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Foreword: The Legacy of Antioch was preached by John Piper on October 25, 2009, his exposition on Acts 11:19-26 interspersed with a topic on partnering for missions. Hereunder is an excerpt from that sermon which I would like to share to you with the hopes as well that anyone who is called in the “sending” or in the “going” for missions will be encouraged further for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

EmmausTrekker

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The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” – Acts 11:19-26

I have asked the Lord to help me choose words so that one or more of these eight implications will penetrate hundreds of hearts that he has been preparing for this work. Some of you are ready and only need guidance. Others of you are sensing a change of life on the horizon, and you need God to push you over the edge of your dream. And some you will be awakened to a new calling from the Lord for the first time today. And the rest will, I pray, rededicate yourselves to aggressive involvement in sending. There are only three kinds of people in relation to missions: Goers, Senders, and Disobedient.

1. Someone must cross the cultural barriers that separate unreached peoples from the gospel.

Some of you are being called to this hardest of all work. Look at Acts 11:19-20.

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

The Hellenists in this context means Greek-speaking Gentiles. Till now the gospel was spreading mostly along the mono-cultural lines of Judaism from synagogue to synagogue (with the exception of Cornelius in Acts 10). But in Antioch, someone broke through the barriers of language and culture and spoke the gospel to the Gentiles.

Is that you? Is God stirring you, moving you? Would you consider giving your life to this? There is no other way for the church to fulfill her mission in the world. God will raise up the workers and send them out. What an honor we have to send them. And what an honor it would be if you were one of them.

2. Don’t wait to be forced out by persecution.

Look at Acts 11:19: “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled.” The believers in Jerusalem were not leaving on mission voluntarily. It took a persecution to force them into mission.

Little did Stephen know that one of the great effects of his death would be the mission of the church outside Jerusalem because people were driven away. So my point is simply this: Don’t wait till someone has to die to move out of America—or across the street to the Somalis or the Native Americans. God has his ways to loosen our roots and move us. Some of them are gentle—like a still small voice—and some are severe—like the death of a great man. Tune your heart, and discern how God is leading. Do it before you have to do it.

3. The hand of the Lord will be with you, when you follow him into his mission.

Acts 11:21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20, he closed with a promise, one of the sweetest in the Bible—one that has sustained many missionaries in the darkest hours. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus gave us this promise so that as you sit there and ponder how he may be changing your whole life-course, you will have ringing in your ears: Don’t be afraid. I am going to be with you. I am going to be with you.

4. Be willing to serve a work that God has already begun.

Acts 11:22-23: “The report of this [pioneer breakthrough in Antioch] came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.”

Barnabas was not the first on the ground in Antioch. He did not begin the work. He was sent to serve what someone else began. He was building where someone else had laid the foundation. Some of you are called to do this. It is a noble work.

It means that dozens of jobs that are done here at home in the midst of thousands of churches and tens of thousands of Christians could be done in a place where the church is younger and smaller. Many of you are being loosened from your roots these days to make such a move.

5. The main prerequisite for this work is not great gifts but great grace.

Acts 11:23-24: “When he [Barnabas] came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.”

There is no reference here to Barnabas’ gifts, but only to his graces—that is, his spiritual and moral qualities, not his skills. Verse 24: He was good. He was full of the Holy Spirit. And he was full of faith. The effect was that God worked. He added people to the Lord. God is not mainly looking for great gifts. He is looking for great faith that is willing to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then does good. God may be calling you not because you have great gifts, but because he has taught you to trust him implicitly. I don’t mean there are no qualifications. I mean they may not be as insurmountable as you think.

6. When you sense God’s leading, recruit others to go with you.

Acts 11:24-25: “So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.”

Acts doesn’t tell us that God told Barnabas to do this. It just says he did it. He needed help and he knew someone who would be a good helper. So he recruited him. And Saul came. Don’t be afraid of saying to a friend, “Would you consider going with me?”—or to a couple, “Would you consider going with us?” Many times in history God has called a person through the forthright requests of others.

7. In all your evangelism and church planting, don’t neglect to teach the converts and to take them deep into the gospel and build them up so they are stable and strong.

Acts 11:23 says that Barnabas “exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.” And in verse 26, it says that Barnabas and Saul together focused on teaching. “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people.”

What if God sends a great awakening? What if he gives a great harvest and grows the church with a great response the way he did in Antioch? Verse 21: “A great number who believed turned to the Lord.” Verse 24: “A great many people were added to the Lord.” What will you do if God sends such blessing?

Don Carson tells of talking to woman who had been converted during the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905. That conversation was, he says, “an inexpressibly glorious half hour.” But then he commented on how sad it is that so little of the revival was preserved. “Almost nothing was done to capture or develop theological schools, multiply Bible teaching, or train a new generation of preachers.” So Carson makes this amazing pledge, and I turn it into an exhortation to some of you:

Should the Lord in his mercy ever pour out large-scale revival on any part of the world where I have influence, I shall devote all my energy to teaching the Word, to training a new generation of godly pastors, to channeling all of this God-given fervor toward doctrinal maturity, multiplication of Christian leaders, evangelistic zeal, maturity in Christ, genuine Christian “fellowship.”8

In other words, he would do what Barnabas and Saul did. They saw a great ingathering, and they taught and taught and taught. They strengthened the believers. They sank the roots of the people down deep. They brought stability. They built a foundation for missions.

