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Ministry lessons from Paul: The world's greatest missionary- Acts 16-20
Ministry lessons from the worlds greatest missionary
From: Acts 16-20

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says "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."

This was the mission he gave to his first disciples (which the Book of Acts details). This is the mission that He has given to us.

While the Book of Acts introduces us to many people by name, who worked with all their might to preach Jesus, repentance, and faith in Christ-- and then who sought to encourage those who responded to carry on in their walk with the Lord, there is one person who stands out above the rest-- that is the Apostle Paul.

Paul's story is a familiar one to us-- he being miraculously saved, having a personal encounter with Christ while in the process of actively working to persecute Christians, and he being the Spirit led/inspired author of more than half of the N.T books. (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Given the central role of Paul in the taking of the message of Jesus first to the Jew and then the Gentile world of his day, I'd like to wander through Acts 16-20 this morning with this as our focus: Ministry lessons from the worlds greatest missionary.

Lesson 1 Serving Christ is a not a solitary endeavor-- it takes a TEAM

Note Acts 16:1-8

-Timothy was Paul's ministry companion (Timothy made a big sacrifice-- circumcised-- not because the law required but so that he not an offense and unnecessary stumbling block to the Jews they preaching Christ to)
-Note the word "They" v.4
-"Paul and his companions...." v.6

The service of Christ requires every Christian to be on board-- every Christian making themselves available for service. Every Christian giving sacrificially. Every Christian committed to taking the message of Jesus. Every Christian committed to working with other Christians/to being a team player (despite personality differences and the odd disagreement)

For our service the Holy Spirit has given many different gifts to the church. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 " Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."

Are you prepared to work in a team for Christ-- making sacrifices along the way, willing to put up with your brother and sister though you might have a different personality or way of doing things?

Lesson 2 The filling, leading, and power of the Holy Spirit is needed to do the work of Christ

This point is connected to our study from last week-- noting that Barnabas was a man who was filled with Holy Spirit. Such is the command of Ephesians 5:18-- for us to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit (asking for it, dealing with the sin in our lives that we might have it)

Note how Paul and his companions were led by the Holy Spirit -Acts 16:6-7 "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to."

Note how Paul was empowered by the Holy Spirit--Acts 19:11-12 "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." Such was by the indwelling and fullness of the Spirit in the life of Paul.

For the work of Christ to go ahead-- we need the power of Christ working through us. We need the filling of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray for it and seek it.

Here's the great thing: God will give His power, His wisdom, His strength, His grace to us. He will supply all that we need to serve Him.


We have a message to take-- and its pretty clear what it is: We are sinners. Apart from Christ we are under the judgment of God. According to God's grace and love, he sent his son- the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to save us from our sins. Jesus came according to the prophecies of the Scriptures. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life and then he died upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins-- taking upon himself the judgment of God that we deserve for our sins and acts of rebellion against God. 3 days after dying, Jesus rose to life-- just as he said he would-- proving that he was God in the flesh and the only Savior. The call of Christ that we are to preach is to repent of ones sins and put their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

We are to take this message and take it faithfully, yet the taking of it won't save anybody unless God does a work in the hearers heart--- bringing conviction, repentance, and faith.

Proof: Acts 16:13-14 " On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.

God is the one who saves, never us.

Another interesting verse -- as to why people don't respond on their own and why God must open people's hearts--- 2 Corinthians 4:4 says; "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God"

Our job: Be faithful. Keep on speaking. Keep on trying to persuade people to follow Christ (this is Paul and those with him did all the time)

Persuade/reason appears in Acts 18:4, 19; 17:2,17; 19:8

APPLICATION QUESTION: How active are you in trying to talk to others about Jesus?

If the answer is "Not very often". Ask God to forgive you (for to not talk about Jesus is to break the command of Christ). Ask God to give you His strength and to fill you with boldness and courage, His Spirit, and His Words-- that you might be found telling others-- and then pray for open doors--- and never give up or stop talking about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Lesson 4: TWO THINGS WE CAN EXPECT AS WE TAKE CHRIST TO OTHERS: People to get saved. Persecution.

In Acts 16:9-10 it says; "During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

It was by the Spirit's leading that Paul and his team went to Macedonia. While there Lydia and others became a follower of Christ, but note also that with the preaching of Christ and the call to repent that persecution came as well. (The owners of the fortune telling girl had Paul and Silas beaten and imprisoned). Incredibly-- because of this imprisonment, their jailer came to put his faith in Christ. (See Acts 16:22-34)

God prepares people's hearts to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus will and is building His church. In Acts 18:9-11 it says; " One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."

Persecution is part of following Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:12 "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,".

We must not let ourselves be silenced by those who respond with hate.

Lesson 5 As the followers of Christ, we need constant encouragement

In Acts 16:4-5 it says; "As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers"

In Acts 16:40 it says; "After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left."

In Acts 11:23 it says of Barnabas "When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

In Acts 18:27 it says; "When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed."

Acts 15:32 it says; "Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers."

No matter what's going on in our lives we need constant encouragement to keep on with the Lord, to keep on telling others about Christ, to keep on in prayer, to keep on in worship, to keep on in serving, to keep on in giving, to keep with each other when in conflict, to keep on pursuing holiness and righteousness, to keep on in our study and meditation of the Word, to KEEP ON!

A constant throughout the missionary journey's of Paul and the other believers was that they took it upon themselves to mutually encourage each other -- that they might keep on with the Lord.

Again, as we heard last week; "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds," Hebrews 10:24

It is important to come to church, when you go to your email, when you go to text, when you go to your phone, when you go onto Facebook to go with this attitude: How I encourage my brother/sister to keep on with the Lord.

Lesson 6 It's all about Jesus. Ministry is always and has to always be about Jesus

In Colossians 3:17 it says; "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

It's easy to get distracted as Christians. The pull to water down the Gospel or not talk about Jesus as much, is always there. Yet what is the example of Paul and the other believers in the Book of Acts? It's the declaration of Jesus Christ as risen Savior and Lord. It's the call to repent of ones sins and put their faith in Jesus. Wherever our first brothers and sisters in Christ went the goal was to talk about Jesus- his reason for coming, his death, his fulfillment of the Scriptures, his resurrection, his return to judge the world, the need to repent of ones sins, the grace of God for forgiveness, the call to holiness in Christ.

Such doesn't mean that we can't or shouldn't have food banks or other such things as Christians-- for caring for people and their needs is part of being a follower of Jesus. What it does mean though is that our mouths are always ready and eager to talk Jesus and the way of salvation with people.

We must always remember that we are not our own, we were bought at a price. We belong to Christ. Christ belongs to us. We are to put Christ first and in the centre of all that we do.

Remember "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."