Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus.Acts 13:1-6
I received a number of responses from you all after sending Gem 1608. As I said to you, I will be brief. As brief as you will let me be. You decide. Numbers of you wrote asking for more Ian and Tania stories of God’s provision, personal testimony. As you know I drop in a relevant story from time to time. However Bible Gems are all about the text of the Bible and what God has given us in His Life Manual for us to ponder. I use personal stories from time to time to highlight or explain something in the text we are dealing with. So no, sorry at this point I am not going to add a number of our stories without a specific purpose. I wondered if there might be other elements of the text you would pick up on and I would respond accordingly. But as there were not we will move on. That is not to say there is nothing to comment on. There is a lot more we could cover but since nothing was brought into focus by your questions I will carry on with the account Luke gave us. However when my new website is up and running I intend to make it possible to access the Ian and Tania stories easily. Ultimately I will publish a book of our Story called Led All The Way.
Notice from the context of what the Holy Spirit spoke to the gathering of the prophets and teachers that it appears God had already spoken to Barnabas and Saul prior to speaking to the group and confirming the call to Barnabas and Saul. In my experience of our own call to this work and from what I have observed with others over the years, God never calls someone into service or a ministry, especially mission work without having first called the person themselves. Oh there might be hints at something to come as you can see from the prophecies and words from the Lord we received far in advance of getting a direct call. But there will come a time when God makes it clear to you that is what He wants you to do. In fact if it is really God’s call you will not be able to escape it. It will keep coming back. Oh you will be able to accept it or reject it but you will be left in no doubt as to what choice you are making. That seems to be the case with Barnabas and Saul. When the Holy Spirit He said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul to the special work to which I have called them.” It appears he had spoken to the two men first before the confirmation came through the church.
When you are called by God to something specific and special as in this case God makes it abundantly clear to you first. Following that He will confirm it through the leadership of your local church. Above all they need to be a part of the process. When God calls it includes the affirmation of the local body of Christ around them. There comes with God’s call, a recognition in those around you that it is right and proper for you to do what God is calling you to do. The body recognises the hand or the foot or the mouth or another part of the body to be the most suited to the work God wants done. When both the individual concerned and the church around them sense the calling of God on a person’s life, then it just a matter of time before the Holy Spirit will speak into the situation and confirm what is happening for all involved. That is what seems to have happened here among these believers in Antioch. I could say lots more on this too but I will await your specific questions if there be any.
Notice that God calls the two most gifted and able men to this special work. So often in churches the best people stay at home because the body of Christ in that location feel they are needed at home. But in this case Barnabas and Saul, the two most influential men in the church in Antioch, were the ones sent out. In this day and age we need to be willing to send our best people to get to the job done more effectively. Stop holding on to the best people for the job and keeping them at home. Release them sacrificially in order to see the completion of the word at the ends of the earth. Perhaps that is why the task is still to do because we haven’t sent our best.
In verse four Luke tells us “Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit”. When you have been sent out by the Holy Spirit you know it. That was Tania’s and my experience. It does huge things in you because you know you are going out under God’s authority and anointing for the special work He has called you to. Things will get hard. Any significant work of God will meet opposition. But you can go through the opposition when you know God wants you to be where you are and doing the work He wants you to do. There is nothing like that feeling to hold you in the place of your appointment and enabling you to stand firm in God no matter what is thrown at you. Believe me, if satan can discourage you and send you home with your tail between your legs he will.
Finally before we set off on the journey with Barnabas and Saul let’s look at the nature of what they were called to do. Note that God said, they were called to a special work. In the Greek text that special work is marked by an emphatic particle. This was a very specific task and it was special. Barnabas and Saul were tailor-made to do it. Well God ordained I think. Just take in for the moment the nature of what they were called to do and what was up ahead for them. This is the pivot point of the spread of the Gospel, the Good News of Christ and what He does in a human being. Now the way has been opened for the Gentiles to be a part of this move of God. There are a number of reasons why Barnabas and Saul are the right men for the job. Look back over the following past related Gems I have listed below.
Bible Gem 1529 – Saul’s Link to Barnabas and His Flight to Tarsus (Acts 9:26-31)
Bible Gem 1522 – Saul – A Chosen Vessel to Carry My Name (Acts 9:15-17)
Bible Gem 1446 – Barnabas – a Leader by Example (Acts 4:36-37)
This is the moment when the Gospel is being prepared for the big leap from being Jewish to being universal. It begins moving east to Asia Minor but very soon the direction will turn and it will be taken to the West again under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We have noted already that Barnabas was a Levite and a Cypriot. These two men are the ones entrusted to take the Gospel to the world. Where do they head first on this journey before them, Cyprus of course.
“They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus.”
Get a good nights sleep and pack your bags. Tomorrow we leave for Seleucia. We will be away for some time so make sure you bring with you all you need. Yes that right, we are accompanying Barnabas and Saul on their first missionary journey. You say, you have always wanted to be a missionary; well now is your chance. Bring the wife and kids too. Oh you’re not married. It doesn’t matter, you will likely find a wife, or a husband, along the way.
God promised men that good obedient wives would be found in all four corners of the earth. And then He made the world round and laughed and laughed and laughed.Ian Vail
Come with us: It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.Ian Vail
Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.Charles Dudley Warner
There are no luggage racks on hearses or trailers towed behind.Ian Vail
Everyone that you meet comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack yours.Ian Vail
Maybe you should also read: Bible Gem 938 – No baggage; not even carry-on ! (Luke 10:1,4)