I have been studying through Acts 13. This is where Paul and Barnabas are called out by the Holy Spirit to begin preaching the gospel to the Roman world. This is also called the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul immediately goes according to his pattern to the synagogues, but it is when the gentile governor calls for Saul/Paul that we see the real first opposition to the gospel.
There was a magician named Bar-Jesus/Elymas who desperately tried to turn the governor away from the faith.
Here are the elements that were at play:
1) There was someone willing to proclaim the gospel,
2) There was someone who needed to hear the gospel,
3) That same person wanted to hear the gospel,
4) There was one who opposed the gospel and tried to steer the person who wanted to hear away.
The point is this: Barnabas and Paul were sent by and with the power of the Holy Spirit. We should take note that if they encountered opposition when they went to proclaim the gospel, should we not expect it as well? How this story begins is very important in how we should approach evangelism. Verse 2 states, “while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them.” They did not begin by making some strategy and then go to the Lord to ask Him to bless it. They were doing what naturally Christians should be doing, worshiping! It was while they were worshiping that the Lord spoke to them.
I was just thinking about how many times I have tried to start projects, missions, programs, and so forth in my own power. Designing these things and then asking the Lord to bless it. Paul and Barnabas just made themselves available, and then the Lord told them what He wanted them to do. It is certain that we will encounter the enemy in our evangelism, but I am not sure that we, ourselves may be our most formidable adversary because we try to advance the gospel in our own power.
I think we would all agree that the four points above are fairly universal, and of course there are exceptions. But just imagine for a moment if we really sought the Lord’s face and it was there we received our direction. Just a thought, do you think our evangelism efforts would be different? Doing evangelism is not an option; we are commanded to proclaim it, but what about how and where? It would be very presumptuous to think we know better than The Lord by designing our own strategies apart from Him. “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
May we set our minds to worship, with the urgency to evangelize, and seek The Lord for how and where! Maybe this could begin another great awakening in this country and it begins by waking up the people up of God. Let us go to our knees and when we have our directions, get up and go. Paul and Barnabas did and many came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Who will go for us? Will you say it is I, Lord, send me?