Missions

The Book of II Corinthians

Now is the Time — Part One

Now Is the Time2 Corinthians 5:1 – 6:2Theme: The urgency of the Gospel.This week’s lessons remind us that we are not guaranteed a tomorrow.
LessonThis week we will be studying a long passage containing two separate sections. In the first verse of each of those sections, we find the words, we know.

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The Book of Psalms

Monday: The Shining Face of God

Theme: A Missionary Psalm
This week’s lessons teach us of God’s gracious intention to call a people for himself from every nation, and of our great privilege and responsibility to make the gospel of Christ known to them.
Scripture: Psalm 67:1-7

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The Book of Psalms

Wednesday: The Shining Face of God

Theme: How Gentiles Come to Know God
This week’s lessons teach us of God’s gracious intention to call a people for himself from every nation, and of our great privilege and responsibility to make the gospel of Christ known to them.
Scripture: Psalm 67:1-7

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The Book of Psalms

Thursday: The Shining Face of God

Theme: Desire and Responsibility
This week’s lessons teach us of God’s gracious intention to call a people for himself from every nation, and of our great privilege and responsibility to make the gospel of Christ known to them.
Scripture: Psalm 67:1-7
One of the older commentators whom Charles Haddon Spurgeon quotes in his Treasury of David is William Binnie, who speaks of a balance here between the desire that others might be saved and our responsibility to tell them how. Binnie wrote:

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Samaria the Widening Stream

Monday: Increasing Persecution

Yet something significant had happened between Peter’s arrest and the persecution recounted in Acts 8. The Gospel had spread among the Hellenists, Greek-speaking persons who were Jews in the sense that they were sympathetic with Judaism and worshiped the God of the Jews in a Jewish way, but who were Gentiles by birth. They were now becoming Christians.

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Samaria the Widening Stream

Tuesday: The Results of Scattering

The trouble Saul and the others were making was ineffective in the end. Saul was setting out to destroy the church. He focused the persecution. But the more he did it, the more the Gospel spread. This was because those who were persecuted, and thus scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, planted the seeds of the Gospel everywhere.

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Samaria the Widening Stream

Wednesday: Preaching and Testifying

It is important to notice that when Philip began his ministry in this new area, we find him doing exactly what the apostles and other evangelists had been doing before him. Verse 4 said of those others: “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Now verse 5 declares, giving a specific example of one who did this: “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.” In other words, he preached the Gospel. The Gospel was centered in Jesus Christ, and they had all been preaching Jesus all along.

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Samaria the Widening Stream

Thursday: Real Revival

When God really blesses His church, when revival sweeps over God’s people, it is generally in unexpected ways and never linked to how much money they have. God just chooses to do it. His Spirit moves. His people are revived. Then, from beyond the walls of the church, people hear what is happening and the Holy Spirit draws them in.

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Samaria the Widening Stream

Friday: Forgiveness and Conversion

One of the things we have to understand when we are dealing with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is God. When we get that clearly in mind, then we can see that the object of our relationship to the Holy Spirit is not that we might have more of Him so that we can use Him, but rather that He might have more of us and use us.

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Antioch

Monday: Christianity’s Expansion

Acts 11 continues the story of the expansion of Christianity to the Gentiles that began in chapter 8. Acts 8:4 read, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Now Acts 11:19 says almost the same thing: “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message….”

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Antioch

Friday: Being Imitators of Christ

It is at this point, where God had established the church at Antioch, a church of many races, and had raised up the dual ministry of Paul and Barnabas to lead it—a church that is closer to today’s churches than any that we have seen so far in Acts—that for the first time the disciples of Jesus Christ were called “Christians.” The text says, “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (v. 26).

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The Start of the Missionary Era

Monday: The Church at Antioch

As we study this chapter, we need to see a number of important things. First, we need to see the church base from which this missionary outreach was conducted. Second, we need to think of the work of the Holy Spirit in calling, equipping, sending and blessing the missionaries. Third, we need to see the nature of the task, as it is illustrated in the work that took place on Cyprus, the first missionary target of the church in the Roman Empire.

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The Start of the Missionary Era

Wednesday: A Church’s Spiritual Disciplines

The Holy Spirit is not a power for us to use. He is a Person, the third Person of the Trinity. So rather than thinking of the Holy Spirit being a power which we are somehow to seize and use, we are to think of Him as a person whose job it is to use us. Acts gives us this contrast. In chapter 8 we have Simon wanting to get and use the Holy Spirit, but in chapter 13 we have the Holy Spirit getting hold of and using Barnabas and Saul.

