1. What are some ways God has used an ordinary person in your life to minister to you during a difficult time?
2. How do you respond to the idea that God invites people to be part of His work?
3. In what ways does this excite and scare you at the same time?
4. Who did God use to help the church in Jerusalem accept Paul into their fellowship in Acts chapter 9? (Barnabas.)
As we study today about faithful servants in the church, keep in mind that while Paul, Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, and Timothy became legends for their faith, they were, in the context of their time, simply ordinary men!
After reading the Book of Acts through Acts 15:35 would you have ever imagined that Paul and Barnabas would have such a sharp disagreement that they would each go their own separate way!
5. Is it okay for mature Christians to disagree so sharply that they go their separate ways? (Yes! There are times when Christians may disagree on negotiable issues. At times we just agree to disagree!)
We always want to know which party is in the wrong. We may never know until we get to Heaven and then it will not matter!
As we study today, look for how God worked His will, even in the midst of a sharp argument between two respected leaders in the early church!
Parting Ways! Read Acts 15:36-39
(Point out the locations where Barnabas and John Mark went.)
1. How would you defend Paul’s position on not taking John Mark with them on this missionary trip? (Paul was called to be a leader, therefore, he wanted a faithful team to serve alongside him in the work of the ministry. Paul did not think John Mark was reliable because he had abandoned the team on their first missionary trip. Paul was more “black and white” on his outlook than Barnabas.)
2. How would you defend Barnabas’ position on taking John Mark with them? (Barnabas was called to be a mentor to other believers. He had mentored Paul when no one else trusted him. Now, Barnabas was passionate about mentoring John Mark because no one had confidence in him. Barnabas thought John Mark needed to be mentored in order to overcome failure and fulfill God’s call upon his life.)
3. Did both Paul and Barnabas have legitimate arguments for their views on inviting John Mark?
4. How does God’s purposes for each of our lives take us in different directions and yet all within God’s will? (We are each assigned unique roles in God’s plan for mankind. God used Paul and Barnabas’ differing viewpoints for His good; instead of one ministry team going on a single mission trip, now there were two ministry teams going on two mission trips.)
5. The fact is that despite their differences, neither Paul nor Barnabas abandoned their mission. What does this fact say to us when we have sharp disagreements with other believers? (When we disagree with other believers we don’t just quit altogether. Sometimes we just drop the issue and move on with our mission.)
6. What did Paul and Barnabas understand about God’s call and purpose in their lives?
7. How did that understanding impact their decision to part ways?
A New Team! Read Acts 15:40-16:3
(Identify the locations Paul’s team visited.)
1. How did Paul build a ministry team after losing Barnabas as a partner? (Paul recruited Silas to serve alongside him on the next mission trip. Paul had gotten to know Silas during the Jerusalem Council and the subsequent delivery of the letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to the congregation in Antioch. During the trip, Paul met a young man named Timothy in Lystra. Because the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy, Paul sought to add him to the ministry team. Paul became the mentor and great encourager of Timothy!)
Paul was on the lookout for reliable leaders he could add to his ministry team. In the same way, we are to disciple people to join us in the work of ministry.
2. It is important for us to find partners to assist us in ministry. How can we find people of like mind to join us in our ministry?
3. Why would Paul have Timothy circumcised, especially after reading the letter from the church in Jerusalem? (It was well known that Timothy was half Jewish. So as to remove any stumbling block or hindrance in Timothy’s future ministry, especially among the Jews, Paul had him circumcised. Now there would be no barriers between the Jews and Timothy. However, note that Titus, a Greek, was not required to be circumcised [Gal. 2:3]. The Jewish believers would not be offended if he was not circumcised because Titus was a Gentile.)
In 1 Cor. 9:19-23 Paul says in verse 22: “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.”
4. What are some ways we can incorporate the principle of “becoming all things in order to win some?” (Without compromising our commitment to Christ we should be willing to do whatever is necessary to reach people with the gospel message. It is important to be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in doing this!)
Growth Seen! Read Acts 16:4-5
1. What phrases in these verses show the effectiveness of their mission?
2. As the disciples grew spiritually what was the result seen in the community? (More people became believers!)
The delivering of the Jerusalem Council’s message was a form of discipleship, as it helped the believers grow in their doctrine, especially concerning salvation!
3. What is God’s purpose in our ministries to unbelievers and believers? (Our ministry to unbelievers is to share the gospel. Only the good news that Jesus saves can change lives. We are called to share this life-changing hope. Our ministry to believers is to strengthen their faith. Believers are encouraged to grow and become spiritually mature. As a result, believers are strengthened and equipped to go out and share the gospel with unbelievers.)
We, as individual believers, are to be growing spiritually which spills over into our ministry. Linda Thompson thought of these two questions to challenge all of us to consider our spiritual growth:
4. If every believer was as committed to giving financially to the church and missions as I am, how would God’s work be impacted?
5. If every believer was as committed to serving in God’s kingdom as I am, how would God’s work be impacted?
6. If every believer was as spiritually mature or as spiritually immature as I am, how would our world be impacted?
7. Read Acts 16:5: What summary statement could be written about First Baptist Church, Ardmore, OK?
8. Can we claim spiritual maturity that does not lead to greater evangelistic activity?
9. What kind of balance should be struck between evangelism and discipleship in your life?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. How can we begin to partner with others in our church to share the gospel with unbelievers and strengthen other believers? (“Love Ardmore”; Mission Ardmore; stay actively involved in S. S. class; enroll in discipleship classes; Pray for God’s leadership; seek out ministry opportunities; etc.)
2. What actions will you take to be more involved in evangelism and discipleship?
This week invite one or more believers to join you in serving others. Encourage them to discover their spiritual gifts, and take the time to show them how they can be partners in the ministry with you.
Profile of John Mark
(In Members PSG, p. 49)
· Writer of the Second Gospel
· Son of Mary, in whose house the Jerusalem church met (Acts 12:12)
· Barnabas’s cousin (Col. 4:10)
· Companion of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:38)
· Cause of a split between Paul and Barnabas when he left them during the first missionary journey (Acts 15:39)
· Was with Paul when the apostle wrote Colossians (Col. 4:10)
· Referred to by Paul as “useful to me in the ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11)
· Described by Paul as a coworker (Philemon 24)
Profile of Timothy
(In Members PSG, p. 51)
· Friend and trusted coworker of Paul (Phil. 2:19-22)
· Had a believing Jewish mother and Greek father (Acts 16:1)
· A native of Lystra; well respected by believers there (Acts 16:2)
· Was taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15)
· May have been converted on Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-23)
· Paul required him to be circumcised (Acts 16:3)
· Recipient of two of Paul’s letters (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2)