Someone sent me this article. I heard a little bit about it and I am saddened that they are trying to mess up the very good Theology of this great Hymn. Sadder still is diluting Theology in general. Of course, this is a deeper issue and problem today when the world is in the church. Like the quote: “When the ship is in the ocean there is no problem, but when the ocean is in the ship, there is a problem.” Or, “I looked for the church, I found it in the world [good], I looked for the world and found it in the church.”
this is a pdf of the paper I had pasted in the previous post.Steve_Rhodes_WO515_01.22.2010
While in seminary I enrolled in a course on worship theology. As part of that course I wrote a paper about baptism. The paper is below. In the paper I write about the different views on baptism. Maybe this will be informative for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or have discussion.
This was a word document with footnotes and end notes. If the references don’t come through clearly enough, please let me know. God bless, Steve
Over the past two thousand years of church history people have talked, people have argued, people have divided, people have been thrown in prison and people have been killed all over the issue of the correct age, mode and meaning of baptism. Why? Why is this issue so controversial? Does the Scripture spell out the issue strong enough to make a case for one view or the other? Is one certain view completely unbiblical? That is exactly what the next few pages will be written about. The next few pages will give a brief examination of the major views on baptism. Furthermore, the next few pages will talk about the Biblical reasoning and the church history that developed these views. Lastly, I will switch from being objective to being subjective in that I will write about my personal view with supporting evidence.
Paedobaptism seems to be the dominant way of baptism throughout church history, especially early church history. Paedobaptism means to baptize as an infant. People or religious groups that subscribe to this view will base their belief off of certain Scriptures in the New Testament wherein the text says that the “whole household” was baptized (Acts 16:15, 33; 1Cor 1:16). Gentile converts into Judaism were called proselytes. They were baptized and scholars think the children were also baptized. Beasley-Murray writes in his book on Baptism in the New Testament: “A gentile, who did not observe the Levitical regulations concerning purity, was unclean as a matter of course, and so could not be admitted into Jewish communions without a tebilah, a ritual bath of purification.” Beasley-Murrah does not allow that to settle the issue. He goes on to write about this proselyte baptism as much more complicated. Even so, it is clear that there were certain rules of ritual washing that could have come over to the New Testament Christians. Beasley-Murrah writes later on in his book, “On these grounds it is maintained that the practice of baptizing whole households in the early church makes infant baptism as good as certain.” He further writes, “The role of the head of the house in ancient society had an importance beyond that which pertains in modern society and its application in this particular must be given due recognition. All important questions were decided by the head of the house and his decisions were binding on all…” So based off of that evidence many believe that the head of the house receives a new religion, then the rest of the household will follow. Jeschke seems to think that the New Testament model is of missionary baptism because the New Testament times were full of adult converts. Bridge and Phypers in their work write that the new Christians would have automatically had their children baptized into the covenant. So, that is one possible reason that paedobaptism became popular within the early church. The idea is also that in ancient Judaism whenever there was a covenant the covenant included the children as well. The idea is that baptism replaced the practice of circumcision. Another reason that many hold to this view is based off of Jesus’ invitations for the children to come to Him (Mark 10:13-16).
Even given the evidence above, we cannot know for certain when and why paedobaptism became prevalent in the church. Was it because in the Old Testament a covenant included the whole family? That is possible. Did it have anything to do with the proselyte’s ritual bath? That is possible as well. What we do know for certain is that paedobaptism was prominent within the church by the end of the third century. Origen, an influential teacher, was writing, “the church has received a tradition from the Apostles to give baptism even to little children.” So, no matter how the issues are debated it is fact that by the third century many were practicing paedobaptism. Further evidence is given by those who subscribe to this view by a quote from Polycarp. In AD 156 during persecution he said: “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King who saved me”? So, many think that he is stating fact that he was baptized as an infant. Even if Polycarp was not baptized as an infant, the quote from Origen makes it pretty clear that infant baptism developed in the church pretty early.