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The Start of the Missionary Era

Thursday: Sent by the Spirit

When the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me,” the people He chose were the two most gifted leaders in the church. Saul was the most effective person in the extension of the Christian message to the Gentiles, and Barnabas must have been right there with him. This shows the importance God puts on world missions.

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Come Over and Help Us

Monday: Paul and Barnabas Separate

The account of the second missionary journey begins at Acts 15:36 with the report of a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. These two men had traveled together on the first trip, taking Barnabas’ relative John Mark with them. It had been the first official missionary journey in which a church actually supported a team of workers, and it had taken the workers themselves to previously untouched areas. The second journey was to prove even greater. On the second trip, Paul got to several of the great cities of the ancient world, among them Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth and Ephesus.

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Come Over and Help Us

Tuesday: Ministry Realignment

Barnabas—these two great missionaries, apostles, the kind of people you might bring into a pulpit on a missionary Sunday and say to the people, “This is what you should be like”—these two great men disagreed so violently that they actually went separate ways. Imagine that! Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus, where the missionaries had gone first on the first journey. We do not hear any more about Barnabas and Mark on Cyprus, but tradition says that Barnabas stayed on Cyprus and died there as an old man. Mark eventually was called by Paul to go to Rome. As far as the other missionary team was concerned, Paul took Silas, another leader in the church at Antioch, in place of Barnabas, and the two of them set out overland to visit the churches of Asia Minor.

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Come Over and Help Us

Wednesday: Timothy Joins the Team

In the first paragraph of chapter 16, we find a new worker coming on the scene. There is already one new worker, of course. That is Silas, whom Paul took in place of Barnabas. Here we find one that Paul and Silas discovered on their journey and invited to go along. His name was Timothy. This is the first place in the New Testament that Timothy is mentioned.

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Come Over and Help Us

Thursday: Paul’s New Direction

At this point, with a new missionary team and new workers, Paul received a new vision for his service. It concerns his vision of a man of Macedonia, who challenged Paul to “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (v. 9).

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Come Over and Help Us

Friday: Going to the Needy

In yesterday’s study we looked at two reasons to engage in world missions: 1) Jesus Christ told us to do it; and 2) Christ’s love constrains us. Let’s look at one other vital lesson.

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Two More Cities

Monday: Establishing Contact

The seventeenth chapter of Acts is best known for the sermon Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens. But that is only in the second half of the chapter. In the first half of chapter 17 we find Paul not in Athens but in two other Greek cities: Thessalonica in the north, and Berea on the way from Thessalonica south toward Athens.

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Two More Cities

Tuesday: Presenting the Scripture

The second thing I notice about Paul’s method is that, having made contact with people through the synagogue, he then began to reason with them from the Scriptures. That is what it says in the case of Thessalonica: “He reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (v. 3).

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Two More Cities

Wednesday: Preaching Christ

The result of Paul’s method is what I have been speaking of all along, namely, that a church was established in these cities. In Thessalonica we are told that “some of the Jews…joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women” (v. 4). The next paragraph tells us that the name of one of them was Jason.

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Two More Cities

Thursday: What Happened in Thessalonica

The church Paul founded in Thessalonica soon experienced persecution. Those who did not believe were jealous and moved to round up certain bad characters—the kind you find hanging around on street corners everywhere—and with these started a riot in the city. They went to Jason’s house because that is where Paul and Silas were staying. They did not find them. They found Jason and a few other brothers instead. So they dragged them before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus” (vv. 6-7).

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The Church in Ephesus

Monday: Paul’s Basic Strategy

Not only did Paul have a message, which was a message of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior, and not only did he establish churches consisting of those who heard his message and believed it, but once he had established churches he also drew them into his missionary strategy by using them as bases for the extension of the Gospel into the surrounding neighborhoods and the world.

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The Church in Ephesus

Tuesday: Establishing Contact

Ephesus was so strategic that it is surprising that Paul had not gone there before, especially since he had already been in the Roman province of Asia, where Ephesus was located. The reason, as we have already seen, is that the Holy Spirit had stopped him from doing so, having had other work for him to do first.

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The Church in Ephesus

Wednesday: Working with Other Christians

A second element in Paul’s strategy is that he worked with or cooperated with other Christians. He had what we would call a multiple or pluralistic ministry. We have already seen that Paul followed this strategy on his missionary journeys in general, always taking along two or more additional workers. In Ephesus the ground was being prepared and the work was being carried forward by Priscilla and Aquila, and Apollos.

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