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A Commendable Church – Acts 11:19-30

12/07/2020

Morning Worship from Ballymacashon

 

Opening Prayer.

Praise, Psalm 115:12-18

12 The Lord of us hath mindful been, and he will bless us still:
He will the house of Israel bless, bless Aaron’s house he will.

13 Both small and great, that fear the Lord, he will them surely bless.
14 The Lord will you, you and your seed, aye more and more increase.

15 O blessed are ye of the Lord, who made the earth and heav’n.
16 The heav’n, ev’n heav’ns, are God’s, but he earth to men’s sons hath giv’n.

 

17 The dead, nor who to silence go, God’s praise do not record.
18 But henceforth we for ever will bless God. Praise ye the Lord.

Scottish Metrical Psalms

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The Church at Antioch was Well Taught!

Bible Reading: Acts 11:19-30, 13:1-3

Prayer.

 

Address:  Rev Bob McEvoy

 

Antioch was the least likely place to find a leading Christian fellowship. Antioch’s citizens had gained a reputation for pleasure-seeking & low morals. Yet, we find that in the midst of the paganism & prostitution of the city the Church of God arose and the church at Antioch seems to hold centre stage throughout the book of Acts. – So what can we learn about this Church?

1. A Witnessing Church
So the first characteristic of this new work at Antioch is that it was a church that was a good witness for Christ.

  • It started out as a witness to the local Jews. – The Christians that were scattered because of the persecution in Jerusalem were Hellenistic-Jews (Greek-speaking Jews). Act 11:19 Luke tells us that they were witnessing only to their fellow Jews. – That’s understandable. It’s easier to talk to people who are just like us!
  • It soon spread its witness to include others! Let’s notice what happens when we’re willing to step outside your comfort zone. v.20 tells us that some of the believers started telling the Greeks the good news about Jesus The result in in v.21 In 13:1-3 we have believers of many cultural backgrounds worshipping together. – A mixed group indeed! The cross of Calvary was for the benefit of all mankind. Acts 10:34 Revelation 5:8-9 If you want diversity – real diversity, look at the Christian church – where it matters not what you skin colour is, or your position in life…

So we can see that the first characteristic of this church – and I suggest of any real church, is their desire to evangelise, to bring others into the freedom and joy of knowing Christ.

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2. A Well-Taught Church
The second aspect of this church that stands out for us is that it was a church that wanted to learn more – to be catechised, to hold to sound doctrine.

  • Barnabas did his assessment. – Barnabas had travelled to Antioch to find out what was happening there, – commissioned to do so by the ‘presbytery’ at Jerusalem. Barnabas rejoiced in what the followers of Christ were doing there. Wasn’t that enough? NO! They needed to be taught!
  • Paul was Called Upon to Catechise the New Christians! v 25-26 Paul was well qualified for the tasking he now appears in a teaching role for the first time in the church. Paul and Barnabas became a team – encouraging and teaching the new believers. 11:26 These people were sound in doctrine.

New Christians always need instruction! We must teach those we reach so we can build them up in the faith like the Christians at Antioch.

3. A Caring Church
There is an interesting incident recorded in Chapter 11v27-30.

  • The message of the Jerusalem prophets. Those were the days before the Canon of Scripture was complete, when God was using prophetic gifts to guide his people. A group of these prophets came down from Jerusalem and one of them, a man called Agabus had received a special message from God regarding an event which was soon to occur.
  • The message of Agabus. Agabus appears twice in Luke’s record of the early church. Later, in Acts 21, Agabus was still at Antioch, and came to the home of Philip the Evangelist, and delivered a very visual message to Paul, regarding how the Jews at Jerusalem would bind him and hand him over to the Roman State for imprisonment and execution. That was a true prophesy, which came to pass, and the prophecy in Acts 11 was just as accurate. There would be a famine, all over the world.
  • The reaction of the Antiochenes. How did the Christians at Antioch respond? In verse 29 we learn that the believers at Antioch immediately decided that they would give of their means to help those brothers and sisters who lived in poorer areas, Every one gave something – as much as they were able – and they dispatched Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to provide relief for the needy Christians there. 

There are always more people in need. We must learn to care enough for those who are in need that we are willing to give of ourselves to meet their needs like the Christians in Antioch.

4. A Sending Church
In Acts 13 we find another attribute of this new church. They were concerned about world missions. When Paul and Barnabas had competed their work in Jerusalem, bringing the gifts from the Church at Antioch, and no doubt ministering and preaching and teaching there, they returned to Antioch. The church was being led by a groups of elders and prophets, – in other words an oversight of both ruling and teaching elders.

  • Their spiritual preoccupation. These people ‘ministered to the Lord and fasted.’ In essence all those who serve in the local church minister to the Lord! But:- ‘Ministry to the Lord’ indicates a heavy responsibility. When we preach, we serve Christ! When we minister in prayer – we serve Christ! We will stand before God one day, and we will account for every word we said in pulpits and classes and prayer meetings.
    • Ministry to the Lord is our primary business in the local church. As Christians wehave no business to be doing anything else but to minister to the Lord.
    • Their ministry was accompanied by spiritual discipline. They fasted. Whatever you think about fasting, – in its truest sense and purpose it is a sign of our humiliation before the Lord, and intended as a means of mortification of the flesh. It’s simply spiritual discipline, taking control of our lives so that we can be bette equipped to properly serve. 1 Corinthians 9:26
  • Their willing response to God’s Word. There is no doubt that these church leaders wanted to please the Lord, serve him faithfully and act in accordance with his will. When they realised that God’s will for them was that they should send their beloved teachers out into the gentile world to bringthe gospel to the heathens, they responded positively.

There is a difference here – humanly speaking, between this active commitment to the will of God in Antioch and the dispersion of the believers which had earlier occurred at Jerusalem. Both were part of God’s sovereign plan, but the Christians from Judea who had evangelised at Antioch had been seeking refuge from the persecution at Jerusalem, whereas this ‘sending out’ of Paul and Barnabas was an obedient response to the Word of God, and a resulting commitment to world evangelism.We need to have that same commitment today!

So, we have learned something about the new church at Antioch – a very commendable church indeed in its early days. May our churches be just like that!

 

Prayer and Benediction

 


 

NOTICES

Please note: All midweek and afternoon services are suspended until further notice, with a view to recommencing in September, God Willing.

A weekly CATECHISM CLASS is available on demand as a PODCAST and Study Guide on this website. If you have no access to internet services, please request a CD copy of the class.

At church, please practice social distancing, at least 1 metre apart, sanitise your hands when entering and leaving the building, and remain seating in the main auditorium if you are staying for tea.

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