Acts 14:19-25
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
For GIC, April 25, 2010

Acts 14:19-25 (Holman) Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.” When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. After they spoke the message in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

Paul the Apostle’s missions career, when broken down into pieces, was a continuous succession of short-term mission trips. For instance, our text says Paul ministered in at least 8 different cities – Antioch, Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia – in a brief period of time.

We too must go on short-term mission trips. They are essential to create a missions climate in a local church. We must see lostness with our own eyes.

Our responsibility begins in determining to whom the Great Commission is given. We Southern Baptists, for 150 years, essentially believed the Foreign and Home Mission Boards were the cutting edge of the Great Commission. Local churches helped the Boards do missions by sending money and people.

Thirteen years ago, in 1997, when the missions revival began at Second, we began to embrace the concept that the local church was responsible for fulfilling the Great Commission with help from the Boards. About ten years ago we drew an even smaller circle of responsibility.

We began shifting responsibility for the Great Commission to Sunday School classes. We asked each small group to do projects in Springfield, in Missouri, in the USA, and internationally. Classes took responsibility for the mission, with help from our church and the Boards.

Eight years ago the circle of responsibility narrowed even more. We realized the Great Commission is given primarily to every individual Christian.

Each church member is to pray, give, and go with regard to Springfield, Missouri, the USA, and internationally. The Great Commission is to be fulfilled by individuals, with help from Sunday classes, our church, and the Boards. This concept of the tightening noose revolutionized our church’s missions enterprise.

For years, though a Pastor, I failed to see the obvious in Scripture. I felt if I stayed at home and focused on church growth, God would be pleased. I was wrong. I said I wanted to be like Jesus, yet had failed to notice a pertinent fact.

Jesus spent His whole public ministry going on short-term mission trips. From His home base in Capernaum, He made forays into Phoenicia, Decapolis, Samaria, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, etc.

Therefore, if we want to be like Jesus, we will spend the rest of our lives going on many short-term mission trips. It is impossible to follow Jesus’ example or obey His commands without traveling.

Jesus emptied Himself and left His Heavenly home to win the lost. Could we maybe fill a suitcase and leave our earthly homes to do the same?

Once I embraced the obvious, going on short-term trips became, for me, the noble cause. I’m glad I lived long enough to discover it. Too few do.

The Christian pilgrimage is never a journey to one location. The Acts 1:8 challenge requires us to accept responsibility for many places simultaneously.

We live in a time where we can do this. Most of us grew up in church with a transportation paradigm the same as William Carey’s. In his day, “a slow boat to China” and covered wagons were the fastest means of international and interstate travel available. Short-term USA and international trips were impossible.

The railroad changed everything. Cars and planes have brought about even more drastic change. We twenty-first century USA Americans need a new travel paradigm more in line with our modern modes of transportation.

I long embraced an error commonly made in Bible interpretation. I equated “go” with “go and stay.” They are not one and the same. Very few believers have the special, specific call to go and stay, but all Christians are to go.

Many use this grievous misinterpretation, equating go with go and stay, as an excuse to not have to go on short-term missions trips. The Bible is clear. All believers are to spend their lives going to their state, nation, and world.

I also had to quit using the wrong conjunction. With regard to missions I had said pray or give or go, but should have been saying pray and give and go.

“Or” makes it too easy for people to find a loophole allowing them to neglect their responsibility to go. “And” rightly makes going essential for us all. It is interesting and important to note, in the five times the Great Commission is given, the only thing commanded in all five is not pray or give, but go.

“Go” means we believers must leave our ruts and find prechristians. We have to quit moving only in our daily routines. Jesus said lost sheep are scattered. Hence, we have to scatter to find them.

Young Frederick Sampson spent a summer on his uncle’s farm. The first morning, his uncle woke him at 4 a.m. and set him to work around the barn. He cleaned stalls, fed horses, and carried water. He finished four hours later, was exhausted, and started climbing back up to his bed in the hayloft.

His uncle asked, “Where are you going?” “To bed.” “Why?” “I’ve finished my work.” Frederick never forgot what happened next. His uncle leaned over, put his finger in his nephew’s face, and said, “Son, I’m going to tell you something I don’t want you ever to forget. What you do around the barn is chores, what you do in the fields is work.”

Churches excel in chores. We do well inside our spiritual barns, our church houses. We know how to take care of ourselves.

Church members do not hesitate to clamor for their rights and privileges. Our problem is, very few of us speak for the lost.

“Go” applies to work in harvest fields. In chores we minister to each other as believers, in work we perform an unselfish act of worship by trying to reach the lost for God. We must go out among prechristians, and try to win them.

To sit idly by and wait for them to come to us is a strange way to go, an odd notion of how to seek lost sheep. Few hunters sit in their kitchen and wait for ducks to fly through.

Farmers don’t stand at the fence row and summon a crop to come in. My dad, a cotton farmer, in 1948 picked 2290 pounds in one week (514 in one day) to buy Mom a 21-jewel Bulova watch for $90.56.

Dad did not stand inside the barn and beckon, “Here, cotton; this way, cotton; come jump into my sack, cotton.” He had to go out among the cotton stalks. We too have to move, overcome inertia, and draw near sinners.

The Gospel is carried not by come or osmosis, but by go. It has to be picked up, carried, and delivered.

To have God’s heart, we must go. In the incarnation, God showed what should be done for sinners far away. God had only one Son. He had Him go. Can we do less? (Oswald Smith).

God made His Son a career missionary – He went from one galaxy to another – and a short-term missionary, operating out of His home base in Capernaum. Thus, to be like Jesus, we have two choices, be a career missionary, or a short-term missionary. Which will it be for us?