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. ~Acts 13:2
Missions is the church sending laborers into the fields that are white unto harvest. It is the church taking the gospel message to communities, local and abroad, and bringing the multitudes that are lost in sin to Christ. Henry Martyn said, “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” We are considering a passage of Scripture that has been referred to as “the cradle of the mission movement.” Here, we see the Godhead at work, and, principally, the role of the Holy Spirit in calling and sending laborers out from local churches.
We see the task of the Spirit.
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said…” Jesus said, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” The Holy Ghost works within the hearts of a church congregation in regenerating sinners, indwelling all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus to be saved, convicting the hearts of believers through the preaching of God’s Word, activating the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of believers who earnestly walk with Him, and empowering believers for service who are yielded to Him for His filling. The men of God in the church at Antioch were ministering to the Lord and fasting. They were sacrificial in their service and waiting on the Lord for His leading. The Spirit works best in yielded hearts.
We see the touch of the Spirit.
“Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” The Spirit’s touch was on the lives of Barnabas and Saul for missions. This did not mean that the other men were not qualified or ready to be sent out. However, it did mean that these two men had proven themselves to God and were so yielded to be used for this incredible new endeavor by the church at Antioch. “Separate me Barnabas and Saul” was the Spirit’s message. The touch of the Spirit is personal, precise, punctual, and pointed.
We see the testimony of the Spirit.
“And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” The Spirit confirmed this calling in the hearts of the local church. Both men were set aside in a special service that acknowledged God’s approval for their sending. When it was time to depart, it was the Spirit Who sent them forth. The Holy Spirit placed in their hearts and minds the location where they were to take the gospel. There was unanimity in this decision of the two men and the church. There was a compelling in this decision in Saul and Barnabas. There was no delay: they left as soon as was practical.
We see the treasure of the Spirit.
As we follow the steps of Barnabas and Saul in this first missionary endeavor, we see Gentiles being saved at every location where they ministered. We see the power of the Spirit overcoming the power of darkness. We see the missionaries filled with boldness in preaching the gospel. We see the missionaries remaining firm in spite of opposition. We see churches established and pastors who have been trained and placed in authority. All of this could not be the work of man. Paul said, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.”
The Holy Spirit must be the One who is in control and leading the pastor and members of a local church to move forward as a missions-sending church. The Comforter is come! Be ready to go!
Have a tender-hearted God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Kings 8-9