Paul: The Missionary

PAUL: THE MISSIONARY

Acts 9:19-30 (ESV):
19 And taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.
20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

  1. 23  When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,

  2. 24  but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and

night in order to kill him,
25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him.
30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Every single one of us is an example to someone else. Whether we are conscious of it or not, there is someone who is watching us and we are providing either a negative or a positive example.

The apostle Paul was ever conscious of this that he was able to remind his disciple, Timothy, about this truth:

2 Timothy 3:10-11 (ESV):
10You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,
11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium,

and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.”

As a disciple of Paul, Timothy was a constant companion. He literally had the privilege of listening to Paul teach and preach and watch him firsthand to live his life as a servant of Jesus Christ; he even saw him go through all severe persecutions and suffering. However, with everything he heard and saw, Paul was hoping that what he saw was his faithfulness to the Lord and the power of God in delivering him from all his tough times.

Of course, there is also accountability to the person who had been a recipient of a good example. Now, Paul turns to Timothy and challenged him to be a great example to other believers:
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV):
12Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

In a way, this is what I am hoping to accomplish as we study the life of Paul. First, we want to see him as our example today as we live our Christian lives. Second, we will never fail to understand our accountability to provide others who are following us some great examples.

As we continue with our sermon series, we want to specifically look at Paul’s missionary zeal. One thing we won’t miss with Paul is that prior to Christ, he was totally zealous with his faith towards the Law. After knowing Christ and understanding his calling in Him, he did not have a problem in transferring his zeal to Jesus Christ. Right from the start, he never wavered in living his Christian life as a missionary of Jesus Christ.

Who is a missionary? For our context this morning, our definition of a missionary is a Christian who dedicated his or her life in fulfilling the Great Commission, which involves making disciples by sharing the Gospel, baptizing, teaching the whole counsel of God (Matthew 28:19-20). With this definition, it is not hard to see why this title is applicable to all believers. Why? Obviously, since all of us are recipients of the Great Commission, then, all of us are missionaries. Now, as we continue in looking at Paul’s life, let’s examine some Scriptural passages that will show us Paul’s commitment to his missionary work:

I HIS IMMEDIATE EXPOSURE TO MISSIONS:
Last Sunday, we have studied how at God’s appointed time, Jesus met with

Saul on the road to Damascus and led him to salvation. From there, God sent Saul to the city in order to meet up with Ananias and receive a specific word concerning what God wanted him to do with his life. To refresh your mind, this is what the

Lord has told him – he was “a chosen instrument . . . to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (9:15-16).

I am quite certain that Paul understood exactly what God wanted him to do with his life after his conversion. How do I know this? Notice what verses 19-22 tell us:
19 And taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.
20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.”

With these verses, the transformation (change) in the life of Saul was so amazing that it included the boldness in proclaiming Jesus Christ to the people who mattered to him the most – the Jews. Now, being a Pharisee, one of his key responsibilities was teaching the Laws of Moses to the Jews. After he was saved, he immediately recognized what his greatest influence was to people who looked up to him as their spiritual guide. Because of his reputation, people were literally amazed at what he was telling them about Jesus.

How about us? Who are the people that we need to witness to because of the influence we have on them? Mind you, this influence is a precious gift from God and should not be wasted. Here are the people you might have some level of influence:

  1. Family – Parents, children, and siblings

  2. Extended Family – Close relatives who are closely connected with you.

  3. Friends – People you get to hang out with regularly or occasionally.

  4. Co-workers – Besides our friends, these are the people you see on a

    regular basis.

  5. Neighbors – People who live in our immediate community.

We should recognize that for many of these relationships, you might be the only witness they have. We need to be more intentional in going to them by fulfilling our missionary duties. One great example is found in John 1:40-42:
40One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

41He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
42He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).”

We have always known how God had used Peter in expanding His kingdom. But we often overlooked the fact that his brother, Andrew, had a significant share in all his accomplishments because he was the one who introduced Peter to Jesus Christ. Probably, God can also use you to lead the next Peter or the next Billy Graham. But it will never happen if we are not sharing the Gospel to others.

Another important truth I want to emphasize here is that Paul did not wait until after he attended a seminar on how to share his faith or went through several courses on doctrines before he went out to fulfill his missionary calling. As soon as his sight was restored and was strong enough to walk, he went to the synagogue where he would find people who needed to hear about Jesus Christ. Please don’t misunderstand my statement. I don’t want to undermine the value of essential training and discipleship studies that will help equip us. However, I also don’t want to give you the impression that God can’t use you if you have not been formally trained. I still believe that the Holy Spirit can be sufficient in giving us the wisdom and power we need to be a witness to others. There’s no question that formal training can help us to be more effective, but it is still not a substitute to the filling of the Holy Spirit. We should always attempt to have both when we can.

