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Bible Search
Acts #47 (chapter 14:1-10)
The Book of Acts
Qualities of a Great Missionary, Part 1
Acts 14:1-10
 
Tonight we come to chapter 14 in our study of the book of Acts. And just to give you the direction of the study, it includes the qualities of a great missionary. 
 
In fairness, it could be describing any servant of God whether it is a missionary or preacher or nursery worker or Sunday School teacher serving in any part of the kingdom.  I think we've convinced ourselves that missionaries and pastors and evangelists are in some special category as far as their commitment to God is concerned. 
 
But the truth is, every part of kingdom work is important and no part is more or less important that any other part.  However, since the passage deals with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, we'll keep it in the context of the qualities of a great missionary.
 
And what i want to emphasize when I say "qualities" is not necessarily how the world would evaluate them, but rather, what it takes to be effective in the service.  There are about eight things scattered down through these verses, and we'll take a look at them over the next couple of weeks. 
 
 
 
 
 
Now let me say, as we begin, it's possible to just read this passage and look at it historically and see the details of how Paul and Barnabas went from Iconium to Lystra to Derbe and then returned home and not see any of the qualities of being a missionary in the text itself.
 
But in the flow of those details, reading betweenthe lines if you will, there are embedded there these qualities that produce effective, meaningful, successful service to the Lord.  And what I want us to understand is, they will work for us also.  They are things that you and I can develop and use in our service life as well.
 
It's not a list of exclusive qualities of effective servants.  It's not Paul teaching about ministry and missionary work.  It's just two men serving God and demonstrating His work through them as it flows through the narrative. 
 
Now just to refresh our memory, Paul and Barnabas have been sent out from Antioch to reach the Gentile world. So on this first missionary journey, they take off to Cyprus, cross the Mediterranean Sea to Galatia, and come to another town called Antioch, and we looked at the details of what happened there.  Great revival and great opposition in response to the preaching of the gospel. 
 
Ultimately, they were thrown out of town, but they didn't go crying home to the church.  Instead, they shake the dust off their feet and keep traveling further into Asia Minor, Galatia in particular, to a town called Iconium, and that's where we catch up with them. And the first thing we notice about them that made their ministry effective is
1.  Spiritual Giftedness
 
Now, everyone has a at least one spiritual gift and it was given so the Holy Spirit would have a channel in your life through which He could minister to the body of Christ.   
 
There are varying spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and in Romans chapter 12 and all believers should be aware of theirs and should be ministering them because this is how God uses you.
 
As far as these men are concerned, there are at least four spiritual gifts evident.  Obviously, they have the gift of prophecy or preaching. 
 
verse 1, 21, 25
 
So here they exercised the gift of preaching which is a spirit-given ability to declare the gospel with clarity and power. Not everybody has that gift but they did and they used it. 
 
Also, verse 21 tells us they also taught, and there we find a second gift. 
 
Verse 22 says they "strengthened the souls of the saints" and that is done through teaching.  So they are preaching the gospel, calling people to salvation and they are teaching adn strengthening those converts. 
 
Thirdly, verse 22 indicates they had the gift of exhortation which is basically the agility to encourage others.  It might be done privately through counseling one on one or in a public way.    
But it's the ability to encourage somebody to pursue a godly lifestyle or Christ-like action. So first they would preach the gospel, then they would teach doctrine, then they would encourage people to follow what they had learned.
 
Then they also had the gift of administration.
 
verse 23
 
Administration is the ability to organize people and resources to make things function and here we find these men doing exactly that. 
 
So here we have a very real example of the gifts the Holy Spirit granted to the early Apostles. He gave them the gifts of preaching, teaching, exhortation and administration. By the way, those are the same gifts God primarily employs in uses in pastors and preachers today.
 
It is always true that those who are effective in service will be operating within the parameters of their spiritual giftedness. And generally speaking, those who are ineffective or frustrated in their service are trying to do God's work outside the realm of His giftedness. 
 
Why is that so?  It is because if you're not ministering your spiritual gift, then you're not functioning in the way the Spirit of God designed you to function.
 
