This is Part 2 of my post that I posted up here last week. Part 3 will be posted soon. To see the condensed version of the article, go to Mission Network News and check out the blogs and other great news stories while you’re there.
If we don’t inquire about the needs, spiritual and physical, of fellow pilgrims on the narrow road who do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5), how can we help them? Come alongside a missionary or evangelist and ask them what their needs are. Prayerfully consider supporting them with your money, your time, or both – however God leads you. If there are none in your church you are aware of, pray that God would bring across your path a missionary whom you can bless- and learn from. Oswald Chambers, a missionary himself, wrote, “When you meet a man or woman who puts Jesus Christ first, knit that one to your soul.”
When asked, most missionaries will almost undoubtedly tell you their greatest need is prayer. The apostle Paul repeatedly urged those who received his letters to pray for him (Rom. 15:30-32; Eph. 6:18-20; 2 Thess. 3:1-2, etc.). Mission workers not only need prayer for provision of their physical and financial needs, but also their spiritual needs. They need our prayers, especially when they become deeply discouraged because of Satan’s onslaughts. You can encourage missionaries by asking them what prayer requests they have, and if possible, meeting with them in person for prayer and fellowship.
If you are considering becoming an evangelist (or going into any kind of ministry work), one of the best resources you can lay hold of – next to personal Bible study and prayer – is fellowship with other missionaries. Prepare for a learning curve! Preaching the Gospel and serving people in the name of Jesus is no cakewalk, and you will find it is no easier for those who fall into the category of missionaries or evangelists, as they will tell you. You will discover what a life on mission truly entails and, who knows, maybe even what God is asking of you….
A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity by Mission Network News to write an article on missions. MNN posted my article here under their blogs (thanks Katey Hearth!) I have also posted the first part out of three of the unedited edition here below. Hope it’s a blessing to you!
Some time ago, I read an article entitled, “What Missionaries Don’t Tell You.” The writer shared a trial he and his wife, Pam, faced when he served as a missionary youth pastor in Panama in the early 1970s. When Pam began experiencing severe complications in the third trimester of her pregnancy, the couple found themselves in a difficult situation as she was forced to spend weeks in a local hospital. Her husband tried to be brave for her, but at the same time he would silently endure his own agony as the father of a child he might never get to hold. The author shared what had helped them cope during this trying stretch of their lives was the presence of those in the body of Christ who reached out to them. People like Marie, who became like a mother to Pam in her troubled pregnancy; Vicki, who essentially trained the missionary couple to birth the baby naturally; and Claude and Gordon, who showed up to the couple’s trailer one night, envelope of money in hand, ready to help pay for inevitable hospital bills.
It is easy to think of missionaries and evangelists as super Christians who never let anything get them down. However, like any Christian, missionaries experience emotional pain, rejection, health issues, financial shortfalls, spiritual warfare, and of course, their own daily sin with which they have to battle. These life issues are exacerbated by an Enemy who would rather see individuals destroyed than saved from their sins (John 10:9-10), and who will do all in his power to stall the progression of the Gospel message, including trying to eliminate the messenger.
There is an evident need to minister to those who are giving of their time, lives, and families to preach the Gospel. Some missions organizations provide counselors and medical personnel to aid mission workers in the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical aspects of their lives while in the field. Others offer housing and pastoral care to furloughed missionaries while they take some much-needed time off for refreshment.
But what about the rest of us, the laypeople? We have the privilege as blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ of bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Does not the responsibility of loving and caring for each other depend on us, as the household of faith (Gal. 6:10), since we are all members of Christ’s body?…
Were the disciples right to choose Matthias, the replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15-26)? Opinions differ. Some think the disciples were wrong to pick Judas’ replacement, while others accept their decision. Was Peter acting recklessly to propose replacing Judas? Or is there Scriptural basis for his decision?
I believe there are at least two reasons to accept the disciples’ decision to select a replacement for Judas and to accept Matthias as that replacement.
The first reason is the Scriptural precedent Peter cites. He quotes the 69th and 109th Psalms to support his decision. Psalm 69 is clearly a Messianic Psalm, as verses 4 and 9 point ahead to Jesus’ enemies hating him without cause and His cleansing of the Temple, respectively. Jumping down to verse 21, we see a reference to the Crucifixion, prophesying of the gall and vinegar Jesus was offered while on the Cross (Matt. 27:34). The Psalmist then prays for judgment against God’s enemies in verses 22-28. Peter quotes verse 25, applies the oracle therein to Judas, and combines it with Psalm 109:8 – another imprecatory prayer – to support seeking someone to take the office Judas left. In short, Peter sees Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection (including surrounding events, such as Judas’ betrayal, his suicide consequently leaving his office as Apostle vacant, and another taking his place) as fulfilments of prophecy (see Acts 1:16-17, 20).
The second reason that proves, in my opinion, the disciples’ choice valid is the way they go about making the selection. They sought the Lord’s will through two methods:
Prayer. They acknowledged the decision was not theirs but God’s when they said, “Lord,…shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship…” (Acts 1:24-25).
Casting lots. Opponents of their decision believe the casting of lots is like leaving the decision to chance, akin to gambling. Yes, it was practiced by pagans (ex. Jonah 1:7; Matthew 27:35), but casting lots was also an approved method of seeking God’s will in the Old Testament (see Leviticus 16:8 and Joshua 18:6, 8 and 10). Additionally, Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” The disciples are submitting to the will of God.*
Detractors of the decision also say that since the Holy Spirit had not yet come on Pentecost, He could not have been leading the disciples’ thinking here. While it is true that Pentecost had not yet arrived, Jesus, while He was with them, breathed on them, imparting the Spirit to them (John 20:22). On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit filled the disciples and empowered them to testify of Jesus, according to Acts 1:8.
Those who are against the decision to choose Matthias believe the disciples should have waited, and if they had done so, Paul would have taken the office of Apostle which Judas left. But Paul could not have been that replacement for a couple of reasons, in my opinion.**
The first reason is because Paul was not converted until either later that same year or the following year (historical chronologies differ). Those in disagreement say the disciples, in choosing a replacement, were taking wrongful action when Jesus told them to wait. But the reason the disciples were waiting was primarily for the incoming and infilling of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost that Christ had promised (Luke 24:49), not necessarily to appoint another apostle, which Jesus did not forbid. The second, perhaps weaker, reason is because Paul did not meet the criteria set forth in Acts 1:21-22, i.e. Paul had not been a follower of Jesus from the time of His Baptism to His Ascension. Paul realizes this and acknowledges it, as he writes, “And last of all he (Jesus) was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:8-9).
The reasons I provided above are why I believe the disciples, led by Peter, made the right decision in choosing a replacement for Judas and in designating Matthias as that replacement. Peter acts calmly, thoughtfully, and I believe Scripturally, in this matter.
Poll: What do you think? Was the decision to choose a replacement the right one or not?
Do you agree or disagree? Were the disciples right or wrong to pick a replacement for Judas? Feel free to leave your reasoning in the comments section.
* It should be noted just because the disciples practiced the casting of lots in this case, it does not mean we should practice it today. We now have the complete, sufficient Word of God and can discover God’s will by reading and studying Scripture. We no longer have to resort to casting lots.
** The purpose of this is not to question Paul’s Apostleship. We accept Paul as an Apostle and his writings as authoritative Scripture.