Just like God was with Peter to the Jews, so also has God called Saul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Acts 13 is the transition point in our story.
We begin in the city of Antioch, in a church that is well established and growing. Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul were the elders, prophets and teachers. An amazingly diverse leadership, with different backgrounds and testimonies. God called from all races, all classes.
Two specifically are chosen for a new ministry. Not by ability or background, but by his sovereign call. God has a personal plan for each of us.
1. Personal Plan
They are sovereignly called of God. He chose them because of his own will. The are separated apart TO HIM! We all have been called thusly, separated from the world and unto the Lord. For salvation and for each work, the call is to himself. And this call is even from the womb (Galatians 1:15; also Jeremiah). They were ordained to do this before this church ever laid their hands on them.
Interesting note — first church-sent missionaries.
2. Persistent Piety
These men were before the Lord, in prayer and fasting. Maybe they were seeking to serve elsewhere in a new work to see the gospel spread. It is in this place of prayer that their ears are open to hear the Lord’s call. And it was a call to all to set apart the two.
These men knew the call on their lives and the suffering they (especially Saul) was going to endure. With the dangers all around, it was wise for them to be in prayer! And the call was to leave the place they knew and the brothers who sustained them. But they respond immediately and without hesitation — my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me!
3. Passionate Preaching
No distractions, they went to Salamis and preached Christ. Are we as desperate as Hannah, praying for a son, to see God’s work done? They always preached Christ, with passion to see God’s name glorified and the lost saved. The message was the same no matter the difficulties, no matter the results, no matter the response.
They preached Christ — the pure gospel, the pure Word, the whole scriptures. They preached constantly — in the face of all opposition, internal and external. They preached consistently — always of God’s judgment and grace through Jesus Christ, foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews. And see 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
The word of God grew and multiplied.
… And John was their assistant. Even the “small” parts are important and worthy service for the King.
Do you stand firm, no matter what people think, no matter what people say? Are you sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Are you seeking the Lord in prayer?
God has a personal plan for your life. You have been set apart not into ministry, but unto him! Are we living righteously? The way we live and the way we talk must reflect the gospel.