and nations around the world. They had no idea just how big that final phrase would turn out to be, but Jesus did.

Am I Going?

Are you going to your Jerusalem, Athens, Texas in Henderson, County.
It is our job to tell Athens the gospel. According to the latest demographics for our Jerusalem, there are 12,797 people who live in Athens. 74% of those people speak English while 23% speak Spanish and probably English as well. They are mostly from Athens and Texas but there are people from all around the world living right here. We have all ages, all income levels, all education levels and all of them are our responsibility to be witness to when the Lord opens the door. Am I willing to go to the people of Athens, Texas.

Our Judea is the great state of Texas
In looking through our list of missionaries, you can see on glaring omission, we don’t have any missionaries to Texas and very few to the United States. If we as a church are going to be witnesses to both to Jerusalem and Judea then we better start praying and looking for God called, church sent missionaries to our state and nation. My Grandfather, Van George was a church planter in Cooper, Texas. He used to say, “Foreign missions will fail, unless home missions prevails.” We need to be supporting home missionaries. 

Our Samaria, is the neighboring states and countries,
These can only be reached through local church sent missionaries carrying the gospel on our behalf.
Right now we have the Chaces in Hawaii and the Burbidges in Canada. I think that again we as a church are failing in this part of the Acts 1:8 mandate. We simply are not supporting enough missionaries to our Judeas and our Samarias.

Finally, Our uttermost is the rest of the world.
Praise God for the Cashners, in Scotland; the Hollands, in Papua New Guinea, the Lotts, in Guatemala; the Nomuras in Japan; the Norbergs, in South Africa; the Thomases, in Costa Rica; the Whites in Germany; the Rivases in Amazing Grace Children's Home – Mexico; the Anderssons in Sweden, the Holmses, in the Ukraine; and the Rosenbalms, Ghana.

These are the supported and prayed for missions of Calvary Baptist Church. We should never cease to thank God for allowing us to share in this eternal, glorious work and we should ask God for forgiveness if we are not personally involved in sending the light by witnessing ourselves and by giving to missions her and around the world.

Illustration: The Dying Thief didn’t Give

A minister once asked a man why he did not give of his time and money to help support the work of Christ. "Well," said the man, "the dying thief did not help with missions; and he was saved, wasn't he?"   "Yes," said the preacher, "I believe he was; but you must remember that he was a dying thief, whereas you are a living one.- Glen V. Wheeler, 1010 Illustrations, Poems and Quotes, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing, 1967), p. 214.

Conclusion: God’s Authority through the Local Church

Several years ago I was attending a Missions conference in Monterrey, Mexico, a missionary from a Baptist church in Mexico was introduced who was going to Africa, another to Cuba, others to Central America. All over the world today there are believers, missionaries and churches where logically and realistically, they should not be. Churches in communist countries where they say God does not exist. Missionaries in Moslem countries where it is illegal and a capital offense to preach in Jesus’ name. Believers and churches in countries all around the world, where their testimony is enough to have them arrested and thrown in jail. Yet, still they are there!

They are there with nothing more than the authority of their local church and the prayers and support of other local churches. Did I say nothing more? I should have said nothing less than the full power and authority of the Church of Jesus Christ! There is no greater authority, there is no greater power given to any institution on earth greater than the power and authority that was given by Jesus Christ to his local church. It is the authority that breaks the borders and any nation, overpowers the power of Kings, overrules the law of nations, and supersedes the strength of Satan.

Story of a Missionary. PV Zugg Missionary to the Muslims. Is a man who should have quit a long time ago. He was a missionary to Israel, Lebanon and Egypt all places where he is not allowed by man's law to preach the Gospel of Christ. In the 1970's while driving with his family in Turkey a truck struck his station wagon injuring him and killing his wife. This left him on his his own and with several adopted children from the mission field to raise. He is gone to be with the Lord now but when I knew him he was in his eighties but still travelling to churches across the United States and back to churches in Egypt and Lebanon that he, his wife and family had help start in the 1950's. Where did he get his power? How could he keep going with all the stress of being a missionary without a wife, traveling alone across the United States and with the burden and sorrow of the years? How could he do it? Why would he do it? Because he believes the Creator of the Universe, the Rock of Ages upon which the church was built, gave his sending church the commission, authority, the vision and the power to be a witness of Jesus our Savior. Then that same local church laid their hands on him one day as a young man and passed that same authority, vision and power on to him.  Bro. Zugg believed that Jesus himself had given him through the church the keys to the kingdom of heaven and no worldly lock could stay unopened.

Calvary Baptist Church of Athens, Texas, Jesus established this church to be a witness of Him in Athens, and in Texas, and around the world until He comes again. This is our commission, our authority, our vision, and our power. Now we must commit ourselves to being what we are called to be, witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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