Read Acts 13:1-14:28
The local church is at the core of God’s rescue mission of man. Tom Julien, former director of Grace Brethren International Missions, describes the church and the mission in marital terms…they dare not be separated!
That reality is portrayed in today’s reading of Paul’s first missionary journey. Perhaps you made these observations already, but let’s repeat them to underscore the inseparable union of the church and the Great Commission. Did you notice that…
1. A church sent Paul and Barnabas on this missionary journey? Keep in mind the Spirit of God did not just prompt these two men saying, “Hey, I want you guys to head out.” No, instead He directed the call to the leaders of the Antioch church inviting them to, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (13:2). The mission is so integrally entwined with the church that the church confirmed the call and commissioned these two servants of God. A local church was the impetus behind the mission.
2. Churches were the living units that Paul and Barnabas left behind in the cities where they ministered? Although they evangelized, they did not see people come to Christ and leave them to fly solo through life. They gathered the local believers together and “appointed elders for them in each church” (14:23, emphasis mine). Local churches were the final product of the mission.
3. A church heard reports about the mission? That’s right. At the end of their travels, we read “they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported…” (14:26, 27). Paul and Barnabas understood that they were accountable to the church and that the church was interested in their mission.
The church, you see is the alpha and omega of the Great Commission. It is no wonder, then, that we hear so much about “mission” at Grace. How are you “on mission” as part of our church?