Later on, in the fourth century, infant baptism became the standard norm of the church. It would stay this way for just over one thousand years. From about the time of Augustine (354-430) the idea became that baptism saves by itself (ex opera operato). This was about the time that the doctrine of original sin became a held belief as well. Years later, Martin Luther would even say that “in the act of baptism, faith is infused to the infant.” He based this off of Luke 1:40-44 when the text says “the babe leaped in her womb.”
Although for over a thousand years the prominent belief was that infant baptism was salvation, most today do not believe this. The author does not think it is easy to tell where Calvin and Luther stands on whether or not baptism brought salvation to the infant. Pressed on what was the condition of a baptized child, Calvin fell back on the priority of grace: “God… sanctifies whom He pleases.” So, Calvin would go back to his doctrine of God’s grace, in which case baptism would not even matter. Calvin also said, “infant baptism is valid for two primary reasons: 1) God’s covenant includes the children of believers, and 2) Jesus urges believers to bring their children to Him.” Later on Wesley said, “’Lean no more on the staff of that broken reed, that ye were born again in baptism,” His emphasis was on the word ‘were.’ He did not say that there baptism was ineffective at the time but had become since.” Wesley clearly believed that the baptism was a special place of God’s grace that later on had to be acted upon. Wesley wrote: “baptism is necessary because it is one of the ordinances by which the grace of God is ordinarily conveyed.” Further, Wesley taught: “baptism is necessary, for it is, ‘in the ordinary way’, the only means of entering the church or into Heaven…’ this is the way to enter into covenant with God.” Wesley taught that the first benefit of baptism is washing away the guilt of original sin. Wesley argued that infants, too, are in need of baptism because of original sin. Wesley said that baptism alone was not enough to achieve a state of grace. So, Wesley was for infant baptism based off of original sin. Yet, he acknowledged that baptism was not equal to salvation. For as an adult got older they had to follow that up with faith.
As far as the mode of infant baptism is concerned, in the Church of England they would dip in water thrice. Calvin thought local custom should be followed for the mode of baptism, sprinkling in Geneva. Luther practiced immersion and highlighted forgiveness of sins with washing away. So, there are various ways. Just as a note, Sprinkling or aspersion. In the early centuries sprinkling was reserved for the sick or those too weak to receive public baptism by immersion or pouring. Sprinkling was not accepted in general usage until the thirteenth century.
Now, adult baptism is simply as it sounds. This is the practice where one is not baptized until they are old enough to have made a conscious decision to accept the Gospel. Adult baptism is the easiest to understand and accept. All of the explicit New Testament occurrences of baptism are believers. In Acts 2:39 the Scripture says that the promise of the Holy Spirit includes children. To baptize means to “immerse.” Based off of Romans 6 and Colossians 2 baptizing is symbolic of dying with Christ and rising again. According to the Didache, which was written sometime in the first century, they were fasting prior to baptism. They were also instructed to baptize in either running water, or by pouring water on the head. So, by this time in the early church it would seem that they were baptizing adults. There are no instructions in the Didache about baptizing infants. An infant could not fast before baptism.
Of three of the New Testament passages that mention a whole household being baptized, the baptist response is: “If the promise to Cornelius (Acts 10:14) suggests that his infant children received baptism along with him, we must also conclude that they spoke in tongues and extolled God (Acts 10:36-48). If the infant children were baptized with the Philippian Jailor they must have been brought from their beds in the wee hours of the night. (Acts 16:33). If Paul baptized infants in the household of Stephanas they must have been precocious because we later learn that the household of Stephanas ministered to the saints (1Cor 16:15)” This, of course, does not prove that there were not infant baptisms in the New Testament. This simply proves that it is not that “cut and dry.” Bridge and Phypers write, “Many people baptized in infancy will reject their faith. Keep baptism for Christians.” So, from this train of thought is the idea that baptism is for people who have made a conscious decision to accept the Gospel. When infants are baptized this allows many of these infants to grow up not believing the Gospel, yet being members of the church.