Someone says, "Well I don't even know what my spiritual gift is." Then you're even a further step removed from effectiveness and you need to figure it out and get busy. 
By the way, it's not hard to figure it out!  You don't need computer generated readouts and weeks-long studies.  I can generally discover someone's primary spiritual gift with one question. 
 
Suppose you are sitting at a table with a group of friends and someone spills their drink.  What is your response? 
 
Now when I ask for your response, I am assuming you are filled with the Holy Spirit and responding in a way that is consistent with Christian character and conduct. 
 
If you say, "That was foolish.  You need to learn to do better!", you probably have the gift of prophecy.
 
If you say, "What did you do, set it down wrong?  There is a better way to do that!", you probably have the gift of teaching.
 
If you say, "You get a mop and you get some towels and you get more tea", that is the gift of administration.
 
If you say, "It will be all right!  No need crying over spilled milk!  Everyone spills things!, then you probably have the gift of exhortation.
 
If you say, "Here, take my tea and I'll get some more", that is the gift of giving.
 
If you don't say anything, and you just start cleaning things up, that is the gift of service.
 
And if you say, "Don't worry about it!  It didn't hurt anything!  Everything will be all right!", that 's mercy.
 
You spiritual gift is what comes out of you when you are walking with God and filled with the Spirit.  It is that demonstration of the character and conduct of Christ that flows when the Spirit has the freedom to do and say what He wants to.
 
That's what was happening with Paul and Barnabas.  They were ministering through their spiritual gifts.
 
The second characteristic is
 
2. Boldness
 
verses 1-7
 
Same song, second verse. They preach the same gospel and get the same divided response with the same demonstrations of violence against them.
 
But they preach boldly.  And please don't misunderstand what I'm saying, but his boldness from the early church is common place.  It's not even surprising.  It's expected.  And here it is again and the reason the Spirit repeats it so often is because it's truly a part of the early church and it's also because we need to know about it.
 
We need to be reminded that boldness is a basic ingredient to the Christian experience.  Let me point out a couple of things of interest in this section.
 
verse 1
 
There's one word in that verse that I almost missed, and then it really jumped off the page and that si the little word "so".
 
They so spoke that a multitude believed. There is speaking and then there is so speaking. What does that mean?  What is "so" speaking?
 
That's speaking of preaching in the energy of the Holy Spirit through the giftedness He provides. He is the One that brings results.  And the only time anybody is going to believe is when you so speak.
They so spoke that results happened.
 
Anything else other than that is a waste of time and energy, and maybe even an embarrassment to the ministry.  They so spoke that people believed.
 
Now we have no idea whether they continued in the faith and were really saved. We just know that there was an initial reception of the gospel.
 
And just like in Antioch, there was a great beginning. And then immediately, trouble develops.  You can always be sure that when everything gets going, Satan will be busy trying to reverse the flow.
 
verses 2
 
There were some Jews who didn't buy their message at all and they stirred up the Gentiles. Apparently it starts under the surface and then comes to a head.
 
verse 3
 
And notice, that is where the boldness of Paul and Barnabas makes its appearance.
They were well aware of what was going on, but they just kept preaching, doing what God and the church sent them to do.  It is this quality of boldness or fearlessness that determines the success or failure of the cause. 
 
Nobody ever shares their faith who is not bold.  No one ever confronts a sinning brother or sister without boldness.  Any effective service for the Lord will at some point require some backbone.
 
Nobody ever accomplished anything for God in the long run without boldness. Let me show you why. You start something for God. You get all organized. Here I go, God. I'm going to do this for You. As soon as you take one step, Satan resists the effort. 
 
So now you face a test.  A decision has to be made.  Will I do what I've been told to do or will I choose to be disobedient?  Your level of boldness is what will decide.  If you don't have boldness,  you'll never follow through with God's direction because Satan will always oppose that.
 
To say, "Well, I'm a Christian but I'm not very bold," is to admit that you're hopelessly defeated, disobedient child of God.
 
