God's Call to Mission

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(Acts 1 & 2, Genesis 9, 11 & 12)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 3

God’s Call to Mission

(Acts 1 & 2, Genesis 9, 11 & 12)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: How many times have you joined an “organizational meeting” to receive instructions on how to accomplish some goal? On a smaller scale, how often have you sat down and contemplated how you should best do something new? This used to be a source of minor disagreement between my brother and me when we worked on construction together. (He was the boss.) He would say to the men, “Let’s get these materials over there.” I would respond, “Wait a minute, let’s figure out how to most efficiently and easily do this.” Some tasks don’t take a lot of thinking, but for the one we study today we need to take direction from God. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible!

  1. Getting It Right
    1. Read Acts 1:1-2. How were the disciples instructed? (Jesus taught them in person, and then He taught them through the Holy Spirit.)
    2. Read Acts 1:3-5. What is the subject of this final teaching directly from Jesus? (It was about “the Kingdom of God.”)
    3. Read Acts 1:6. The context, as we see in Acts 1:9, is that Jesus is rising up to return to heaven. What does this question reveal to us? (The disciples appear to have learned nothing. They think that Jesus is going to defeat the Romans and restore Israel to the Jewish people. Of course, they would be the leaders in this restoration.)
      1. Contemplate the 3.5 years of Jesus’ direct teaching and His forty days of last-minute teaching about the “Kingdom of God.” How could the disciples still have the wrong idea?
        1. What does that say to us about understanding our marching orders? (Old ideas die hard. The disciples needed the Holy Spirit to continue to work with them.)
    4. Read Acts 1:7-8. How does Jesus answer this very frustrating question asked by the disciples? (He gives a better answer than we would have given. At the heart of His answer is the power of the Holy Spirit.)
      1. Does Jesus say the immediate task of the disciples is to be leaders of the new kingdom? (No. He says something much different - they are to be witnesses.)
      2. Witnesses testify. What are they testifying about? (He says, “you will be My witnesses.” The subject of their witnessing is Jesus.)
      3. Notice the organization of the witnessing effort. How would you describe it? (First, where they are located. Then the rest of the country, then Samaria, and then the rest of the world.)
        1. Is this still applicable to us? (The specific geography is different, but it makes sense that we should start where we know the people and the culture.)
        2. I read a suggestion that we should go places were we are not comfortable. Is that a good idea? (Jesus describes witnessing like one dropping a stone in a pond - the ripples work outwards. It seems logical to work where you best understand the culture and what will be an appealing argument and what will not.)
        3. I’m suggesting an appeal to logic. Is that what Jesus suggested? (No. Jesus suggested that we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will direct our minds.)
  2. Involuntary Witnesses
    1. After the flood, this happened. Read Genesis 11:2-4. What is the goal of this organizational meeting? (To build a tower, become famous, and stick together.)
      1. Why would they want to build a tower “with its top in the heavens?” Why not a beautiful garden? A stadium? A palace? Great homes for themselves? (The answer seems obvious - they were concerned about another flood. Worse, they disbelieved God when He said He would not bring another world-wide flood. See, Genesis 9:15.)
    2. Read Genesis 11:7-9. Why did God do this? Is it because of their pride? Except for the obvious distrust in tower building, what was wrong with this ambition?
    3. Read Genesis 9:1. Do you think the people of Babel knew about this instruction from God? (I’m sure they did. They were resisting God in all ways. If you read Genesis 1:27-28 you will see this was God’s original plan. No doubt they knew.)
      1. What story do you think these former citizens of Babel brought to the parts of the world where they resettled? (I think they were missionaries of some sort to the power of God.)
    4. Read Acts 8:1 and Acts 8:4. What power is behind this? Is that what is meant by going outside our comfort zone? (This is the power of evil. But, as Romans 8:28 tells us, God takes bad things and uses them to accomplish something good.)
  3. Voluntary Witnesses
    1. Read Genesis 12:1-3. Consider how Abram would understand this and how God intended it. Are they the same? (I’m sure that Abram, like all of us, looked at this from the point of view of his personal interest. On the face of it this is a great blessing to Abram. He will be rich, blessed (he will become a nation), and protected. We know that God’s mission in this is much greater. God will not only begin His nation in the promised land, but He is putting in motion the nation into which Jesus was born.)
      1. Why do you think God presented this as something that would be a tremendous blessing to Abram?
      2. Why are the instructions to the disciples (Acts 1:8) not filled with blessings for them? (This is a misleading question. Recall that the disciples were looking for earthly power? Jesus tells them in Acts 1:8 they will receive Holy Spirit power.)
    2. Read Acts 2:1-4. What is the point of speaking “in other tongues?” (Read Acts 2:5-6 and Acts 2:9-11. This allowed the disciples to speak in the language of those from around the world who were gathered in Jerusalem.)
      1. What does this teach us about being witnesses around the world? (The Holy Spirit can bring the world to us. These men returned to their own nations to share the good news about Jesus.)
      2. What has technology done to allow the world to come to us? (I was just at an event which, in part, honored Dwight Nelson. His tribute mentioned the technology breakthrough of using satellites to share his evangelistic messages. Long before Dwight Nelson was doing this, Pat Robertson brought the message of Jesus to the world through satellites.)
  4. Conclusions on Our Call
    1. Let’s revisit Acts 8:1, a text that illustrated involuntary missionary travels. Why did the apostles not leave?
    2. The prior question is difficult. But consider it from the overall conclusion that we should reach based on the texts that we have studied so far. What is the first rule of our call to mission? (To follow the Holy Spirit. In each of our examples, we have God speaking or acting to force the direction of the mission. That suggests that the correct answer as to why the apostles stayed is that the Holy Spirit did not direct them to leave. Some have argued, reasonably, that they were still obeying Acts 1:8 which told them to first start in Jerusalem.)
    3. Go back to the introduction where we discussed an organizational meeting. If you were well into the project discussed at the meeting, and you were uncertain how you should proceed next, would you contact the organizer? (Of course. That makes perfect sense. Since God is the organizer of our mission, and since the Holy Spirit is always available to direct us, then we should seek the direction of the Holy Spirit. I believe the apostles remained in Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit told them to stay and provide central leadership.)
    4. Friend, will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you be more attentive to His leading? Why not do that right now?
  5. Next week: Sharing God’s Mission.