"Teach and Meet"
Intro: Coming into any community as a preacher. Hard to get things moving.
To serve this church has been a dream come true for me, but never in a thousand years would I have expected it to have gone the way it has.
When God is on the move, so is our enemy. The last thing Satan wants is for CPCC to be successful in any way.
Can you imagine the impact we will have on Central Park and the city of Topeka if we stay the course and follow God’s lead, not our own lead, but His lead?
For some He is calling to give their whole sum to Him. For some He is calling you to use the gifts that He has blessed you with.
I tell you this, leadership is key in any church. For the church in Antioch the key to leadership was seen in encouragement.
Today we are going to dig into the Acts 11:19-30. We find the church, still very young, but definitely and defiantly on the move. It was under intense persecution, but it kept on moving.
It did not move and grow without a lot of obstacles. Fear and trust were major obstacles for the early church. If I am honest, it has not changed a lot today.
With today’s message my hope is to steer us into a conversation that allows us to see how important each one of us is here today in the moving forward as a church. God uses all.
I have been serving the church for 25 years now and find the more people who contribute to her growth, the more the church is able to impact its community. Let’s read.
19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. 27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
Barnabas was the perfect person to send to Antioch to see what was taking place. He bridged the gap between the Greek and Hebrew issues within the church.
Keith Gangle said,
"Having come from Cyprus, he was not a typical “Jerusalemite” Jew. He had already established a solid reputation for piety, generosity, and encouragement in the Jerusalem church and, after all, what do new converts need more than encouragement?"
His gift of encouragement was a huge blessing for the church. It was so much so that Luke tells us that the church continued to grow in believers after his arrival to Antioch.
Encouragement goes a long way.
Barnabas was a faithful servant of Christ, using his gift of encouragement, to help the church grow. There are many of you that carry this gift today and might not be utilizing it. We need you.
Encouragement went a long way for the early church, especially in Antioch. When we encourage, and champion on one another, we allow for there to be a desire to learn in the church.
There is great need for strong biblical teaching in the church. It is the foundation for any church, but imagine how much more so it was for the church in Antioch.
I don’t know how many of you are aware of this, but Antioch was the 3rd largest city in the Roman empire.
While this was quite a prominent city, it was one that was very lax in morals to say the least. Prostitution ran rampant there.
The people were accustomed to innovative thought and were of the thought, "If it feels good do it". Does it sound familiar at all?
Today we will see that the Antioch church was being fed by the right people. They came with a background that allowed them to identify with the newly formed Gentile church.
We will learn that there are two specific jobs expected by the leadership of the church and the people of the church.
One is cognitive, while the other is more practical. The first job that leadership should meet in the church is....
1. _Teaching the people_
1. _Teaching the people_
Read: Acts 11:25-26
25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
1. Teaching the people
1. Teaching the people
Clearly the success of the church in Antioch is taking full bloom now. Barnabas needed help to say the least.
There is no way that Barnabas could continue to be the bearer of all that responsibility and do it well. Remember that the church is not just growing, it is blowing up!
He was in the need of someone else, another colleague, to work alongside of him. This church essentially was in need of additional staff.
He would need someone that could relate to these new converts and teach them as well. Barnabas had decided to pursue Saul.
It had been several years since Saul had become a new convert and put on a ship to Tarsus. Finding Saul may have not been the easiest choice, but it was the right one.
No one would be better suited to share in this responsibility of ministry with him.
This note may not seem like a big detail to many people, but it stuck out to me. Barnabas went on his own to go find him. Barnabas was the perfect man for the job to get him too.
Barnabas was who introduced Saul to the apostles in 9:27 and told them how Saul had preached fearlessly in Damascus.
Who better than the one who began this early faith journey alongside Saul?
Illus: Jeff coming to me to work with the youth in the church (Not many trusted me, but he needed help and knew my conversion to be true)
Barnabas helped establish this organic communication between the Jewish church and the forming Gentile church.
And now his labor and efforts had become so big, he needed Saul to walk with him in this venture. Saul was the right man for this ministry.
Barnabas found Saul and takes him to Antioch with him. Together for a year they impacted their surroundings with the teaching of Jesus.
Our passage tells us that they taught a great number of people. Because of this there were more converts added to this community of believers.
The uniting of believers, both Jewish and Gentile, seems to have gone relatively well. This way, this new way was widely accepted and allowed to accommodate even the most diverse background (Bruce).
