“The Indian is making an amazing discovery, namely that Christianity and Jesus are not the same—that they may have Jesus without the system that has been built up around Him in the West.”

E. Stanley Jones

TODAY’S READING: Acts 9

In 34 A.D. a fanatic Jewish Turk meets Jesus in Syria and then spends three years in Arabia sorting it all out before becoming God’s chosen instrument to bear Jehovah’s name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). The greatest human missionary of all time was called out of the nations, to be saved in the nations, to be taught in the nations, to go preach among the nations.

Paul would traverse the Middle East, Turkey, Europe, and Greece preaching the deity of Christ as evidenced by the resurrection. Paul immediately began his exaltation of Jesus as the divine Lord after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road when in a stunning reversal he went from championing the Jewish position against Christ and Christian to confounding the Jews by proving Jesus is the Christ.

From the beginning, the great missionary Paul was adamant about affirming the deity of Jesus using the simple affirmation of the early believers, kyrios Iesous (Jesus is Lord), repeatedly. In fact, Paul used the term kyrios over 275 times, almost always in reference to Jesus. “Indeed he probably knew the expression and hated it in the days when he was persecuting those who dared to claim that the crucified carpenter from Nazareth was (God forbid, he thought) the Messiah and (even worse) Lord. It was Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus that made him blindingly aware that the phrase was not a heinous blasphemy but the simple truth.” [1] There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that Jesus was God and he made this simple truth the central point of all his missiology—as should we. Any efforts to remove deity from our texts, our preaching, our witness, our testimony, our language, our prayers, or our proclamation are counter to the example of Paul. It was inflammatory for Paul (v. 29) and it will be for us, but it’s still the main point that we must begin and end with no matter the consequence. The gospel is nonsensical and extra-biblical outside of the deity of Jesus.

A second critical missionary lesson from the conversion of Paul is the role Barnabas played in bringing Paul into the church and onward into missions (v. 27). It may be that a primary missionary function is to be the Barnabas who finds the local Paul and encourages that person to shake the world. Most missionaries dream and pray that God would use them to catalyze church planting movements, and Jesus will certainly answer that prayer, but it might very well be through us being a Barnabas, not a Paul. Imagine the effect on the evangelization of unreached peoples if every foreign missionary was a Barnabas who went out and found their Paul!

[1] Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 107.

Prayer Focus: Niger

Today’s Unreached People Group: Fulani, Sokoto
Population: 1,029,000
Language: Fulfulde, Central-Eastern Niger
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.0%
Estimated Workers Needed: 21

[Source: Joshua Project]

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