“COME OVER AND HELP US”
1. Ian’s concept of mission work: “I want to live at the zoo and work for the Lord.”
2. What’s your view of our relation to missions? An adventure? A privilege? An interruption? A burden?
3. One of the pivotal passages in Acts – and in world history – suggests five principles which are to fashion the church’s thinking about its missionary activity.
a. It’s part of the record of the early stages of Paul’s second missionary journey.
b. Silas and Timothy are with him, and with the “we” and “us” of verse 10, Luke, the beloved physician enters the picture for the first time.
c. Though it wasn’t really what they had planned, because of what happened in our text they took the good news of Christ to Europe for the very first time.
d. In a very real way our own hope can be traced to this very event, so the thoughts which are provoked by it are especially precious to us.
1. People need help.
a. The man Paul saw was standing, urging, asking for help (v.9). Subsequent events in Macedonia indicate what his reasons may have been.
i. There were some over there who were longing to know the word of God, eager to know the Christ it promised.
ii. But in the great cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth, there were also people who were abused and confused, selfish and superstitious, ruined and lost.
iii. We read of a slave girl who brought her owners much gain, of owners who were so angry when their hope of gain was gone that they made sure a beating and imprisonment followed, of a hardened jailer who was about to kill himself, of jealous people who stirred the rabble into a mob who would attack those who believed in Christ, and of smart people so caught up in idolatry that they spent all their time in telling or hearing something new without facing any moral obligation to the gods they were supposed to be serving. It was a world which badly needed help!
b. So does ours. People everywhere are needing help.
i. Individuals need help in knowing why they matter and how their lives are meant to be lived, and what for.
ii. Families need help. Members of every one of them need to know how to relate to each other and how to honor God in their homes.
iii. Souls need help overcoming pride and emptiness, guilt and lostness. People need to know that there is something to look forward to besides a hopeless end.
2. People would be helped by the gospel.
a. When the man Paul saw asked for help, Paul and his companions understood that his request was to be answered by the gospel (v.10).
i. The gospel says that we each one have been loved at great cost without our deserving it.
ii. It says that our failures and faults can be buried and that new life, a life of righteousness and loyalty, is now possible.
iii. And the gospel says that there is a hope laid up in heaven for us, a hope strong enough to sustain us through whatever life brings along.
b. Everybody everywhere needs the faith which has once for all been delivered to the saints!
i. It is the power of God for salvation, whether the person with the need is Jew or Greek (Rom. 1:16).
ii. Where it takes hold, the old mankind, which was dominated by immorality and greed and malice and deceit, is put away and a renewal after the image of our creator begins. A life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love and gratitude develops (Col. 3:5-15).
iii. What else besides the gospel can work such a change in the personality, in the family, and in the community?
3. Somebody has to take the gospel to them.
a. God’s way is to use persons to take the good news to persons.
i. He did not directly change the circumstances to those in Macedonia who were praying for help.
ii. Instead, he called Paul and his companions to preach the gospel to them (v.10).
iii. This is the same way he dealt with the Ethiopian treasurer and the household of Cornelius.
b. But why did Paul and those who were with him conclude they were the ones to do it?
i. They knew very well that people can’t believe what they haven’t heard, and that they can’t hear until someone tells them (Rom. 10:14).
ii. Paul understood that he had been sent for that very purpose: by telling people about Christ he would open their eyes so that they could turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, thus receiving forgiveness and a place among God’s people (Acts 26:15-18).
iii. Remember that we all have a place in this wonderful commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
4. When we are doing what we can, the providence of God opens doors for this purpose.
a. The Lord’s closing and opening of doors is illustrated in a unique way in this episode.
i. Paul reached the farthest point to which he had traveled on his first journey and intended to head on southwest through the province of Asia toward Ephesus, but he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia (v.6).
ii. He turned to the north attempting to go into Bithynia, but again the spirit of Jesus did not allow them (v.7).
iii. Apparently the only thing he did not consider was going back! They turned west until they came to Troas at the northwest corner of Asia Minor on the coast of the Aegean Sea, very near the site of ancient Troy. That’s where they were when Paul saw the man from Macedonia calling for help.
b. When they immediately acted upon this opportunity, the Lord’s providential wisdom in the matter became clear.
i. In this process, doctor Luke had joined them.
ii. A fair wind helped them along to the important city of Philippi.
iii. They found people whose hearts were open to the gospel, and a congregation was established which was to become a great partner with Paul in taking the gospel to the rest of the Roman world.
5. We also can have a part in the noble process of enabling someone to take the gospel to the world.
a. Perhaps this is the reason for the joy in the church at Philippi.
i. Partnership in the furtherance of the gospel seemed a natural thing to them (Phil. 1:5).
ii. No other congregation had the kind of partnership with Paul in giving and receiving that they had (Phil. 4:15).
iii. Maybe they were just continuing the spirit that Lydia and the jailer had first shown there (Acts 16:15, 34).
b. We’ll be happiest and closest to Christ when that same spirit exists among us.
i. If we’ve been blessed by the gospel, we will surely believe other people need it, and we’ll be concerned about our place in getting it to them.
ii. Someone said, “If we can’t go to the mission field on our feet, we can go on our knees.”
iii. And, if we’ve been there on our knees, we’ll appreciate the opportunities providence has presented us to be partners in such a great task.
1. The determining factor in our attitude toward missions is our attitude toward to privilege we have had of hearing the gospel ourselves.
2. The Lord who told his disciples to go invites all of us to come.