Missions Series #8 – The Early Church

2014110411/04/2014

We learned last time that in the Great Commission, Jesus gave the command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18). This is a command to glorify God – to reveal or demonstrate His nature and character – among all the people groups in the world.  After the command was given, God sent the Holy Spirit, and the church was able to do just that.

Acts 2 – Pentecost

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, His followers gathered together for prayer in Jerusalem and waited. At that time, Jews “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) had gathered to celebrate the holiday Pentecost. The Spirit then gave these Christians the ability to “declare the wonders of God” (2:1) in the native languages of the people who were gathered from throughout the known world.  Peter then went on to teach them that “God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people . . . and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17, 20).  In this one day, 3,000 people from many nations became Christians. Is it merely a coincidence that the Holy Sprit’s first miraculous act after the ascension is to declare the glory of the Lord among people from every nation in the known world of the time?

Peter’s Vision – Acts 10

One afternoon while praying, Peter received a vision from the Lord of a sheet being lowered from heaven with clean and unclean animals on it. A voice told him to get up and eat, but Peter protested because he had never eaten anything unclean. The voice replied “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (v. 15). Immediately following this vision, the Lord sent men to accompany Peter to meet with a Roman Centurion and tell him and his family how to be saved. In response to his vision and meeting with the Centurion, Peter said, “I now realize that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right,”  “surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” (vv.34, 47).  Through this series of events, God was making it very clear that He desires to be glorified, not just among the Jews, but among every nation.

The Jerusalem Council – Acts 15

As the church grew, more and more gentiles came to faith in Jesus. This inevitably brought conflict about what exactly was required to follow Him. In Acts 15:1-29, they were debating specifically about circumcision – is this sign of the covenant between God and Israel necessary for Gentile males who want to follow the Christ? Peter said that because God had accepted the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit and “made no distinction between us and them” (.v 9) that the Jews “should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (v.19). This council showed that people do not need to convert to Judaism in order to follow Christ. It made the Gospel more accessible to non-Jews, and was a necessary step in the church’s work to fulfill the Great Commission and bring the kingdom of God to all nations.

Conclusion – But what can I do?

Praying for the unreached peoples of the world and learning more about them are wonderful ways to get involved with missions. Another way to partner with God to be glorified among every tribe, tongue, and nation is to send missionaries. It’s easier than you might think! Probably my favorite organization for this is Gospel for Asia (www.gfa.org). They focus on training and sending national missionaries throughout Asia in order to save training time (it’s easier to learn a culture that is similar to your own), costs (travel, insurance, etc.), and in order to reach areas that are closed to outsiders. You can sponsor a national missionary for $30/month. Two other good organizations that focus specifically on unreached people groups are Frontiers and New Tribes. Frontiers (www.frontiers.org) focuses specifically on Muslim unreached people groups, while New Tribes (usa.ntm.org) focuses on tribal unreached people groups. Though very few of us will actually go to other countries to help bring in the harvest of the nations, we can still play an integral part in this work!

Though currently most of our SDB Missionary Society (www.sdbmissions.org) partnering ministries do not have a great impact in reaching the unreached people groups, their office would be happy to communicate with you about which of these others organizations or a ministry they are involved in that might help you contribute to be part of connecting the Gospel with those who otherwise might have little or no chance of ever hearing about the love of Christ.

Prayer

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:35-38

Miriam Berg

The preceding is the eighth of twelve lessons. We started in Genesis and will be working our way through the Bible. These studies will be available on this website every other week starting July 15th, 2014.  You can access them by going to Articles in SDBMissions.org. Or if you would like to receive these by email twice a month, please contact Subscribe by Email and say that you would like to be put on the missions study emails list or use our contact page: Contact Us.  To download a powerpoint version click this LINK.

 

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