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Called To Preach

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In the middle of ch. 11 we came to the final portion of the book of Acts. Don’t get too excited, it is the largest portion. Following the outline given in we see the gospel going out to the ends of the earth. We saw in chs. 11-12 how God used the circumstances of persecution, famine, and Herod’s violence to move the gospel. Now we come to the first missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. This chapter transitions us from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, to the uttermost parts.
Paul And Barnabas Are Called And Sent (1st Journey) Chs. 12:25-14:28
What we will consider today is how they are called and sent. The verses we will examine deal with Preaching The Gospel Through The Calling Of The Holy Spirit 12:25-13:3.
Preaching The Gospel Through The Calling Of The Holy Spirit 12:25-13:3
I heard recently about a seminary, though I wasn’t told the name, who encouraged the young men training there to never go to church that couldn’t pay them at least $90,000 a year. I have heard of other seminaries teaching business management in place of pastoral theology which would normally equip you with the practical skills to care for the body of Christ. Left and right we see people entering pastoral ministry and mission agencies looking for notoriety, fame, and the accolades of men.
However, beloved, don’t lose heart. Because I also know of many seminaries teaching young men that pastoral ministry is a calling! Missions work is a burden that God places on your heart! I personally know faithful men and women who have labored long for the cause of Christ without the acclaim of men! They persevere because they understand something that we will consider this morning. They understand that ministry is a calling.
This morning we want to learn two important lessons about the call of God.
Might be thinking “Pastor Jon, I don’t feel called to preach or to missions, why do I need this?” Great question. We are all, collectively, part of the body of Christ. We need to know about the call of God. Why?
These lessons will equip us to identify true and false teachers, know if we are called, and participate in commissioning those called by God.
As the body of Christ we need these skills to fulfill our purpose.
As a local church we need these skills to identify and prepare future leaders.
To learn our first lesson we must discover…

1. The Credentials Of The Called 12:25-13:1

What we are going to learn here is
Lesson # 1 - Who does God call?
This is a vital question to answer. Why? Because we live in a time where there are men called “celebrity pastors”. We live in a time with people who claim that sending them money will bring healing, health, and wealth to your life. We live in a time where people use the ministry as a means to take advantage of others!
Because these things are true, we must know how to identify those who are called by God.
This passage reveals two requirements to be called by God.
Requirement #1…

a. Those called are the faithful v. 25

Let’s recap for a minute. The rest of that we have been looking at is a little bit of an interlude. In ch. 10 Peter went to Gentiles and many were saved. In first part of ch. 11 he defends that ministry. In we learn that people were scattered. Some of these people come to Antioch and people come to the Lord. When the church hears about this they send Barnabas to Antioch. His ministry in Antioch was so blessed by the Holy Spirit that he goes and gets Saul to help him. Just to clarify, Saul is the same one who will later be called Paul. But he doesn’t start being known as Paul until ch. 13. During their ministry together in Antioch, Agabus comes and prophetically reveals the famine that will hit Judea. The Antioch church takes up a collection and sends it with Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem.
Here in our passage they are returning. They have fulfilled their ministry.
Fulfilled – πληρόω (plēroō) to complete. To finish, to bring to a finish or an end.
Fulfilled – πληρόω (plēroō)
What do they fulfill? Their ministry. Minstry = Diakonia or service.
Minstry = Diakonia or service.
They complete the task that had been assigned to them by the church. In short, they are faithful. This is who God calls, the faithful.
Turn to .
2 Corinthians 10:8–11 NKJV
For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed—lest I seem to terrify you by letters. “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.
Paul is under attack by false teachers in Corinth. This is one of the things they are saying of him. He writes good but he’s a physical weakling and he can’t talk very well. Why do I bring this up? Because, as the saying goes, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” God doesn’t call Saul because he is such a great speaker! He calls him because he is faithful!
Turn to .
1 Corinthians 1:25–29 NKJV
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
What God is looking for in the person He would use is not great talent, but great faithfulness.
Do you want to be used by God? Be faithful! Don’t worry about what you have to offer Him, He will qualify those He calls.
v. 25 – should probably go with ch. 13. Tells us they returned to Jerusalem and that they have Mark.
Paul was not a great speaker, neither was Moses. David was an adulterer and all three men were murderers. The God of glory delights in taking broken tools and using them for His purpose and glory!
He desires to use you and me. All He asks is that we be faithful.
God’s most useful tools are surrendered saints.
Paul and Barnabas come back to Antioch with John Mark in tow. We were introduced to this young man earlier in ch. 12 when Peter was supernaturally released from prison and came to Mark’s mother’s house. A lot of people had surnames in this time. Luke introduces us to him because he shows up several more times in Scripture and has some powerful lesson to teach us when we get there.
These faithful men come back to Antioch, and get right back to work. This brings us to our second requirement.
Not only must those called be faithful, the next verse gives us requirement #2…
Not only must those called be faithful, the next verse gives us requirement #2…

