Our Mission is Good News
Acts 14:20-28 (Pastor Heo)
20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
The Return to Antioch in Syria
21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
We don’t know how long this “sabbatical” was for the two. Our sabbatical will happen in heaven – not on earth.
These two chapters are the story of Paul and Barnabas’ First missionary journey. They were constantly on the move to multiple cities through the region.
Last Sunday, what happened at Lystra? Paul healed a crippled man by the power of Christ. After this, the crowd thought they were gods. So they wanted to worship P&B by offering them sacrifices. But they shouted “NO!” tearing their clothes and said, “We too are only men like you.” At this moment, their worshiping attitude turned to anger and they stoned Paul and left him for dead.
This is human nature.
Also with Jesus, he understood how fickle the crowd could be. In his earthly ministry, many people watched many signs he did, but he never entrusted himself to the crowd because he knew what was in men’s hearts.
Yes, when people praise us and recognize us, we feel proud, but we must not allow this to cloud our judgment. Do not put your trust in the crowd – it is so changeable and fickle. So:
“Trust in God with all you heart.. in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Jesus says, “Trust in God, trust also in me.”
So, Paul was thrown out of the city, but when the disciples gathered around him, they were overjoyed to see him rise again. Then they immediately re-entered the hostile city, and the next morning, they left for Derbe (the last mission field in this missionary journey.)
“20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,”
Derbe is the next city east of Lystra (small city). As usual, the first thing P&B did in the city was preach the “good news” (gospel).
Missionary’s priority #1 is to preach good news all the time. Also, this is my priority. And if you are a true Christian in this world, then your priority is also to preach the good news.
Only good news can win souls to Christ. What is this good news? “Good news of great joy for all the people at the same time for eternity.” – this is the death and resurrection of Christ.
This is a strange story actually.
The story of “death” is “good”? Can you say this? Even if my enemy dies, we cannot say this is “good news” to me.
But in the world, there is no religion that says the death of its founder is good news. Christianity is the ONLY one that says this. Can you say that the death of Christ is “good news”?
Why? Why and how is this possible?
If your parents die, can you say this is “good news”? No.
But there are billions of reasons the death of Christ is good news (actually, you are one).
This time, finishing their missionary journey, let me share 7 reasons why the death of Christ is good news.
7 Reasons why Jesus’ Death is “Good”
#1 Jesus died for others
Evidently: Jesus did not die for his own sins – he died for others. “Jesus died just for me.” He bore the punishment for our sins in his body on the cross.
“God demonstrated his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“By his wounds we have been healed.”
His death is the substitutionary death for our sins (propitiation).
That’s why the day he was crucified is called “Good Friday.”
#2: Satisfied God’s justice
His death fully satisfied the demands of God’s Law and his justice.
The death of Christ is not only the satisfaction of the justice of God, but also the requirements of his Law. The transgression of that Law brings with it a punishment – but we can never meet the requirements of the Law. But Jesus met these requirements fully.
Romans 10:4 “Jesus is the end (fulfillment) of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
#3: Gives us forgiveness of sin
Do you need this?
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans) – spiritual and physical death.
This means everybody needs forgiveness of sin – and only his death gives us this forgiveness. The IMMEDIATE result is forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews: “The Law requires that everything be cleansed with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no cleansing. But the blood of Christ cleanses our sins…”
“If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
This is good news to you and me!
#4: Removes the wrath of God
God is holy – too holy to see sins.
Habakkuk 1:13 “God’s eyes are too pure to look upon sin.”
God cannot tolerate any kind of wrong. Thus, there is wrath of God against sin and against the sinner.
Eph 2 “We were by our very nature, the objects of wrath.”
John 3:36 “Whoever rejects Christ cannot see eternal life because the wrath of God remains on him.”
Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed against all men who suppress the truth.”
Only the blood of Christ can cover / remove the wrath of God against us.
1 John 2 “Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins.”
Imagine, if the wrath of God remains on my head, can I live in peace? No!