All over the world (you read this in all the literature), the cry is for trained, strong, Bible-saturated leaders. What will your part be in raising them up?

8. Be open to a significant change in your life.

Some of you know that God is making you restless where you are. You sense deeply that what you are doing now is not what you will be doing for long. Others of you need to think seriously about whether your present secure and established position maybe is not a path to security or an exit ramp to retirement, but a runway for taking off into something new in missions.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

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When you were under the fig tree, I saw you” —John 1:48

 

Worshiping in Everyday Occasions. We presume that we would be ready for battle if confronted with a great crisis, but it is not the crisis that builds something within us— it simply reveals what we are made of already. Do you find yourself saying, “If God calls me to battle, of course I will rise to the occasion”? Yet you won’t rise to the occasion unless you have done so on God’s training ground. If you are not doing the task that is closest to you now, which God has engineered into your life, when the crisis comes, instead of being fit for battle, you will be revealed as being unfit. Crises always reveal a person’s true character.

A private relationship of worshiping God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness. The time will come, as Nathanael experienced in this passage, that a private “fig-tree” life will no longer be possible. Everything will be out in the open, and you will find yourself to be of no value there if you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions in your own home. If your worship is right in your private relationship with God, then when He sets you free, you will be ready. It is in the unseen life, which only God saw, that you have become perfectly fit. And when the strain of the crisis comes, you can be relied upon by God.

Are you saying, “But I can’t be expected to live a sanctified life in my present circumstances; I have no time for prayer or Bible study right now; besides, my opportunity for battle hasn’t come yet, but when it does, of course I will be ready”? No, you will not. If you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions, when you get involved in God’s work, you will not only be useless yourself but also a hindrance to those around you.

God’s training ground, where the missionary weapons are found, is the hidden, personal, worshiping life of the saint.

 

-Excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest – September 10 –  by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

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There is no better test of our spiritual state and condition than our missionary zeal, our concern for lost souls. That is always the thing that divides people who are just theoretical and intellectual Christians from those who have a living and a vital spiritual life.”

The man who is a true Christian is a man who has had a glimpse of Hell, and who knows that there is only one reason for the fact that he is not bound for it.”

 

Daily Readings-MLJ

 

A First Book of Daily Readings by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones can be accessed through this link at The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust website.

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A brother in the Lord once asked me why I have a passion for the preaching of the Gospel to the Nepalese. It was a question that I did not really ponder except for the primary fact that I knew that the Gospel is to be preached to all nations (Luke 24:45-47; Matthew 28:18-20) even to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8) which is a commission given originally to the apostles, and by extension, to all believers.  As to the specifics of the call, it’s unfolding happened over a period of time.  At the beginning, I sensed that I was called to go and take the Gospel to a country other than mine but being young then in the faith, emotion was more the rudder than anything else.

Our brother  made a follow-up question and said, “why don’t you rather do missions locally in the Philippines?” During the mid 90s, I had an intense desire to enter a bible school and be a part of a local church in my country, yet the only possible way at that time was eventually hindered by the Lord. I endeavored instead to buy books used by an international theological school in Metro Manila; and then more books over the years written by authors  whose theological integrity are tested, some of whom have already gone to be with the Lord. I remember bro Julito who formerly served as the senior pastor of ICS said reading will help me balance my theology.  He is a bible teacher in one of the schools in the Philippines and I took his advice and benefitted immensely. At the same time, however, the continuing opportunity to remain overseas as a tentmaker was being firmly established and prospered by the Lord as time went by.

After pausing to compose my thoughts, I reverted with a question to the brother who initially asked me. I asked, “why do you think God would send American missionaries to the Philippines instead of Filipino Christians from the hundreds of congregations in our country?”  A well-thought out answer that he may have provided would have been my very answer to his first question. But he was silent. And his silence was, I think, said it all.  I might not have replied also if I were in his shoes. The fact is, God’s call to reach other people groups with the Gospel can only be understood by the one called himself.

Each missionary possess individual details for their call, but what will definitely be the fuel is a combination of the Lord’s zeal and His love for the lost sheep of His pasture.  You have to read that sentence again…and will notice that it is not the missionary’s zeal and love, but the Lord’s.  All these are His gracious gifts poured into the missionary’s heart by the Holy Spirit –

What do you have that you did not receive?’ ‘ – 1 Corinthians 4:7

I have my personal individual details and nuances of God’s call which are part and parcel of where I am, what I am engaged in currently and the direction I intend to take in the future.  None of them were planned in explicit terms but just like during the missionary journeys in the Bible, it is the Lord who opens and shuts doors, provides the means and determines the results.  At the beginning, each one may have their list of “desired countries”, but for me, Nepal was not in my list, not even by any stretch of the imagination.  But when God has set my heart for His direction, He has also arranged for events to fit into that call.  I am still a tentmaker in another part of the world, yet the handful of lovely Nepalese that my road has crossed with are the very people I know will be partners in my work in their country. Some are recent converts and one has a small ministry in Kathmandu and Rolpa. They have all expressed their desire to be partners for the Gospel and during my sojourn in Nepal last year, I have learned more about them. A recent acquisition – a book entitled ‘The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God’s Plan For The World’ by M. David Sills – proved very helpful to me in understanding why some things are.

