Summary: Antioch was a booming church with great potential. But they lacked one thing that would make them great.
TITLE: Avoiding Short Cuts
OPEN: Several years ago the Chattanooga Free Press told the story of a woman who had decided to take a short cut to cleaning the birdcage that housed her favorite canary Chippie. Having a busy schedule that day, she decided to clean the cage with the vacuum cleaner.
Shortening the process even further, she took off the attachment & was using the full hose to remove debris from the cage. Suddenly the telephone rang. She turned to answer it when she heard the loud “whoosh.” She knew immediately what had happened: Chippie had been sucked into the vacuum bag. Quickly she hung up the phone, opened the bag and found Chippie – still alive but filthy. She went to the bathroom, turned on the faucet full force and stuck Chippie beneath it. A few minutes later he was clean but shivering. Seeing the hair dryer on the counter, she picked it up and turned it on high and quickly had Chippie dry, warm and back in the cage. The entire procedure had taken only a few minutes.
Days later, someone asked, “How is Chippie?”
“Well,” she said, “he seems OK except that he doesn’t sing anymore. He just sits and stares out into the room.”
APPLY: This lady had decided to take a short cut… and nearly succeeded in taking the life out of her poor bird.
There are times when shortcuts are ok. But there are other times when you don’t dare take those short cuts. One of those times is when you’re dealing with your faith and your relationship with God. If you take short cuts with your Christianity, you can end up taking the life out of your faith
The leaders in Jerusalem understood this, that’s why (when they heard about the exciting things taking place in Antioch) they sent one of their best men - to find out what was going on.
I. Just to give you a little background…
Three years before, the church had undergone the most terrible experience in its existence. A deacon by the name of Stephen had been stoned to death by an angry Jewish mob. And this set in motion a powerful persecution of the church that forced many believers in Jerusalem to flee to places like Antioch, a city about 2 or 3 days travel away.
In spite of that experience however, these believers refused to be cowed into silence. They were fired up about Jesus … and they began to talk to others. Sharing their faith. Baptizing converts right and left. Holding impromptu church in each others homes. And before you knew it – there was a growing multitude that began to get the attention of the church in Jerusalem. And so.. they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check this all out.
II. But, why send Barnabas?
Why not just let the church at Antioch do “their own thing?” It was a growing church, and an exciting situation. Why not just leave them alone?
Well notice - when Barnabas arrives - he does two things (vs. 23). He sees “the evidence of the grace of God” and he encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
The Church at Jerusalem wanted to have Barnabas do just that. They wanted him to discover if these were genuine believers. And if they were – he was to do everything possible to make them successful.
When he finds out that they are, indeed, genuine believers, he encourages them to be faithful in their Christianity. BUT THEN he notices that there is a great need in this church that he can’t handle by himself. So, he sends for Saul to come help him. AND when Saul arrives, for a full year, the two of them focus on something they know is necessary to make that church at Antioch successful.
III. What need did Barnabas see at Antioch that was so crucial for the believers there?
Well, let’s look at verse 26-27 and find out.
“Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.”
What did Barnabas & Saul do for a whole year? (wait for answer…) they TAUGHT the believers there. Why teach them?
· Hadn’t they already come to Christ?
· Hadn’t they been in worship with other believers?
· Hadn’t they begun to apply Christ’s principles to their everyday lives?
What else was there to know?
IV. To help us understand why Antioch needed such intensive teaching it’s helpful to realize that there are several stages to Christianity.
Peter writes about this in I Peter 3: “(God’s) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:3-8