If you go to work and you share Jesus Christ and somebody says, "Shut up or you'll be fired." In your heart, say, "Good," and then continue to declare Jesus Christ and if you get fired...good. Go somewhere else, some new territory to declare Jesus Christ. And if your neighbor gets excited and can't stand your testimony, she'll move away and a new one will come.
 
Boldness always creates opportunity. It did with Paul and Barnabas.  They were bold and people got upset and threw them out and they went new places. Don't be ashamed.
 
Now my favorite word in verse 3 might surprise you. Of all the words there, my favorite is "therefore."
 
verse 3
 
Notice, everyone got upset because they were preaching Jesus, therefore, they stayed a long time. 
The persecution intensified, therefore they settled in. 
They determined they would preach the gospel.
That's boldness.  And that is so basic to Christian service.
 
If missionaries quit every time there was opposition, nobody would get anything done. If preachers resigned every time there was resistance, there would be a lot of pastorless churches.  If Sunday School teachers quit every time the devil showed up in their class, they would quit every Sunday. 
 
Boldness is what makes the difference between an effective, victorious Christian and one that's just standing around watching things happen.
 
So Paul and Barnabas preach.  the city divides in its response.  They dig in and keep preaching.
 
Verse 4
 
Those who attached to Paul and Barnabas, the gospel of Christ are on one side and those who were with the Jews who were bitter and abgry on the other.
And it all comes to a head in
 
verse 5
 
They literally put together a physical assault on Paul and Barnabas intending, I believe, to kill them.
 
verse 6
 
So what happened to their boldness?  Well, they may have been bold but they weren't stupid.   So when they become aware of the situation, the escape town.
 
And just in case you want to question their boldness, notice
 
verse 7
 
They go less than 20 miles down the road and start preaching once again.
 
Before I close, let me mention one final characteristic of effective missionary service and that is
 
3.  Power
 
These three are the basics, the starting place, if you will.  Spiritual giftedness, boldness and power.  And when I say power, I mean an effective Christian servant, an effective missionary, experiences the flow of the power of God.
 
What was the promise in Acts 1:8?  "You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Does every Christian have the Holy Spirit? Yes. Does every Christian have power? Yes.
Does every Christian exhibit the free flow of that power? No, but they did. Watch just a simple illustration of the flow of power in their lives. They'd already seen it in Galatia. They'd seen it back in Cyprus. Here it comes again.
 
verse 8
 
Here was a man crippled in his feet. He couldn't stand up. He couldn't walk. He had never walked in his life.  Everybody knew he was the town cripple.
 
But one day, he heard Paul preaching.  What an encouragement to preach!  You never know who's listening!
 
verse 9
 
Paul stops the sermon and looks at the man.  maybe at first, he just caught Paul's attention.  And maybe as Paul continues, his eyes keep coming back to him until finally, Paul just stops and looks at him, and somewhere inside, God assures Paul that this man believes. He believes in Jesus Christ and he believes in the power of Christ for healing.
 
And all of a sudden right out of the blue,
 
verse 10
 
That's what he says to this guy who has never stood upright in his life and everybody knows it.  Now he's yelling at this poor crippled man to stand up! And wonder of wonders, the guy leaps and walks! He leaped first and walked later. He shot up. He was so ready.
The Spirit of God had so prepared him and so prepared Paul that when the two came together, the little guy just shot right up and started walking and some of the people undoubtedly said, "I think there may be some truth to this guy."
 
And that's exactly what the Spirit of God wanted them to say. Here is Paul in a situation where right in the middle of his sermon, ministering his spiritual gift with boldness in spite of the opposition, the Spirit of God was able to let the power flow to accomplish a dynamic miracle.
 
That's the kind of power I'm talking about. The kind of power that makes the difference in the Christian life is not that kind that comes the day after you get home from camp or not that kind that you have when you leave an emotional experience. 
 
It's just living in such a way that power of God just freely flows through you. In the middle of doing one thing, the power of God does another thing. Such is the life of an effective servant of God who ministers through spiritual giftedness, with boldness and power.
 
Someone says, "I wish I had that power." You do.  Just let it flow.
 
We'll stop there. 
 
Let's pray.
 
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