Missionaries_LogoMy only born-again cousin, Susan M.M., who works for the Assemblies of God Missionary Fellowship (AGMF) in the Philippines  has shared some wonderful stories of American missionaries. Amazing as it is, many of them would come to the Philippines without speaking a single sentence in Filipino and they would soon disappear into a village in a corner of the country.  Months would pass and the next time you meet them, they would not only know Filipino but the dialect of the tribe they minister the Gospel to.  I remember a couple who look like giants (well, from a Filipino vantage point, that is) and how elegant they looked the first time they arrived into the country.  As soon as they are about to embark into the mission field, a metamorphosis takes place and apart from being caucasians, everything about them would blend well into their place of call. More than the looks, you can certainly perceive their love for the Filipinos. Some stories are laced with humor, such as how a missionary couple could eat the boiled local mung beans mixed with the American style  (Hunt’s) white beans in tomato sauce – a combination that could make the eyes of the Filipino city-dweller roll and his tummy churn. 🙂 I had my own experience while sampling Nepali food that are truly unusual at the beginning, but turned out to be my favorite now – fried goat cheese (called Paneer) cooked in a mixed sauce of pureed tomato, spices and yoghurt or sour buttermilk  (doesn’t that sound good??)  One poignant story Susan told me was about a missionary who suffered a heart attack and was airtransported to Manila in one of the best hospitals in the country.  What made him sad was not his heart attack but the money that was spent for the surgery which he said would have been better spent for the poor people of his mission field (even now as I recall that, tears would just well up and may the Lord richly bless that brother and his family according to His good purpose and call).

During our fellowship at the Reconciliation Church in a farming valley in Kathmandu, one of their pastors, bro Megh, distributed Nepalese OT/NT bibles which were purchased through the offerings sent by Filipino and Nepali brothers from Jesus Our Good Lord fellowship. The excitement and joy written all over the faces of the brothers and sisters at Reconciliation when they were handed their copy were truly heart-warming. With many of them farmers, the cost of a medium-sized bible is quite a dent on a small budget. A sister graciously offered me a bowl of freshly-picked plums. I also cherished time spent with the pastor and his wife, with some women of the church, and together with bro Basant and his mother. The experience climbing a hill in the rain  and mud, wearing formal leather shoes and attire to match, on the way to bro Megh’s house was truly unforgettable. Being together with them encouraged by the Scriptures concerning issues of the Christian life brought us much joy. In retrospect, my experiences as a kid in my mom’s home province of Zambales (Sta. Cruz and Candelaria, very rustic during the many summer vacations in the 1960s)  also proved beneficial to let me appreciate what I experienced in my sojourn in Nepal in 2008. There are villages with no electricity and only small oil lamps lighting the dark night prove nostalgic and welcoming.

Surprising even was reading one article by a major Filipino e-newspaper published during the height of the success of the Mt. Everest campaign by Filipino men and women.  The article revealed that there are nearly 150 registered Filipinos in Nepal . A few are there by marriage, a handful are exchange students or professionals in a government program while the rest are – – – missionaries!

The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, had the final section reserved for  greeting and commending individual brothers and sisters who are his partners in a variety of ways to the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I commend to you our sister, Phoebe…Greet Prisca and Aquila , my fellow workers in Christ Jesus…Epaenetus…Mary… Andronicus and Junia…Ampliatus…Urbanus…Stachys…Apelles…the family of Aristobulus…Herodion…those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus…Tryphaena and Tryphosa…Persis…Rufus, also his mother…Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas…Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.” – Romans 16:1-15

I do not personally know the many names or faces of the AG missionaries in the Philippines. Although I am not currently an AG member, I have met a few of them during my occassional visits to AGMF and ICS. I would like to take this time and electronic space to sincerely thank all of you for your obedience to the Lord’s call in your lives, forsaking your own ambitions, and faithfully serving Him in the far flung places of the Philippines so that the people whom He has appointed for eternal life will believe Him through the Gospel.  I also acknowledge the brothers and sisters who work at the AGMF office for your untiring dedication and love, seeing to it that the administrative needs of the missionaries are taken care of.  I cannot list all of your names here like Paul did, but there’s one who truly know and called you individually by name – Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Harvest! We may not all get a chance to meet now but one day when the Lord returns and we shall be all gathered unto Him, I would surely be blessed to meet you all together with the Lord’s harvest from Nepal .

To all those who have been sent by the Lord of the Harvest to the fields, together we ascribe glory due to the Triune God whom we truly worship and serve.

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” – Romans 16:25-27.

 

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