Summary: A sermon to challenge the church to greater missions effort.
“A Great Commission Church”
“A LOCAL CHURCH THAT IS NOT MISSION MINDED IS BY DEFINITION NOT A CHURCH! It’s a religious club that makes little or no impact on the world.”
Aside from the church at Jerusalem the single most influential church in the NT was the church at Antioch. There where many reasons for the powerful influence that they exerted upon the work of God and I want to examine some of them this morning:
Acts 13:2 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.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
I. The Personality of a Great Commission Church
a. The birth of the church
The church at Antioch was birthed as a result of persecution. Isn’t strange how God chooses to work His will? It reminds me of a story I read:
ILL: The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"
One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual,
"This is good!"
To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.
As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.
As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.
"You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown
off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just
happened. "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for
so long. It was bad for me to do this."
"No," his friend replied, "This is good!"
"What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"
"If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."
Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
b. The brotherhood of the church
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
What a mixture of folks the Lord brought together there in Antioch! There was Barnabas, a Levite from the island of Cyprus, Simeon or Niger (a Roman), Lucius of Cyrene (from what is now modern Libya, Manaen who was a foster brother of Herod Antipas (He is best known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth) and Saul (of Tarsus, former persecuter and now a preacher of the Gospel)
c. The behavior of the church
Act 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
They were called Christians here and in only two other places in the NT. The reason for this title as opposed to Galileans, or Nazarenes is not given but we can assume that it was given to them on account of their behavior. Their conduct was similar to that of Jesus who was the Christ!