b. Those called are the serving v. 1

What we have here is the list of the prophets and teachers serving in the Antioch church.
Church = assembly. This is the local body of believers in Antioch. Barnabas and Saul are in submission to, and serving in, their local church.
The Greek construction here divides the 5 men into two groups. The first three are prophets (forthtellers and possible foretellers) and the final two are teachers (Scripture expositors).
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Thirteen: God Opens the Doors (Acts 13–14)

The prophets helped lay the foundation for the church as they proclaimed the Word of God (Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 14:29–32). They were more “forth-tellers” than “foretellers,” though at times the prophets did announce things to come (Acts 11:27–30). The teachers helped to ground the converts in the doctrines of the faith (2 Tim. 2:2).

Let’s briefly look at these men.
Barnabas - we were introduced to him in ch. 4. His birth name was Joses or Joseph but they church changed it to Barnabas because he was such always encouraging people. He has been repeatedly used by the Lord in Saul’s life and is a major figure in the church at this time.
Simeon called Niger. Don’t know much about him, but Niger is Latin. Interesting that he was given a Latin name. Niger = Black.
Lucius is from Cyrene. According to 11:20 That is where some who first preached in Antioch came from. Possibly the same guy who is with Paul in .
Manaen grew up with Herod, not the one who had just died, this is the Herod who had John the Baptist beheaded and who Jesus stood before at His trial!
Brought up – σύντροφος (syntrophos) companion; foster brother. Foster brother n. — someone reared in the same household as another (but not of blood relation).
Brought up – σύντροφος (syntrophos)
This is an important man. What incredible grace of God! This man had grown up in royalty, and is now a leader in the church. No one is exempt from God’s grace.
Finally we have Saul. Saul has been fully accepted into the church and is now serving as one of the leaders.
Saul has been fully accepted into the church and is now serving as one of the leaders.
That is the key here. The men who are about to be called by God are serving in the local church.
God is not going to call someone into ministry who is doing nothing for the Lord!
Recently my wife and I bought handguns. Brand new, never been fired. We went out to break them in and the first few rounds the jammed when ejecting the casing. At first we got a little frustrated, I mean, these are brand new! But the more rounds we put through them, the better they got. By the end of the day, they were working fine.
Here’s the point. Sometimes for a tool to work best, it needs to be broken in. A hammer that has never been used will sometimes slip off the nail. A brand new tee-shirt has to be washed before it can be worn. A Christian must be tested before they can be used.
God’s most useful tools are used tools.
4 (S).
James 1:2–3 NKJV
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2–4 NKJV
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
If we want to be used by God, we have to be serving. We cannot sit back and wait for God to call us, do something and He will call you!
This is our first lesson. Why does God call? Those who are faithful, and those who are serving.
Having seen the credentials of the called, we turn for our second lesson to…

