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Bible Search
Acts #55 (chapter 15:36-16:10)
The Book of Acts
Evangelism the Right Way
Acts 15:36-16:10
 
 
Last week we began a look at the right way to do evangelism from the Acts 15:36 through verse 10 of chapter 16.  We covered the first two characteristics which are the right passion and the right priority.  In Paul we find a driven man.  He was so driven by the fact that God had saved him, a man who deserved to go to hell, that he had to tell others.
 
That should describe all of us, right?  You do realize that you deserve to go to hell, right?  I know we have to agree with that, but I'm not sure most of us are convinced of that truth!  I mean, we know the Bible teaches that all have sinned and our rightful punishment is hell.  But that is really for all the bad people in the world, not us personally!
 
But Paul took it personal! He knew those verses were written for Him!  He understood the personal consequences of sin and he deserved to go to hell.  In fact, when it came to the list of sinners, he said his name was first on the list!  And that God would save Him, especially him, it drove him, compelled him, motivated him to get the message to everyone else!  He had the right passion!
 
Also, he demonstrated the right priority!  His goal was not just to see people saved, but to see them transformed into full-grown followers of God.
 
 
He understood that the commission Christ gave to His followers was not just to go out into the world and lead people to make a profession of faith, but to lead people to become disciples of Christ.  So in verses 36-37, we hear him voicing his concern for those who he has lead to the Lord and his desire to follow up on how they were doing and growing.
 
So let's begin there, and read again the last few verses of chapter 15, along with the opening verses of chapter 16.
 
Acts 15:36-16:10 
 
In verse 37 we see the third characteristic of evangelism done the right way and that is
 
3. The Right Personnel
 
The basis of evangelism is a right passion and a right priority and the priority is discipleship, but it also demands the right personnel. God has special people for special tasks, and this came about in a very interesting circumstance.
 
Verse 37 is all about how God chose the right personnel.  Notice the word "determined". If you study the original usages of that word, you will find it means he consistently and persistently determined.
 
In other words, Barnabas wouldn't take no for an answer.  He wouldn't back off.  It was his intention to "to take with them this guy named John who was called Mark."
 
 
Now apparently Barnabas and Paul came to an agreement to go to Galatia and Barnabas says, "I want to take John Mark. I want to take John Mark. I want to take John Mark." Persistently he kept saying it.
 
So what was wrong with that?  The problem was they had been on that road before.  This wasn't the first time John Mark had made a trip with Paul!  And the last time he went, he bailed out on them!  He made it as far as Perga in Pamphylia and then he got to missing momma and home and quit. We covered the details of that back in chapter 13.
 
John Mark and Barnabas were cousins and maybe he was all taken by the glamour of travel or maybe he was envious of the attention Barnabas was getting, Maybe he didn't like how Paul ran things, but for whatever reason, missionary service wasn't what he thought it was going to be and he went back home in the middle of the trip.
 
Well Barnabas, being the loving, encouraging kind of man that he was willing to give him another chance.  After all, John Mark is a great young man.  He grew up in the home of the lady in whose house the prayer meeting was being held the night Peter got out of jail.  He's also the author of the Gospel of Mark so he's no slouch, half-hearted believer. He comes from a good family and God really used him. 
But Paul didn't want to be dragging around dead weight and he didn't have any confidence in John Mark.
 
So
 
verse 38
There is an interesting word study in that verse regarding the word "departed".  It comes from a root that means apostasy. 
 
And Paul is identifying John Mark as an apostate, not theologically or doctrinally, but as a service apostate. He put his hand to the plow and then he looked back.
 
See, Paul was a strong, determined guy and there's one thing that's very hard for strong people to tolerate and that is weakness. Paul was courageous and it is hard for courageous people to tolerate cowards.  And that's how Paul viewed John Mark. 
 
So every time Barnabas insisted that John Mark go, Paul stood his ground and said, No".  We are not going to take this guy that you can't depend on.  can't be counted on.  We tried it.  It didn't work out.  He went running home to momma and we're not going to do it again."
 
So Paul said no. But loving, kind, encouraging Barnabas stood his ground and it became a real issue between the two of them.
 
Verse 39
 
And notice, it doesn't say that they shook hands, put their arms around each other and said, "Well bless you, brother but we're going to part."
 
What it says is "they parted".  That particular word is only used one other place in the New Testament and that is in Revelations 6:14 to describe an apocalyptic disaster where the Heavens parted. And what that means is when they parted, they parted.
There wasn't a lot of love there. In fact, they were a little bit bitter, and they took off in two separate directions as Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.
 
By the way, that's home for Barnabas. That's where he came from. So Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus to continue the ministry there with Barnabas having the same commitment to strengthen the churches as did Paul and right or wrong, God wound up using all of them in the work. 
 
If we had more time, I'd explain why Paul was right to take the stand that he did, but we won't cover that now.   
 
But I will say this:  It is rather encouraging to know that the early church experienced the same kinds of problems that we do.  After all, Paul and Barnabas were human. And it's also nice to know that they came to a place of forgiveness and restoration.
 