#5: Reconciles us to God
“Be reconciled to God.” the Bible admonishes us.
We need reconciliation (회복) – the restoration of relationship with God.
The idea of reconciliation is like this:
Gen 1, 2 before the Fall of Man.
There are more than 1,000 chapters in the Bible (1,069?).
In only 2 chapters, God and man (Adam) stood face to face in perfect relationship. But, in sinning, man turned his back to God and walked away.
Then, in his sadness, God turned his back on man and was sad.
Now, only the death of Christ has satisfied the demands of the Law. So, now God has turned his face back toward man and is waiting. This is the invitation of God. It is now up to man to turn back around to be reconciled with God.
#6: It gives us the ministry of reconciliation
2 Cor 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation: the old has gone, the new has come.”
2 Cor 5:18 “All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Remember, if you are reconciled to Christ, you have received the ministry of reconciliation.
Thus, we must say that preaching the gospel is our priority #1.
#7: God declares us righteous
Do you have a bank book? Check it.
When you believe in Christ, the righteousness of Christ is “transferred” into your “bank book.” (A full account!)
Then, God declares us righteous through Christ’s resurrection.
Finally, we can say his death is good news because he rose again from the dead!
v. 21b, 22-25
“Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.”
Attalia is a sea port in Perga – to sail to their home base (Antioch).
After finishing their final ministry in Derbe, they went to Perga to return to their sending church. And on their returning, they backtracked, retraced their steps.
- Derbe (end of journey)
- Lystra (Paul had been stoned)
- Iconium (almost stoned)
- Pisidia (expelled)
They went back home through a hard way, willingly. Yes, they knew the dangers they faced before. They knew the dangers, but why did they go then?
Even though they knew of these dangers, they had a responsibility to encourage the new believers there.
Lesson: No matter how uncomfortable or dangerous the task, we must always encourage new believers who need our help. We should have a clear strategy to help them grow in faith.
Paul: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Can you say this to new believers?
Two purposes to revisit these former mission fields:
1. Strengthen new believers in the things of Christ and encourage them to remain in the faith
(continuation is strong proof of faith in Christ “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.”) If we have real faith, we must show our faithfulness to Christ.
Remember, living a Christian life in this world, I can say like this to you and me: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Because this world is sinful and adulterous and ruled by Satan. Around us, we have all seen good, faithful Christians who are going through hard times.
Sometimes even dedication to Christ, commitment often brings us face-to-face with MORE difficulties than if we live only for ourselves without commitment to Christ. And Paul? If he had aimed lower, he would not have experienced such a variety of pains and sorrows, BUT he also would not have been used so powerfully by God.
Remember, Jesus did not save us to make our lives easy. He saved us to make us great, strong, powerful.
He did not save us to follow the pattern of the world, but to fight the pattern of the world. He made us fighters.
Thus, everyone who wants to live a godly life, will be persecuted.
“If the world hates you, remember it hated me first.”
“Take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
Romans: “If you are children of God you are heirs and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. These sufferings on earth are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us in heaven.”
“We can do all things through him who gives us strength.”
“26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples. “
After returning home, they gave their mission report. They reported the work God had done through them – they reported the blessings joyfully to the church.
Maybe this was the first “missionary conference” in history.
From this conference, we must learn some lessons.
v 27 – in their mission report, P&B did not say, “We did this for God…” – they were not the subject (주어) in this story – they made God the subject “God did this through us…” – also in our testimony and mission report should be like this. “God did this through me…”
Another amazing thing is that P&B did this great job without the modern missionary tools we have today (cars, computer, KakaoTalk, smartphones, …)
In mission history, some believers have done SO much with so little. But other Christians have done SO little with so much. (These are two kinds of missionaries).
Remember, one day, we will stand before God, face to face, to give our mission report.
“A man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment.”
Revelation “Behold, I am coming soon. My reward is in my hand and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
Just like P&B, we will give this report to God. As long as we live, our priorities will be reordered.
God bless you to be missionaries.
Let’s start the Second Missionary Journey next time.