FF Bruce described the diversity this way,
"Antioch was a cosmopolitan city, where Jews and Gentiles, Greek and barbarian rubbed shoulders, where Mediterranean civilization met the Syrian desert; racial and religious differences which loomed so large in Judaea seemed much less important here. The church of Antioch from the outset had an ethos quite distinct from that of the Jerusalem church." FF Bruce
That would prove to be a big deal within the that city. Seeing all the diversity and backgrounds all coming to the faith without letting their differences.
There were differences of past, or color, or race, and state of life that could get in the way, but instead they soaked and bathed in the truth of God and the church grew greatly because of it.
Looking at verse 26 we find an interesting note made by Luke. He said, "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch."
Now I know at first glance you may think that this is not that big of a deal. My guess is that the majority here believe that the term Christian is all over scripture.
The fact is that it is only found a total of three times in the NT. Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16.
“Christian” was more of a nickname given to believers. These were the people who were always talking about Christ.
Now it would seem on the outset that this was a good thing, but to be honest it was not always the case.
This newly named group of people are no longer the subset or part of Judaism, but now their own very well-known identity. They were now an enemy in the eyes of Judaism.
This would leave them possibly without the protection of Rome, which is something that they carried when considered a sect of Judaism.
None the less the name was prevalent and now very much a part of who they are. As Barnabas and Saul continued to teach, the church continued to grow.
As the church continued to grow, so grew other needs within the body. The second job we will look at of leaders and people of the church is...
2. _Meeting social needs_
2. _Meeting social needs_
Read: Acts 11:27-30
27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
2. Meeting social needs
2. Meeting social needs
The visit of Agabus appears to have happened while Saul and Barnabas are teaching but before the famine predicted had happened. Most believe this was just a few weeks or months before.
Now traveling prophets was not something new. They were a regular feature of the early church, and this extended well into the second century.
They were given great respect among those in the early church. The prophecy of a famine weighed heavy on Agabus apparently and so he shared of the news that was to come.
The thought of a famine in Rome though would affect a great many of things. One, Egypt was the breadbasket to the rest of the Roman world.
If Egypt was failing, then it would be devastating for the surrounding countries.
Agabus’s dire warning reflects the view from below, the view of how a food shortage would affect the poor, not only in Jerusalem but throughout the Roman world.
The prophecy then suggests the social and economic level of many, if not most early Christians, was low.
Food shortages in Egypt would surely affect those in Judea. The food crisis would prove to be an early crisis for the church.
Illus: Famine in Kansas in the 30's (We just took care of each other)
How would they respond? Everyone would be looking at the church to see what they would do. Would they panic?
The response we find is in our last few verses. The believers decided among themselves and their ability to do so, what it would be that they could provide.
The network among believers would need to be strong and concerted.
Saul and Barnabas took this offering that was collected and turned it over to the Elders in Jerusalem. This is the first time that we see the use of the term Elder in the book of Acts.
The text seems to tell us that this was not taken from the general fund in the church of Antioch but as a special offering of sorts taken up by all the believers in the area.
This was the church going above and beyond the call of duty. This is something that is crucial for us to learn from today.
Notice the Jerusalem church did not ask for help but help was provided for. Saul and Barnabas did not start some sort of canned food drive or even speak of what the efforts should look like.
The people, the believers, they simply responded. It seems that everyone participated as well. This was not just those who had much but those who had anything.
What they gave was within reason of what they had. Illus: Passion in Ukraine raised money for the event in Kenya...and on...
The biggest note I hope we can all see is whatever barrier might have existed between the church in Jerusalem and the Gentile church of Antioch, was no longer existent.
The church was being the church as God had designed; a commitment to the gospel of salvation that carries a commitment to the wellbeing of its people too.
It's feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, and providing in times of need. This is what it means to be a Christ follower, Christian.
We are to encourage. We are to reach out to the lost. We are to help relieve pain and suffering wherever we can, and we are to do it internationally as well as seen in our message today.
Today I challenged you to ask God to reveal to you, through His HS, what it is He is calling you to do. For some He is calling to give their whole sum to Him.
For some He is calling you to use the gifts that He has blessed you with. God is ready to do a work in this church and a work in you.
We must get ready friends! Are we available? Are we willing to provide our best efforts? Today is not about who we used to be, but where God is leading us to. Let’s pray!