What we really have here is a classic example of how Satan tries to disrupt and destroy, and if allowed, the Holy Spirit will work in spite of his attacks and in the end , the church wound up with two mission teams instead of one and both were used of God.
 
verse 40
 
We've already met Silas.  He was one of the two men selected by the Jerusalem Council to help deliver the message to the Gentiles that they had affirmed that, by the grace of God, salvation was available to anyone, whether Jew or Gentile.  And elsewhere in Acts he is identified as a prophet.  And he is about to become the right-hand man to Paul. 
But he is also a great illustration of how God chooses and assigns the right people to the right jobs and responsibilities. 
 
Watch what happens.  The mission to which Silas is called is in the Roman Empire.  Now if you are going to be traveling all over the Roman Empire, it would be very helpful if you were a Roman citizen, and Silas was a Roman.
 
Also, if you are going to use local synagogues as a primary tool in spreading the Gospel, it would be helpful if you were a Jew and Silas is a Jew.  And if you're primary responsibility is to preach the gospel, it would be helpful if you were a prophet and Silas is.
 
And if you are going to be announcing that the Jerusalem church has established their doctrinal statement to be that salvation is by grace alone to all who respond to the grace of God, it would be helpful if you were a member of that church, and Silas is.  
 
So in every way, Silas was the right man for the job. 
When God places the people He wants in various places, He gives what is needed for that particular assignment. God knows all of the features about culture and background and all the things that lend themselves to successful ministry.
 
And, by the way, while we're talking about the right personnel, watch what happens next.
 
verse 41
 
 
 
So they are ministering in the area north of Jerusalem.  The gospel started its journey to the uttermost parts of the world in Jerusalem and then spread to the north.  And there, they are "strengthening the churches".  That's the same word we saw earlier in verse 32. 
 
It comes from a word that means "to lean upon, or provide support". They were strengthening the churches, building up the saints. Again they knew the priority - with strong saints we'll reproduce. Babies don't have babies, adults do.  That is the key to effective church growth and stability.
 
So where do they go next?  Well, remember, Paul wanted to go back to where they had already been and make sure everybody's doing okay.  So their eventual destination is Galatia. 
 
Now last time they went to the island of Cyprus, and from there, traveled north.  But verse 39 tells us Barnabas and Mark are going to Cyprus, so there is no use in Paul going that way. 
 
So instead, he chooses a different route.  And verse 1 of chapter 16 tells us they went to Derbe and Lystra.   So why did they go that way?  I believe it was under the direction of the Holy Spirit and I believe that because of what we find right there in verse 1. 
 
God wanted to add another member to the team and if Paul and Barnabas hadn't had a falling out and parted ways, chances are they would have gone another direction. 
But the God Who is able to work, even through bad circumstances, puts it all together to get the right personnel to the right place doing the right ministry.
 
How many times have I watched a broken-hearted pastor and his family leave a church because of some silly accusation or personality conflict, and then later testify that where they went after that was the sweetest and most productive ministry of their life.
 
How does that happen?  God is in control.  And here with Paul and Barnabas and Silas and John Mark and Timothy God was setting everything in order to get the right personnel in the right place.  It is amazing how the Spirit works, even in spite of our stubbornness and rebellion.
 
So Paul and Silas show up in Lystra and meet this young man named Timothy and his life is about to forever be changed.
 
Timothy is the son of a woman who was a Jewess.  later in Paul's writing we will discover her name was Eunice and his grandmother's name was Lois.  His mother was a Jewess believer, but his dad was a Greek.  So Timothy is half-Jew, half-gentile.
 
What a perfect choice!  He's from the Roman Empire so he can connect with the gentiles and he's familiar with Jewish life so he can talk their language and customs also.  And once again, it is obvious that God's selection of this young man is exactly what is needed to complement the ministry of Paul and Silas.
 
Now historians and scholars best guess is that Timothy is somewhere between 16 and 25 years old when he first meets Paul.  He was a young man. And
 
I think Paul enjoyed the opportunity to disciple young men, and I just wonder if he didn't want the opportunity to talk about what a great young man Timothy was and how faithful he was the next time he saw Barnabas and Mark!
 
Anyway, he wanted to take Timothy along, and what a great choice that turned out to be as Timothy would become one of his most beloved and loyal companions.
 
verse 2
 
That's another very important factor in the right personnel.  It's not by accident that later, Paul will write a letter to Timothy and spell out the requirements for elders and one of those will be that they have a good reputation.
 
And notice the first phrase of
 
verse 3
 
Paul wanted Timothy to go with them.  That must have been a big decision for everyone involved.  IT was a big deal for Paul, because he'd already had one bad experience with a young man, and he sure didn't want to make the same mistake twice. 
 
But it was a big deal for Lois and Eunice because the last time they'd seen Paul, he was blood-soaked and lying on the city dump. He had just been stoned.
And now, here he was saying, "I'd like to invite your son to come along on our missionary efforts. How about it, Mom?" That's quite a sacrifice!
 
And it was a big deal for Timothy!
 
verse 3b
 
Now a lot of people read this verse and just flip out!  After all, Paul goes to all the trouble to get the Jerusalem council to agree on this very issue and then, he requires Timothy to be circumcised.  Was Paul a Judaizer?  Is he requiring Timothy to be circumcised in order to be saved? 
 
Well, there we find then next characteristic of doing evangelism the right way and that is
 
4.  The Right Precautions
 
And we'll look at that next time!
 
 
 
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