It seems that there is ample evidence of the early church baptizing infants, but there is also evidence of the early church baptizing adults. One source, the Didache, was listed earlier. Writing in the second or early third century, the church father, Tertullian wrote a very convincing argument against infant baptism. His argument was that many of these people grow up to reject the faith, or misrepresent the faith. He wanted people to accept Christ on their own. During his time period they needed authentic Christians. Persecution was heavy and one alleged Christian misrepresenting Christianity could harm the image of Christianity.
“Baptism for Justin[Martyr, died about A.D. 163], is the means whereby men and women are dedicated to God and made new through Christ. It is given to as many are persuaded and believe that the things are true which are taught by the church and undertake to be able to live accordingly. It is preceded by prayer and fasting by the candidates and congregation. Then they are brought where there is water and are born again, being washed in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is administered that the baptized may obtain remission of sins formerly committed. It is followed by prayers and the celebration of communion along with the assembled congregation.”
This view makes it clear that to him baptism was for believers. The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus between the second and third century church of Rome also shows that baptism was for believers. So, there is also ample evidence of this same argument within the early church. It was not until Augustine and his doctrine of original sin that it is almost without argument that baptism is for infants. The reasoning for that was because there was the fear that if an infant died unbaptized the infant would go to hell. Schmemann writes: “Baptism was understood as the means to assure the individual salvation of man’s soul.” So, it is clear that they thought of baptism as the way to salvation.
Later on with the reformation the views on baptism started to change. Conrad Grebel and others started to develop the idea of baptizing adults. This later led to the Baptist and other denominations that believe that baptism is for believers. Later John Bunyan came along and gave his view of why baptism is not to take the place of circumcision: Bunyan said that baptism was initiation and not new covenant equivalent to circumcision. Circumcision was a renewed heart and right spirit. (Romans 2:28, 29; Philippians 3:1-4). This is probably a very popular view today. Adult baptism has probably become the most popular form of baptism. There are 100,000 churches in USA with baptismals This section will end with the statement of Karl Barth. Karl Barth gave the most antipaeobaptism comments in 1943:
Barth in 1943: baptism “is in essence the representation of a man’s renewal through his participation by means of the power of the Holy Spirit in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” His conclusion was that only a mature person can respond to such an image. Baptism is cognitive, not causative. He argued the baptism of infants is necessarily “clouded baptism.” He thought it should be stopped but he didn’t think that those baptized as infants need rebaptized.
Adult baptism can and has been done in various ways. The Anabaptist simply poured water on the individual’s head. The drunkards would dunk the individual three times. Many churches, including the Baptist, simply dunk you backwards in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit and then bring you back up. This is symbolic of dying with Christ and rising again (Col 2). It is important to remember the Trinity in baptism. Torrance in his book talked about how much we neglect the Trinity in our worship services: “Bishop Lesslie Newbigin has commented “’The average Christian in this country hears the name of God, he or she does not think of the Trinity.” After many years of missionary work in India among Eastern religions, he returned to find that much worship in the west is in practice, if not in theory, Unitarian.”
At this point it is important to write a little bit more about what baptism signifies and why it is important. Torrance says: “The importance of baptism is not who or how but what it signifies.” On pages seventy through eighty Torrance goes into detail of what baptism signifies. Among them, baptism signifies what Christ did on the cross for us.
Now as I shift to share my view and why, allow me to share some of the Theologian Wayne Grudem’s response to the paedobaptist view. Grudem agrees that there are many similarities between circumcision and baptism. However, he says that “one became a Jew by being born of Jewish parents. Therefore, all Jewish males were circumcised. Circumcision was not restricted to people who had true inward spiritual life, but rather was given to all who lived among the people of Israel.” Grudem goes on to say that one becomes a member of the church by being born spiritually. Before one became a member of the Jewish community by being born in Israel and circumcised. Now we are born of the Spirit. Grudem also responds to the household baptism comments. In Acts 16:32 Paul spoke of the word of the Lord to the Philippian jailer and all that were in his house. Grudem’s thought is that if he spoke the Word of the Lord to all that were in his house, there is the assumption that they were old enough to believe. Also, the household of Stephanas, Grudem makes note of 1Cor 16:15 and how they ministered to the saints, so he thinks they were old enough to understand the Gospel.