One more thing before I move to my next point. When you look at verse 22, you will read these words – “proving that Jesus was the Christ.” Paul understood that he has one single message, which was to present Jesus as their Christ or their Messiah. By the way, the word “proving,” which suggests that he was providing pieces of evidences to his claims that Jesus is the real Messiah. Obviously, his training as a Pharisee gave him some advantages to do this. You know, it is also possible that God has already given you some inherent skills so you can fulfill your calling effectively. Have you explored what those skills may be? Just don’t forget our message is the same:

John 14:6 (ESV):
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

II HIS INSPIRATIONAL ENCOURAGERS IN MISSIONS:

The next truth I want to highlight is the fact that there are many people whom God will use to encourage us to keep serving the Lord. Let’s identify those people who became an encouragement to Saul:

A. Ananias (Acts 9:10-18)

We met him last Sunday, but we really have very limited information about him. What we only know is that he was a “disciple from Damascus” and God told him to minister to Saul, so that his sight can be restored, and he will understand God’s plan for his life. As far as I know, after this, we won’t hear anything about him again.

For me, Ananias represents many servants of the Lord who faithfully fulfill their responsibilities, who often minister on the background, and never get a lot of recognition. I know there are lots and lots of pastors and workers who labor in smaller towns and cities ministering in smaller churches and they are faithfully making a difference in the lives of so many people. Thank God for workers like them who never seek public recognition because for them what really matters is God’s recognition. We should never undermine their value.

B. Believers who rescued Saul from those who plotted to kill him.

Since Saul started preaching about Jesus Christ boldly, there were fanatical Jews who saw him as a threat to their religion, so they plotted to kill him. In verse 25, it says that when the plot to kill him became known, there were some disciples who encouraged him by making a way for him to escape the city of Damascus.

Likewise, everyone who chooses to follow the Lord and fulfill his or her mission in life must be prepared to count the cost in following Him. Part of the cost is being persecuted for the Gospel. Jesus clearly warned his disciples:

John 15:20 (ESV):
20 “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”

Yes, persecution is often the price we have to be willing to pay for standing up for Christ. However, just like in Saul’s life, God often uses some people to deliver from the hands of the enemies of the Gospel.

B. Barnabas

If you follow the text, after Saul fled Damascus, he decided to go back to Jerusalem. As soon as he arrived at that city, according to verse 26, he decided that he will have fellowship with the church there. Unfortunately, the church was not ready to extend the “right hand of fellowship” to him for the simple reason that they still don’t trust him. Can you blame them? Absolutely not! Perhaps, the killing of Stephen and their persecution were still very fresh in their mind.

But, if you read verse 27, it says that Barnabas stood with him and vouched for him to the apostles. This led the leaders and members of the church in Jerusalem to eventually accept him. Again, thank God for people like Barnabas who was willing to come alongside Saul who needed someone to stand with him!

Are you sensitive to God’s workers who need your encouragements? Let me say that since they have the potential to expand the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, they are definitely sure targets of the Devil. When you think about it, it is safe to say that if not for these people who ministered to Saul during those very critical times when he was just starting to put himself in the company of the church and Christ’s work, there could have been no Paul. Of course, all of them were mere instruments of God. But we cannot underestimate their value because it is a fact that they played some significant parts in bringing Saul to his future place in the ministry. Can you imagine how many people could have stayed in the ministry if they only received enough encouragements?

III HIS INTIMATE EQUIPPING IN MISSIONS:

The last point I want to emphasize is not found in our text, but we can find it in Paul’s personal testimony to the Galatians:

Galatians 1:14-18 (ESV):
14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.”

If you go back to our text, it seems to suggest that after Saul’s time in Damascus, he fled right away to Jerusalem because of the fanatical Jews who plotted to kill him. However, if you examine these verses, Paul mentioned to the Galatian believers that there was a period in his life after he met Jesus Christ that he spent at least three solid years in Arabia before going back to Damascus, and then, to Jerusalem. Well, Bible scholars have studied the timeline of Paul’s life and the majority of them believe that this isolated time in the desert of Arabia happened between the verses of Acts 9:21-22:
21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come

here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

So, after Paul was converted in Damascus, he immediately went to the Synagogue preaching about Jesus Christ. However, after some time of preaching among the Jews, the Lord allowed him to go deeper in his understanding of Christ and His teachings during his three years in the desert of Arabia. As he has proclaimed to the Galatian Christians, no one (not even Ananias or the Apostles) taught him, but Jesus Christ on what he needed to know in order for him to effectively teach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Pastor Chuck Swindoll referred to this time in Paul’s life saying:

“I’m convinced it was there, in that barren place of obscurity, that Paul developed his theology. He met God, intimately and deeply . . . It became a three-year crash course in sound doctrine from which would flow a lifetime of preaching, teaching, and writing.”

I want to really highlight this part in Paul’s life because today, it seems that there are very few believers who are willing to invest sufficient time in intimately knowing the Lord. And for this reason, there are many who are afraid to share their faith because they don’t feel equipped. I would like to continually challenge all of us to consider going deeper in our knowledge of God and His Word. If we want God to use us more, we should not ignore the value of knowing Him and His Word more. The words of Paul in Philippians would be a great verse to close with:

Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV):
7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Listen, SINCE OUR MAIN TASK IS SHARING CHRIST, KNOWING HIM MORE INTIMATELY WILL GIVE US GREATER ADVANTAGE IN HELPING OTHERS APPRECIATE HIS GLORY.

July 15, 2018 Dr. Jeremiah Lepasana

Jeremiah Lepasana