2. The Circumstances Of The Calling 13:2-3

In these two verses we will learn
Lesson #2 - How does God call?
This too is a vital question. Does someone just decided to preach? Or decided to be a missionary?
How do we know who is being called? How do we discern if God is calling us? Or someone close to us?
The way that God calls Barnabas and Saul is how He calls others.
In these verses we have two vital factors in calling. The first is…

a. The Spirit’s command v. 2

There is something really easy to miss here that I just love. Who are Barnabas and Saul ministering for? The Lord!
While the preach the Word and invest in the lives of people. While the serve the church at Antioch, they are ultimately serving the Lord!
says (S).
Galatians 1:10 NKJV
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Here is an easy way to know if someone is called by God or not. Are they serving to please the Lord? Or for the praise of men?
They are ministering and fasting. Practicing periodic self-denial for the purpose of prayer and seeking the Lord. As they are engaged in this, the Holy Spirit speaks. Let me emphasize again, God calls those who are serving. Barnabas and Saul are ministering and fasting when the Holy Spirit calls them.
Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire The Commission of the Church Militant (Vv. 1–3)

“Fasting” is always a mark of deep spiritual concern, indicating that a person is willing to set aside the normal demands of life in order to concentrate for a time on what God wants.

This calling is very personal and specific.
This calling is very specific.
There are three elements to this call. First, the call to “separate.”
Separate – ἀφορίζω (aphorizō) separate; appoint; set apart. To isolate something and place in a group apart from others (as for a purpose).
Separate – ἀφορίζω (aphorizō)
God is setting them apart. Not because they are better, or because they are worse, but because they are chosen. They are chosen for a specific purpose. I want to note that this is an imperative. They either go as they are called or they sinfully resist God.
They are being set apart for “the work.” This is the second element to the call.
Work – ἔργον (ergon) work or deed. Duty, work that a person is obliged to perform for moral or legal reasons.
Work – ἔργον (ergon)
God has a specific task, a deed and duty for them to perform. It is a calling. This is the third element to the call.
Called – προσκαλέομαι (proskaleomai) summon; call to oneself. To call to a task, to order, summon, or request for a specific duty or activity, work, or role.
Called – προσκαλέομαι (proskaleomai)
They are being summoned to God, to be used for His purposes and glory!
Notice, this is not why Barnabas and Saul are serving. They don’t have ulterior motives. They are serving because that is what you do in a local church. As they are serving, God summons them to leave the others for a specific task.
Who does the calling? The Holy Spirit. This is how God calls!
God calls through the work of the Holy Spirit.
God calls through the work of the Holy Spirit.
We need to very clear here. The Holy Spirit does not speak to us in an audible voice today. He speaks to us through His Word, and in our hearts. However, what He speaks in our hearts will NEVER contradict His Word.
When it comes to calling for ministry, the Holy Spirit is going to lead through the Word.
Leading through His Word would include discerning who is Biblically qualified. We find those qualifications in and . We’re not going to go there right now. We actually covered these pretty thoroughly in Sunday school a month or two ago. Those lessons are on our website.
This includes leading through His Word to discern those Biblically qualified. ;
Here’s the point. The Holy Spirit will not call someone into vocational ministry who is not Biblically qualified to be in that position.
One of the requirements given in is that someone who serves in this capacity cannot be “a novice”, meaning a new believer. God may call someone newly saved, or burden them, but they need some spiritual maturity before they begin to serve.
This indicates that they are not novices - new believers. God may call someone newly saved, or burden them, but they need some spiritual maturity before they begin to serve.
Placing a new believer in a position of leadership can severely damage them and the church.
All of the men mentioned in v. 1 are ministering and fasting here in v. 2. From the context it seems that it is to this group that the Holy Spirit speaks. This is really, really important.
God’s call will be confirmed by the leadership of the local church. I would suggest that someone not under the authority of a local church will not be called into ministry. Another interesting point here is that it seems these other leaders receive the call on behalf of Barnabas and Saul. The picture I get of the local church is of leaders investing in the lives of others in the church and seeing a someone gifted in preaching and teaching or gifted in evangelism or gifted in children’s ministry, youth ministry, or any ministry of the church. These leaders pray about and then approach the individual explaining what they see! The local church is an indispensable part of calling people into ministry!
v. 2 – It is the HS who calls men into ministry. This call is not always given to the man. Notice that the elders receive the call on behalf of Barnabas and Saul.
This is actually how Saul, later called Paul, writes about this experience. (S).
1 Timothy 1:12–13 NKJV
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
The Lord “put” Paul into ministry.
This is why it is vital for all of us to know who God calls to preach and how He calls them. Because the whole church is involved in this process! We see this in the next verse.
God calls through the Spirit’s command. Alongside the Spirit’s command is a second vital factor…
Alongside the Spirit’s command is a second vital factor…