I start with Grudem’s summarization because that is the position that I take. There could have been infant baptisms, and that would not hurt my faith. But I do not see enough evidence to say that they were infant baptisms. I believe that since the New Testament always shows baptism follow faith that is the way we should do things today. I see a problem in the Baptist church that baptism doesn’t follow faith soon enough. We make it such a celebration that it is postponed too long. I also see a problem in the Baptist church where people think they are saved because of baptism. That is dead wrong as well.
Too me, Baptism is symbolic of what Christ did on the cross for us. We are dead to our old way. We die with Christ in our baptism and rise with Him in our baptism (Romans 6; Col 2). Baptism is also a testimony that we are Christians. I have heard of stories where a Muslim converts to Christianity and at the baptism his family denies him. The baptism is a testimony. Lastly, baptism is symbolic of washing our sins away. I like Calvin’s writings on God’s grace. But, I do not agree that we baptize infants because of God’s grace. God’s prevenient grace is still active.
We live in a day where many people in Europe are baptized but have nothing to do with the church. We live in a day where Christianity is under attack and we need true Christians. In this case I make the argument that Tertullian made. Let them be Christians and then get baptized. But this should not divide the church. I want to close the paper with a quote from Bridge and Phypers: “God is at work by His Spirit on both sides of the baptismal divide.”
Beasley-Murray, George R. Baptism in the New Testament. Waynesboro, GA:Paternoster by arrangement with Macmillan & Company Ltd, digital edition 2005.
Donald Bridge and David Phypers, The Water that Divides: the Baptism Debate. Downers Grove, ILL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1977.
Dr. Stamps, WO515 course notes 01.14.2010
Enns, P. P. The Moody handbook of theology. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press. 1997, c1989.
Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.
Jeschke, Marlin. Believer’s Baptism for Children of the Church. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1983.
Naglee, David Ingersoll. From Font to Faith, American University Studies. Series VII. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, 1987.
Parris, John R. John Wesley’s Doctrine of the Sacraments. London: Epworth Press, 1963
Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988.
Torrance, James B. Worship, Community & The Triune God of Grace. Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press, 1996.
White, James F. The Sacraments in Protestant Practice and Faith. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1999.
HE RISE AND FALL OF NINE RICH MEN
A popular story recounts a meeting that may have taken place at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago in 1923. There is debate whether the meeting in fact occurred, but what is not in question is the actual rise and fall of the men featured in the story, who were nine of the richest men in the world at that time: (1) Charles Schwab, President of the world’s largest independent steel company; (2) Samuel Insull, President of the world’s largest utility company; (3) Howard Hopson, President of the largest gas firm; (4) Arthur Cutten, the greatest wheat speculator; (5) Richard Whitney, President of the New York Stock Exchange; (6) Albert Fall, member of the President’s Cabinet; (7) Leon Frazier, President of the Bank of International Settlements; (8) Jessie Livermore, the greatest speculator in the Stock Market; and (9) Ivar Kreuger, head of the company with the most widely distributed securities in the world.
What happened to these powerful and rich men twenty-five years later? (1) Charles Schwab had died in bankruptcy, having lived on borrowed money for five years before his death. (2) Samuel Insull had died virtually penniless after spending some time as a fugitive from justice. (3) Howard Hopson became insane. (4) Arthur Cutten died overseas, broke. (5) Richard Whitney had spent time in a mental asylum. (6) Albert Fall was released from prison so he could die at home. (7) Leon Fraizer, (8) Jessie Livermore, and (9) Ivar Kreuger each died by suicide. Measured by wealth and power these men achieved success, at least temporarily. But it did not surely guarantee them a truly successful life.
