The Call from Without

Bible Book: Acts  16 : 6-10
Subject: Evangelism; Outreach; Soul Winning; Missions

The cries of a lost world resound with a deafening, thunderous roar. Never has there been so much devastation in the hearts of individuals as there is today. Never have so many enjoyed so much of the things of this world; yet, the despair and hopelessness in the human heart is greater than ever before. The lostness of mankind clamors for our attention today.

I. We Must Hear The Call (vv. 6-9)

Those with vision will hear. The call comes, but it is only heard by those with listening ears and willing hearts.

A. The Preparation For The Call (vv.6-8)

Paul was moving in the will of God. He was committed to doing God's will. In Acts 13:46, he announced that he had turned to preach to the Gentiles. He never wavered in that assignment. His confidence in that task is seen in Acts 28:28 (KJV), "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it."

Paul knew God's will for his life, and, without vacillation, he moved ever forward in that will. He was doing what God had instructed him to do.

The Holy Spirit had forbidden him to go to Asia and to Bithynia. It is important for us to allow God to close doors, as well as open doors. It is vital to note that need is not the only criterion to determine a place of ministry.

Asia and Bithynia were areas of great need. Too many times we initiate programs and ministries based upon need only, rather than following the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

One person's vision may not be another person's vision. God has a vision for you, but you must be faithful. It is unlikely that God will give you a new vision if you are not aggressively following His will now. Obedience is the preparation required to hear the call, to see the vision.

Remember when God spoke to young Samuel (I Samuel 3)? His response to that call was, "Speak; for thy servant heareth" (I Samuel 3:10, KJV). The use of the word servant reflected obedience. It was as if he said, "Yes, Lord. Now what's the command?" That type of obedience is essential if we are to hear God's call.

Further, Paul was in prayer when the vision came. He was seeking direction and making himself available to God. He was willing to obey without knowing the course or the cost of that obedience.

The one who hears the call, who sees the vision, must first hear God's call and make himself available. It is the committed and faithful follower whom God gives a vision. Paul was obedient and prayerful, thus prepared to hear God's call.

B. The Presentation Of The Call (v. 9)

The Macedonian simply cried, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us" (Acts 16:9, KJV). The Macedonian man did not know what his country needed; he just knew help was required He had a great need. Something was missing. There was a great void in his life. That void is present in every person's life.

Within the heart of each individual in the world is a longing that only Christ can satisfy. "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:13-14, KJV).

"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35, KJV).

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ... ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29, KJV).

Oh, hear the cry of the lost today! The cry of the man in Macedonia was the cry of Europe for Christ. Today, lost humankind calls for help from every continent and nation.

It is reported that when the French Revolution began, a person observed, "This is a riot!" Another answered, "No, this is a revolution!" The world today is crying for help out of the hopelessness of world revolution.

A population revolution is taking place. Over 5 billion people are in the world today, and this number will explode to 8 billion by the turn of the century. Twenty-seven percent of the United States population lives in suburbs; yet only 15 percent of evangelism takes place in the suburbs. More than 160 cities in the world today have a population in excess of 1 million. By the turn of the century, 85 percent of Americans will live in cities. Rural areas are facing declining population; farms are disappearing; and even the cities are in transition.

There is revolution among the peoples of the world that is issuing forth in violence and hostility. While the walls of communism have crumbled, other walls are being erected; violence is now the pattern for international relationships. This violent revolution is shaking every continent and nation.

There is a family revolution. We are seeing the disintegration of the American family. One out of two marriages ends in divorce, and the rate is predicted to rise far beyond that figure. More than 50 percent of American adults are single. Almost 70 percent of American women work. More than 50 percent of our children will live with only one parent at some time during growing-up years. Loneliness is an American trademark now. Twenty million adults now live alone!

My phone rang one morning at two o'clock. A local police officer said they had arrested a woman, who insisted on speaking to me. She had attended our church but was not a member. She had gone to a bar and been picked up by a man. They both got drunk, and he left her stranded and abused in a parking lot. She cried out of her loneliness about being abandoned by her husband and being driven by the emptiness of her heart. Her cry was, "Come over and help me!"

There is a religious revolution taking place. Dead and dying churches are becoming the norm. Ritual and programs have become ends in themselves. The greatest mission field in America today may well be within the church! "Business as usual" won't cut it. Evangelism is not debatable.

We are in an economic revolution. Worldwide recession and inflation are running wild. The instability and turmoil of the economy of this world is frightening. Our own nation is plunging deeper and deeper into economic bankruptcy and collapse.

There is an emotional revolution in the world today. Stress and trauma, depression and discouragement, and disappointment and despair are very much a part of the lives of people today. Only Jesus can fill the longing of this world.

Oh, hear the call of this lost world! Leadership is the key. There is a worldwide lack of people, truly called of God, who are willing to suffer scorn, poverty, and the shame of the cross for the sake of Christ and the lost people of the world.

Oh, hear the call of this lost world! Neil Simon, who wrote "The Odd Couple" and "Barefoot in the Park," was asked on the Dick Cavett show whether making a lot of money concerned him. The studio went silent when Simon said, "No ... What does concern me is the fear of dying."

"Come over and help us," the world cries today. We must hear the call."

II. We Must Heed The Call (v. 10)

Paul was not praying about whether to go, but where to go! "Immediately we endeavored to go" (Acts 16 KJV).

Once we hear God's call, we must heed it! The call was to preach the good news to the lost. "Preach the gospel" is one word in the Greek language of the New Testament-evangelion. It literally means to evangelize. Paul clearly understood that the call was to evangelize the lost.

The gospel is revealed to us in the Bible. The Bible speaks not only of the content of what is preached, but also of the act, process, and execution of the proclamation. Content and preaching are one. We must not separate them. The preaching of this gospel is charged with power (Romans 1:16)!

What is the gospel? God has acted for the salvation of the world in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ became sin for us, dying in our place, paying the penalty for our sins on the cross. He rose bodily and victoriously from the grave, ascended to heaven, and will one day return for His own to establish His kingdom eternally on this earth. Each individual must turn from his or her sins and, by faith, trust Him as Lord and Savior. That is the gospel.

We must heed the call to preach the gospel. The great missionary Robert Speer once said, "You say you have faith? Well then, either give it out or give it up." Faith is personal, but it is never private.

The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon was once asked, "Do you believe the heathen who have never heard the gospel are really lost?" Spurgeon replied, "Do you believe the ones who have heard the gospel and never shared it are really saved?"

Heed the call! Paul went to Macedonia, and people were converted everywhere-Lydia and her household, a demon-possessed girl, the jailer and his household-all in the sixteenth chapter of Acts!

God's blessings always attend our obedience. To heed the call is simply a matter of obedience in following Him into a lost world to preach the gospel.


Will we heed the call? We have the message; will we declare it? Will we faithfully obey God so He can give us the vision and the call? We must hear the call. We must heed the call.