b. The church’s commission v. 3

The church takes time to make sure this is really the leading of the Holy Spirit. They also take time to prepare.
I love this. Even after the Holy Spirit speaks, they are careful and deliberate in the sending out of these men.
Sent – ἀπολύω (apolyō) release; set free; let go. To dispatch v. — to send away towards a designated goal or purpose.
Sent – ἀπολύω (apolyō)
The only other place this word is used is in when the messengers are sent to the Gentiles with the letter about circumcision. The idea of this word is a commissioning.
The local church is led by the Holy Spirit to send these men out. They fast, they pray, they lay hands on them, then they send them out!
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Acts of the Apostles A. The Release of Barnabas and Saul from Antioch in Syria (13:1–3)

Effective Christian leaders will likewise see the need to discern God’s gifting for ministry in others, to support (and where necessary train) those whom God is leading to local ministry or mission elsewhere, and to affirm them by acts of ordination or commissioning

We need to talk about who is sent here. Barnabas and Saul. Barnabas, the man who was sent by the Jerusalem church to strengthen and encourage this church when it first started! Saul, the one who Barnabas recruited to help him in this work. This would be around 48 AD. It has been roughly 5 years that Barnabas and Saul have ministered in this church together. Barnabas has been there even longer!
What does this tell us? The Antioch church is sending out their best.
Many churches resist sending their best and brightest out to serve. Some send out their misfits. We shouldn’t send those we want to get rid of into missions, send the best!
Many churches resist sending their best and brightest out to serve. We shouldn’t send those we want to get rid of into missions, send the best!
Alex Montoya is a dear IFCA brother. Here’s what he says about this, “When I see someone I think is really good, someone who could take my job, I send them out to plant a church.”
In this verse, I believe the “they” mentioned is the entire local assembly.
God calls through the local church.
The call is given by the Holy Spirit, and it is confirmed by the church.
This is a vital checks and balance system.
If someone claims to be called by God, we need to know if their local church supports them. If their “call” is not supported by their local church, they are not called.
We, as the body of Christ and the local church, are vastly important in the process of establishing leaders in the universal church!
We need to be able and willing to do our job.


Let’s recap.
Our first lesson answered the question of who God calls. There are two requirements.
God calls someone who is faithful.
It is not the super talented, good looking, or successful; it is the faithful. That person who scrubs toilets, visits the sick, spends time doing anything and everything. That is who God calls. This takes us right into the second requirement.
God calls someone who is serving.
The person who sits back and allows others to do the work, will not be called by God. The person who is engaged with the local church, that is who God will call.
Our second lesson answered the question, how does God call. There are two vital factors in God’s calling.
God calls through the Holy Spirit.
This means that the one called is going to Biblically qualified and spiritually gifted to do the work. This brings us to the second factor.
God calls through the local church.
This is how we know they are qualified and gifted, because the local leaders are involved, engaged, and making sure.
I pray that we are better equipped to identify future leaders and expose false teachers.
Here’s the question I want to close with.
Are we the kind of people God would call?
Are we faithful? Are we serving? Are we engaged in the local church?
I pray that Grace Church would become a training ground for leaders in the body of Christ.
May we be discerning, faithful, and active members of Christ’s body.
Acts 12:25-13:3
Acts 12:25–13:3 NKJV
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark. Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
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