Many people think of fame and fortune when they measure success. However, at some point in life, most people come to realize that inner peace and soul-deep satisfaction come not from fame and money, but having lived a life based on integrity and noble character.
(From a sermon by Sajeev Painunkal SJ, What Changed Zaccheus? 10/30/2010 )
I recently read the following:
That sainted missionary to India and Persia, Henry Martyn, once said, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.” Paul (Saul) and Barnabas had that experience as they ministered in Antioch and were called by the Spirit to take the Gospel to the Roman world.
We are here today because someone or group of people brought the Gospel to us. This month I wish to talk about missions. In order to do this I wish to focus on the book of Acts. In a moment we will look at Acts 13:1-3, first let me ask you a question.
Missions: what is it? Where is it? How is it done? Who does it? Why do it? It seems as though we focus on missions over seas at the expense of missions where we are at. It also seems as though we all too often focus on everything but the gospel. Do you notice that? As we look at missions in Acts we are going to see that Paul and his companions were starting churches and proclaiming the Gospel. They were not persecuted for living a good life. They were not persecuted for sharing their testimony. They were not persecuted for helping meet the social needs of the people. No, they were persecuted because they proclaimed Jesus as Lord. They proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. As we look at Acts we can all agree that the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of missions and I want to go a step further to show that missions is not necessarily always over there, but it begins right here. Let me add that one of the things that we do well is our many ministries in Alliance and there is a movement within Alliance of churches working together to proclaim the Gospel. Praise God for that. My theme is Paul’s Missionary Journey, Our Missionary Journey.
A passage we likely will not look at in great detail, but is important relates to Paul’s attitude with the Gospel: Let’s read 1 Cor. 9:19-23:
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
The point of this is sometimes we must make adjustments in our churches or our own life in order to share the Gospel with people. We need to be able to relate to the person or people group. We will come back to that in the coming weeks.
Please look with me at the beginning of Paul’s first journey.
Let’s read Acts 13:1-4:
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
In Acts 13:1-3 we see the church in Antioch hear God’s call to set aside Paul and Barnabas for God’s mission. They follow through with that. I want to talk about this passage for a few minutes and first I want to show you that the call to missions was heard because they were worshipping and fasting.
I. Let me share some background to this passage. This is a pivotal point in the book of Acts. Paul the apostle was just introduced in chapter 7. At that time he was a young Jewish man persecuting the church.
a. Then in Acts chapter 9 Saul became a Christian. Jesus confronted him.
b. Now, between Acts chapter 9 and Acts chapter 13 around 12 or 13 years passed. Paul was converted in about A.D. 33 and now it is around A.D. 46 or 47. In Acts chapter 13 the focus changes from Peter to Paul. The rest of the book of Acts is predominantly about Paul. Look how it happens.
c. IVP Bible Backgrounds commentary:
i. 13:9. Roman citizens had three names. As a citizen, Saul had a Roman cognomen (“Paul,” meaning “small”); his other Roman names remain unknown to us. As inscriptions show was common, his Roman name sounded similar to his Jewish name (Saul, from the name of the Old Testament’s most famous Benjamite). This is not a name change; now that Paul is moving in a predominantly Roman environment, he begins to go by his Roman name, and some of Luke’s readers recognize for the first time that Luke is writing about someone of whom they had already heard.
d. Verse 1: they are in Antioch. Antioch would be north of Jerusalem in Syria. In Acts 11:19ff we read how they got to Antioch.
e. You see, there was persecution which started in Acts chapter 7 with Stephen being stoned with rocks. This persecution caused the Christians to scatter and many went to Antioch. While in Antioch they preached the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas ended up in Antioch teaching. Then they went to Jerusalem to deliver help because of a famine. Now they are back in Antioch.
f. Verse 1 tells us there are prophets and teachers in Antioch. Verse 1 lists 4 of these specific prophets and teachers. Now prophesy was a spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit would speak through a prophet in order to proclaim God’s Truth. This might be a conviction about sin or some future event.
g. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were listed amongst these prophets. There is also Simeon called Niger. Niger is Latin for black so it is likely he was from Africa. Lucius of Cyrene is also a Latin name and it is likely he is from an area in Northern Africa too.
h. Then there is an interesting note about this man Manaen. He was brought up with Herod. This is the same Herod who had James killed, mistreated Jesus and others. Apparently Manaen was brought up with him. The Greek wording suggests having the same wet nurse. It is possible that Manaen was the child of one of their slaves. Herod grew up in Rome and it was common for the children of slaves to grow up with the master’s children. The children grow close and the slave is freed when he or she is an adult. Either way, Manaen is now serving the Lord with the gift of prophesy or teaching.
Now verse 1 showed us “who” and now verses 2 and 3 where show us “what”
II. Verse 2 says they were worshipping the Lord and fasting. Isn’t that an interesting intro? What is about to happen, happens while they are coming into the presence of the Lord in worship and fasting.
a. There are other examples of major things happening during worship. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah was called while in the temple performing a priestly duty.
b. To fast means to abstain from food and possibly other pleasures in order to seek God. The people of Antioch were worshipping the Lord and fasting. They were seeking God for input. God is about to give them His guidance.
c. We still proclaim days of prayer and fasting. Back in 2010 heard that leaders within the Gulf coast states called for a day of prayer (Sunday, June 27) in order to receive God’s help from the oil spill.
4965 Lincoln Proclaims National Fast Day
Abraham Lincoln wrote an address to the nation during the Civil War that was at least as important as the Gettysburg Address.
It was his proclamation for a national fast-day, by which he did designate and set apart Thursday the 30th day of April 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer.
Lincoln wrote: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
“The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people.
“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
“It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
d. Well, they were worshipping and fasting and the Holy Spirit spoke to them. It is likely that the Holy Spirit spoke through one of the prophets. The Lord wanted Paul and Barnabas set aside for His work. This idea of setting aside means to set apart for a special purpose. The Lord wanted Paul and Barnabas set apart for His purposes. Back when Paul became a Christian the Lord said that He would use Paul to reach the gentiles. That is about to happen.
e. Verse 3: is about the churches response. The church obeys. You know, at this point the Lord hadn’t told Paul or Barnabas where they were going. It doesn’t matter. Paul and Barnabas made themselves available. The church gathers together and they laid hands on them. This is comparable to ordination. They were sent out.
III. From Acts 13:4— 14:26 we can read about the missionary journey that resulted from this.
a. Many people heard the Gospel because the church in Antioch was in an atmosphere to hear God. They were worshipping and fasting. Then Paul and Barnabas obeyed. By the end of Acts, Paul had taken the Gospel to all of the known world. He might have taken it as far as Spain. He definitely took the Gospel to Rome. Things happen when you intentionally create an atmosphere to hear God.
b. This happened to Meagan several years ago. She was working at McDonalds at the time. She was spending some time in prayer before work when she heard the phone ring. Now usually we don’t need to interrupt our time with God by answering the phone. But in this instance she received a job offer. This happened during prayer time.
c. Today, my focus has been on the call to the missionary journey, but I encourage you to take the time to read these two chapters. Maybe you have read it before, but I know you will be encouraged as you read about Paul’s missionary journey.
d. As you read you will notice that in the cities Paul went to the Jews first:
i. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says It was necessary that the apostles go to the Jews first for a number of reasons. First, the coming of the earthly kingdom depended on Israel’s response to the coming of Christ (cf. Matt. 23:39; Rom. 11:26). Second, only after Israel rejected the gospel could Paul devote himself to the Gentiles. Third, the message of Jesus is fundamentally Jewish in that the Old Testament, the Messiah, and the promises are all Jewish. (On “the Jew first,” cf. Acts 3:26; Rom. 1:16.)
ii. You will also notice how Paul was able to draw great crowds when he travels from city to city.
