As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:2-4 (KJV)
Amongst the many practices of the early Church, two stood out clearly in Acts 13: CORPORATE PRAYERS & THE LAYING ON OF HANDS.
Some brethren in the Church in Antioch (Acts 13) came together to minister unto the Lord in fasting & worship. Amongst them were Saul and Barnabas. As they were ministering unto the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke and commanded that Saul and Barnabas be separated unto Him for the work they had to do for God. Saul and Barnabas had been preaching, winning souls and making disciples, but now, the Holy Spirit was calling them unto a special kind of ministry. Thus, He commanded that they be separated unto Him. And how were they separated unto God? By the laying on of hands of the Church.
Now, let me say something at this point: It is true that a man can be doing many things for God, but if the Lord calls him unto a special ministry unto Him, it is important that hands be laid on that man by the Church before he goes out. It is not enough that you have an anointing or can do powerful things; hands must be laid on you by the elders of the Church.
This does not only apply to ministry, but also to business and marriage. You may be doing many things as a hobby, and a means of keeping yourself busy. But, the day you decide that God has called you into this business and that you want to take it full time, it is important that you go to the elders of the Church so that hands may be laid on you. That is why it is not so good to hear Christians speak in disparaging terms about how marriages are solemnized before God. It is true that there is no laid down rules for marriage in the New Testament; but the context of the Early Church would have safely made us realize that no one fully entered into marriage without the laying on of hands (unless they were already married before joining the Church). This is very important because there is a power Jesus rested upon “the Church” that is not available to any single individual or family. When “the Church” lays hands on you, the Spirit of God is compelled to back you up in whatever endeavour you are entering into. The laying on of hands compels your ministry, business or marriage to gain a new kind of traction that is coming from the help of God’s Spirit.
Thus, Saul and Barnabas were sent forth. I wish you will go back and read the whole story in Acts 13. They went from place to place preaching the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
An important part of their preaching was THE DOCTRINE OF THE LORD, or what I call The Lordly Doctrine. They were not beggarly in their approach to the Gospel among he heathen. They went forth as men sent by the LORD of Heaven and Earth. That was why Elymas the Sorcerer was struck with blindness when he attempted to withstand the preaching of the Gospel to Sergius Paulus. Of course, Sergius Paulus became a believer in Christ Jesus.
The Apostles continued their journey from Paphos to Perga, and then came to Antioch in Pisidia. This was where Paul preached his first recorded sermon, and opened our eyes to the manner of structured preaching that we were later to know him for. His utterance in one Sabbath day/week so drew men such that almost the whole city gathered the next Sabbath day to hear him. Of course this stirred up jealousy in the hearts of fellow Jews towards him and Barnabas, and it resulted in much persecution and discomfort.
However, because the Holy Spirit was with them, they were able to make more disciples for the Lord before they were forced to leave the city to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. Acts 13:52 (KJV).
AND SO? Have you received a word from God concerning your ministry, career or marriage? Or has the Lord shown you a partner (ministerial, business or marital) with whom you must be separated for a special assignment? If so, have hands been laid on you by “the Church”? It is not enough that you have done all legal and traditional requirements. You also need the traction that is obtained only by the laying on of hands of “the Church”.
Also, are you committed to preaching the Gospel of Jesus? What about corporate prayers and fasting? When was the last time you spoke to someone concerning believing in the Lord Jesus and being saved? Is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the Doctrine of the Lord gaining traction through your life and labours?
I pray that we will arise to take our place, and to do all that the Lord has required of us. I pray also that anyone who desires to know what God is separating him/her unto, or who is the partner together with whom he/she will labour for God, will receive that divine revelation, in Jesus Name.