Apostolic missions. What does it mean?
To me it means to be sent; to be commissioned to move with the Gospel and keep moving for the sake of those who have never heard.
Jesus was on a mission. The needs are all around him yet he says, “Let us go to preach to the other villages…for this reason I have come. (Mark 1:38) He was never moved by the needs alone but rather listened to the voice and wisdom of the Father.
He moved at rapid pace throughout his area of influence in only three years. He left his disciples, entrusting them to the Holy Spirit, even though they still did not fully understanding their calling of taking the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, starting from their own city.
Paul went and preached at every place where he was directed…some believed, some sneered and mocked, and some said, “We will hear you again on this later” but Paul left the next day! (Acts 17:32-18:1)
That one time was their one opportunity. Paul was not moved by their reactions. He knew he couldn’t really control them. But he pressed on and covered a region of 25 million people in 15 years without modern methods of travel!
Phillip was in revival in one place but the Spirit directed him to the a lonely desert road for one man…the Ethiopian Eunuch…who he led to Jesus, immediately baptized, and was then taken away by the Spirit to another place. (Acts 8:26-40)
What?? No discipleship…what kind of minister is this? No follow up??
Phillip had a commission from God and a mandate that must be fulfilled. He was on the move.
Peter was led to the Gentile Centurion named Cornelius while in prayer and through a divine appointment.
He traveled two days, with people he didn’t know, to speak at a place where he wasn’t sure what was going on before he arrived there.
He started to speak and the power of God fell on those listening to the message. The whole household was saved, baptized, and filled and Peter moved on after only a couple of days! (Acts 10)
Paul says many times that he was free of the blood of all men….why?…Because he never failed to “declare the full counsel of God” to them. (Acts 20:25-27)
What does that mean?
He never “held back anything that was profitable” to them. You catch that? He didn’t hold back. He laid it all out there as soon as he possibly could.
What did that look like?
He preached and taught all day and even into the night when he was with a group…take for example Eutycus who fell asleep because Paul kept going on and on while teaching. (Acts 20:9)
He did this because he knew that he would not have extended times to prepare them.
Another time, Paul was teaching at the school of Tyrannus during a time of day when other people were taking their afternoon siestas.
He wasn’t resting, he was pressing!
One Greek New Testament manuscript says he taught from “the sixth to the tenth hour”, specifying the hours that he had the use of the building. These would be the hottest times of the day when shops would close and people would rest for their evening business. Paul may have used his mornings for tent making.
The point is: the man didn’t rest much…but he wasn’t married or had kids either!
These are our examples of what apostolic missions work should look like? Not everyone is called to this type of ministry. Many are called to be local Pastor-Teacher elders who have been selected by God to stay in one place for the sake of the people under their care.
Though not all believers are called to be leaders, all can be “apostolic” in the sense of living “on mission” each and every day, adding value to people’s lives by bringing the message of hope and life in Jesus and helping others to know Him more through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.
However it has become so rare to see this type of “apostolic missions” happening these days, even overseas. I hope that we can see a renewal of it in our generation. I think of men like John Wesley and John Nevius as just two examples of men who did this type of work in their day.
I hope we could see apostolic bands of ministers making itineration, not on a preaching circuit in the best and most popular city churches, but reaching out in the “highways and hedges” among those who, over 2,000 years later, have still never heard the Good News of Jesus. Multitudes are still waiting.