In the previous article Saul and Barnabas were separated to the Work of the Lord by the Holy Spirit and commendation from the Assembly at Antioch. The whole company recognized their faithful conduct as well as the gift God had given to them.
Other teachers at Antioch were equally important in the ministry to the local church. This establishes that need does not necessary constitute a call no matter how gifted a believer is. I am indebted to men who taught in our assemblies in Scotland and ministered locally and at conferences, yet lived their lives in secular employment. They were miners, fishermen, and laborers in different fields but gave themselves to the study and preaching of the Word of God.
To say only full time commended workers can speak at conferences is unscriptural and an insult to godly men and elders whom God has gifted in the teaching of the Word. However, God does specifically call some to leave the local sphere and move out in a much wider area of service. So Saul and Barnabas leave and go on their first pioneer missionary journey.
As they move forward passing through Seleucia, they move on to Cypress. They first preached the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. This became a pattern followed in other cities visited establishing their top priority was the message entrusted to them.
Today there are all kinds of programs and activities which in themselves can be helpful but they should not be a substitute from the effective preaching of the Word. Sadly it is often relegated to a secondary role!
Paul never lost his love for his own kinsfolk as he says in Romans 10:1-2, “Brethren my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.”
He mentions their zeal for God but not according to knowledge. Many today are steeped in religious traditions trying to be right before God yet missing the righteousness of God that comes though faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A few years ago I had the joy of leading a dear lady from Scotland (80 years of age) to the Lord. She was brought to hear the Gospel through a cousin she was visiting in Toronto who had been saved only a few months. After returning home she corresponded a few times and witnessed to all her family. She told me she attended church all her life but never heard the Gospel. The letters stopped and I asked a friend to check how she was and learned she was at home with the Lord.
May the Lord help us to reach out to our own people as well as other cultures! We live in a country that is multicultural and every individual needs the Saviour!!!
It is here that Saul’s Name is changed to Paul (Acts 13:9) and he is filled with the Holy Spirit. References to the Holy Spirit remind us that while God uses human instrumentality it is only effective when done under the guidance and power of the Spirit.
Writing to the Thessalonians he says, “Our Gospel came not to you in Word only, but also in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
Passing through the Isle of Paphos Paul encountered two men with totally different responses to the gospel. Elymas a Jew was a sorcerer and false prophet and would have known these were an abomination to God. He tried to stop Sergius Paulus the Deputy from inviting Paul because he wanted to hear the Word of God. This gave Paul an opportunity to rebuke Elymus saying, “O full of deceit and all fraud, you son of the Devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease from perverting the straight ways of the Lord.” (Acts 13:10 NKJV) The result was the hand of the Lord came upon him and he became blind. Sergius believed, seeing what was done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Condemnation to one and conversion to the other is always the result from the Gospel.