He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 1:7–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Summertime is just around the corner and with that, many people take opportunities for short-term missions work. This year, the youth of my local church have plans to do a missions “trip” while remaining in our own city. There are those times when God directs his people to be on the move but truth is, missions is a work that begins at home. But do we truly believe God still works mightily in the mundane, familiar places? We as God’s people would do well to be encouraged by those times in history when the church was advancing. Whether our work is abroad or at home, it is God’s work and we are to participate. The Bible makes this clear in the book of Acts.
Luke’s writing in the book of Acts tells us how God continues to lead missionary journeys further into the Gentile world. In 16:6-10, better known as the Macedonian Call, God directs by restriction, calling, and conclusions. Paul’s teaching of the ministry of Jesus (by the power of the Spirit) through the Church bears witness to the triune God. And in 16:11-34, God continues to save and deliver.
Luke does not explain what Paul’s own plans for the continuation of his missionary campaign were, or indeed whether he had any. He may have intended to make for Ephesus on the west coast of Asia. But this section makes it overwhelmingly clear that Paul’s progress was directed by God in a variety of ways, so that the missionaries were led into new areas of work. The whole account is related at breathtaking speed, to convey some impression of the irresistible sweep of events that took Paul to Macedonia.
Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 277). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
In the first part of Paul’s missionary journey, the gospel advances to Philippi, and a new church is established as Jesus’s power is displayed. The Macedonian call supports sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit as essential for the advancement of the Gospel. We also see Acts 16:11-15 indicates that it is God who opens the hearts of those who hear His Word and as the Gospel is advanced.
So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 16:11–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
At the time of the Jerusalem Council, the entire council agreed with James who provided a wise policy that would uphold the gospel of grace while helping preserve Jew-Gentile fellowship. Grace is defended and displayed. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It comes apart from works of the law. We must never bend on this truth. Jesus’s work is sufficient.
And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 15:36–16:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
As Christians, we need to rest in his grace and proclaim it to the world both near and far. In the reading of Acts 15:36- 16:40, it becomes clear that the church is advancing the Gospel among the nations. We must never abandon advancing the gospel of grace. Do you take time to pray for occasions to share the gospel with others? Do you pray that God’s Holy Spirit would be at work, and that He might go before you to prepare hearts and lives for the grace He freely gives? Lastly, do you believe God still works mightily in the mundane, familiar places?