by Dr. Dale Yerton
The Fisherman & The Tanner
Both Peter and Paul were Jews, but one was a Jewish citizen and the other a Roman. They had completely different ideas about the teachings of Jesus. It is interesting that Peter never mentions the church one time in his two books or his recorded sermons. But Paul had the understanding the church was God’s agent on planet earth and continually referred to it. Paul realized Jesus had made a New Covenant which superseded the Old Covenant. Paul realized Jesus had fulfilled all the requirements of the Law of Moses and had become our High Priest. Since all the original apostles were Jews, they believed the gospel was Jewish. When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, they misunderstood and thought he was speaking about the Kingdom of Israel. “He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) “They asked Him saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Jesus had said nothing about the kingdom of Israel. Why are they asking Him about it? Because that is what they thought He was talking about. They confused the two terms as meaning the same thing. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) This verse is not a step-by-step progression, but of simultaneous activity taking place at the same time. Evangelism should include all four distinct areas taking place at the same together. Missionary activity is nothing more than evangelism. Missions are evangelism reaching outside the walls of the church.
JerusalemThis is home missions. All evangelistic activities should begin at home but not end there. Every missionary church is evangelistic. Jerusalem was where the first Christians lived, and they quickly filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. (Acts 5:28) They never went beyond their home in sharing the love of Jesus and failed to fulfill The Great Commission.
JudeaThis is national missions. We have a responsibility to reach our nation for Christ. After filling Jerusalem with their doctrine, they should have taken their message to their nation. (Acts 8:1) This is where the first church failed, and it took the fire of persecution to force them out of Jerusalem.
SamariaThis is cross-culture evangelism. Samaria was a part of Judea. Since Jesus had specifically said, “And all of Judea,” why did He go on to say, “And Samaria?” Because when it comes to cross-culture missions we tend to become deaf. This is outside our comfort zone, so we ignore it. We all must deal with racial prejudice. Every nation has multi-cultures, and if we’re not careful, we find ourselves ignoring people who are different from us. We must make the choice of sharing Jesus outside our culture.
Ends of the EarthThis is what is called international missions. The church at Jerusalem never caught the vision of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, and as a result, they never became a missionary church. They loved the Temple more than they loved the lost. It took a Gentile church to capture the vision of evangelizing the nations. Antioch became the first missionary church, and within twenty years, the church at Antioch became the leading church in the book of Acts. It took a Roman citizen to catch the vision of reaching the Roman Empire. Saul, of Tarsus, became the apostle Paul, the apostle to the nations. He was the perfect man for the job. He was unmarried, a Roman citizen, highly trained in Greek, and a Hebrew scholar. He was a brilliant missionary strategist and was used by God to reach much of the Roman Empire with the gospel. The Jerusalem Christians refused to leave Jerusalem until just before its destruction by Rome. It was only after Jerusalem was destroyed that Christianity was no longer looked upon as a Jewish sect.
“You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
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