God has given us the answer that the world needs—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But what do we do with this treasure? How do we steward the Gospel? How can we get this truth into all the world?
Acts 13:1–4 provides the answer by example.
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
God uses local churches.
Notice that all of this took place in the context of a local church. Biblical missions is the work of local churches getting behind others to plant local churches.
I’m thankful for every soul that is brought to Christ, even when there is no local church in that part of the world. But, every newly-saved person needs a local church to grow and bear fruit as a Christian. Thus, missionary efforts must have church planting at their heart.
God speaks when we listen.
Why were the first missionaries called and sent from the church at Antioch? Perhaps it is because these Christians were serious about hearing God’s voice. They were already busy in ministry and earnestly seeking God through fasting.
The modern, self-centered church of today sees few called to missions. Perhaps it is because few are listening for the call, and few are listening for the direction to give.
God works miracles when we obey.
Barnabas and Saul obeyed the Holy Spirit to go. The church obeyed the Holy Spirit to send them. The rest is history.
Who could have imagined how God would use these men? Who could have foreseen how far they would carry the Gospel, the churches that would be planted, the epistles that would be written? And it all began because they obeyed. What would happen if we, as God’s people, rendered the same obedience today? The world could truly be reached in our generation!
God has entrusted the Gospel to our care, and we must bring it into all the world. We steward the Gospel when we work through the local church, listen to the Holy Spirit, and obey Christ’s command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).