1. When famous speakers (e.g., Dio Chrysostom) would come to town, much of the town would go to hear him. Word spreads quickly about the new speaker at the synagogue in Antioch, and Paul, probably originally more comfortable giving expositions of Scripture than public speeches in the Greek style, is billed as a rhetorician or philosopher.
e. Paul and Barnabas took the Gospel to many cities on this journey. I have a map on the screen of the missionary journey and if you wish you can ask for a copy of my sermon manuscript with a list of where he went and what verses that location is listed in:
i. Seleucia (verse 4)
ii. Salamis (verse 5)
iii. Paphos (verses 6-12)
v. Antioch (verses 14-52)
vi. Iconium (14:1-6)
vii. Lystra (14:6 and 8-19)
viii. Derbe (14:6 and 20-21)
ix. Lysra (14:21-23)
x. Iconium (14:21-23)
xi. The Bible Knowledge Commentary:
f. Thus ends the first missionary journey which lasted between one and two years and in which Paul and Barnabas traversed more than 700 miles by land and 500 miles by sea. But more than that, it demolished the wall between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Eph. 2:14-16). The two apostles had been committed by the church at Antioch to God’s grace (cf. Acts 15:40) and they saw His grace at work (cf. “grace” in 13:43; 14:3).
i. Antioch (14:24)
ii. Perga (14:24-25)
iii. Attalia (14:25)
iv. Antioch (14:26-28)
g. Lastly, remember Acts 1:8 says: but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
i. That verse is happening now. They are following the Spirit’s lead in order to be a witness. Praise God!
This Scripture passage shows us a few things. One is that foreign missions are important. This is Paul’s call and they go far away. Secondly, this text shows how to hear God’s call: by being involved in the spiritual disciplines. These are prayer, worship, fasting, Scripture reading.
When Adoniram Judson graduated from college and seminary he received a call from a fashionable church in Boston to become its assistant pastor. Everyone congratulated him. His mother and sister rejoiced that he could live at home with them and do his life work, but Judson shook his head. “My work is not here,” he said. “God is calling me beyond the seas. To stay here, even to serve God in His ministry, I feel would be only partial obedience, and I could not be happy in that.” Although it cost him a great struggle he left mother and sister to follow the heavenly call. The fashionable church in Boston still stands, rich and strong, but Judson’s churches in Burma had fifty thousand converts, and the influence of his consecrated life is felt around the world.
Judson knew that he was not called to the local mission. Somehow he knew that God had called him to foreign missions and because he followed that call thousands were converted. What is the price of eternal life? Wow!
Now, Adoniram Judson listened to God’s call and many heard about Christ because of his obedience.
But Missions begins at home. You know, while Paul was going around the known world with the Gospel, James was pastoring the Jerusalem church. James the half brother of Jesus stayed home to pastor the church. Missions is important local and foreign.
Charles Swindoll writes:
Several years ago, a group of boys and girls in Florida decided to lead their parents and other volunteers in a season of intercessory prayer for their town and for our troubled world.
The movement they started turned out to be so dynamic that more than fifteen thousand people showed up to march in support of the plan and to offer aid to the Russian refugees in their area. The young people also raised support for a Russian choir and started a prayer chain to intercede for the people of their “sister city” of Murmansk, Russia.
How many opportunities for selfless service can we find? Maybe I should ask that question another way: How many Christians are willing to improve their service toward God? Or how many acts of Christian love and kindness would it take to change the world?
The opportunities are endless.
In every town, every neighborhood, and on every block, lonely and sometimes unlovely men and women need to experience the love of Jesus.
In every city, children have never known a gentle touch or a loving smile.
In every state and region, God’s people can make a lasting difference.
There are random acts of love and mercy that God has already prepared for you, so that you might share in His joy—so that you might grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Go ahead . . . reach out.
You will never regret it.
What a joy it is to serve people, what a joy it is to share the good news of Jesus with people! It is good news, right.
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)